Friday, 22 July 2016

Baby Baker Friday - Spotlight on... Mummy Makes Bowtique

So as you know, I decided that Friday's on the blog would be dedicated to my pregnancy status of "Mum".

I know it's not something everyone wants to read about but it is something that I really wanted to do - so I'm doing it - after all, being pregnant and having a beautiful new baby is a huge thing to be happening in my life and I really wanted to share bits and pieces of what is going on amongst these pages.

So here we go

~ Baby Baker Friday ~

It's been a while since I did any kind of baby outfit post on my blog - I think the last time I managed it Willow was four months old and I had yet to discover my love of Instagram and all of it's handmade baby item shops.

But now, five months on, a whole lot has changed - if you do follow me on my social media channels (Instagram in particular) then you will know this to be true...

To start with Willow is now nine months old (!!) and is changing so much every day and I, well I am a little (!!) addicted to baby clothes shopping and I'm sure there are many people out there who have had their fill of "What Willow's Wearing Today" posts but I just can't help myself - I love it.

But as much as I love it, I didn't want to simply duplicate all of my Instagram photos here in one mass monthly post so I have decided to change the way I do these Baby Baker outfit posts a little bit.

Willow has been lucky enough to be chosen as brand representative or brand enthusiast for a few fabulous Instagram shops now and so I thought it would be nice if I showcased them a little bit more.

I just want to say though that I'm not doing this because I've been asked to - I haven't - and we aren't being compensated in any way by doing this - I genuinely love these small businesses and simply wanted to write about them.

There are some very talented, sewing machine geniuses out there and their amazing, quality work is too fabulous to miss.

And so today I'm "bigging up" and putting the spotlight on...

Mummy Makes Bowtique is a very sparkly, glittery business which is run by the lovely, very talented Emma who set up the business in her hometown of Southampton using her lovely kiddies as her bow-creating inspiration.

Willow was lucky enough to join the team and became a brand representative a short while ago in June and the amount of Mummy Makes hair decorations she has amassed is this short space of time is really quite crazy...

We have headbands on thick material, headbands on elastic.

There are headbands to compliment her hair colour (all the green for the ginger locks!) and headbands to match her outfits.

There are big clips, small clips and clips which can be changed into headbands.

There is personalisation, there is glitter, there is felt, there is leather-look.

We have very much been spoilt for choice.

But I suppose I may as well start Willow's "a girl can never have too many accessories" mantra as early as possible hadn't I...

And the little lady does wear a bow really rather well.

All of the Mummy Makes designs are really innovative and are so blooming cute - people have loved seeing them on Willow and we are always getting stopped, having compliments thrown our (Willow's) way.

But that's hardly surprising because not only do they all look great but they are made to a really high standard too...and they are very (very!) reasonably priced - what's not to love?!

Even I (excuse the photo!) get in on the action whenever I can...

Willow is one very lucky little lady.

And one thing is for sure - I'm going to be very sad when our rep time comes to an end

Thursday, 21 July 2016

Bouncing action at Gravity - Xscape, Castleford

As much as I love those days spent doing absolutely nothing, relaxing in the comfort of my own home (and trust me I really do love them) there's nothing better than getting out and about, having some fabulously fun time with the family.

And this weekend we were very kindly invited along to Xscape in Castleford for a little bit of Gravity fun...

We've actually been to Gravity once before - my son was invited to a party there last year and he's been nattering to go back ever since.

And this weekend it was our time - yep, I did say "our time" - even I was going to give it a go.

Yes, me.

The person who managed to avoid a full terms worth of trampolining when I was in high school (many moons ago now) by dodging my place in the queue every week and making excuse after excuse because, well, I was a little bit scared.

But not anymore - I was raring to go.

So raring to go in fact that we arrived a little earlier than needed but still, we headed straight over to the check in desk to book in and collect our snazzy socks...

I have to add that the whole booking before you arrive concept is brilliant, not only for obvious safety reasons so there aren't too many people on the trampolines at the same time but also - there were no huge queues to stand about in - amazing.

Next it was safety video time...

...a rather funny safety video actually which showed the seriousness of silly actions but in a way which would engage the children, helping to keep the "do not's" prominent in their minds.

Now with us having Willow, myself and the Hubby switched between child-watching and bouncing - and obviously I went second (he's such a big kid!) but it gave me the perfect chance to have a really good nose around...

The whole place was clean, well-maintained with a really feel-good, fun atmosphere about it.

The music was loud, the lights were flashing and you couldn't help but feel all excited the second you walked through the doors.

And then my attention was directed towards the members of staff who were stood on the edge on the trampolines, available to jump on at any second - brilliant from a safety perspective.

It was very clear to see that they all loved their jobs are were having an absolute ball.

They were really entertaining the kiddies, dancing along to the fab music and helping everyone when it was needed - if you can picture a slightly watered down version of a children's holiday rep then you've got these guys in one.

I wouldn't mind a job at Gravity myself - it looked way too much fun to be classed as work.

~ And fun it was ~

All three boys bounced their way around the course numerous times, climbing up walls and flipping themselves everywhere - they did come back to see me though - shattered, sweaty and in need of drinks...

Then it was my turn and do you know what, it really was so much fun - but really blooming tiring - not that the kids minded though, they didn't want to leave at all.

Oh, and I did take a slight tentative glance in the direction of the foam pit (the manned at all time foam pit I must add) but there's no way I was following all of those daredevil children by diving in - I'll simply take their beaming faces as proof of it's greatness.

But then, before too long, our time was up and so after a quick drink refuel in the cafe it was time to head home.

Happy, shattered and in need of a rest after such a fun-packed afternoon.

Everything was amazing but if I did have to find fault with anything at Gravity, the only thing I could possibly raise is that there was no lift access - and the cafe is situated up a flight of stairs - which I'm sure people must have struggled with in the past.

I however didn't find it an issue at all - I was able to leave my pram downstairs and use a highchair in the cafe itself so it didn't affect us.

However the ever helpful staff obviously spotted my potential pram vs steps issue as soon as I walked in because they couldn't do enough to try to help us...

~ I was offered help carrying the pram up the stairs

~ I was asked if I needed any drinks bringing downstairs for me

~ I was asked if I needed any water bringing down to warm Willow's bottle

They were just brilliant.

And something else brilliant that I spotted as we were about to leave - there is even a "keep the smaller children out of harms way" area too...

Perfect for Willow when she's a little older.

We can't wait for visit number three

* day provided free of charge - all words, thoughts & pictures 100% my own

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

An iwoot ladies mystery goody box? Yes. I Want One Of Those

Nothing beats a really good delivery day does it.

All those lovely parcels and exciting letters (bills excluded obviously) landing on your doorstep.

I'm like a cat on a hot tin roof when I hear the postman - Usain Bolt's got nothing on me when that letter box goes let me tell you.

Parcel deliveries have to be my absolute favourite, especially those unexpected, surprise parcels that are crammed full with lovely goodies.

So when the Hubby went to an event in Manchester a little while ago and the fab organisers sent him home with lots of treats, some of which were for lucky old me, well, I could hardly contain myself.

To say I was thrilled was an understatement and straight away I delved inside the box of goodies - an iwoot ladies mystery gift box - and found it simply fabulous...

Through past experiences I know all too well how sometimes "a surprise" in a goody box can often be a little underwhelming but not in this case, everything I pulled out was brilliant.

But then again I think everything iwoot have to offer is brilliant so I couldn't fail to be impressed really.

So what did I find?

Well, we had...

~ a chilli-plant-in-a-tin...

My son loved this the second he saw it - not because he's a fan of chillis or anything but because it looks rather cool doesn't it and it really seemed to intrigue him.

And for a ten year old boy I suppose this is a fairly cool way of learning how to keep plants alive, watching them grow and thrive.

For me, the fact that it seems fairly easy to keep alive is a bonus.

~ an amazing looking box of chocolates...

Now I have to apologise - before I managed to get a photo of these (and they were SO photogenic too) my son (and I!) demolished the lot...

...I feel so "un-blogger" but the plan was to pinch a couple - just one each - and then strategically arrange the box in the photographs so that no-one would notice that we had been naughty.

But when I went back for my photo taking, the box looked like this...

Yep - my son sure did enjoy these...

But I suppose that only highlights just how great they were doesn't it.

And they were really good - big chunks of yummy white and milk chocolate, shaped and decorated to look like traditional, all time favourite biscuits.

~ I want more ~

~ a Rockstar Nails Hippie Chick guitar shaped nail file...

...which can't fail to make nail care fun - I wouldn't be ashamed of pulling this out of my bag anyway that's for sure.

~ an array of top branded skincare goodies...

Fabulous skincare is never a disappointment - especially when it's from trusted, well-known brands.

~ a cute "Homemade" cookie stamper...

...which I thought was really nice and a tad different.

Myself and my son have always loved baking and have recently got ourselves back into the kitchen (see here) so this will be perfect for being able to put our own stamp (get it!) on our wonderful creations

~ a portable phone charger...

...because with all the social media checking, internet browsing and selfie taking to do, who doesn't need an emergency stash of battery life in their bag?

My Hubby's been after this since he first spotted it - the cheeky so and so - like he didn't get enough treats of his own!

And so what do I think?

Well I reckon everyone should have at least one of these boxes gifted for a special occasion - the surprise factor is brilliant and they certainly raise a smile or two...oh and there are ones for the men too.

And I mean, why would you not want to treat yourself?

* a free gift item not sent for review, but I was so pleased, I reviewed anyway. Words, thoughts & pictures all my own

Friday, 15 July 2016

Baby Baker Friday - Sassy Bloom Subscription Boxes

So as you know, I decided that Friday's on the blog would be dedicated to my pregnancy and now, mummy status.

I know it's not something everyone wants to read about but it is something that I really wanted to do - so I'm doing it - after all, being pregnant and having a beautiful new baby is a huge thing to be happening in my life and I really wanted to share bits and pieces of what is going on amongst these pages.

So here we go

~ Baby Baker Friday ~

Today I wanted to talk Subscription Boxes with you all.

I'm sure by now almost everyone out there will have experienced the thrill of having at least one of these "what have I got inside mine" boxes land on their doorstep and if not, well, I'm almost certain that everyone will know what they are about.

But if not, in a very short, basic sentence, a subscription box service is something which you sign up and pay for each month, before boxed up goodies are posted out to you for as long a duration as you choose.

There are so many different types out there too - make-up packed and beauty product stacked; ones crammed full of food and tasty beverages - there is just so much choice.

And it makes sense that a section of this choice is dedicated to our little ones - the babies and children in our lives.

Well, they need fabulous treats too now don't they.

And the brand I have heard most about which offer such a baby-specific subscription box is none other than Sassy Bloom

Sassy Bloom was set up in 2012 after founder, Hollie, experienced a very traumatic moment in her pregnancy and afterwards, was presented with boxes of thoughtful gifts from friends and family to help take the pressure away from her once baby had arrived safely.

I mean as a new parent, who doesn't want a little more time?

~ A little more time with baby, away from shopping for necessities

~ A little more pamper time, away from having to search out the best deals, offers and prices

~ A little more sleep time, away from deciding which would be best between almost identical products

Sassy Bloom was formed as a way to help parents by removing a few of these extra added stresses.

And so, once a time frame for receiving the boxes has been chosen (the longer you sign up for the cheaper the monthly cost) and a few basic details have been entered (child's gender, age etc) it's just a matter of simply sitting back and waiting for the deliveries to begin.

And when they do begin, they are packaged all cute and pretty...
(a perfect gift or what)

...I was desperate to get my hands on one and when I finally did (yay!) I couldn't wait to delve inside.

And I wasn't disappointed.

It's always nice to open a box and find well known, well trusted brands and I was immediately greeted with this very age appropriate Fisher Price "Rock-O-Stack" toy...

This was something I had been wanting to pick up for Willow for a while so it was the perfect thing to find.

It is great at helping with the development of her fine motor and co-ordination skills so it's a winner in my book.

The bright colours have grabbed her attention from the very minute she saw it and the soft plastic rings (and not-so-soft plastic stacking tower!) have proved to make excellent teething toys too.

~ Bonus ~

So then I opened the main box and found...

...this lovely little lot.

If you've watched our un-boxing video over on You Tube (see below if not!) then you will already know that straight away Willow decided the Halilit music maker rattle was her favourite - she wouldn't put it down and still doesn't now...

...not that I'm suprised really - I mean it makes a noise...a rather loud could she not love it.

The outer red plastic edge is smooth and perfect for her to chomp down on too.

Next up was my favourite find from our stash and it was this...

...a very cute, very pink, very fleecy, soft and fluffy personalised blanket with heart and flowers embossed into the material.

It is super comfy and very practical but is still quite striking and really pretty - plus anything personalised will always get a big thumbs up from me.

I love it.

Another really useful find was this zebra-faced, easy clean bib from Bibisili...

Bibs are an absolute must with a baby, especially once the whole super fun, super messy weaning stage begins.

Rather than opt for boring, run-of-the mill ones, well, this just makes everything a lot more interesting doesn't it.

It is really easy to clean too and has a little escaping-food-catcher making it very Mum-friendly as well.

And then last but by no means least we found a lovely paper-back book tucked away in the bottom of the box...

"Peter's Pebbles" by Cherie Zamazing
(fab name!)

Although we don't sit and read every word in our books yet, Willow is really beginning to take interest in the colours and the pictures on the pages now.

She knows to always expect a turn of the page and listens to Mummy's silly voices rather intently, sometimes throwing in a smile for good measure.

I do think this book was intended for an older audience than our nine months though but the illustrations are bright, colourful and not too fussy and I'm sure we will be reading it for a long time to come.

I really enjoyed this Sassy Bloom box and yes, I totally understand that having another monthly cost commitment isn't what everyone will want but there are ways of saving money on the boxes you order...

I mean you could copy and paste this code into the Sassy Bloom checkout for a £10 discount for example: 603519608

* wink wink*

Anyway, I know this won't be the last box we order - I have loved it - and if you did happen to want to have a real-life look at what we thought as we opened everything, well, here you go...

~ You are very welcome ~

Let me know in the comments below if you do become a Sassy Bloomer and what you find

* small discount granted on this box - I did pay for it - & words & pictures are all my own

Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Roxy Lanes Catering for those Roxy Juniors

There's nothing better these days than having a fab, fun-packed day out with the family.

However I must admit, venturing into the centre of Leeds wouldn't usually be my first choice of location when picking child-friendly venues.

I mean yes for myself of course, with all of those amazing shops, but not when considering what the children would enjoy.

But then I was invited along to Roxy Lanes and my perspective changed a little bit - they were having a fun-filled afternoon dedicated solely to our smaller humans - the Roxy Juniors - #RoxyJrs

I've been to Roxy Lanes before and was actually lucky enough to pop along to their fab opening evening way back in early 2014 with a brilliant group of blogging ladies...and a fair few tasty cocktails were sampled I must admit...but this event, well this was oh so different to that visit.

And I really enjoyed myself.

The fact that there is a place so easily accessible which caters for those boozy nights out with friends equally as well as it does the chilled, family days out is fantastic.

And so was our afternoon...


Being a typically British day in July the weather was dreary and wet which meant us dashing from the car to Roxy Lanes slightly earlier than planned in an attempt to avoid the downpour.

Our apologies were shushed away, unneeded though and the lovely, very friendly, welcoming Roxy ladies immediately plied us with much needed coffee and juice whilst we picked a seat and settled ourselves in.
(I need to add that there is a very useful lift too - a god send when taking the teeny babies out)

Before too long all of the families had arrived and we were teamed up and booked into our bowling lanes.

As much as I like the game I've never really been all that great at bowling but still, I was all giddy and excited because, lets be honest, you can never fail to have a laugh at a bowling alley.

Anyway, we unfortunately didn't come first despite my nephew and the Hubby getting a few strikes each, but never mind eh, it's the taking part that counts after all...

...or at least that's what I tell the kiddies anyway - I really wanted to win - and so I did the only thing I could do, I turned to the table packed with scrummy food to console myself and oooh how nice it was.
(and yes, I know - my health kick - but I really couldn't help myself...)

Pizza, onion rings, dough balls - the food was yum and was all taken from the kiddies menu that is on offer...

Real yummy stuff, so yummy in fact that the lot - and I do mean every single last bite right down to the smallest slither of pepperoni - was totally demolished. 

I was unfortunately near the back of the queue so there was no chance of me snapping a quick picture of it all so you will just have to trust me - the food was nice.

So with full tummies, a colouring competition was won, a kiddies Beer Pong game (with sweets not alcoholic beverages of course!) commenced and party bags for the kiddies were given out.

Everyone had such a brilliant day - I love seeing the children with smiles on their faces having a ball...

And the staff at Roxy Lanes were amazing too - they were so patient (even with ping pong balls sailing past their heads) and on a real level with the children which helped make the day such a success.

Not only did the children feel looked after but it also really helped us adults too...we had a few sneaky opportunities to catch a five minute breather every now and again.

~ Priceless ~

I can certainly see us booking another session in at Roxy Lanes very soon...they even do kiddies parties...or so my son informed me with a little glint in his eye...

It would seem then that Roxy Lanes really does have it all - there's that party/drinking scene, the yummy food scene, and then the brilliant, fun, keep-the-children-happy scene too.

A total winner of a venue in my book

* fab afternoon of fun all free of charge to experience the way of the #RoxyJrs - opinions & pics all my own

Monday, 4 July 2016

A Two Week Date With Nutribuddy

Well today marks the start of a bit of a different two weeks (at least) for me.

After being an avid Slimming Worlder for near on 8 years now, I'm changing things up a little bit with the arrival of this little box of tricks which landed on my doorstep...

...a little Nutribuddy kit to help kick start myself into healthiness.

I've never been one to use any kind of meal supplements or meal replacements before and even back when I was a massive gym bunny I wasn't a protein shake drinker - it's just not something I've ever considered really.

But (I know you've heard me moan on about this before) I really need to give things a little shake up because I'm not happy with my body at the moment and I have an extra 24lb that I want rid of.

I keep calling it "baby weight" but come on, let me be honest with myself, my actual baby weight was the two stone I have already lost since having Willow eight months ago...this, well this is "excessive takeaway eating" weight.

And I've totally been making excuses and not putting in any real effort at all.

If I was happy with myself then fine, but I'm not so I'm really hoping this little lot will, if nothing else, help to change my current mindset and kick me into action a little bit.

Being at home with Willow most of the time has resulted in me falling into a little bit of a snacking rut.

I eat all the wrong things and then take myself off to weigh in every week with my fingers crossed and prayers being whispered in a hope that wearing my lightest clothes will bring on a loss.

...a loss that eating healthily would have certainly made happen.

I'm my own worst enemy right now and I'm hoping Nutribuddy will help sort me out.

No pressure Nutibuddy, no pressure.

So, within this little kit I found...

~ a packet of Vanilla (or chocolate) flavoured Sculpting Whey...

~ a shake bottle

~ 14 days worth of multi-vitamin capsules

~ a packet of Hunger Fix capsules

~ a weight loss guide and a recipe book...

I'll admit that I'm already a little dubious about trying some of the recipes because I just know a lot won't fit in with my day to day life but it's OK - although my snacking is terrible right now, my meals are usually very healthy and are all Slimming World based so I'm sure if I keep going the way I am in this area then I should still be on the right track.

Even so, using the Sculpting Whey will be very different for me (a serving equates to 6 syns - I've checked, I couldn't help myself) but I am going to give it a try and think I will be using it at lunchtime as a food substitute.

I'm using the word "substitute" here very lightly though because it's a very occasion that I actually eat food at lunch time - there's always so much to do but my current "grab a handful of biscuits on the go" isn't doing me any favours - having a shake has got to be a better option.

Plus the ingredients within the whey - green tea and guarana -  are sad to aid weight loss by speeding up the metabolism so fingers crossed this is the case for me too.

Part of the two week programme discourages alcohol drinking which I don't do anyway so that's fine and dandy (I much prefer my calories in an edible form) but I can't be giving up on my coffee...oooh no way...come on, a girl has got to have something!

I also really like that there is a lot of water drinking encouraged within this plan because it's something I really need to improve on - I don't drink nearly enough as I should.

It's all change, change, change.

And let's hope there's a change on the number on my scales in a few weeks, eh

* kit sent free of charge to use and review. Words & pictures all my own
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