Friday, 28 October 2016

Settling Your New Puppy In

Dalmatian, Puppy

Bringing a new puppy home is a big event. Getting it right is important because it has a big impact on how well your dog will settle in, and get on with the family.

Get everything ready
The first step is to go out and buy everything you need for your new puppy. If you get yours from somewhere like Douglas Hall Kennels Scotland they will give you a comprehensive list of what you need. It is wise to get it all, and set everything up. The last thing you need to be doing is rushing out to get a bed for him or her, on the day they arrive.

You want everything to be as calm as possible for the first few days. The last thing a puppy needs is stressed out owners. They are going to be a little frightened and tense as it is, so it is best if you are not on edge as well. You need to radiate calm to help them to feel safe, and settle in as fast as possible.

Dalmatian, Puppy

Picking your dog up
When you pick your puppy up take someone with you. That way they can get in the back and keep the dog happy and safe. In some countries, the law requires you to put up a net between yourself and your dog, so he or she stays in the back and does not get in the way of the driver. If this is a requirement where you live, it is wise to set up the net before you go to pick up your pup.
You will also need a blanket for your puppy to sit on. Remember they do not have proper control over their bladder and bowels, so you will need to protect your back seat.
If you can, pick your new dog up in the morning. That way they will have the whole day to get used to you and their new surroundings.

When you arrive
Try to make the arrival of your puppy as calm as possible. The natural reaction is for everyone to rush out and greet the new pet. This is understandable, but if this happens, your pup is likely to feel overwhelmed.

A better approach is to take him or her straight through to the garden. This is a fun environment for them, and gives them a chance to relieve themselves.

Reward him or her with a treat as soon as they have gone to the toilet. Doing this sets the tone, and gives you a jump on the housetraining process. Once they have had a few minutes in the garden let everyone come up and introduce themselves to the dog, one by one.

Let your puppy explore, but in a supervised way. Make sure someone is watching them all the time to keep them out of trouble.

Dalmatian, Puppy

The first night
Put your puppy into its own bed, and go to yours. If they cry, it is kinder to move their bed to your room.

However, make sure he or she stays in their own bed. If they whine calm them with your voice, but do not touch them. Later, when your puppy is more confident you can move their bed out of your room, if you want to.

If you have other pets, you will find this article helpful, as well. There you will learn the safe way to introduce a new puppy to your resident dogs and cats.

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

A Spooky Movie Night In

Halloween Vampires

It's half term this week and I had vowed that I would take the week off work and make the most of my time with that gorgeous little man of mine. Of course the world often has other plans, and today was one of those days. I got swept into work this morning, I made the mistake of looking at one email and it was like a domino effect, before I knew it, it was 3pm and the day was gone. It needed to be done though, I have had so much work on recently (which is good as I have also had one of those months where the bills are never ending!), but I really didn't want to be doing it all while I finally had Leo off school.

Tonight I decided to make the evening extra special, it was something we had planned for half term anyway, but after he had a day of boredom I decided we deserved a fun filled evening and some quality time. Leo adores Halloween, and with it now literally around the corner I decided to decorate the living room, pop open a number of naughty but delicious treats, and wrap ourselves up in the sofa throw while we enjoyed Hocus Pocus! 

Halloween Movie Night HMV

Halloween Movie Night HMV

As soon as Leo saw me decorating the lounge he got pretty excited and asked me whether we were having a Halloween movie night, which of course we were. HMV very kindly sent us a movie night in box that included everything we need to have the perfect spooky film evening. It was so lovely to sit down in our brand new living room, light the candles (that were fittingly a skull and black tea lights!) and sit back in the glow.

Halloween Movie Night HMV

Halloween Movie Night HMV

I love any excuse to sit back and relax with Leo, I am the first to admit that I let life run away with me. I know it can't be helped but it just makes me feel so guilty, especially when he is on half term and I should be spending that time with him, not sat at the laptop. Then I think about it and I realise how lucky I actually am to be in the situation that I am in. Not everyone get's the opportunity to work from home, not everyone get's to be off over the half term week. Some parent's have to be in the office and finding childcare for their little one's while they earn the pennies. I have been there myself, I know exactly what it is like, but it still doesn't help ease the guilt.

Halloween Movie Night HMV

Halloween Movie Night HMV

Tonight really did make up for me having to pull an all day shift today though, and that smile on Leo's face made it all worth it. We have a fun rest of half term ready to go, a cinema trip, potential surprise visit to LEGOLAND and lot's of opportunities to see friends and family. I don't think he is going to begrudge me one working day out of the half term.

Leo is now tucked up in bed after a fun filled evening, now I just need to convince Luke to sit down with me and watch the Exorcist! Which just happens to be one of my all time favourite horror films!

Getting Baby to Sleep - Fade Away Sleep Sounds

I only need to cast my mind back a few short years to when Leo was a baby and resisting sleep, it meant some long restless nights for me, usually on Twitter chatting with other parents all over the world who were faced with the same problem. A baby who did not want to go to sleep. 

Through those long sleepless nights, I remember finding a sense of comfort knowing that I wasn't alone in all of this. It wasn't just Leo who wasn't sleeping, there were other parent's with babies and young children in exactly the same boat as me. They were equally as sleepy, tired and grumpy as I was.

My mind can't help but wander back to 2 nights in particular. 2 nights that followed one after the other, and Leo would just not go to sleep. He spent 2 solid days and 2 solid nights screaming. I was at my wits end, I have never known tiredness like it in my life, and it just happened to be a time when Luke was away with work, meaning I didn't have any support to fall back on. I don't know how I finally managed to coarse him into sleep, but I know it involved a lot of cuddles and rocking. 

We have all been there, and we all know just how mentally draining it is to even attempt to function on little to no sleep. Sometimes it feels like they know what they are doing, like how it is almost a deliberate intention, a form of torture to get us where they want us. 

That is why over time, we the parents learn the secrets and tricks of how to obtain the perfect sleeping baby. White noise is always a popular choice, and I have to admit that we were big fans of the hair dryer back in Leo's day. I don't know what it was about this particular noise, but it was definitely a saving grace in this house.

Leo is 5 now, but those day's of very little sleep are still pivotal memories at the forefront of my mind. I recently heard about a rather incredible company - Fade Away Sleep Sounds (FASS) which provides professional recorded white noise, sounds for sleeping.  I  really wanted to share this with you all, because I know so many of you reading are going through today, exactly what I went through only a few short years ago.  

The company was founded by Kevin Hale back in 2008, only a few short years after himself and his wife discovered the benefits of white noise with their own children. Kevin says, “My wife and I had heard a little about white noise and how it could help babies, so we decided to try it on one particularly tough night when our fussy newborn refused to sleep. Amazingly we found that this inconsolable baby boy responded to the sound of the bath water running. After trying almost everything, it was the sound of the bathtub that calmed him right down.”

Kevin's personal experience went on to help family friends and their newborn a few years later. Kevin recorded and edited the same white noises that had helped his children for the family.  This was the very beginning of Fade Away Sleep Sounds!

You can find out more about Fade Away Sleep Sounds in the video below:

Today Fade Away Sleep Sounds has a number of different white noise options from nature, life and of course Baby Sleep Sounds! The transition from womb to the outside world can be a big transition, especially since they are so used to sleeping with the sound of the Mother's heartbeat, which can make sleeping in silence a very difficult thing for them to do.

The beautiful thing about FASS is that you can download the noise that works best for your baby or child to your computer, smart phone or tablet so that it is always on hand when you need it. This saves you dragging the hair dryer into the babies nursery and sitting there like a man person until your baby falls asleep...Then undoubtedly waking up as soon as you turn it off. The downloaded tracks slowly fade away, but it is done in such a way that you won't notice it even in the final 10 minutes of the track. This is great because it means that it doesn't just cut out resulting in a baby wide awake!

The website allows you  to listen to 30 seconds of each track on the website and full tracks on their YouTube Channel, this means you can find the perfect track that works for your little one before you commit to purchase. 

I wish I had known about this when Leo was younger as I have a feeling it would have been a God send for us. What it is important to remember through these harder times is that, they don't stay babies for very long at all. Pretty soon they are grown up 5 year old's who you need to raise from their beds for school each and every morning. 

The sleepless phase might be difficult and you may be wondering how on earth you will survive it, but you will. That much I am sure of.

Red Tractor: Lamb Mini Roast with Red Pesto Pasta

Lamb Mini Roast with Red Pesto Pasta
Week nights are especially busy for my little family, if it's not science club on a Monday or swimming lessons on a Friday, then we are busy doing our reading and spellings in preparation for the school week. We had Leo's first parent's evening of the year last night, and I managed to work myself up about it. I know it's not the most conventional thing to work yourself up about, but it makes me nervous to think about what the teacher is going to say, because I am so used to hearing about his set backs and I go in prepared to hear all about what he can't do. After the unnecessary worry, it was nice to hear that although he wasn't where all the other children are, he's doing well, he's a joy to have in the classroom and she loves that he gives everything a try!

When we have nights like this where we will be running around into the evening, I always like to have a fuss free dinner ready to go when we get home. Last night we decided to cook a Lamb Mini Roast. I don't usually cook Lamb so I thought it would make a nice change. It can be difficult at times because Leo is such a fussy eater, and the mention of a roast dinner is enough for him to give me the evils.

Lamb Mini Roast with Red Pesto Pasta

 With that in mind we decided to cook up an alternative kind of roast: A Lamb Mini Roast with Red Pesto Pasta. The recipe is from Red Tractor, who I am sure you are all familiar with. All Beef and Lamb carrying the Red Tractor logo can be traced back to the farms and the livestock that it came from. I like this as I rest easier knowing where my food has come from, and I like to know that I am feeding my family good quality meat.
Red Tractor
The Red Tractor logo means that we know that the suppliers who are producing the Beef and Lamb meet comprehensive standards that cover hygiene, safety, environmental protection and animal welfare at each and every stage from the farm to our forks.

My partner and I love Pesto, and although Leo turns his nose up at Green Pesto (because apparently it's green and slimey), we thought that we might have a fighting chance with the Red Pesto. Not to mention the Mini Roast being disguised along with the pasta, one of Leo's staple foods in life. Before I go full steam ahead with this post, I should probably explain what Leo dislikes about a traditional roast, and that is the amount of vegetables that accompany it. Leo dislikes Carrots, Peas, Brussels Sprouts and just about any other veggie you might care to mention. 

Lamb Mini Roast with Red Pesto Pasta

The joy about cooking up a Mini Roast is that it's quick and easy to prepare, you stick it in the oven and can go about getting other jobs done before you get swept away with the rest of the evening and Leo's bedtime creeps up on you. 

I set the temperature for the oven, seasoned the meat and put it into bake. While dinner was being cooked with the most minimal intervention from myself. I set a timer on my phone for 40 minutes, took Leo upstairs for his bath, got him into his pajamas and then came back to the kitchen to prepare the ingredients for the pasta while the roast finished up.

Lamb Mini Roast with Red Pesto Pasta

Red Pesto Pasta

Red Pesto Pasta

I always use whole wheat pasta if I am cooking for myself, and I don't eat pasta very often these days, so this alone was a huge treat for me. I threw in pine nuts, chopped cherry tomatoes and a generous amount of spinach. The beauty of Spinach is that you can pretty much add an entire bag and it wilts down to nothing, it's packed full of Vitamins, Antioxidants and is a great source of vitamins A, B2, C and K. 

Now I can get Leo to drink a green smoothie, but presenting it in his dinner is a first for me... Suffice to say he ate around that, the cherry tomatoes and the pine nuts. However he did eat the Pasta in the Red Pesto. He even gave the Lamb a try (thanks to it not looking like a conventional roast!), he did think it was Chicken though, that boy thinks everything is Chicken...

Lamb Mini Roast with Red Pesto Pasta

Daddy and I made up a smaller plate for Leo, and between the 3 of us we ate the entire Mini Roast. I would say it could easily feed 4 people (2 adults, 2 Children), and it was absolutely delicious. Luke even went as far to say that it was one of the best Lamb Roasts that he has ever eaten (which I am going to take as a compliment as that man loves a roast dinner!). 

I am taking this meal as a win, a big family win!

For everything you need to know about beef and lamb, more recipe ideas and information about Red Tractor beef and lamb, please visit

Lamb Mini Roast with Red Pesto Pasta

Lamb Mini Roast with Red Pesto
  Serves 2-3

Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 35-40 minutes (for medium)

1 x 400-450g/14oz-1lb lean lamb mini roast
Salt and freshly milled black pepper
15-30ml/1-2tbsp prepared red pesto
 For the Pasta:
175g/6oz pasta shapes
30ml/2tbsp prepared red pesto
100g/4oz cherry tomatoes, halved
Handful baby spinach leaves
25g/1oz pinenuts, toasted
Freshly chopped flat-leaf parsley, to garnish

Red Tractor Lamb Mini Roast with Red Pesto Pasta


  1. Preheat the oven to Gas mark -5, 190°C, 375°F.

  1. Place the mini roast joint on a chopping board and make several slits over the surface and season.  Spread with the prepared pesto.

  1. Transfer to a foil-lined metal rack in a roasting tin and roast and roast for 35-40 minutes. Cover with foil if browning too quickly.

  1. Transfer the lamb to a warm plate; lightly cover with foil and leave to rest for 5-10 minutes, 20 minutes if time allows. 

  1. Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to the packet instructions, drain and return the pasta to the pan. Add the remaining pasta ingredients.

  1. Slice the lamb and serve with the pasta.

Friday, 21 October 2016

Pests in the UK: Do You Live In a 'Danger Zone'?

Pests in the UK

While no one likes to come across a household pest, if you live in certain parts of the UK you could be more at risk of unwanted visitors than others. An incredible 14,812 cases of rat infestations were recorded in Birmingham over a period of one year, with 4,669 cases of wasps in North Lanarkshire.

The report, which was put together by the British Pest Control Association (BPCA), makes for unpleasant reading with officials warning figures have risen after councils cut free pest control services. So how do you know if you live in a danger zone?

The Midlands

According to the report published in 2015, Birmingham had the highest number of rat exterminations during 2013-2014 - more than any other UK city. The BPCA warns that if an infestation of a pest ‘isn’t dealt with quickly and professionally, it’s likely to spread with the problem being much more expensive, carrying a greater risk to public health.’

One effective way to deal with rodents (whether mice or rats) is to put down a trap. Snap traps are an inexpensive option that has been effectively handling rodent infestations for decades. These days you can also opt for electric traps, which deliver a high voltage shock to eliminate pests quickly and humanely. Ultimately, the best control method depends on the size of your infestation.

The North East

Newcastle had one of the highest numbers in the UK for pest problems. Five per cent of people living in Tyneside were recorded to have had problems with rats, along with cockroaches, wasps and other invasive pests.

The North West

Knowsley in Merseyside was among the top 20 worst places for pest infestations in the report with 3.4 per cent of people calling out exterminators.


Recorded as the worst for ant invasions, there were 1,990 cases in Fife. Scotland has seen an explosion in the ant population over a period of four years, with a large increase in the number of call outs. The most common species of ant that invades homes is the Black Garden Ant, which is actually a very dark brown. It goes in search of sweet foodstuffs to take back to its nest to feed the rest of the colony. To prevent a problem with ants, keep food well-sealed, particularly sweet foods like honey, jam, sugar and juice drinks.


This is said to be the most rat-infested country in the UK, with among the highest number of call-outs reported from Blaenau Gwent, Rhondda-Cynon-Taff and Merthyr Tydfil.


In the city, 4.9 per cent of people reported pest problems with Southwark alone reporting 1,820 cases of bedbugs, 1,086 cases of cockroaches and 5,250 cases of mice.


You could be in one of the safer areas if you live in the East. The most pest free place was found to be Southend, Essex, with just 0.03 per cent of homeowners reporting a problem with pests.

While rats and cockroaches are usually more common in larger cities, the BPCA says that localised reasons can cause a pest problem, such as the climate. In the case of wasps, the population explosion in Scotland came after a previously wet summer which killed off a lot of the UK’s wasps. The main message is that it is important to deal quickly with an issue if you spot a pest to prevent the problem becoming a crisis. 

Thursday, 20 October 2016

Win a Rattan Direct Table Set!

I am finding it hard to let go of the Summer months, but at the same time I can't help but admire the beauty that is Autumn. There's one tree on the way to Leo's school that is just illuminated with the most stunning Red and Orange leaves. I keep meaning to pull the car over and snap a photo, but I am usually running late in a morning, and on the way back you don't get to appreciate just how visually beautiful it is. 

I took Lux out for a walk yesterday and got some gorgeous shots of him with the vibrant Autumn back drop.

Dalmatian Puppy in Autumn

Dalmatian Puppy in Autumn

Everywhere you look you can see that the seasons are on the change, leaves floating down from their tree top perch, the chill in the air and the arrival of an additional coat layer. Just because it's getting colder though, it doesn't mean that we should bid farewell to our gardens quite yet though, in fact when you hear what I am about to say, you might suddenly feel the urge to go out into the garden!

The new Rattan Direct competition invites you to go outside into your garden and take some snaps of the wildlife that you might find out there. The winning snap will win a Rio (Armed) 4 chairs and a Open Leg Square Table Set! How amazing would that be for a  relaxing sit down, with a coffee in the Autumn sunshine after a busy day gardening?

Rattan Direct Rio Table Set

 The rules are simple and all you need to do is take a picture of the wildlife that comes into your garden. You could have a friendly fox or some cheeky squirrels! Just grab a great shot and submit it.

When the competition closes on the 30th October 2016, Rattan Direct will select the very best pictures and create a poll so that the public can choose their favorite photo from the selection. The poll will be live over on their blog and Facebook page.

Once the winner has been chosen the announcement will be made through the Rattan Direct Social Media Channels, so make sure you stay vigilant and see if you have taken the winning snap!

You can enter the Rattan Direct Competition HERE on their website. Simply fill out the application form, attach your photo and submit it. 

Good luck to everyone who enters and I look forward to having a look at the top photos and casting my vote!

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Halloween Etiquette

I actually have a child who wants to go out Trick or Treating on my hands. Like seriously... When did that happen!? It's funny because I always knew it was going to happen, he loves Halloween just as much as I did (or still do) as a child. I adored going out dressed head to toe as the scariest creation that I could find, so of course he want's to do it too. 

It's weird though, because I never expected for it to be a worry for me. It's an unwritten law that a child get's to trick or treat right? I just worry because it is a different world now. People are less tolerant of children knocking on doors. Who's doors are they actually knocking on? 

I obviously won't be letting Leo go out on his own, I will be there supervising and making sure that he is ok and keeping a very watchful eye, but even then I feel slightly wary about it all. 

With this in mind I have been thinking long and hard about Halloween etiquette. What are the rules for trick or treating? 

Bright Horizons day care in Fulham have shared this very helpful infographic with some great advice that is a great rule of thumb to follow this Hallows Eve.

5 Reasons to Host Your Own Bonfire Night Celebrations

Bonfire Night

November 5th is the perfect chance to organise a get-together and celebrate the evening with a bang

The chances are that most years on November the 5th, you and the family will attend a local fireworks display. Attending one of these crowded events tends to be the go-to for most people, as there isn’t much in the way of an alternative.

But why not create that alternative? You could host your own Bonfire Night celebrations so that your family and friends have a more unique and memorable fireworks celebration this year. Having your own, private party on November 5th comes with plenty of benefits — these five in particular…

1. A More Personal Experience

There’s no doubt that there’s fun to be had at a large, public Guy Fawkes Night celebration, but they will always be packed to the rafters, so finding a good spot can be difficult.

Hosting your own celebrations means you can choose who attends, so by limiting numbers you get a more close-knit, personal experience. Instead of struggling to hear people over the noise of a mumbling crowd, you can have conversations with family and friends over a fire and enjoy some fireworks.

This makes the whole evening a much more social affair and is great opportunity to catch up with friends and family.

2. It’s a Great Night for the Kids

As a parent, Bonfire Night is a great way of spending time with your children and showing them how to celebrate with fireworks safely, in a familiar setting. At a public display, there’s not a whole load going on apart from the fireworks themselves.

By hosting your own celebratory evening, it means you can provide a more fun experience for any children attending. It also means you won’t have to worry about losing them in a huge crowd at a public Bonfire Night event.

While your children are busy filling their boots at the buffet table, marvelling at the fireworks or running around burning off some of that bedtime energy – you’ll have plenty of time to catch up with friends.

3. You Get to Put on a Firework Display

There’s something incredibly satisfying about setting off fireworks. Sure, going to watch a fireworks display is great, but setting off your own assortment of exploding visual delights is by far the better option.

As long as your guests aren’t expecting you to buy fireworks similar to the quality of the Chinese New Year displays, then it’s safe to say you’ll provide more than enough excitement for those who attend. The chances are that you already do some shopping online, and buying fireworks online is a great way to find some gems for a bargain.

If you are worried about the noise being a problem for your neighbours, you may want to look into quiet fireworks, especially if your celebrations will go on a bit later into the evening. You’ll still have a great display — just no loud crashes and bangs to keep angry neighbours awake.

This would also be the perfect opportunity to teach your kids the importance of fire safety, as you would obviously have to adopt these same practices if you plan on having a safe fireworks display.

4. Get Together Before the Holidays

With Christmas right around the corner, this time of year can always be chaotic. There’s so much to organise, as well as a long list of presents to buy, so your personal life tends to be put on the backburner until you have a chance to sit back and enjoy yourself.

Organising your own Bonfire Night celebrations is a great way to get a bunch of you together before the holidays, have a bite to eat and a drink or two, and let off a few fireworks.

Since school has started again for the kids, it will have been a busier time for life as a parent, so this is a great opportunity to catch up with some friends who you may not have seen for a while.

5. You Can Do It on a Budget

Spending money before Christmas is never on the top of anyone’s to-do list, but nobody said you have to put on a professional-quality fireworks display. You can make your evening as low-key or as extravagant as you want.

There are a wide range of fireworks available that are designed with garden-style parties in mind. Not only are the fireworks themselves more low-key, but you also won’t be paying the same prices as large-scale fireworks, designed for public events.

So, it’s time to buy some fireworks and unless you’re planning a full-scale dinner party, your budget for food and drink shouldn’t end up breaking the bank. It might be a good chance to squeeze one more BBQ into 2016.

Attending a public firework display can often become a bit of a palaver. Getting everyone ready to head out for an evening in the cold can be hard work, especially if the heating is on and they’re settled in for the night. So why not bring the firework display to you? Well, not to your front room of course, but organising your own Bonfire Night celebrations could prove to be a great change of pace from the regular November 5th activities.

Jon Culverhouse is the managing director of Fantastic Fireworks — one of the UK’s leaders in professional displays and fireworks you can let off at home. With over thirty years of experience in the firework industry, Fantastic Fireworks has established itself as the go-to vendor for fireworks in the UK.

Monday, 17 October 2016

Oxfam Unwrapped

Oxfam Unwrapped

It's amazing what we take for-granted on a daily basis. Clean drinking water, a warm/dry place to sleep, safety, security, food in our bellies. We wake up and expect nothing less, they are not luxuries in our eyes, it's our way of life, it's expected and it's a standard of living that we have grown accustomed to. 

It's a standard of living however, that not every single person in this world receives, those simple aspects, simply turning on a tap and getting hot water, or sticking a pizza in the oven, we don't think twice about it.

There are people all over the world who struggle to find clean water to drink, food to eat, and clothing for their backs.  Oxfam is a global movement backed by millions of people who share the belief that in a world rich in resources, poverty isn't inevitable. In just 15 years the levels of extreme poverty have been halved, and Oxfam believe that in another 15 years we can end it for good.

As we all gear up for Christmas thinking about what we will all purchase for our significant others, our families and our friends, we should cast our minds to those who won't be celebrating in the same way as we will be. An iPod for Dad, a Wii U for the kids... Or how about a pile of poo for a family to grow their own vegetables, so that they don't need to fork out money for food, there for providing them with a better income for other important life factors?

Oxfam Unwrapped
No I am not joking, I am in fact very serious. Oxfam Unwrapped allows the likes of you and I to choose from a selection of Christmas charity gifts, gifts that might seem simple to us, but to the people receiving them could make a huge difference in their lives.

Do you have a friend or relative who is tricky to buy for? A budget and your just not sure which avenue to go down? You can pick a unique gift from the Oxfam Unwrapped line up for as little as £5.00 and there are some truly fantastic ways in which you can reach out and help someone, while making your friend or family member smile at the same time:

- Share in a farm yard - £5.00
- Feed a family  - £7.00
- Safe water for 10 people - £10.00
- A goat - £25.00
- Support a Refugee - £25.00
- Winter Kit -  £20.00

They are such simple gifts, and when you see them laid out like this it really does put everything into perspective. Everyone should have the right to clean water and food, and in the not too distant future this is the goal. Until then, we can all help make a difference, the things we see as simple and expect each and everyday, could actually be the highlight of somebody's entire year.

I know what I will be buying friends and family who have everything this year!

Wednesday, 12 October 2016

Leo's Autumn Wardrobe

Dalmatian puppy and child

It is suddenly getting noticeably colder, as I type this I am sat in my coat after getting back from the school run, and I am trying my hardest to not think about how cold I am right now. The sun may be shining, but it does not detract from the general chill that is clearly felt in the air now.

I have dusted off my Winter boots as it is now officially that time of year once again, and while I am thinking about the Autumn clothes for myself, I am also pondering Leo's wardrobe. That little man of mine is constantly growing, and I can already see his jeans getting that little bit too short around the ankles. This of course means that I am going to have to start thinking about a whole new set of clothes for him to don during the colder says ahead.

I am biased, but Leo has the most beautiful face and he suits some really vibrant fun colours, so when I am choosing his new clothes, I always look for bright colour ways that in-keep with his cheeky disposition. Over the last few weeks I have been thinking about how I want to shake up his Autumn/Winter wardrobe with some attractive and out there additions, and after having a look at the Esprit Mini Boys Collection, I knew exactly where to go for it!

Esprit Kids

You will immedietly notice a colour theme (excluding one) forming within my shirts and jumpers selection, and that's the re-occuring use of the Blue. This is by far my most favourite colour on my little man. It's fresh, light, crisp and brings out the baby blue of his eyes. 

Shop the look - From Left to Right:

Long Sleeve Blue Check Shirt

I absolutely love a nice thick knitted jumper, they are always so thick and cosy. I rest easier knowing that my little man is always warm, and they make fantastic layers especially if you include a cotton t-shirt underneath, just to keep that extra layer warmth pocket protecting from the chill. Leo's Nanny is a pro at knitting and likes to spend a lot of her spare time crafting up new clothing additions for him. She uses the knitting patterns from Deramores and they always turn out beautifully.

Esprit Kids

I like Leo to look good, and I don't mind spending the pennies on buying quality clothing. I find that when I spend a little bit more, it will last longer, and as I always buy the size up so that he get's the most wear out of it, by the time we are finished with it, we have definitely had our value for money. Not to mention that I still have so many of Leo's clothes from his smaller sizes, they are all stored away in the attic because even after the amount of wear he has had out of them, it's been too good to give away or hand down to Leo's younger cousin. 

The main aim for the next 6 months is to keep warm, so that means we need to pack the shorts and t-shirts away and replace them with jeans and warm winter coats. 

Shop the look: Left to Right

I have to admit that I do really enjoy sorting Leo's wardrobe out, and I know that in the next few years there is going to come a day where he isn't going to allow me to do that any longer. So I have to enjoy it while it lasts.

The Buyer’s Guide To Olive Oil

I use Olive Oil a lot in my day to day cooking, and I love that there are so many different varieties that can help you bring out unique flavourings in the dishes that you are preparing. My usual rule of thumb is to eat clean, I enjoy the food and my body in turn reaps the benefits. It's amazing how tasty vegetables can be when they are prepared with lots of different herbs, spices and Olive Oil. 

I prepare my own fresh Pesto, and I love being able to play around with the flavouring and since the Olive Oil is a vital ingredient in the ingredients list, it can have a huge impact on the over all taste satisfaction at the end.

As I use Olive Oil in many of the meals I prepare, it is a staple item in my kitchen. Before I buy olive oil online I always check sites such as Promo Vouchers to see if there are any voucher codes available.

As there are so many different varieties of Olive Oil in 2016, Jamie Oliver has put together a really helpful infographic that takes all of the guess work out of purchasing your Olive Oil for the home. I have to admit that I have never had the pleasure to go along to Jamie's Italian before now, but I have been reading up on Jamie's Italian in Piccadilly over on and plan on visiting the next time I am there!

The Buyer’s Guide To Olive Oil

Wednesday, 5 October 2016

Ready to learn

Leo has been back at school a month now, although it has to be said that it feels like so much longer. We have settled back into a routine, which is in fact a whole new one since we are now in our own home together, and this new set up is proving to be really helping that beautiful boy of mine, he's flourishing in a way that makes my heart sing.

In 4 weeks the little boy who never wanted to sit and read to me, reads each evening without any fights or any upset, his eyes sparkle when you cheer him on and praise him, and he just keeps going until he reaches the very last page. The little boy who didn't ever want to practice his writing, loves to show me the new letters and words he is learning to put together, he smiles as he perfects the technique and marvels at the markings he has made on his art easel. The same little boy who used to stay by my side in the school playground now parades himself around with the other children like an aeroplane.

They are just simple things to outsiders looking in, because these are all things that their children did in their reception year, but Leo didn't. In Leo's reception year he was classed as being globally delayed, and we had to jump through hoops just to even keep his attention on the task at hand. This new school term he is a completely different child, it's as though a switch has been flicked inside his head, and he's suddenly ready for school and he's ready to learn. 

When I got back home with Leo last night, I checked his reading record just as I always would. I opened it up and had a look at the notes that the teacher makes about how Leo has read at school that day. The words almost jumped off the page at me 'Leo read this really well. Leo made his sentence!'. The book was called 'The Play', and it's got some longer sentences than he is used too, so to see that he has not only given it a try, but read it really well was like all my Birthday's coming at once. 

Leo read the book twice last night, once to me and then later on to his Daddy when he arrived. We both sat there listening to our little boy reading. Really reading. Hearing how his voice flowed as the words left his lips, watching the expressions that danced across his face was just beautiful. 

When you have a child who is behind the other children, you grow a thicker skin. Parent's evenings, teacher meetings and educational psychologists all drumming it into you that your child is not achieving the same milestones as other children his age, it penetrates your skin like a knife and it cuts deep, really deep. It hurts and you really have to fight back those crocodile tears and save face to just get through those meetings. I have become so used to hearing what Leo can't do, I am always so taken a back when I hear positive feedback. Not because I don't think Leo is worthy of it, but because I am so used to hearing the concerns and worries, that now when I hear positive and encouraging feedback, I feel like my heart could burst.

I was talking to the head teacher of Leo's school yesterday, as I haven't really heard anything since Leo has gone back to school, I didn't know whether they were seeing the same changes in him that I was, I didn't know if they could see him really trying his hardest. The conversation was a positive one, and they too can see that Leo is suddenly taking flight. They can suddenly see the willingness to learn, and they are grabbing the opportunity with both hands. Just like we are at home. 

They are talking about letting Leo spend a few mornings in reception, just to help him catch up with his peers a little more. Now that he is actively absorbing information it will be beneficial for him to go over some of the lessons from last year. I am so happy that he is getting the opportunity to catch up, and I cannot be more thankful to the school for all that they have done for Leo.

We have implemented so much at home and I am always trying to find ways to make learning fun for Leo. I think the biggest change for us, and the biggest factor that has encouraged Leo to give learning his best shot is a mixture of things. We have given Leo the time, to ready himself, we have purchased fun learning aids such as the easel, we now live in a quiet home just the Two of us, where we can spend quality time without any disruptions. We have reward charts in place and at the end of this month, if Leo carries on doing the very best he can, we are purchasing him his treat. 

I made a promise to Leo before he returned back to school at the end of the summer holiday's. I told him that if he really tried his hardest and allowed me to help him, I would find the biggest Nerf Gun I could get my hands on for him. This incentive has really driven him, and as he has fulfilled his end of the bargain, I most certainly have to make good on my promise and deliver.

Incentives seem to really drive Leo to try, so I am going to make sure that we keep setting these exciting goals for him, and in turn he will not only reap the rewards of learning, but he will get a treat from Mummy and Daddy too.