Friday, 26 August 2016

Baby Baker Friday - Holidaying & A Bit Of Fleecey Comfort

So as you know, I decided that Friday's on the blog would be dedicated to my pregnancy and my 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 two beautiful children is huge and I really wanted to share bits and pieces of what is going on in my life amongst these pages.

So here we go

~ Baby Baker Friday ~

As you may have seen, we recently headed over to a very sunny and very warm Hornsea for our first holiday as a family of four.

It was really nice to do something different but I reckon before we went I had a way too positive and slightly unrealistic perception of what travelling with a little one would be like.

Don't get me wrong, having quality family time was really lovely but ooooh, being away from home with a small baby is a lot more hard work than I remembered.
(But all of that is a post for a later date!)

Or maybe it's just me being fussy - I am a person who likes to have all of her essentials close to hand.

But either way, something that I did find really helpful - just for my own sanity if nothing else - was having Willow well rested at night time after those long, busy days spent out and about.

I'm not entirely sure how I would have coped if she hadn't been able to have had a proper nights sleep.

And whilst I am very grateful to the owners of the cottage where we stayed for leaving us a travel cot to use (one which looked brand new too) to me, travel cots - the ones I have experienced anyway - never look like the most comfortable of things to be spending vast amounts of time in.

The mattresses are obviously made for ease of storage and foldability with comfort taking a slight backseat and I actually have no idea how any little one could manage a good nights sleep on one.

Luckily for me then, before we went away I was sent this Travel Cot Liner from The Junior Fine Bedding Company (fancy pants eh) to take along with me.

The Fine Bedding Company are known for providing some pritty super luxurious bedding items and have now decided that the little ones deserve some of this at bedtime too.

~ Fabulous ~

And after using it I don't think I can stress enough just how much the added luxuriousness helped us out.

The cot liner arrived all packaged up in it's own easy clean, easy carry case and was small, light and fit really easily into the car - I can't see how taking it abroad would be an issue either really, it's that portable.

And because of how compact it looked I was actually quite surprised with just how soft and fluffy it was when I opened it up...

Both sides of the cot liner are made from contrasting materials - the bottom is waterproof, non-slip and textured helping the liner stay fixed in place, whilst the top layer is a super soft, mega comfy polyester fleece.

It is absolutely perfect for adding some comfy cushioning to an otherwise fairly un-padded mattress.

And trust me, it worked like a charm.

Despite being in a strange place, in a strange room, in a strange bed, once I put Willow down for the night she slept soundly and I have to put the majority of this sheer magic down to her feeling super comfy and super cosy - she doesn't even sleep like that in her own bed at home.

Full thanks going straight to the cot liner for this.

It will certainly be coming with us on our travels in the future without a doubt - it's fab.

But if I had to find a negative - if that's what you would call it - I have to mention that the liner was a tad smaller than the cot we used so it didn't fully cover the whole of the mattress.

I placed it in the centre of the cot and once the bed sheet was covering it there was a slight dip at both the top and bottom of the mattress where the liner didn't quite reach.

Hardly the problem of the year and obviously it wouldn't even be present at all if the travel cot used was smaller and had the same 66cm x 99cm dimensions as the cot liner.

But even with this "issue" present, I found that Willow tended to stay on the comfy section throughout the night anyway - she's not daft that one.

This aside I have to say that the cot liner was pritty much perfect and it certainly did it's job for us.

I will be telling anyone I know travelling with teeny ones to pop this on their "Must Buy" list that's for sure and I'm going to be stocking up on a few of the other available baby bedtime items to use at home too...

A peaceful nights sleep is worth it's weight in gold after all

* item sent for review - all words, thoughts & opinions 100% my own

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Celebrating All Things Summer With Cotton Traders - #CTSummerDays

Although it's all too fleeting in it's presence these days, summer never fails to be amazing.

I always find that a little bit of warmth always makes everything seem just that little bit better.

And even if there only ever is a few of these lovely, hot days. one thing we sure know how to do here in Britain is to make the most of it.

There's plenty of garden-lazing, barbecue firing and ice-cream eating to be enjoyed - and enjoy it we do - probably because we never actually know when we will get another opportunity to do it - may as well jump in feet first and get as much out of it as we can.

And it seems that Britons throughout the years have always loved to throw themselves full force into the enjoyment when the lovely sunshine makes an appearance.

Cotton Traders carried out a little bit of research (full details here) and looked at the vastly differing summer traditions people had throughout the decades.

Whilst now, us, sat here in the present day may pop along to the races or have a barbecue at home, for people living in the 1950's it was a very different summer situation.

Picnics were the food of choice and everyone was very much in the post-war spirit with businesses beginning to flourish - in fact it was at this time that Butlin's was created, with over one million people holidaying there in the '50's.

And if you happened to be a '70's kid it is highly likely that you would have spent your summer months in the Mediterranean for the first time...watching the (then - not now!) highly fashionable Speedo being flaunted about...

~ Yikes ~

And so to really celebrate all of these differences and bring them together with what they really show - that we love to enjoy our summer days no matter the era we were born into - I was recently invited along, by The Cotton Traders, to Lambert's Yard in Leeds for a #CTSummerDays event with the rest of my family in tow.

The day was so much fun and the focus was very much on getting the kiddies involved in as many of the traditional summer fun things as possible.

We had a little bit of...

~ Hook-a-Duck...

~ deck chair lounging...

~ Kite making...

~ Hoola-Hooping & Bean Bag throwing...

~ yummy barbecue style food eating...

~ ice-cream making (& eating!)...

It was fabulous - a really lovely, fun day was had by all and there were smiles all round...

And whilst I brought along the oldest and the youngest children within the group, everyone was included - Willow enjoyed eating the duckies whilst Charlie enjoyed being all responsible and helping out...

The whole day was a real testament to the fact that the best and only way to really enjoy the summer that we do have is to get out there and have some good, "old-fashioned" fun with all of the family.

Nothing quite beats it

* event put on on behalf of Cotton Traders - all words & images 100% my own

Monday, 22 August 2016

New Balance 574 Weekend Edition - Spotlight On The Brights

For as long as I can remember I have always (apart from on those rare nights out where I'll drag on a pair of heels and pray I don't fall flat on my face) been a jeans and a baggy jumper kind of a girl.

Comfort has always been key and especially now with me having Willow to take care of, I think I love these kind of clothes even more.

The less time taken to get dressed in a morning the better - I need to make sure I use nap-time wisely and if I do, I may even manage a warm cup of coffee too.

Not that that happens often - I mean have you ever tried to get ready in the time it takes Ewan The Dream Sheep to finish a cycle?


Well it's twenty minutes from start to finish if you were wondering and then, once it finishes, I usually have approximately four minutes max before nap time is officially over.

So speed is key these days.

But actually, who said a rushed, chilled out, relaxed outfit choice can't look good?

Especially if it is teamed with an amazing accessory - like some super fancy footwear for example...

And just how amazing are these eh...

I've actually had a few pairs of New Balance trainers in the past and have always been impressed with their quality, durability and comfort - the pair I am wearing at the moment are a very bright pink colour and I've had them for years but thankfully they show no signs of giving in just yet.

And now these mega-watt bright ones have arrived to join them...

But why so bright?

Well the colours are actually inspired by their creators backpacking expeditions spent in Sedona's red rocks...

~ the earthy shades mimic the rocks
~ the vibrant blues illustrate the sky
~ the bright oranges and yellows represent the sun

Clever eh - even the speckled sole is a representation of the dirt of the trail - and this little "colour backstory" makes me love these shoes even more.

They are great and really can't fail to turn heads - well, they are the first thing anyone spots from streets away and, as you can see, they have instantly added a touch of something else to my otherwise colour-lacking outfit combo...

Whoever said skinnies and a sweatshirt has to be boring and dull have obviously never experienced the loveliness of New Balance...

And trust me, I'm very pleased that I have

* items sent free of charge for review purposes - words, thoughts & images all my own

Thursday, 18 August 2016

McDonald's And Their #hellogoodtimes Campaign

I'm fairly certain that if I ran a poll on how many people know what a McDonald's is then I'd end up with a fairly clean sweep of correct answers.

Those golden arches were always viewed with major excitement in my younger days, and even now, whilst I do try to avoid the pull of a Big Mac, that feeling of joy (and naughtiness!) I feel if I do succumb is a little more than I should be willing to admit.

I do love me a good Maccy D's every now and again.

But then I heard talks of Tiny Tempah and Little Mix being involved in the McDonald's mix lately, and yes, I'm sure they do love themselves a Quarter Pounder meal on treat days but still - what was all that about?

Well, as it turns out, McDonald's are looking to celebrate all things family and have focused on the good times that can be had spent doing fab things with our loved ones, and with this, their #hellogoodtimes campaign was formed.

As I love nothing more than a bit of quality family time, last weekend we heard that the #hellogoodtimes team would be pitching up in the fairly nearby Leeds so obviously we had to take a little peek.

The weather was nice, the son had his scooter and so off we went to Roundhay Park.

I didn't really think for a minute that any famous faces would suddenly appear wanting to serenade me next to the swings but, in my son's opinion, we had the next best thing...

~ McFlurries ~

And free McFlurries at that.

The boys enjoyed a few photo-booth minutes and were rewarded with ice-cream for their efforts - I mean who can argue with that?!

There were also prizes to be won and fun games to be played...

...and even a stage to perform on...

Who needs the rich and famous eh when you've got my two.

The #hellogoodtimes van's certainly put smiles on the face's of Leeds anyway.

And luckily, they are travelling all over the country this holiday to help add a little bit extra to the kiddies break from school - why not head over to the McDonald's website to see where the very enthusiastic and entertaining McDonald's crew will be heading to next.

I mean who knows what you'll walk away with or who you'll end up meeting...

* sponsored, collaborative post - words & images all my own

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

IOLLA & Some Fabulously Funky Sunglasses

I'm all about convenience and things that can save me precious time, especially now that Willow is mobile - extending the day by a few hours each way would be a godsend right now.

I just don't seem to ever be able to get things done.

I reckon that from the amount of dust (yak!) currently gathered on my neglected bathroom blinds I'd be able to knit a fairly decent sized jumper with it...if I could knit...and if you could use dust instead of wool...
(Disclaimer: this is tonight's job - no need for anyone to call Kim & Aggy to come and de-germ my house just yet!)

Time is precious - we all know that - and I simply don't have enough of it to waste standing in front of my bathroom mirror for twenty minutes at a time, preening and pruning myself anymore.

I've started taking my make-up downstairs now and will sort my face out whilst Willow plays alongside me - it's led to a few "Oooh your eyebrows are a bit dark today" comments from the Hubby but good lighting or not, it's the only way.

And I certainly don't have five minutes to spare trying to pop contact lenses in every morning - it seems like such a waste anyway seeing as all they were starting to do was irritate and make me want to pull my eyeballs out a few hours after putting them in.

I stopped wearing them regularly once I began my maternity leave and glasses it has been now, almost continuously, ever since.

Which is all well and good - until the sunshine decides to make a rare appearance - at least wearing contact lenses meant I could pull on my trusty sunnies and drive without fear of being blinded, but with glasses, well, driving with a slight scrunched up face became the norm.

Until I discovered IOLLA that is.

IOLLA (which means "sight" in Gaelic) are a Glasgow based company who began their journey by wanting to make eyewear purchasing simple, affordable and fun.

They very kindly contacted me to ask if I would like to try a pair of their very fancy framed glasses and with my current predicament in mind I jumped at the chance and took myself immediately over to their sunglasses section.

The perfect solution to my driving issues - prescription sunglasses.

And just look at the pair I chose...

~ Aren't they fabulous ~

I really love the cat eye shape so much - it's so on trend right now - and because of the fairly huge sized head I have I feel this large, striking frame shape sits better on me and isn't too small that the glasses look lost when I wear them.

The tortoise shell colouring is very classic and helps to add a touch of glamour to even the most simplistic of outfits...

...and the attention to detail is simply stunning...

I have loved wearing these glasses and find them really easy and comfortable to wear - no more sore eyes or sunshine-blindness for me.

If you check out this video between 3.37 and 4.21 you can see them in real-life action too...
(much better than a simple close up shot of my face eh)

Oh, and IOLLA succeeded with their strive for ease of ordering too - I found the whole process a doddle.

I simply chose my frames and lens colour from the website, sent over my prescription details and pupil distance measurement (very easily found with just a ruler) and waited a few days.

And then...


...there they were - all fabulous and fancy.

Thanks IOLLA I love these sunnies so much

* sunglasses sent free of charge for purpose of a review - opinions, words & images all my own

Sunday, 14 August 2016

Blackhouse, Leeds - A Review

A lovely friend of, actually an amazingly lovely friend of mine told me recently that Blackhouse in Leeds is really good for Date Night.

Date Night?

If you're up to date with my blog then you'll already know that my response to this was always going to be,
"Date night? What's that?"

Myself and the Hubby don't really do "us time" anymore - any outings we have these days happen during the day - before the set rituals of bedtime - and always involve two kiddies, a pram, a suitcase sized bag & plenty of toys and snacks in tow.

Even today, our fifth wedding anniversary is kiddie packed and work crammed.

But there's no other way I would want it to be.

And so, luckily for us, Blackhouse recognise the importance of this "family life" lark as much as it does those date nights and it caters for both equally as well.

A few Sunday's ago we popped along and all enjoyed an amazing Sunday lunch there - a meal which has left me able to say quite safely, that it was one of the best Sunday dinners I've ever had.

Oh yes, it was that good - blooming outstanding.

I have to admit though, before we went I was a little nervous about waltzing into such a glitzy-glam venue with all of our luggage trailing behind us but I need not have worried - the staff were lovely.

From the second we stepped through the door everyone was so accommodating and friendly and we were quickly whisked over to to our table - a table already set up for us with a Willow sized high chair ready and waiting.

Such a small gesture but one which really helped make us feel expected and wanted which set the tone for the rest of the afternoon.


Once we were all seated I was able to have a little browse of the menu and a nose around at my surroundings.

The decor was simply stunning - all chic and trendy - there was certainly a very classy feel to the place which was emphasised even more once the live pianist began to play...

And then once the food began to arrive, well, trust me when I say the quality of it matched the decor perfectly on the amazingness level.

There was yummy garlic bread - unlike any we've had before, all salty and extra fresh...

The Hubby, being the food-loving guy that he is, opted for a chicken skewer starter too...

And then the mains arrived...

~ Beef for the Hubby

~ Pork for the son


~ Chicken for myself

I mean seriously, this has really spoilt any other meat and veg dish for me now because I reckon I'll be hard pushed to find one like it again.

The meat was really tender and very well cooked plus there was so much of it; the side dishes of vegetables were plentiful and tasty and those Yorkshire puddings - oh yes - delicious.

Willow enjoyed the odd spoonful here and there too alongside her own lunch...

Well she is my daughter - never one to miss out on the grub that one.

And then - dessert time.

I had to resist the pull of the calories though - I'm still not sure how that Peanut Butter, Honeycomb & Toffee Mess (yum!) remained un-ordered but it did...

Instead I looked on (sob) whilst the Hubby and son enjoyed theirs - the Hubby a Sticky Toffee Pudding with ice-cream...

...and the son "the best chocolate fudge cake ever" - warm and with ice-cream...
(this is his favourite dessert of all time)

I really can't fault anything about Blackhouse or it's food at all - everything was spot on...but perhaps a dish of mash would have excelled everything all the more...or maybe that's just me.

I had a lovely afternoon and can't wait to venture to Blackhouse again

* food provided free of charge for purpose of an honest review - words, thoughts and images all my own
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