Sunday, 26 November 2017

Playing Monopoly Online

 play Monopoly online

When you think of board games, face it, you think of Monopoly. It’s the classic game that almost every family has; it’s family fun for all ages. Unfortunately, because everyone loves Monopoly and it gets played a lot, the many game pieces tend to dwindle quickly. No one knows where they end up or how they get lost; a lot of times they just fall out of the box as you’re transporting it, unbeknownst to you, lost forever. Thanks to the growing popularity of online games, you can now play Monopoly online for free without risking losing any pieces.

It’s the same great game but online 
The cyber simulation of Monopoly, at least the one on, offers very realistic gameplay and graphics. You can choose up to four players for this pass and play style game; each player gets to pick a color and can choose to put either a nickname or their real name. If the whole family wanted to play, you could even display it on the television and pass around a wireless mouse. You won’t have to clean off table space, make sure everyone can store their properties somewhere, or even make sure everyone can reach the board; all you need is internet access. 

It keeps track of everything for you 
One of the major benefits to playing Monopoly online, rather than in real life, is that you don’t have to keep track of anything. The game keeps track of who owns what property and what amount of rent is owed at particular times. It keeps track of the Chance and Community Chance cards drawn and the action they require and makes sure you move the correct amount, landing on the right space based on your roll. It even displays the amount of money you have, rather than in a more complicated way like by denominations; you won’t have to count your money to know where you stand. You won’t even need a banker, the game does it for you. However, this could be a downside for those of you that love being the banker, but at least you won’t have to worry about the bank running out of any particular denomination. 

 play Monopoly online

No one can cheat 
Each player clicks to roll the dice, the game moves their piece the appropriate number of times, then prompts them to buy the property they landed on or disperses the appropriate action card. There’s no possible way anyone could cheat in this version of Monopoly, other than taking another player’s turn.  f you’ve got a sneaky family member or friend that always wins and your just so sure cheats, this is a great way to find them out. The dice is rolled fairly and electronically each time and the game handles all the cards and money. The downside to this, however, is that you have to play by the traditional Monopoly rules. If you grew up playing with any backyard rules, you won’t find a way to utilize them in online Monopoly because you can’t change the rules in the programming. 

There’s no risk of losing pieces 
Just transporting the Monopoly box from its place of storage to the table has a risk of some of the very tiny game pieces falling out of the box, let alone playing it. Dice, houses, and hotels can fall off the table; properties can get misplaced; even the player pieces can disappear. Playing Monopoly online takes all of that risk away with the added bonus of not having to find a table big enough to play where everyone can reach the game board. Likewise, you won’t have to worry about your board game not having all its pieces. If your Monopoly game has last a few properties or Chance cards, you can’t play anymore, but that’s not a problem with the online version. 

 play Monopoly online

Free online gaming has really blossomed into a lot in recent years; now there’s even online simulations of your favorite classic board games, like Monopoly. Playing it online allows you to not worry about having all the pieces, keeping up with them all, keeping track of your money and  properties, or even having a clean space on which to play. This cyber simulation offers great graphics,  traditional game play in a pass and play style, and it’s incredibly realistic. 

Everyone will be able to see the board, reach it, and keep track of their total money without counting. 

This game truly offers a great alternative to the classic board games.

Wednesday, 22 November 2017

Stress-Saving Prom Planning Tips For Parents

Stress-Saving Prom Planning Tips For Parents

Prom is certainly a rite of passage for many teenagers. It’s a great party, but no matter how good your kid is, chances are, they’re going to be out with their peers who may be getting up to no good. So, here’s how to plan a stress-free prom both for you, and your offspring.

1. Get involved with prom preparations
Get involved in shopping for prom with your daughter. It’s fun looking for dresses, and you don’t need to blow the budget when you can purchase one of the 2018 cheap red prom dresses at Prom Dress Shop and similar retailers. It’s also a good idea not to blow the budget, as you want to teach  our daughter about scaling down and value. 

Let her set the level of excitement, too. There are parents that go overboard trying to relive their own  prom, and kids often feel that they need to truly go all out to make special memories. 

2. Keep an eye on prom and post-prom plans 
Find out about the school’s previous proms. The shorter ones are the ones you will have to worry about. Those are the one’s where kids show up and then leave 10 minutes later to make their own party. If it sounds like your child’s prom might be headed that way, help them make after prom plans,  whether it’s a leisurely meal, a cruise, or hanging out at someone’s house. There are plenty of choices, and it’s worth making suggestions.

3. Help arrange transportation 
Hire a van or a limo so a group can travel together. Find a driver you trust, perhaps even a relative. Avoid giving your child your credit card, and it’s probably not a good idea to rent a hotel room. It can  keep kids off the road, but there are higher risks of other dangers. 

4. Talk to your child about things that go on 
Stress-saving prom planning should come with some big talks about what goes on at these events and  that to avoid, so that you can go to bed knowing your child is have a safe and happy night. 

Remind your child about the unpleasant aspects of consuming alcohol, like ruining her beautiful prom dress. Remain firm. It is up to you to set the limits, no matter how vigilant your child may be. 

Most prom-goers will take a backpack with them with a change of clothes for after prom. Check the contents. 

5. Offer help for their post-prom celebrations 
Whether it’s pizza and movies, or breakfast at 5am, offer your home. Your kids want to make a big night of prom, and you’re probably not going to get too much sleep in any case. So, if they’re at home, you can keep an eye on them and judge which kids can go home on their own and which are better off staying over a little longer.

Take note of these tips and ensure that your teens will have the best time of their lives on prom night.

Tuesday, 21 November 2017

New Year, New Challenge?

Training for your first triathlon

Something has changed within me over the last few years, there was a point not so very long ago where my evenings would consist of Netflix and a great deal of junk food and fizzy pop. I didn't spare a single thought for the calories that I was consuming on a daily basis, nor did I burden myself with the drastic lack of exercise.

None of it concerned me, I didn't care. But you see... That is what went on to change. Suddenly I was eating better and getting out of those sedentary foundations that I had built. I was going to the gym, I was trying classes, heck I even found myself trying my hand at Crossfit and Pole Dancing! 

I was throwing caution to the wind and completely throwing myself out of the comfort zone, because I have to be honest here, before I decided to stop caring about what everyone thought, the idea of going along to the gym or anything new (that I would have to attempt alone) filled me with dread, and I would always bottle it before I had chance to go.

With a New Year in sight I have started thinking about how I can throw myself out there once again, something new and fun that will be sure to get my juices flowing. I love anything really that will provide me with a good workout and get my heart thumping, and that's when I started thinking about triathlon bikes!

Now that might sound crazy for someone who hasn't actually ridden a bicycle in years, but I have been considering a new bike for a while (Yes I am aware that there is a massive difference between a typical bike ride and a triathlon!).

As with anything though, if you don't try how will you ever know if you can do it?

Training for your first triathlon 
(Or training in general!)

So you have made a decision but how do you stick to it?

- Tell people - You are more likely to stick to something if you talk about it, tell your friends and family and their support is going to push you forward to the next step. You might even find yourself a training partner if you're lucky!

- Set a goal - Think about what you want to achieve long term and short term, set goals and milestones. I believe that it is always very important to acknowledge the smaller steps too, because they are all steps in the right direction right? Celebrate all of it, give yourself a pat on the back with every momentum in the right direction.

- It's ok to go slow - Don't beat yourself up about what you can't do yet and focus on everything that you can do. Use those smaller goals to put your best foot (or wheel in this case!) forward, because they are going to amount to some of your bigger goals later on. Give yourself time to build up in your training, if you are like I was (I believe a coach potato is the term?), then you aren't just going to get up and go and run a 5k are you!? You have to set a steady pace and build on the foundations that you have already, and make them stronger.

- Sign up! - Yup you read that right! I always find that I am more determined and dedicated if I have a goal with a expiration date. Sign up for a sprint or triathlon that is a few months away (6-8 weeks!), it is sure to light a fire in your gut, and that upcoming date in your calendar is going to be the most amazing motivation! It is going to help you train and it is also going to provide you with valuable experience that you will need moving forward.  

- Follow a beginner's training plan - There are some great tips online, have a look and see what works for you.

- Start as you mean to go on - As with anything in life, consistency is the key, if you strive for success and put in the graft, you will never be disappointed.

- Eat good food - I always believe that the basis of any training plan is what you are fueling your body with. There is always confusion around diet plans and what not, but I believe in eating good wholesome foods (and never cutting anything out!) is the best practice. I always point people in the general direction of The Bodycoach because he has some fantastic recipes that are sure to hit the spot!

- The bike - You don't need to go out and spend a bomb on a bike, if you already have a bike then you can always start training with that, or if you are in the market for a new one, then buy the best you can afford. 

I keep coming back to cycling, whether or not I end up trying my first triathlon or not is another thing... but cycling with the dog could be a fantastic challenge for the new year (and a great way to tire the pup out!).

I will most definitely be getting back into my gym routine (the festive period always seems to appear and knock my motivation from beneath me!), but when the New Year rolls around, I will be back with my motivation ready for another fun year!

The Top 10 Reasons Why We Need Locksmith's

The Top 10 Reasons Why We Need Locksmith's

We have all been there at some point in our lives... You know stood outside your house trying to figure out how you will get back in because you seemingly left this house without your keys this morning, there is no worse sound than hearing the latch drop behind you as the penny drops and you realise that you can no longer get back inside again...

My worst instance in this was when Leo was around 18 months old. I had popped out to the car to grab something, and in an effort to keep the heat inside I pulled the door to in an attempt to do just that. Of course all I really did was lock myself out and Leo...Inside...On his own. 

Leo found the entire ordeal rather humorous, I on the other hand was worried that he could get into all kinds of mischief (and all I could do was watch and shout 'No!' from the other side of the door. Thankfully the cavalry arrived a mere 5 minutes after, and after Leo tired of knocking on the window and giggling, he had gone back to watching In The Night Garden on the TV. 

This is something that can and does happen, my Mum used to be a childminder, and she once managed to get locked outside of her car by one of the children (who spent the time laughing hysterically before eventually opening the door!). Or there was that time when we lived in Yorkshire and I had to climb through an upstairs window in order to gain access to our family home (after my Mum had locked us all out...Including herself!).

There are plenty of reasons that we need a locksmith, and these are the top 10 reasons that we need their expert services...

The Top 10 Reasons Why We Need Locksmith's

1)    Locked keys inside of the house.

2)    Locked keys inside of the car.

3)    Keys have been lost.

4)    Key has broken off inside of the lock.

5)    Locks need replacing after burglary.

6)    When moving into a new home.

7)    When concerned about home security.

8)    When the safe combination is forgotten.

9)    To recode an electronic keypad lock.

10)  For transponder key reprogramming services.

Just like a dentist or a doctor, we all need a locksmith at some point in our lives, there is a worldwide demand for such services, even if you live in sunny Australia without a care in the world (Poisonous spiders are nothing to fear right?), you may still need to call in your local South Perth Locksmith for a helping hand at some point!

Looking through the top 10 reasons to call a locksmith I have suddenly realised that we have ticked off quite a few of them (without intentionally trying to of course!). I have even had the opposite problem... I have been locked inside my home. 

When Luke and I moved in together for a time back in 2012 (or was it 2013!?), I found that I couldn't get out of the house on a good few occasions. Everyone thought that I was going crazy, and as I was the only one getting stuck, I thought maybe it was just me too! It turns out that the latch was occasionally jamming (albeit only on myself) and we had to call a locksmith out to have a look at that for us. Thankfully they were able to come to my rescue and restore access in and out of our humble abode...

Thursday, 16 November 2017

Preparing the Home for the Festive Season

Storage space is something that seems to be very lacking in 2017, when they throw up these new houses they don’t seem to take into consideration that the people who purchase them or go on to inhabit them, will move in with a vast array of items that will need to be placed in certain spaces, be accessible and look tidy.

I know this because my home doesn’t seem to have a practical storage space to item ratio, and it has meant that I have had to get creative.

My bedroom is in the shape of a L, and I could just about fit my kingsize bed in the one end (granted it was touch and go as to whether or not this was going to be possible!). In the other end I have had to fit 2 chest of draws and a medium sized wardrobe. In an ideal world, the area of my room that is home to all my clothing storage, would have been much better served as a walk in wardrobe. It would allow me to hang everything up, and although I would be loosing out on one area of the room, in the grand scheme of things it would make much more sense and create much needed storage space. 

Bravo London offer the perfect walk in wardrobe solution, you can go to them with an idea and they will design a bespoke, personal wardrobe for your needs (and they even offer a price match guarantee!). You might be thinking that this will take a while to craft from idea to finished product? Well it actually only takes Three weeks from design sign off to the actual installation, which means that you could have your walk in wardrobe fitted before Christmas!

I do really need to have a sort through my room before the festive period kicks off in a few weeks time. I want to go through all of my clothes and take what I no longer wear to charity, it’s a great time of the year to have a sort through, not only because you can help people in need, but it also helps you get on top of any Christmas clutter, it also free’s up space for the SALES! 

My plan of action is to have this back big sort out in the next week, donate what I no longer want and make sure that my room is completely clear of washing, clothes, paperwork... basically anything that shouldn’t be there.

I always like to sort the house in preparation for Christmas, before all the decorations come down from the loft, and as I am rather ahead with my Christmas shopping this year (and my blog to do list for that matter!), it really is the most logical thing I could do.

Who knew that one day I might actually get myself prepared and ahead of the ball?

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

A Dog Christmas List

If you had told me 2 years ago that I would have a bouncing fur baby in my life I would have probably thought you were crazy. Turns out life can move pretty quickly, and circumstances can change enough for you to actually bring home the puppy of your dreams (or is it nightmares!?), that little puppy of mine has done some serious growing up (albeit physically and not at all emotionally).

It's pretty amazing how quickly a puppy becomes part of your family, they aren't just another mouth to feed, they really are a valid member of your inner circle. Last year I didn't really make a special effort with the spotty one for Christmas (much to Leo's dismay of course), but when Christmas arrived and everyone was busy opening presents, I suddenly wished that I hadn't been such a scrooge.

Webbox Dog Christmas Treats

Leo convinced himself that Santa just hadn't bothered because Lux had been so naughty all year (and yes he actually had been that naughty.. But still!), so this year I vowed that Lux would not be left out and accepted that I had become one of those people who treated her fur baby as an actual child. 

This year as the family gathers around the Christmas Tree, this face of pure innocence, the look of butter wouldn't melt (because it would have been gobbled up before it had chance) will be opening his own christmas gifts with his teeth. 

But what do you put under the tree for a fur baby? Yup I am really asking this question.

Your Pet's Christmas sorted with Webbox

A Dog Christmas List

I have to kickstart this list with the Webbox Christmas Treats, because seriously, what a fantastic choice! If there is one thing that dog loves, it's food (yes even over his humans. He would take the sandwich right out of your hands... and he has on a many occasions!), so let's take a look at the festive treats available...

Webbox Dog Christmas Treats

- Chomping Chews with Turkey and Cranberry 

- Three Bird Roast & Turkey Kibble

- Festive Bites with Turkey and Bacon Flavour

- Doggie Deli Pack with Pork Strips, Marbled Beef Bites, Chicken Chips with Cheese and Cheese Cubes

- Festive Choc Bar for dogs

- Festive Chipolatas 

- Festive Meaty Treats Pigs in Blanket Flavour

- Christmas Pudding

- Festive Bauble

- Festive Sticks with Turkey and Cranberry 

- Reindeer Toy

- Gingerbread Man Toy

Pretty Little Paws Navy And White Check Design Dog Bandana

Webbox Dog

Aside from these rather lovely photographs of Lux with his beloved treats... They are being held back for Christmas Day. When it comes to toys, Lux like to remove heads and limbs, so to give them a fighting chance to see December 25th I have taken careful measures and removed them from sight... But seriously, what a super Christmas Selection!?

Webbox Dalmatian

Second on the list might be more for me than it is Lux... But it won't come as a surprise to regular readers of this here blog. Dalmatian's don't just shed hair, it's like an avalanche of snow every single day. It's like the hair isn't really attached to them at all, like they have a desire to be naked, because they really, really do shed every single day. 


Introducing FURminator - 'FURminator deShedding Tools can help you reduce the amount of loose hair from shedding! That means less time spent cleaning and more time to spend enjoying your pet.'  This line was enough to get my attention, it would be nice to not have to vacuum 3 times a day that is for sure! 

To find the right FURminator for your dog you need to put in some simple details about your pooch, such as weight, hair type and dog size. Once you have input these statistics it will bring up the brush for you! It's meant to reduce shedding by up to 90% on dogs that you regularly groom, so this has the potential to make a rather huge difference to Lux's coat and our furniture and carpets!

Lux is a bit of a fidget, as much as he loves a fuss he usually tries to eat any sort of brush I bring towards him, which of course makes the whole grooming process that little bit more difficult, but here is how we got on....


The FURminator has a Stainless Steel deShedding edge that reaches deep beneath Lux's short (but plentiful) topcoat to gently and effectively remove the undercoat and any loose hair. 

See, I told you this was more for me than for Lux, but in the grand scheme of things it means he is allowed more time on the sofa now I am not so paranoid about having to get the hoover out as soon as a mass of hair falls out.

And there we have it, one very spoiled spotty dog, who is going to have a rather amazing time ripping open all of his special gifts this year. I only hope that he has some compassion for the poor Reindeer and Gingebread Man! 

Thinking ahead to the New Year

Christmas Ball Dress

Christmas is firmly on our lips and we are all loosening our belt buckles a notch or two to make room for the inevitable intake of cheese, turkey and party food. After all that’s part of the fun of the festive season, having a big blow out with our favourite tipples and vast array of seasonal spreads, and quite simply having a wonderful time.
It’s all fun and games until the door slams on December and you find yourself staring out at the bleakness of January. No lights, no glitter, just darkness and a few extra digits on your weight scale.
It’s no wonder that in January we all seem to have very similar goals, and they almost always gravitate around weight-loss and getting fit, I know that I am always raring to get going again after Christmas, I like to indulge as much as the next person, but I equally love to that feeling you get as your body detoxes from the richness of December.
One of the most popular questions I get asked is whether you have to join a Gym in order to see results, and I can tell you now that you honestly don’t. Even now I am back in the gym, I still have days where I workout primarily from home, and in the thick of the winter months, sometimes this is the best solution anyway. Yes in the summer you might miss the air conditioning in the gym, but when it’s cold outside, you simply need to crack a window open or flail open the patio doors.
- Treat yourself to some new workout gear, even if you aren’t going to be going to the gym, my personal experience is that if you have Gym kit that you like the look of and enjoy wearing, you are more likely to stick to your goals. Even when I workout from home I’ll get dressed like I would if I was heading to the gym, if you are looking for some new wardrobe additions, Function 18 have everything you could possibly need!
My top tips to anyone looking to get fit in the New Year are these:
- Take little baby steps in the right direction, make better food choices, say no to the last of the Christmas wine and just see what these small choices amount to, because you might just very well be surprised.
- Take part in a challenge, like dry January. This was something that my Dad did a few years ago and this was just the very start of his weight loss journey. He hasn’t looked back since, but he has had to buy new clothes that fit!
- Finally, don’t put to much pressure on yourself. Good things come to those who are patient and keep at it. January is an amazing time to start a new fitness regime, and you most certainly won’t be alone in your endeavours. Why not try and find a friend who wants to go at it with you? That way you can both stay accountable and hit milestones together!
The gyms will be busy in the New Year, but it does quieten down eventually, but if you don’t want to go down a Gym route then why not have a look at one of the following at home training programs?
- Emily Skye
- Kayla Itsines
- The Bodycoach
Remember that Christmas is only one day, my goal this year is to just take one day to enjoy the festive food, and then try to keep my eating as normal as possible... let’s see how this works out then!

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

The Bissell Instaclean Pet 20696 Review & Vlog

Dalmatian Puppy

This face right here belongs to one of the naughtiest puppies I have ever known. The face may have grown and matured over the last 15 months, but underneath the spots is a rather mischievous pup who loves to cause carnage and loves nothing more than a little destruction. 

You think I am making this stuff up? 

Ha! If only. 

Having a dog has been harder than I ever imagined, and as equally rewarding (when I am not chasing him around the house for the sock, bra or clothes items that he has swiped). But one thing that I have realised I do even more of these days, is house work. 

Boy do dogs make a mess, if only I had known that Lux's favourite pass time would be bringing mud into the house? If only I had known that when they say Dalmatian's shed hair EVERY SINGLE DAY, they really do mean... Every Single DAY! 

But do you know what? 

Even if I did know that my life was about to be turned upside down by those little innocent eyes and devil personna, I wouldn't change a spot on his head. I have had to learn to stop being so precious about things, because things have and will get broken, destroyed... Savaged at some point in time, and if anything I have had to get damn good at housecleaning on the double.

Dalmatian in Cotswolds

When it comes to having pets, all you really need to do is get prepared. Be ready for any eventuality, is that wee on the bottom of the curtain? Maybe...Probably. Turd on the rug... Most definitely. Chewed up shoe, you betcha! 

It almost makes the beige carpet on what can only be described as Lux's runway seem laughable. Because what pet owner in their right mind would have a BEIGE carpet with a dog whose only route in and out of the house (front and back...) is over that light carpet that is the very first thing people who visit your home see.

Oh yeh. That would be me.

So what would I say to anyone who:

A. Has a Dalmatian and knows first hand that Dalmatian hair is NO JOKE.

B. Has a dog and can relate to the struggle.

C. Is thinking about getting a pet and are being dutiful (and responsible) and researching the best practices moving forward.

Whatever your current situation, my advice to you is make sure you invest in the best cleaning technologies, they will be your best friend and they WILL be used multiple times a day.

You will need a good vacuum cleaner (more on this later), and I cannot recommend getting a good carpet cleaner highly enough (remember that beige carpet I told you about?), well if you want it to stay beige, a good carpet cleaner is a necessity (and remember the pee on the curtains... Yeah it will help there too!). Bissell Instaclean Pet 20696 Review
I have recently been testing the Bissell Instaclean Pet 20696, and before I used it on my beige hallway carpet, I had a little challenge ahead of me. When I say little challenge... I actually mean quite a mammoth test, almost comparable to the Hunger Games or when Harry Potter actually came face to face with Voldemort for the very first time....

Ok so it might not be as horrifying as that, but it was close. I took the Bissell Instaclean over to my parents house to have a go at my sister's bedroom (I must note here that this is NOT my house!), but after I saw the state of her bedroom and just how effective the machine was in turning the carnage into something a little less terrifying, I knew that the little mud blemishes in my hallway would not be an issue for my carpet cleaner.

So I hear you ask 'How bad could your sisters room be?'... Well I am glad you asked.

Bissell Instaclean Pet 20696 Review

Bissell Instaclean Pet 20696 Review

You can check out how we got on with the Bissell Instaclean in the below video that is live over on my YouTube Channel!

It has to be said that this is the carpet that they had laid when they moved into the house over 20 years ago, but quite how someone does this to a carpet is beyond me. This is a combination of make up, nail varnish, burns to the actual carpet and god knows what else (Judging by the stains left over I would be pretty safe in saying that I think some of that Alien slime is kicking around...).

I spent a good few hours gliding the Bissell Instaclean over this neglected carpet, I also spent a lot of that time on my hands and knees scrubbing with the attached hose to try and get as much of the dirt and grime out of the carpet fibers as possible. 

Bissell Instaclean Pet 20696 Review

It is suffice to say that I was pretty speechless when I saw the actual extent of her carpet (and yes I did tell her that I would clean it in exchange for the before and after photos!).

The Bissell Insteaclean Pet comes with everything you need to get started and it was really simple to put together. It is about the same size as your standard vacuum cleaner, so it isn't going to take up a whole lot of space, and mine is kept under the stairs with the rest of my cleaning equipment. 

Now I thought I would show you these first photos initially because, this really does showcase what the Bissell can do, and in the grand scheme of things it turns out that my dog is more house proud than my sister (Inserts giggles). 

Bissell Instaclean Pet 20696 Review

As you can see my beige carpet has come up rather nicely, you could say as good as new. The slight staining that I was pulling my hair out over, worked out incredibly quickly with the Bissell and I am so impressed with this machine. It's not just the pup who gets us in a mess every now and again, I am equally guilty when it comes to taking coffee upstairs first thing in the morning. I cannot wait to attack the stairs with this over the coming weeks ahead. 

Disclaimer: I was sent the Bissell Instaclean Pet 20696 for the purpose of this post. All views and opinions expressed are completely honest and my own.

UK Swimwear - Gottex Star Fame Triangle Bikini Review

UK Swimwear Gottex Star Fame Triangle Bikini

There was a time not so long ago that I hated the thought of wearing a bikini, and when holidays rolled around I would give it a go, but I can honestly say that I never felt confident. I remember looking at other girls on the beach, with their slim frames and toned midriffs, and when I looked down at my own tummy, it was as though I was a million worlds away.

 I put myself on many a diet, but nothing ever really stuck. I didn't have the mindset or apparently the want to make the change (not at the cost of chocolate and fizzy drinks anyway!), but something in me changed, and one day I decided to throw myself at a new lifestyle hard. Something had changed this time, I was driven, focused and I needed to see change.

Over the next few months I propelled that change forward, my clothes got looser and looser until eventually.... Everything was far too big. 

I soon realised that you get what you put into this whole fitness malarky, and today I might fall off the wagon every now and again, but I can look back and see just how far I have come, not only with how my body looks in a swimming costume, but because of how I feel in one.

It really does all come down to how you feel, the aim of the game is to be happy, happy and healthy, and that is exactly where I am right now. 

I was recently sent a rather beautiful bikini, you may have seen it in my recent So Shape post! It's the Gottex Star Fame Triangle Bikini from UK Swimwear, and I am absolutely head over heels in love with it. 

UK Swimwear Gottex Star Fame Triangle Bikini

I was drawn to this particular design because it is the kind of thing that I have always loved, and exactly what I would have seen other girls wearing and wished I could pull off myself. It fits absolutely perfectly, I am wearing the size 8 in these photos, and that fits well both on top and bottom. It is often a worry when I order bikini's online because I have a smaller upper half to my bottom, so I always have to hope that the top won't be too big!

I am pleased to report that my order from UK Swimwear was absolutely perfect and it is by far my personal favourite swimwear. I love how the top wraps around and ties at the back creating a bandage effect, it looks exceptionally classy in Black and White, sometimes keeping designs simple is the key to real magic, and that has most certainly been achieved here.

UK Swimwear Gottex Star Fame Triangle Bikini

As you can see, the black on this bikini looks as though it is encrusted with diamonds, and although simple it really does look amazing. The white floral areas on the cups just give it that extra bit of detail that completes the look.

The bottoms are black aside from the diamond panel on each side and of course the small white flowers on on the front and back.

Speaking as a small busted girl, this bikini does absolutely everything I need it too, the cups are moulded to give you that extra bit of support, but I am lucky enough to be able to wear bikini's even if they don't have that support (small boob perks!).

The Gottex Star Fame Triangle Bikini retails at £148.95, and is unlike anything else you are going to come across on the beach front, this little number will be coming along on my summer holidays this year.

I was sent the above swimwear for the purpose of this review. All thoughts and opinions expressed on this product are 100% honest and my own.

Children's Christmas Inspiration 2017

I always thought that as Leo got older he would become easier to buy for, but it turns out that as he has got older I have found gift buying much more difficult. Leo's biggest passion in his spare time is gaming, and his two favourite things are his Nintendo Switch and his Nintendo 2DS. So as I have been busy making lists of things that I know that he will absolutely love, I am determined to only purchase items that I know will get use, so this year that will consist mainly of books and additions for his passion of gaming.

I have also been thinking about things that he will love, but wouldn't necessarily ask for, so that he gets a few surprises he wouldn't expect to find under the tree!

I thought that it would be nice to kick start this year's guide with some fun, budget friendly Stocking ideas!

Check out these fun additions from Zing Toys!

Zing Spinzipz Retail at: £5.99

Zing Thumb Chucks retail at: £7.99

I was really excited to see that the Fingerlings have made the top 12 DreamToys for Christmas 2017, it's set to be a popular toy this year, so if you are thinking about making a purchase, check out how we got on with little Mia over the Summer!

We love nothing more than sitting down and reading a book together, and just like every year I like to treat him to some new story books. Leo has a few personalised stories and these are by far his favourite books, and I know that he is going to adore 'My Golden Ticket' from the people who brought you 'Lost My Name'.

Wonderbly My Golden Ticket

The book is a rather special story that is written from Leo's view point (or however you personalize the book for your child!), at the start of the book your child is presented with their Golden Ticket, and then it is time to set off on a rather exciting adventure into the marvelous world of Willy Wonka and his chocolate factory! Of course you are going to make friends along the way, and in this story your child will meet an Oompa Loompa named Lomo, and he will travel with you around the chocolate factory as you collect the ingredients that you need to make your very own Wonka bar!

I absolutely love this book, the illustrations are brilliant and the story is lovely, it is sure to have your children excited for the next page!

Another book that I think would make a great addition under the Christmas Tree this year is Detective Dot, an 8 year old girl with a rather special power. She can talk to he stuff! From a memory chip with amnesia (Ironic? I think so!) to a football with an over inflated ego (This is sure to give adults a good giggle too), these objects have big questions about who they are and where they came from! Dot travels around the world with her gang answering the questions as they go.
Detective Dot Book

Dot inspires children to think about where their things actually come from, and I think this is a brilliant thing. Leo is always asking questions like those being posed in this book, and I love how the answers are presented. It is definitely a book that we are going to enjoy reading together at bedtime. 

The Detective Dot Megapack

The Megapack would make a great gift this Christmas and features all of this:

- Detective Dot book 
- CIA membership card 
- Six fun missions 
- Personalised CIA Letter 
- CIA Sticker Sheet 
- Lifelong CIA Membership

The Detective Dot Megapack costs £18.99

Amongst the things that Leo has put on the list himself, I am thinking about some slightly different ideas...Skateboarding is something that he has been talking about for the last couple of years, he has always been amazed when he has seen people in the skate park and asked if he can have a go, and although Leo hasn't talked about a skateboard recently, I thought that at 6 years old it might be a nice time for him to learn. 

Fracture Broken Series Complete Skateboard in Red with a 7.5" board
The Fracture Broken Series Complete Skateboard retails at £49.95

When it came to looking for the perfect board on, I was pleased to see that they had a helpful purchasing guide available for parents like myself who quite simply didn't know what they were looking for, and it was through this that I managed to narrow the selection down to this Fracture Broken Series Complete Skateboard in Red with a 7.5" board.

The Mini Hornit Lights and Sound Bike Accessory
The Mini Hornit retails at £14.99

You can never go wrong encouraging children to get outside and have fun, some of my fondest memories are summer's spent riding around on my bicycle. In fact if I cast my mind back far enough, I recall being a young girl of around 3 or 4 and pretending my bike was a pony. Leo is no different in that sense, he loves the great outdoors and these days he will ride his bike alongside me as we walk our dog. 

If you have a bike fanatic like I do, then you need to know all about the Mini Hornit (and you may already have done if you are familiar with Dragon's Den!). The Mini Hornit is a lights and sound accessory for children's bikes, and it comes in a range of different colour ways (Blue/Orange, Red/Blue, Purple/Pink and Black). 

It can be attached onto a bike or a scooter via it's wings and has 25 different sound effects, white safety lights and funky green lights! 

What are the sound effects?
Bike Bell - OlĂ© Trumpet - Racing Cars - Police Siren - Motorbike - Laser - Helicopter - Fire Engine - Fart - Magic Spell - Aeroplane - Hooter - Burp - Wolf - Rooster - Lion - Elephant -  Horse - Hornet - Magic Carpet - Bomb Drop - Reversing Truck - Train - Klaxon - ZapperThe Nikko™ RC Psycho Gyro
If you are thinking about some of the cool toys this Christmas then you might want to check out the Nikko™ RC Psycho Gyro! It has Gyro stunt technology (hence the name!) which lets the operator spin the car around in 2 wheels (Whaaaaat!), if that's not enough then what if I told you it could do spins and doughnuts too, oh... and on just one wheel!? 

I think I know that Dad's all around the world would be kicking themselves if their child unwrapped this on Christmas Day!

 The Nikko™ RC Psycho Gyro has high grip tyres (and for good reason!) to allow for the high performance traction both indoors as well as outdoors. It boasts 2.4Ghz and has a quick charge of 1 hour (perfect for kids who just want to have fun and hate the waiting around, you could even charge this ahead of the big day so that you illuminate the waiting all together!)

The Nikko™ RC Psycho Gyro is available in Blue and Green and retails at £59.99.
The Alcatel A5 LED Smart Phone
The Alcatel A5 LED Smart Phone

I had a fair few Christmas ideas for Leo this year, one was replacing the iPad that had finally given up the ghost and refused to unlock for the next decade and another was a start out camera as he adores taking his own photographs. At this moment in time he only has the use of his Nintendo 2DS camera which doesn't really offer the best set up. 

Then I got to thinking...

Why not go for something that can do everything in one? A tablet would be too big to realistically use as an everyday camera, and a camera alone wouldn't replace the broken tablet... But what if there was a phone that could do everything?

Now don't get me wrong, I am not for one moment suggesting that I am going to provide my 6 year old with a phone contract, or even a sim card for that matter, but what if I could find a fun phone that could be linked to the wifi for the apps, have a decent camera and provide an overall solution?

Then I discovered the Alcatel A5 LED Smart Phone.

The Alcatel A5 LED Smart Phone

The Alcatel A5 LED is the very first of it's kind, the phone is literally cased in LED's (tell me a pre-teen/teenager who quite simple won't love this!?). These LED's can be customised by colour, themes and patterns. You can have a different light theme for each individual contact, that goes for incoming calls, messages and social media alerts. But wait, it doesn't stop there, you can use the Color Catcher feature to create your own unique LED cover patterns and themes, so that you can keep it fresh each and every day.

The Alcatel A5 LED Smart Phone
Now for the camera, which is one of the aspects that I am personally really excited about. It has a 8MP rear camera complete with dual-tone flash, which makes it a great first camera for anybody looking to start taking some great photos. It's a point and click which will take some fantastic shots of our pup!

It has a 5MP front camera for those of you who are partial to a selfie or two, and this combined with the selfie flash means that you are going to get a fab shot even in low light (Snapchat will thank you!), not to mention the Face Beauty software that will ensure that each snap comes out perfect. 

I have never used an android phone, so having a play around from this (coming over from the dark side of Apple) I have to say that I have been very pleasantly surprised. I have been installing child friendly apps onto it (and I was amazed to find Minecraft!), and it has been a massive hit in the replacement of Leo's broken tablet. 

It's a whole lot of phone for a great price, at £169.99 it really does have a lot to offer and would make a great first phone.

The Lightseekers Tyrax Starter Pack
The Lightseekers Tyrax Starter Pack

If your little ones do have access to a tablet or smartphone, then Lightseekers and connected play might just be something that you should be thinking about for Christmas 2017. It's a new concept to me, but I have to say that I was rather excited when this package turned up. 

We should probably start off with what connected play actually means right? 

Connected play means that you can equip a weapon or accessory onto an action figure and this will take effect instantly in the game! Lightseekers is the critically acclaimed action adventure game that is captivating children, it's a role play game set in the fantastical world of Tantos, that allows you to live the adventure yourself!

'After centuries of peace, the balance of power is now being threatened by the return of the evil umbron, whose presence foreshadows even greater danger! Wielding an arsenal of Explosive, Mechanical and Time abilities, the tyrax use their wits, gadgets and gizmos to overcome any challenge!'

It works through the means of the video game (available on tablets and smart phones, Android and Apple), and it combines interactive trading cards and smart action figures that have powerful mini-computers embedded inside them.

Lightseekers Mobile Phone Game

The game is free to download with no in-app purchases and works on mobile phones and tablets. Figures and accessories connect via Bluetooth.

LightSeekers are manufactured by TOMY, each of the action figures can be actioned in real time with the game, they can talk, vibrate and use different coloured lights to show levels, status, warnings (danger is coming!) and help guide you through the gameplay. 

Sounds pretty cool? I thought so too!

Lightseekers Storm Starter Deck Pack

Lightseekers Storm Starter Deck Pack
Lightseekers Storm Starter Deck Pack RRP £19.99

Let's take a closer look at the Starter Packs...

There are 2 different starter packs:
- The Lightseeker Tyrax Starter Pack 
The Tyrax Starter Pack includes a Tyrax Smart Action Figure, Nitro Hammer Weapon, FusionCore minicomputer, 5 Augmented Reality Trading Cards, Unique Tribute Card, and mini USB charger. 
It also Includes exclusive hero and weapon cards and three powerful combo cards. These cards can be used offline in the Official Lightseekers Trading Card Game. 
When scanned with the free Lightseekers Video Game, each card delivers augmented reality effects, rewards, and in-game abilities. 
Attach the Nitro Hammer weapon to your hero and it instantly appears in game! 
This 1-handed crushing weapon delivers explosive damage through the Nitro Slam special ability. Add lightstones and defeat enemies to level-up your weapon.

The Lightseekers Mari Starter Pack
The Lightseekers Mari Starter Pack

- The Lightseekers Mari Starter Pack
The Mari Starter Pack has the same great benefits of the Tyrax pack but instead includes Mari.
 Both of the packs retail at £49.98 at Toys R Us.
That's some of the bigger gift ideas covered for Christmas 2017, but what about stocking ideas?

Christmas Stocking Ideas for 2017

SpearmarkStar Wars Illumi-mate lighting

Spearmark have a great range of Star Wars Illumi-mate lighting out right now, and if yourself (other half or child) are fans of the feature films, then you definitely want to know about these!

The Star Wars Illumi-mate lighting are battery operated which makes them fantastic night lights (they will just provide that additional reassurance when bedtime rolls around) and they can even change color. The line up has the Stormtrooper,  Millennium Falcon, Chewbacca, Kylo-Ren or Darth Vader to cast a moody glow across the bedroom.

The Star Wars Illumi-mate lights retail at £6.99

If you have a Star Wars fan then why not complete the set with this Scheaffer Star Wars Roller Pen (£16.00) and Scheaffer Star Wars A5 Journal (£15.00). They make great stocking fillers and I love that it will encourage Leo with his writing.

Scheaffer Star Wars A5 Journal
You might be noticing a theme by now, and that would be that Star Wars is a popular theme in this years gift guide! How could it not be though?

Mitre bring you the Star Wars Scriball, a way to bring out the creativity within you and then some! It's not just colouring in, because once you have personalised the ball to your tastes, you can take it outside for a kick around!

The pack comes complete with Ball Pump, Ball Stand, Scriball Pens and of course the ball!

Mitre Star Wars Scribal
Mitre Star Wars Scriball - £12.00

Cars has been a love affair with Leo since around the age of 2, and for a while it was hard to source the toys and merchandise, of course this all changed with the launch of Cars 3. We were thinking about getting Leo some new LEGO sets for the festive season, it's something that we can sit down together and do beneath the Christmas Tree, and now Cars 3 and LEGO are combined in sets, we couldn't help thinking how great that would be!

The LEGO Juniors Cars 3 Lightning McQueen Speed Launcher

If you are thinking on a stocking budget, then this Lightning McQueen Speed Launcher will make a great addition. 

The LEGO Juniors Cars 3 Lightning McQueen Speed Launcher retails at £7.99.

Jumbo Cars 3 Piston Cup Race Game

When the festive season rolls around it really is all about family time, and nothing brings the family together quite as well as a board game. Leo has never been a massive board game fan, and this is something that I really want to change, because it's the most amazing way to get the family all in one room, talking and laughing. With that in mind I have been having a look at the Jumbo website looking for board game gift ideas that Leo would enjoy. 

Jumbo have a fantastic selection of different games and puzzles, but as soon I was drawn in very quickly by the Disney additions, the first one being the Cars 3 Piston Cup Race Game!

The aim of the game is to race of course, and the board is set up with a rotating race track that will help one of the players to speed off ahead and be the first to collect each of the different pit stop cards (There are 5 in total!), the first person to collect each of the cards WINS the Piston Cup just like Lightning McQueen and Doc Hudson back in his hay day!

It's a great way to get the entire family playing, and it can cater for up to 4 players at anyone time (Ideal for my little family of 3!) 

The Cars 3 Piston Cup Race Game retails at £25.00

Jumbo Disney Guess the Film Game

This next game is probably more for me than it would be for Leo, it's called Guess the Film and it is of course another Disney edition. It's very similiar to Guess who but instead of guessing faces, you are of course guessing Disney films (which is so much better right!?), and it is different in the sense that you only get one film holder, so you are all working together as a team to try and figure out which film the mystery image is.

The idea is that you take it in turns rolling the dice and then open the door with the corresponding colour to the die. Each door reveals part of an image that will eventually from an iconic Disney film and it’s up to you to work out which film it is!
The game changes each time you play as the game has 100 different film images to play around with, Finding Nemo, Frozen, Cars and 101 Dalmatians are among the film images!
The Jumbo Disney Guess the Film Game retails at £30.00.

Both games would make lovely additions to Christmas Eve boxes, allowing children to unwrap something ahead of all the excitement the next day, and would provide a lovely family bonding exercise to keep them entertained before they head up to bed.

Haribo is always popular in this house, if it's not Leo then it will no doubt be myself tucking into a big bag of TangFastics, they are by far my all time favourite. We have sort of reached a point now where I can't even open a bag for Leo, because as soon as I catch the scent of them, I am like a child in a candy shop...

Saying that though, Haribo have some great products out for Christmas 2017 and they will no doubt make a great addition to a child's (or adults) stocking (or even on the tree!)

HARIBO Starmix Tree Decoration

HARIBO Starmix Tree Decoration
If you want an alternative to the traditional bauble to hang on your tree this year, look no further than this temptingly delicious decoration from HARIBO. Inside you’ll find a 50g pack of Starmix to enjoy in the countdown to Christmas – a perfectly tasty treat to add to the festivities.
HARIBO Selection Box

HARIBO Selection Box
This brand new HARIBO Selection Box is the ideal gift for those that enjoy a tasty treat that includes their favourite gums and jellies. A stocking filler with a difference, and the ideal size for under the tree, this Christmas morning surprise includes eight mini bags of HARIBO favourites including Starmix, Tangfastics, Super Mix, Goldbears and Happy Cola.

HARIBO Sweet Medley
Christmas just got better! HARIBO’s favourite treats all in one box. This gift box contains a tray with Starmix, Super Mix, Giant Strawbs, Jelly Babies, Tangfastics and Gold Bears – a super surprise for your loved one to unwrap come Christmas morning. 

HARIBO Giant Trees

HARIBO Giant Trees
Giant Strawbs have had a festive makeover! These tasty treats, which are suitable for vegetarians, now appear in the shape of a Christmas tree. Available in a 70g bag for you to enjoy on your own during the party season.

HARIBO Advent Calendar

HARIBO Advent Calendar
Now you can count down to Christmas with the HARIBO Advent Calendar. Containing a selection of mini bags hiding behind 24 windows, there’s a sweet treat to help little (and big) kids count down to the special day.

Disclaimer: The items featured within this guide have been sent over for the purpose of this feature. All views and opinions expressed are completely honest and my own.