Sunday, 31 December 2017

My Most Read Posts in 2017

I thought it would be a nice idea to put together all of my most read blog posts in 2017 to see what you've been enjoying reading. Some of the top 10 surprised me and others I knew would do very well. Disney, Mindfulness, Post Natal Depression and Travel feature heavily in the top 10 which is great as they are what I enjoy writing about the most.



Here they are counting down from 10 with number 1 being the most read:



I was very surprised to see a review post in the top 10 but this one was unique. It was for a lovely personalised charm from Hand on Heart Jewellery. The charm featured both Eva and Ophelia's hand prints so it it something I can cherish for ever.



I was so pleased to see this post in the top 10 as I loved writing it. I can remember how excited I was about planning our Disney World trip. Ironically, I didn't manage to do a lot of the things on it. Hopefully we can return to Disney again soon and get them ticked off.



This year i've been trying to practice mindfulness to help combat my postnatal depression. I started a blog series of Disney quotes for mindfulness and this was the very first one I wrote. I've always enjoyed reading Winnie the Pooh and the quotes included in this post are lovely.



This was one of the first posts I wrote in 2017. At the end of 2016 I embarked on a health and exercise regime which worked incredibly well for me and I ended up dropping 2 dress sizes in 6 weeks. Unfortunately, postnatal depression (PND) has kicked my arse a lot since then and I fell out of love with doing anything. I need to re-read this post myself and hopefully have a healthy, motivated 2018.



I am so happy this post was one of the most read. I joined the PTA at my daughter's school and it quickly became apparent that people have the wrong idea about the people on it and what it is. There are lots of misconceptions so I decided to write a comical post to clear them up.



Another one from my Disney Mindfulness series. Moana quickly became one of mine and my daughter's favourite Disney films. It features lots of strong, powerful quotes to encourage you to remember who you are.


Going for Afternoon Tea is one of my favourite things to do and we are very fortunate in South Wales as there are plenty of places to try. I wrote a post featuring some of our preferred places. I think i'll update this for 2018 as there has been quite a few new offerings in 2017.



This was one of my personal favourite posts. I wrote it when I was in quite a dark place with PND but I decided I wanted to try and raise awareness of mental health issues so I began to  discuss it on the blog. I wrote this poem to try and make other sufferers aware that they aren't alone and they should speak out. I received lots of messages from parents after writing it which was encouraging. 



I knew this post had been well received but I didn't realise it was enjoyed so much that it was my second most read post of the year. Both the girls loved the party and the range available from The Disney Store is perfect.



I am so pleased that this was the most read post of 2017. I loved writing it. I laughed so much whilst putting the ideas together. Even though it was written in a comical manner, every tip is truth. 

Which posts in my top 10 did you enjoy reading? What would you like to see me write more of in 2018?





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Diono Quantum Travel System Review

A while ago the lovely people at Diono sent me their first ever travel system to put through its paces. The Quantum travel system is designed to be #adventureready and with us being a family that can't keep still, we couldn't wait to try it.


When I say I was sent this a while ago, I mean it. It has made its way comfortably into our lives and it feels like we've always had it. We've been using it everyday. It goes on the school run, to the beach, on dog walks, mountain adventures, to the zoo, on caravan holiday's and more. The only place we haven't tried taking it, is abroad. 


The Quantum comes in 4 different colours, Black, Navy, Teal and Red. It costs £500 and comes with everything you would need such as raincover, seat-liner etc. The only thing it doesn't come with is a car seat but it is compatible with lots of different brands of car seats such as Cybex and Maxi Cosi. I've also heard that Diono may be making their own car seat which will be compatible with this system very soon.


This travel system is like none we've ever used before, you can tell it has been designed with parents in mind. The first thing that makes it stand out from other travel systems is the fact that it comes with so few parts. Previous systems we've used have come with at least 3 or 4 separate components making them the stuff of nightmares to store. The Quantum comes with a very clever convertible 3 in 1 smart seat. The carriage can be transformed to a seat by connecting 4 clips. It's easy to do and is a great space saver. This makes the travel system ideal for people who lack storage space and those with small boots on their cars.

Image from https://uk.diono.com

The carriage can be laid completely flat. This means it can be used from birth. With Ophelia being the age she is, we've hardly used it as a carriage and therefore haven't tried it with her in the lie flat position but if we ever have a baby number 3, we'll definitely utilise that feature.   It can also be tilted in lie flat mode and this makes the travel system perfect for babies that suffer with reflux. 


My favourite feature by a mile is the brake. That is a phrase you would never here me say about any other travel system or pushchair. The brake is amazing. I can't begin to tell you how many times I have stubbed my toe or scuffed my feet and nails on our older pushchairs. This genius design has been a lifesaver or toe saver for me shall we say. 
The brake is large and centralised in the middle of the bar so no hunting around on corners trying to find it. It's a simple one step movement to activate it. All you have to do is step on it to lock and step again to unlock. It's as easy as that. You can do it in any shoes. It's been amazing to use in the summer as my toes have been saved from injury when wearing flip flops and sandals. 

The huge hood is also one of my favourite features. It extends far enough to give good coverage. It has a UV extender attached to it. It keeps the sun out of Ophelia's eyes (when it finally makes an appearance that is). It has a mesh section on the canopy which allows airflow. There's also a magnetic viewing flap so you can have a peek at your little ones without disturbing them. 

The Quantum Travel System has the perfect sized storage basket. You can fit plenty under there so it's great for using on shopping trips. It's wide and easily accessible. I think the only down side to the amount of space (and the travel system in general) is that it makes the pram quite large and bulky. 


It has a one hand fold system. Hoorah!! This is great for us busy parents that never have enough hands free. It also has a handy shoulder strap for carrying once it's down which is fab for when you're trying to juggle holding bags and children's hands etc.

For almost a year Ophelia has wanted to be parent facing but since we've had the Quantum she has wanted to face the world to absorb her adventures. This travel system allows for both parent and world facing. 


The Quantum is great on all terrains and provides and incredibly smooth ride even on grass and rough surfaces. It has large wheels which means hardly any punctures! Wahoo. It has great manoeuvrability  I am able to push the Quantum with one hand whilst walking the dog in the other. The only thing I notice (and this may be due to my lack of muscle) is that I struggle going up a curb. 

I would definitely recommend the Quantum travel system to parents. It has made my school run like a dream. It's great for all weather conditions and all surfaces meaning it is ready for any adventure. 


*We were kindly sent the Diono Quantum Travel System in exchange for this blog post. As always may opinions are my own and honest and truthful*









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Thursday, 28 December 2017

Bringing The Family Closer Together


Family should be one of the most important things in your life, especially at a time like this where the holidays have been and gone. There are plenty of people out there who don’t really have a family, so making the most of your is something that should always be of utmost importance to you. But, some of us will know all too well that it is easy enough for family to drift apart for one reason or another. Distance, fallouts, busy lives, it all helps to push families apart until they barely speak. But life is just too small for this, so we’re here to show you how you can help to bring your family closer together, just in time for the New Year.

Distance

Distance really is something that drives families apart. When all you have is a phone call, it is easy enough to forget all about that phone call for a few days, then a few days turn into a few weeks. If the family members we’re talking about are your parents, this really can be heartbreaking. They will have raised you by seeing you everyday, yet so many people wish to move as far away as possible from their parents when they fly the nest. And so the divide begins. The first step in bringing everyone closer is actually bringing everyone close. A move might be a bit of a stressful situation, but there are companies out there that are on hand to help with the job. Just check out mybekins.com if you’re curious! Your parents aren’t going to be around forever, so moving closer to make sure you can see them, even if it is just once a week, is going to mean the difference between making or breaking your relationship. If you have children, grandparents should always be a big part of their lives. Don’t let them miss out as well as you.

Communication

This is something that a hell of a lot of families seem to struggle with. Communication is key if you want to make sure the family is brought closer together. If there were some fall outs that might have prompted the drifting, talk them out whilst everyone is still around. Families are the biggest support network you’ll ever have, so making sure everyone is happy and talking should always be high on your list. As we said in the above paragraph, it is easy for a phone call a week to turn into one every few weeks. This lack of communication really is what drives families apart. Pick up the phone once a week to catch up with everyone, it won’t take you long and it will definitely pay off in the long run.

Days Out

Days out are what gives families things to look back on, and is definitely what helps to bring them closer together. Being out in the open creating memories is what being a family is all about. So get everyone together and out for a bit of food, you won’t regret it.

*This is a collaborative post*
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Saturday, 23 December 2017

Last Minute Gift Ideas with Bayliss and Harding

Bayliss and Harding are a brand I always use for beauty gifts for the whole family. They are beautifully packaged and they are very reasonably priced. We use their hand wash in our home religiously.

Here are my top picks for last minute gift ideas:

Bath and Body Bathtub Duo
This cute gift comes with a shower creme and body butter in midnight Fig and Pomegranate scent which smells amazing.. I love the bathtub that it comes in which could then be used later on as a toiletry or soap holder in your bathroom.



Winter Spruce and Berries Festive Scented Candle
You can't beat getting a new candle for Christmas and it's even better with a festive scent to get you in the mood. They make great stocking fillers or secret Santa gifts. This candle has an impressive 38 hours burning time.



Men's Sports Wash Bag Set
This set comes with a hair and body wash and an aftershave balm in a citrus and lime scent. It's ideal for a gym wash bag or travel toiletry bag.



Midnight Fig and Pomegranate Large Shimmering Sequin Tree
I instantly fell in love with the packaging of this gift. It oozes Christmas with all the shimmer and sparkle. The set comes with body wash, shower creme, hand and body lotion, body butter and bath crystals. 



Funky Farm Set - 3 Piece
This cute set will help make bath or shower time fun for any children. It comes with a body wash, body polisher and shower creme. 


Wild Blackberry and Apple Gift Crackers
I love receiving beauty crackers. They are so festive. These one's contain a hat, joke and a luxurious bathing treat.



Midnight Fig and Pomegranate Hand Wash and Lotion Set
I've already mentioned how much I love Bayliss and Harding's hand wash so this set is perfect. It makes a lovely but practical gift for Christmas.



You can buy Bayliss and Harding gifts from Amazon and use next day delivery. What gift that I've featured has caught your eye?
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Friday, 22 December 2017

Charlotte Tilbury's Beauty Icons

The Charlotte Tilbury brand is one which I lust after. From Charlotte's own reputation as an amazing make up artist to the products' beautiful packaging, you know the brand oozes quality. I recently received the Charlotte Tilbury Beauty Icons set which makes the perfect gift.


The set contains 5 of Charlotte Tilbury's most iconic and award winning products from her make up and skin care range and therefore makes it ideal for first timers of the brand or simply someone that can't get enough of the range. There are 3 make up products and 2 face creams. All are travel sized except a full sized lip liner.

Here's what's inside:



Lip Cheat Lip Liner - Pillow Talk
I've heard fab things about this lip liner so I couldn't wait to try it. It's safe to say it does not disappoint. The lip liner is designed to re-size and re-shape your lips and it does just that. It's the perfect nude colour for all skin types. I'll admit, when I first saw the colour, I didn't think it would suit my skin tone but it is a match made in heaven. 
It glides on easily and I can definitely see a difference in my lips when I use it. It makes them look fuller and more defined. I've actually been using it with just lip balm and gloss alone and it looks great. I really need to try the Pillow Talk lipstick now.

Full Fat Lashes Mascara 
This award winning mascara comes in a mini size and is designed to give you curl, separation, volume, length and drama. It has fine tipped bristles to catch every lash on application. 
I've been using it as a day mascara. It makes my lashes long and is great for separating them. I can't stand clumpy eyelashes and this mascara doesn't create that effect. It is as buildable as you like so you can make your lashes as thick and long as you wish which I will try for an evening look.

K.I.S.S.I.N.G Lipstick - Penelope Pink
I must confess I was very disappointed with the size of this mini lipstick. It is tiny which is such a shame. The colour is a lovely nude with a slight pink undertone. It's very creamy and leaves may lips feeling hydrated and moisturised. 

Wonderglow Face Primer
I've loved using this primer. It certainly does give you a wonder glow. It leaves my skin more radiant and creates a dewy look. I have a couple of small wrinkles now (damn my age) and this is helping to smooth them out. I find when I use some primers and foundations they make my wrinkles stand out more which I am mortified with but this makes my skin look more youthful. I will definitely be buying this in the full size.

Charlotte's Magic Cream
Believe it or not, I'd first heard of this product from my nan. She swears by it and hasn't got a bad word to say about it. I couldn't wait to try it. It's one of Charlotte Tilbury's most coveted products and is adored backstage by celebrities and models.
It contains an anti-age BioNymph Peptide complex which stimulates collagen production whilst flighting free radicals. 
This cream really is what it says on the tin. It's magical. It feels luxurious when you're applying it and I can hear my skin screaming thank you. I do suffer with dry skin in certain areas but this cream is incredibly moisturising. I will be purchasing a full sized one once this is finished. 

This set comes in at £55 which may be off putting to some people. However, you can't put a price on quality and all of these products are great. It's been the ideal way for me to try the most loved Charlotte Tilbury items to decide whether I want to purchase the full sized ones. I am obsessed with the Lip Liner so i'll definitely be looking at the other colours avaiable and I can't wait to try some other shades in the lipstick. 



Have you used Charlotte Tilbury make up? Which products are your favourite?


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Wednesday, 20 December 2017

Visiting Santa at Pugh's Garden Centre Cardiff

Visiting Santa at Pugh's Garden Centre has become a family tradition of ours since we first took Eva there in 2014. The theme that year was Frozen which Eva adores. I wrote a blog post about our visit which you can read here, Pugh's 2014. We were lucky enough to be invited this year to experience 'Santa's Magical Candyland'. We knew it would be magical but we didn't know whether they'd be able to make it better than previous years.


Tickets cost £14 per child and £5 per adult. I must admit as a parent, I find that price quite off putting. However, the cost can certainly be justified by the experience. The price includes a 30 minute journey through Santa's Candyland (5 different rooms in total) to eventually meet Santa. It also includes a surprise tasty treat to take home, a toy and a discounted hot drink.



It's advised to book online before visiting to ensure you get a spot. Once you arrive you can wait in the waiting area where you can write a letter to Santa. An elf then calls you in to start your journey to Santa. 



You then go through to a room to board a train. This was my favourite part of the experience. It's very realistic and certainly unique. The video is also quite comical for the adults which is always a bonus.


Next up you head to the gingerbread factory where you have to help power things along by throwing balls through holes. Both my girls loved this part.

Then you head to Mrs Claus' kitchen which is beautifully decorated. It looks incredibly festive and cosy. 



You then wait in a forest before visiting Santa. Your group visits Santa together but your child has individual time with him for a chat and photo opportunities.






Once the journey ends your child gets to pick their own toy from a wide selection. I think this is a great idea as you know your child will like their gift. I can't tell you how many times we've been to visit Santa in other places and the gift has not been up to scratch. 

Overall, the experience was wonderful. The kids thought it was amazing and so did we. There are so many special touches that make Santa's Candyland truly magical and stand out from any other experience in South Wales. I can't recommend it enough.



My only negative comment was the parking. We went on a weekend and the car park was utter chaos which was incredibly stressful. It took us over 45 minutes to park the car. If you are going to visit on a weekend please keep this in mind. 

Have you visited Santa this year? Where are your favourite places to visit him?

*We were invited to experience Santa's magical Candyland in exchange for this blog post. All opinions are my own*


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Tuesday, 19 December 2017

As They Age, What Parents Should Do For Grandparents


As parents, it’s all too easy for all of your time and all of your focus to be taken up by your children. It’s only natural they should be priority number. But at the time that we start having and raising kids of our own, it tends to be the time we start noticing that our parents aren’t once the pillars of health and stability we once knew. What can we do for them and what’s the best way to go about it?


Be conscious and collaborative
As we age, healthy living becomes more important than ever. What were risks before become even riskier now. Obesity, heart disease, malnutrition, and even mental health issues become a lot more serious. Talk with your parents about forming healthy habits with them. Find exercises you can do together, focusing on low-impact options like swimming and using cycling machines. Eat together more often and provide nutritious, balanced meals when you can. If they seem lonely to you, beyond spending time with them yourself, you can recommend social activities around them they could benefit from enjoying. You don’t have to be coy or secretive, be honest about your concerns.
When they can’t go it alone
Honesty is the best policy because being honest about seemingly smaller health considerations up front can make it a lot easier to be honest about the big decisions you may face sooner than you like. For instance, the question of independence and when they might not be able to manage on their own as much as they would like. The question of care is one that’s brought up too late, in many cases. Rather than taking the time to find live in care services that allow them to live in their own home, especially when they’re a couple, people tend to look at homes first and then have the conversation. Independence is a real issue and your parents might be stubborn about it, which is why opening that dialogue early is important.

Don’t forget to be their family
One of the biggest issues addressed by elderly parents is the feeling that they’re being too closely watched by their children for their health alone. Visits feel more like check-ups than genuine attempts to spend time with them. Conversations start to feel like interrogations. Your parent needs you on their side and being able to feel comfortable with you, even when you’re concerned, is important. Again, this only highlights the importance of being honest and frank with your concerns. If they feel like your agenda isn’t hidden, they’re more likely to engage with it, directly. But most importantly, spend time with them without actively bringing up their health. They don’t want that to be the crux of their relationship with you.
Providing the care your parents need is all about striking a balance. You want to care but you don’t want to be so overbearing that your presence becomes a burden to them. The best way to handle it is to engage in frank conversations and to remember that they need more than just a watchful eye, they need a loving relationship.

*This is a collaborative post*

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Friday, 15 December 2017

15 The Lion King Quotes for Mindfulness

Next up in my Disney quotes for mindfulness series is 'The Lion King'. These quotes help me on the days when I am struggling with my PND. There were so many to choose from in this film. I probably could've written this whole post based on quotes from Rafiki.


1) Everything will be ok in the end. If it is not okay, it's not the end

2) Look inside yourself. You are more than what you have become

3) HAKUNA MATATA - It means no worries, for the rest of your days

4) Never forget who you are

5) Look beyond what you can see

6) Change is good but it's not easy

7) The past can hurt, but the way I see it, you can either run from it or learn from it


8) Everything you see exists together in a delicate balance

9) You got to put your past behind you

10) Being brave doesn't mean you go looking for trouble

11) As you go through life you'll see there is so much we don't understand, and the only thing we know is things don't always go the way we planned


12) More people would learn from their mistakes if they weren't so busy denying them

13) If today is the worst day of your life then you know tomorrow will be better

14) Can you feel the love tonight?


15) Life's greatest adventure is finding your place in the circle of life 

If you enjoyed this post, make sure you check out the previous ones in this series:




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Toddlebike2 Review

Ophelia has been confidently walking and running (running mostly) for a while now, so we thought it was time to get her some sort of bike. After much research and asking friends, we were recommended a Toddlebike. This was not something hubby and I had heard of before. With Eva, she went straight to a normal bike and she still struggles riding it, even now. She's not very confident on it at all. 

As luck would have it, we were asked if Ophelia would like to try out the Toddlebike2 so we jumped at the chance. We chose to receive a pink one but it also comes in blue and red.


When it arrived, I thought we'd been sent an empty box. Normally when we get a parcel, I end up asking the poor postman to bring it into the house but this time when he handed it over, I was rather perplexed. 
You hear the word bike and automatically assume it'll be heavy but this one is honestly as light as a feather. Even Ophelia can pick it up. It actually weighs less than 1kg. 


It also arrives fully assembled!! Anyone that has had to put together a bike or any children's toy will know just how frustrating that can be so this was fab to see.


The bike is designed for children who are confident in walking so around the age of 18 months old, until they are ready for a big bike.The Toddlebike helps improve little one's confidence in their balance which will then help then in the future when it comes to learning to ride an actual bike.



Whenever Ophelia isn't riding it around, Eva is on it. Luckily it has been tested up to 100kg so older siblings are fine to test it out, just prepare yourself for the arguments. The girls always end up fighting when the other one has it but that's typical sibling rivalry at its best. 

Ophelia took to the Toddlebike straight away. Some children need a bit of practice but others will be just like Ophelia. The minute she sat on it she knew what to do. She whizzes around the house thinking she's the bee's knees. The handle bars and seat aren't adjustable but they are within easy reach. 



My favourite feature is definitely how light it is. The bike has come around everywhere with us. It goes on the school run (such a godsend as it gets Ophelia and me, there and back quicker). It has been to the beach with us and it has also been on our recent caravan holiday. It's small enough to pop in the car and not take up too much room. You can even pop it on your stroller or in the basket. We also regularly take it to grandparent's houses to keep Ophelia entertained.


The bike can even go through water which is great fun for kiddies that love puddles. It is water and rust proof and therefore all weather fun.

Ophelia loves everything about this bike. It's honestly one of the best things we've got for her in a long time. 


You can purchase the Toddlebike2 for £23.95 here, http://www.toddlebike.co.uk/shop but I have a 10% discount code you can use to help with your Christmas shopping. Simply add BLOG17 for your discount.

*Thank you to Toddlebike2 for sending us the bike in exchange for this blog post*




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