Sunday, 31 July 2016

366 Project 2016 Days 207 - 213

We didn't get to bed until 2am on Sunday morning and I pretty much fell asleep before my head hit the pillow. My hair was all over the place when I woke up and I had the company of a very cute Barney, my Sister's dog. We got showered and dressed, and headed over to pick up Zachary and Charlotte from Bella and Pops' house before heading home. We got home just after 7pm, feeling very tired so we ordered Chinese and watched Super Vet.

On Monday, we didn't get up until almost 10am. Husband is off work this week for his holidays but, of course, he never stops and is working on the bathroom ceiling; lowering it and putting in spot lights. I can't wait to see it when it is finished. The kids and I walked into town to pick up Charlotte's school jacket and their new school bags. We stopped at the park on the way home to play on the swings.

Tuesday was relatively quiet day for us, spent at home because the weather wasn't great. It was dry though so the kids played outside and helped Daddy with some of the DIY. I caught up on the washing and Hollyoaks. Sometimes it's nice just to have a really chilled day at home.

Husband was hard at work in our bathroom on Wednesday, wiring in new spotlights and an extractor, and putting up a new ceiling. It took him most of the day. The kids and I had another chilled day at home. We watched some Super Vet and the kids played outside for a little while. I did my ironing and tidied out my kitchen cupboards: very exciting jobs. Husband finished the bathroom around 6.30pm and he did a brilliant job. Our bathroom is finally complete.

On Thursday, Husband dropped the kids off at their club for the day and we headed out for a lunch date. It was lovely to spend some time together and the food was delicious! The kids had a great time at their club. Charlotte went ice skating whilst Zachary went swimming and ice skating.

On Friday, it was a beautiful day. I got lots of washing done and hung out to dry. In the morning, before lunch, we went to the park on our bikes and met up with my sister-in-law and our niece. It was so quiet and it was great to be out in the fresh air with the sunshine on our backs. After our bike ride, we were in the mood for a bacon and egg roll. It was delicious. We spent the rest of the afternoon at home, enjoying the sunshine.

It was an early rise for Karate on Saturday, after the summer break. Charlotte and I went for our food shop and picked up some bits in Next. You can see what I bought over on my instagram account. After lunch the kids enjoyed the sunshine by lazying about in the garden. We played some games and had a very chilled out Saturday.

Me & Mine 2016 - July

There's nothing like a good wedding to bring family together and that's what we did on 23rd July when my Sister and her fiance got married. It was a beautiful day and it felt really nice to get dressed up, have our hair done and celebrate the love of two very special people. Our photo this month was taken at the wedding by the very talented Martyn of Thompson Photography. If you are on the look out for a photographer in North West area then go check him out. He is super friendly and made us all feel very at ease. I can't wait to see the wedding shots!

July seems to be the month for weddings in our family as Husband and I celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary on the 15th and two of our very good friends got married on the 16th. Summer weddings are definitely my favourite, followed closely by Christmas.

Aside from yummy food, dancing into the wee hours and a sore head, I've been enjoying the time off for the summer holidays. The perks of teaching! Last summer I knew I would be back to college and studying even harder but this holiday has been a bit less stressful. I'm really looking forward to going back to work on 17th August but I'm also enjoying the time with the kids and Husband. I've read quite a few books that aren't childcare related which has been great too!

Husband took a week off work to finish off our bathroom and he did a brilliant job, as always. He managed to finish it three days into his holiday which meant he could enjoy the sunshine and a lunch date with me. I didn't ask him which one he enjoyed the most! He is missing having his motorbike in this weather and would love to buy one that is "just for fun!"

Zachary has been loving being a bit more independent this holiday. He's been out playing with my next door neighbour's Grandson and another boy from our street. They love playing football together and discussing Xbox 360. At the wedding, Zachary had to take the wedding rings to the bestman. He was quite nervous but did a grand job. He loved dancing with all the family and eating burgers for the wedding meal.

Charlotte wants to join in with her big brother so badly but I still think she is a bit small for having the same freedom as Zachary. Maybe next year I'll feel differently but she has been loving playing outside with her Playmobil toys and riding her bike lots more. She can shoot off like a lightening bolt now! Charlotte was a beautiful flower girl, along with her cousin, at the wedding. They were so cute together and everyone said they were quite alike. They are definitely as cheeky as each other.

I can't believe that it is August tomorrow. This time last year we were on the 2 month countdown until our Disney holiday. We don't have anything like that to look forward to but as I enter the world of full time employment in a new career, I don't think it will be long until we're looking forward to our next trip. August tends to be a quiet month for us aside from the fun of getting ready to go back to school.

The Me and Mine Project


Saturday, 30 July 2016

Our Bathroom Makeover is Complete

It was a long process to get our bathroom exactly how we wanted it. After a leak that caused a lot of damage, we claimed on our home insurance (which has been and is still an ongoing nightmare), and had our bathroom, my office and our downstairs WC re-decorated. Our bathroom wasn't in a bad way; in fact it had only been decorated a few years ago but we're really pleased with the new look.

Wet wall seems to be all the rage at the moment but we wanted tiles. I love tiles in a bathroom. Husband chose the colour and going from white to grey has made a huge difference to the bathroom. White tiles are a bit of a nightmare to keep clean.

The repair team replaced all of our walls and completed the tile work. The silver trim really finishes off the look. We chose black laminate flooring but opted for specifically designed bathroom flooring so it would last longer than regular laminate.

Husband did the ceiling and bath panel himself. We opted for wet wall for the ceiling and I do think it looks really nice in comparison to a plain white ceiling. He wired in the new spotlights and the extractor; these are the times when having an engineer for a husband make all these DIY jobs so much cheaper and easier.

The difference is huge! The bathroom looks amazing.

It has taken quite a few years to get our house looking how we want it but we're almost there. We need new internal doors, new flooring in our downstairs hall and kitchen and I'd like to re-decorate the kitchen itself but then we'll be finished, aside from the usual cosmetic stuff like painting. I'd also like to redecorate Charlotte's room for her and put in mirrored wardrobes in our room. Slowly but surely it will be done.

Friday, 29 July 2016

To Buy a New Car or a New to You Car?

Up until 2013, we always bought our cars second hand. Sometimes they were older than second hand; try fifth or sixth hand. It could have been the biggest banger in town, as long as the car started and got us from A to B, we weren't bothered that we didn't have a brand new or nearly new car. We wanted to save money for our wedding, to do up our house and to prepare for when we had children. Finance on a car wasn't something that we wanted or needed.

After a series of problems with two Ford Mondeos we owned that didn't have warranties because of their age, we decided that we would look into buying a new car on finance. I worked in finance for many. many years and I would only recommend doing this if you know you can afford to keep up your monthly payments however, there are options if you've had poor credit history in the past and want to look into buying a new car.

We decided to go with BMW. We wanted to go German because their cars tend to be built to last. Of course, any brand of car can have problems but I grew up with my parents owning German cars and they never seemed to have any problems, and they continue to buy them now.

We went for a 3 series as it seemed practical in terms of space inside and, on recommendation of the salesman, went for a petrol because I was going to be using to go to and from work; a total of 4 miles per day. After a year, we changed it because the petrol was a nightmare and we were offered a good deal on a 320d M Sport; Husband's dream car. Whilst our first 3 series had been on the showroom floor when we bought it, we ordered our second one, choosing everything we wanted for it to make it unique to us. From ordering to delivery took around 6 weeks.

I love our car to drive. It really is the ultimate driving machine. It is super smooth and comfortable but has the sport look to it that makes it really fun. In terms of space, it isn't the best car out there for a family however it fits us and what we need it for. I certainly wouldn't have it if I needed to get a pram in the boot. It is great on fuel; I fill it every 6-8 weeks and I get around 600 miles to a tank.

The benefits of owning a brand new or nearly new car means we have a manufactures warranty so, if anything does go wrong, we can take it to the garage for them to fix it. We know exactly where the car has come from and know there are no underlying problems that could bite us in the bottom a few months down the line. It doesn't need an MOT for the first 3 years and generally they tend to be better on fuel consumption with lower emissions meaning you pay less road tax; in some cases you pay nothing.

It is an extra expense every month that we didn't have before however as a working family, it is something that we can afford to do now and enjoy the luxury of owning a new car without having to worry about getting it fixed at a huge cost to us if anything goes wrong.

Thursday, 28 July 2016

My Fashion Picks for Husband in Summer

Husband is the first to admit that he is terrible when it comes to picking out clothes for himself. He doesn't know what colours suit him, what style of shirt suits him or even what accessories go with what. He does know what jeans he swears by; 501s but otherwise, he isn't at all interested in fashion.

He often asks me to pick out things for him; things I think will look good on him. When it comes to summer style, I really don't think you can go wrong with a good polo shirt. A polo shirt can be dressed down with a pair of shorts, perfect for going out for a lunch date or to a park with the kids. It can also be dressed up with a pair of jeans and boots for an evening date or on cooler summer days.

Some of my favourite polo shirts on Husband are Ralph Lauren. Maybe it's because I love the horse or because I know how well made they are as my Mum and Stepdad frequently buy Ralph Lauren for work and for every day wear. Husband loves them as well because they are great quality and the different shapes and styles allow you to choose something that flatters you and fits really well.

Of course, summer is also a popular time for weddings and, with my sister getting married just last weekend, I think a tailored suit looks amazing. You can get your classic fit suits, skinny fit, slim fit and even extra slim fit but a tailored suit always looks the smartest because it is tailored exactly to your size and shape. Husband looks great in a grey suit. 

And the perfect accessory for summer? Aviator shades! I love aviator style sunglasses on Husband. He has the perfect face shape for them. These are also a great all-year-round accessory because the aviator style never goes out of fashion. 

Tuesday, 26 July 2016

My Sister's Wedding

The last family wedding we all attended was 10 years ago, and it was Husband and mine's wedding. It was a beautiful day that Saturday in July and it was wonderful to have all the family join us to celebrate our love for one another.

Fast forward 10 years and 8 days, we all came together for another family wedding. This time it was my Sister's wedding.

They have been planning their wedding for almost two years now, my Sister doing a lot of the bits herself. She made her invitations herself and they were beautiful. She sourced her flower girl dresses and bought them whilst on sale. She had her flowers made by Pops' sister and they were beautiful. She made her own favours. She made her own centre pieces. All the work she put in really paid off and made for a beautiful wedding day.

She was so nervous when I arrived at her house to get ready on Saturday morning. Charlotte and I had important jobs; flower girl and maid of honour. My niece was also a flower girl, of course, and Zachary was given an important job; to give the rings to the best man.

Her colour scheme was lilac and white. I had a slightly different dress from the other bridesmaids. They looked beautiful in their dresses as did the flower girls. My niece wore a tiara but Charlotte refused. I thought it was nice though to have my niece wearing one herself cause it was her special day too.

When she came downstairs in her dress, she was stunning. Her dress was very fitted, almost fishtail like but with a longer, looser train. My Sister has an amazing figure and her dress suited it perfectly. Her something old was a bracelet that used to belong to my Gran, her something new was a pair of earrings and her garter from her husband-to-be, her something borrowed was my Mum's bracelet because she forgot to put my Gran's one on and her something blue were her blue "Sex and the City" shoes.

The wedding ceremony was amazing. It went really fast although I remember on our wedding day, it felt like the vows took ages. In fact, we were in and out within 10 minutes. My Sister walked in to A Thousand Years; it was so lovely.

The reception was at a local hotel. The room was beautifully decorated with flowers, tea lights and bird cages. They had a sweetie cart which the kids would not leave alone and a three-tier cake. Would you believe I didn't get any of the cake?? We were too busy dancing!

The speeches were both lovely and hilarious. The food was really good and the company was fantastic.

Their first dance was to Oasis, Wonderwall which I thought was so nice, especially when you listen to the words. We were up dancing most of the night. The kids were so well behaved and had a brilliant time. The girls cried when it was time for them to leave with Bella and Pops, who had kindly agreed to take them for a sleepover so their Mums and Dads could enjoy themselves.

My Sister kept saying "I want it to slow down" and I knew exactly how she felt. Your wedding day is such a wonderful day with such a build up to it. Months and months of preparation over in just a few hours. Your face aches from smiling but you don't care. It is a day you will never, ever forget.

It was a beautiful day.

Monday, 25 July 2016

366 Project 2016 Days 200 - 206

Husband and I didn't get up until almost midday. The beauty of the kids being at their Gran's for a sleepover means we get a really long lie! Once the kids were home, we headed to Paradise Island Adventure Golf for an afternoon of family fun. Husband ended up winning of course but it was a great couple of hours and the kids seemed to really enjoy it. After the golf, we headed to the shops and we had dinner at Cosmo. It was delicious.

Husband was back to work on Monday but counting down the days until his week long holiday next week. The kids and I spent the day at home; I got on with my various jobs and the kids played outside. Zachary is loving playing with our next door neighbour's grandson. They are the same age and love football, and I think it has been good for them both to have someone to play with. After dinner, we headed out on the bikes for a little while because it was such a lovely evening. I started a new book; All the Bright Places.

On Tuesday, it was a roasting hot day and, in fact, I think it was the hottest day of the year so far. We were out in the garden for pretty much most of the day. Charlotte played with her Playmobil, Zachary read his book and I read my book. It was nice to enjoy the sunshine! We also went for a bike ride once Husband was home.

The kids headed to a club at the local leisure centre for the day. Zachary went ice skating and played badminton whilst Charlotte played in the soft play. They both got to go swimming too. They had a great time and asked if they could go again next week. I spent the day tidying up and filming my recent Next haul! I got a lot of stuff. I made salmon for dinner and it was delicious.

On Thursday my diploma arrived in the post, making my qualification even more official! We spent the day chilling out at home. The kids played outside for most of the day. After dinner, we went for a bike ride to the library to get some new books to read. Husband brought me some chips home and they went down a treat!

On Friday it was a mad rush to get ready to head down to Manchester for my Sister's wedding. I picked up my lipstick for the wedding day; Rimmel London's Kate Moss collection in the shade 08. We arrived just after 8pm at Bella and Pops' house. We had some food, a few drinks and then headed to bed for an early night so we were ready for a full on day in the morning.

Saturday was an amazing day. The sun was shining but it wasn't overly warm which made for the most perfect wedding day for my Sister and my new Brother-in-law. Charlotte and my niece were flower-girls and Zachary had the job of giving the wedding rings to the Best Man. They got married at 2pm and then we headed to the reception venue for speeches, food, photos, drinking, cake and dancing. It was fantastic and my Sister was the most beautiful bride.

Thursday, 21 July 2016

The Joy of Motherhood and Playing Bingo

Life as a mother is a lot of fun! But it is equally hectic, isn’t it? What a mum has to go through to properly take care of her child and bring them up in a healthy environment! It can be exhausting!

A mother’s responsibility starts from the birth of her child and continues ever after! Even when you are grown up, your mother doesn't step back from making a nutritious breakfast for you or ironing your wrinkled clothes, does she? I know that my mum still does this whenever I visit. 

A mum would cross all limits and make endless sacrifices just to see you grow healthy, successful and happy. 

She would bear all the pains and still never complain a bit until she can see a smile on her child’s face. 

It often so happens that a mother forgets to look after her own well-being while going through such a roller coaster ride of responsibilities from dawn to dusk every day. 

But a mum should never ignore her health and happiness, as a happy mother can only make a kid cheerful and instill positivity in a child’s development. 

There are plenty of things a mother can do in her free time to be fit, fine and happy. 

She can do some exercises or go for a walk in the nearby parks to refresh herself up while getting healthier in the process. 

She can also get involved in some recreational activities that keep her entertained and help her forget all motherly worries for a while. 

Such fun activities may include playing with your children, watching television, playing some games over the internet, meeting close friends over cups of coffee and the list continues. 

So if you are a mother tomorrow, do not be worried about how to manage stress while carrying out so many roles every day. The stress buster named online bingo would surely come to your rescue and say goodbye to your worries! 

Simply sign up on the incredible site GameVillage and get a chance to play online bingo no deposit games. Participate in the exciting contests on Facebook and win free tickets to play absolutely free!

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Paradise Island Adventure Golf - Review

We were invited along to Paradise Island Adventure Golf at the weekend, with our nearest one being based in Soar at Intu Braehead, Glasgow. They celebrated their 10th birthday on July 15th - the same day we celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary!

Zachary and Husband have been along to the crazy golf at Braehead before and really enjoyed themselves. You can walk in on the day to play but, when we arrived at 2.30pm on Sunday, it was quite busy, so depending on when you want to go, it might be a good idea to book in advance.

As you go in, you choose your golf ball. There are lots of different colours and we were able to have a different colour each so we'd be able to tell which ball belonged to who. We were also given a scorecard which told us what par each hole was - how many shots you should be able to complete the hole in. If you complete under par then that's good. In golf, the winner is the person with the lowest score.

Once we'd gotten our ball and checked in, we headed up the stairs. There we were greeted and given our golf clubs. They have different sizes so there was a club suitable for Charlotte and Zachary as well as adult ones for us. Inside is amazing in terms of theming and decor! The little Tiki huts are so cute!

There were two courses to choose from; one had more twists and turns and the other had more hills and bumps. As Zachary and Husband had played the Tiki Hut Trail (twists and turns), we decided to play the Maggie MaGaws Challenge (hills and bumps).

Working our way around the 18 holes took about an hour and 10 minutes. It was quite busy and at certain holes we felt like we were being rushed because people started to catch up with us. But then we would have spells of quiet because of the tricky holes that people would get stuck at for awhile. It was after an easy hole that people would start to catch you up.

The course was really fun and well laid out. The kids loved seeing all the displays around the course and the addition of obstacles to some of the holes made the game even more fun. The full place was really clean as well.

Husband ended up winning, of course, but Zachary did really well as did Charlotte who managed to get a few holes in one. Charlotte is left handed but she played the course as a right handed person would and did great.

Once you've finished at the 18th, you have the chance to win a free game on a very tricky 19th hole. None of us managed it though!

There isn't a time limit on completing the course but if it is busy, I think it's natural to feel like you need to hurry a bit so people aren't waiting on you. We really enjoyed ourselves and it's definitely somewhere we'd go back to as a family. I also think it would be really fun at night as a group of adults as something a bit different from going to the pictures or bowling.

There are various locations throughout the UK so if you want to check if there is a Paradise Island Adventure Golf near you, click here to visit their website. You can also find details of prices and booking. To give you an idea, a family of 4 costs £22 for one game and £32 for two games, which I think is pretty reasonable.

We made a short video of our time at the crazy golf. The lighting wasn't great (for filming anyway) and it was quite noisy but I think it shows you how much fun we had and what you can expect from a course.

This is a review post. All opinions expressed are my own. 

Tuesday, 19 July 2016

Keeping the Family Safe Whilst Driving

As we prepare to head down to Manchester this weekend, aside from packing all the essentials for a weekend away, we always give our car a safety once over. This involves making sure all the lights work, making sure we have plenty of water for cleaning the windscreen and checking our tyres have the correct tyre pressure.

The car had its first service just last month so I know that our oil levels are all good as are our brakes and the necessary fluids to keep a car going. I was worried I was going to get a bill for new tyres though because our car has high performance Pirelli P Zero tyres meaning they are softer and wear down quicker. And, at almost £250 a tyre, I was definitely on the look out for somewhere that sold them a bit cheaper.

Point S have a great selection of tyres and a handy search that allows you to enter your registration plate (great for me who has no idea about tyres!) and they will display all the available tyre brands that are suitable for your car. My car has run flats; this means that if one of my tyres does get a puncture, I can still drive the car until I'm able to get a new tyre for it...within reason of course!

Thankfully the tyres are fine and still have a good 5mm tread left on them. However, it is still important to make sure that you check your tyres on a regular basis and that they have the correct, maximum air pressure in them. This ensures they provide optimum performance and, most importantly, keep you and your family safe on any car journey.

Other ways we make sure we are safety conscious on any car journey are:
  1. Plenty of water to keep us all hydrated
  2. Regular breaks for the toilet and for the driver to take a break
  3. An in-car phone charger
  4. Details of our breakdown cover and insurance details
  5. Tablets or the DVD player so the kids can be kept amused and don't ask if we are "nearly there yet?"

What safety checks do you make before you go on a car journey? 

Featured post

Monday, 18 July 2016

Book We're Loving from Maverick Arts Publishing

We really do love receiving books in the post to review so we're always excited when we get a delivery from Maverick Arts Publishing. They've sent us quite a few books recently so I decided to a round up of the books we've been loving.

Animal Magic by Phil Alcock

This is such a bright and colourful book with illustrations from Gina Maldonado. It's a fun rhyming book about an animal that can change into different animals. The book is really simple and easy to follow; perfect for younger children. I think I'll be taking this in my nursery story sack!

George and the New Craze by Alice Hemming

This is the third book in the George series from author Alice Hemming and illustrator Kimberley Scott. This book is similar to the previous two; bright and colourful illustrations and simple to follow text. In this book, there is a new craze sweeping the zoo: people cards! If your child loves animals then this is a great book for them as they'll be able to spot some well known favourites and discover some new, slightly unusual ones too.

Not Enough for Queen Fluff by Rachel Lyon

This is the story of a very spoilt bunny who lives in a fabulous castle and has a very big crown. But she feels a bit lonely and decides to write to the bunnies living in the town, asking if she can come for a visit. She soon finds herself having to eat some humble pie! Illustrated by Catalina Echeverri, this isn't as brightly coloured as George and the New Craze but it is still a fun and engaging book as it is written in rhyme. It has a nice message behind it too.

Bossy Johnathan Fossy by Julie Fulton

This is the fifth book in the very popular Ever So series and Maverick kindly sent me the full series as the previous books have had a change of cover and are marked with the Ever So series logo. Bossy Johnathan Fossy, illustrated by Elina Ellis, is the story of a boy named Johnathan who is very bossy. The rest of the town are fed up with his constant demands and decide to teach him a lesson. We really love the books in the series.

Junior Fiction

This is a new category to the Maverick children's books aimed at children aged 6-9 years. There are currently 3 books in the junior fiction range which are due for release in October.

Rickety Rocket by Alice Hemming

This is the story of a girl named Spacey Stacey and her band of friends. They go on adventures on Planet Fiveways where they live. There are space missions and races, and dealing with pesky space bunnies. There are 3 books in the Spacey Stacey series, all illustrated by Emma Randall.

Letter to Pluto by Lou Trelaven

Because letter writing is seen as a dying art, Jon's teacher sets the class a task of writing a letter to a pen pal. But it isn't just any old pen pals; these are pen pals from outer space. Jon ends up with a girl pen pal which isn't too happy about because she is a girl and she's from Pluto, the most boring planet of all. Zachary loved the comic style illustrations in this book.

Grandma Bendy and the Great Snake Escape by Izy Penguin

This was Zachary's favourite book to read and I'm guessing it was because it takes place in a town called Pumperton. This book is about a girl named Lucy, who is being blamed for a deadly snake being released into the town. Along with her brother and her Grandma, they set off on a mission to find and capture the snake.

If you would like to find out more about these books, I filmed a video on my YouTube channel.

Sunday, 17 July 2016

366 Project 2016 Days 193 - 199

On Sunday, we got up a bit later and had a really, really lazy day. I wanted to watch the tennis so we put dinner on early and ate it in front of the match. It was such a good game and Andy Murray did so well. After the tennis, the kids asked if they could watch a film and they chose Minions. We had some yummy chocolate cake for pudding. Such a great way to spend a really miserable Sunday.

Monday wasn't much better although I did manage to get my washing out to dry. I had a bit of a tidy up in the loft and under my kitchen sink; places you never really think of tidying up. Charlotte played with her Build-a-Bears and Zachary read another Minecraft book. They picked out some bits to put in their Trunkis, ready to go to Gran's for a sleepover at the weekend. We had an early night because Zachary's best friend was getting dropped off early in the morning so his mum can go to work. It's great that we can help each other out when we're working and the kids are at school or if the kids are off. We had Chili con Carne for dinner which was delicious.

On Tuesday, we were up early as Zachary's best friend was coming over whilst his mum went to work. She helps me out during term time and I return the favour during the school holidays. The kids love having him over too. We decided to go down to the library to pick out some new books. I chose 3 books for myself and I'm really excited to be reading something other than a psychology, sociology or anything childcare related book. Charlotte and Zachary both chose Minecraft books. The weather wasn't that great but it was dry so we enjoyed our walk to and from the library by playing eye-spy. Zachary is a terrible person to play it with because he thinks outside the box and none of us could figure his out. One was two words; W and L. Well we couldn't figure it out and eventually gave in after asking him a million times if he "could still see it?" The answer? White lines...from the roads.

Wednesday was a much better day which saw the kids spending most of it outside. Charlotte and I went down to the park and she had a great time on the swings and the "horsey" whilst the boys played football. I started my second book from the library; Cecelia Ahern. The Jenny Colgan book was great and one of the first books I've read in a day in a long time.

It was another beautiful day on Thursday so off the kids went to play outside. We went for a walk to the shops and picked up some ice lollies and played in the park. I got 2 loads of washing out to dry; sad that getting a couple of washing loads out to dry makes me excited. After dinner, the kids wanted to have a bath and I painted Charlotte's nails, ready for a party tomorrow.

On Friday, after cleaning the house and getting dressed, the kids and I headed to the supermarket to get our food shop. It was such a miserable day so after lunch, I let the kids watch a movie whilst I did the ironing and caught up on Hollyoaks. After dinner, the kids had a party to attend. They had a lot of fun and Charlotte was loving her mocktail!

I was up at 4am for the Next sale on Saturday. I did OK; I didn't get as much as I usually would though. The kids went to their Gran's house for a sleepover so Husband and I could go out for dinner and then on to a friend's house to celebrate their 40th birthday. It was nice to spend some time together and we went to one of our favourite restaurants for our meal. It was delicious. At our friend's house, we played Cards Against Humanity which was really funny. We didn't get home until 12.30am!

Friday, 15 July 2016

What I've Learned from 10 Years of Marriage

Today, Husband and I celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary. We are going out for a meal tomorrow night to mark the occasion as the kids are off to their Gran's house for a sleepover.

When I think about my parents and Husband's parents, and probably from seeing things in the press, I feel like 10 years is quite a long time to be married, and something that doesn't happen very often. You often hear people saying, jokingly, "I'd have got less for murder", and whilst I don't condone that sort of thing, marriage isn't all the sunshine, rainbows and nice things you see in a love story. It can be hard, very hard, and it takes the commitment of two people, willing to work together, to love each other even when they aren't being very easy to love, being respectful of one another and trusting one another for a marriage to even stand of chance of lasting. Without those things...well it can easily end up in the end.

The last 10 years have certainly held many, many highs for Husband and I but they have also held low times. Bringing two children into the world; amazing feeling and two moments that had us higher than cloud 9. Losing a child; a horrible, horrible feeling that I wouldn't wish on anyone. Both moments that can seriously test your relationship.

We've had times to celebrate; new jobs and new careers. There have been times to commiserate and pull together; not getting that job or a redundancy. There have been times we've supported one another and times where one has supported the other in difficult times. There have been laughs, lots of laughs and harsh words, many a harsh words.

But we work at our marriage and, for the most, it isn't hard at all. It helps that we are the best of friends as well as fancying each other rotten...still.

What else have I learned from 10 years of marriage?

Having a Husband is like having a fully grown child...except the kids know how to load the dishwasher and bring their dirty washing downstairs.

That euphoria you feel when you finally empty your washing basket is short-lived...because that's when he decides to bring his dirty washing downstairs.

No matter how many times you ask (they refer to it as "nagging"), he'll still leave the toilet seat up.

Convincing him that "because the Carvela shoes were half price, you just had to get 2 pairs" will never make the same math sense to him as it does to you.

He thinks it's OK to talk about poo that comes from him because you've been together for so long. But it really isn't.

If you can both drive, driving together is a NO GO. Unless you want to have an argument.

He gets a very sore head when he drinks beer but he giggles like a school girl when he is on the champers.

He is a pretty good guy.

He works really, really hard.

He does the ironing, empties the dishwasher, hangs the washing out and cleans the house when asked...eventually.

He loves the kids to the moon and back.

He loves me to the moon and back.

Happy anniversary baby! Love you lots and lots xxxo

Sibling Moments #31

I have to admit that I almost forgot to take a sibling photo this month. When you are on holiday, the days just get lost and you're often having to check the calendar to remind yourself of what date it is, then argue with yourself because there's no way it could be that far in to July, and then check the Facebook Timehop and realise that, in fact, it is the middle of the month. Where is the time going?!

Aside from forgetting what day it is, during the holidays it means these two spend more time together. This does two things; brings them closer and drives them mental. There is no middle ground.

The bickering is enough to send me into hiding after telling them that, unless one of them has a limb hanging off or blood pouring from somewhere, I don't want to get involved. It's always he said this and she did that and you're left feeling like piggy in the middle.

When they play together though, they get on so well. Zachary is really considerate of his little sister and Charlotte looks up to her big brother. He includes her whenever his friends are over and vice versa. Their bond gets even stronger when they have this uninterrupted, school-free time.

Charlotte had the choice of going on the zipslide with Zachary's best friend or her big brother. She did both, of course. Who would pass up two shots on the zipslide? But it was her crying out "YES" when Zachary asked her if she wanted to go on it with him and the little spring in her step as she ran up to join him that made me smile.

The Me and Mine Project

Wednesday, 13 July 2016

My Tips for a Successful Next Sale Shop

If you've read my blog for awhile or even watched some of my YouTube hauls, you'll know how much I love shopping in the Next Sale for the kids' clothes. I pick up so many great things and at a bargain 50% or more off. You really can't say no to those kinds of bargains.

When I first ventured to a Next Sale, I have to say, it was quite overwhelming. I mean it wasn't as if all hell broke lose over the last pair of pink glitter canvas shoes or anything like that but because it isn't laid out as neatly and a nicely as Next usually is, I really didn't know where to start. But I keep going back, every summer sale and every Boxing Day sale, because I love the quality of the clothing and the fact that I save so much money by buying in the big sales.

If you are thinking of going to your first ever Next Sale or perhaps you are a regular like me, I thought I would share my tips for getting the most out of your shopping experience and to make it as enjoyable and stress-free as possible.

Do you really get up at 5am? 

So this is a question that I get asked a lot and the answer is yes, yes I do. The summer sale starts this Saturday 16th July at 5am in stores. I'll set my alarm for 4am and I'll be at our local store by 4.20am. Our local store isn't huge; it sells household items and children's clothing so it's a very specific market: parent or home owner/renter/DIYer. Because of this, it isn't overly busy and it is quite exciting waiting for the shop to open whilst chatting to other bargain hunters about what they are hoping to get. One year I did go to a bigger Next store and I would never do it again. I actually drove home from the bigger store and went to our local Next and ended up getting lots more there.

What I tend to do is go to my local store for it opening and then, after a shower and some coffee, I head to the bigger Next store to see what else I can pick up for the kids but also to have a look for stuff for Husband and I. I'm not the biggest fan of women's clothing in Next but I have had some nice bits in the past and there's no harm in looking. Well, unless you buy stuff...

Get yourself a Next account

I'm not even sure whether you can actually shop online with Next without an account but I've always had one and I find it super easy to use. It's really handy if you want something that's online and not in store and they deliver it to your local store for free. But one of the benefits of having an online account is you can get access to the Next VIP Sale. Slots are limited and not always guaranteed; there's some sort of criteria in operation as I've not had one for every sale, but it's quite handy if you don't fancy going to the shops but still want access to the bargains.

Another plus point of having an account is you get a store card after so many purchases or months with an active account. At first, when I was offered a store card, I said no way. That would be far too much temptation however I did eventually get one and I use it whenever I go to the sales. It's so handy and it takes away the need to carry a handbag, cash or to worry about your card getting declined if there are problems with the bank networks...I used to work in a bank and it can happen...a lot!

Have a good clear out and make a list

Whether it's for yourself or for the kids, it's a good idea to have a clear out of clothes that no longer fit and make a list of what you need. Generally I get the kids socks, pants, vests, jeans, t-shirts, jumpers and a jacket or two. I will also buy some key pieces such as a party dress for Charlotte or Christmas jumpers for next Christmas in the Boxing Day Sale.

Have a budget

Whether this is a cash budget or a budget on how much you actually pick up and buy, it's a good idea to set yourself one because it is really easy to go crazy. Buying things for the sake of buying things is something I'm often guilty of and there have been a few times where I've found bags of clothes I'd forgotten about and the kids either don't get much wear out of them or they've outgrown them.

Enjoy it 

Shopping is definitely one of my favourite things to do, especially when I'm buying clothes or shoes for the kids. Whether you are there for the store opening or you visit a little later in the day, go and have fun.

If you are headed to the Next Sale, let me know what you end up getting! I'd love to know. I'll also be filming a haul of everything I get so make sure you are subscribed to my YouTube channel if you want to see what bargains I got.

I filmed a video of my tips which you can watch on my YouTube channel!

Monday, 11 July 2016

My Skincare Routine

When I was a teenager, I was blessed with the best skin. I always used to get compliments on complexion because it was always blemish free. If I did have a spot, it was gone within a few days. Sadly the luck of good skin did not follow me into my twenties and, since having the kids, it seems to have gotten worse.

I turned 30 last year and made the decision that I was going to start taking more care of my skin. I drink lots of water but I would never cleanse my face unless I was taking make up off, and that wasn't very often because I very rarely wear make up.

I started a routine of washing my face in the morning and applying my moisturiser and eye gel and before bed I would cleanse and tone my face and apply more moisturiser.

For a few weeks after starting this, my face was a mess. It was the worse it has ever been with spots not only on my face but on my chin and on my neck. I knew it was because I started a new routine with my skin but I also knew that if I persevered, it would eventually calm down.

And it has. My skin isn't flawless but it isn't as bad as it was before and I feel like I still look quite fresh faced. I never wake with dark circles under my eyes because I sleep for 8 hours and I drink lots of water. But I also think the combination of creams, face wash and cleansers is helping too.

I found toner was too harsh on my skin so I stopped using it but this is what I've been using recently to keep my skin looking and feeling really healthy. I still get blemishes but being a Mum is hard and chocolate in vast amounts really helps me get through the day.

In the morning I use a cream based face wash however, every 3 days I'll use a face wash with an exfoliating scrub in it. That way my skin doesn't get too used to the same product.

After my shower, I apply the cucumber moisturising lotion and cucumber eye gel from Boots. I've used these for quite awhile now and I really love them. I know they work on my skin so I haven't dared to try anything different.

Just before bed, I use a cleansing lotion. I've been enjoying using this Clean & Clear Deep Cleansing Lotion, however I've just run out and I bought a micellar water cleanser to see how that works on my skin. I've heard the Garnier one is really good. There is something so satisfying about wiping away the grime from the day.

Last step in my skincare routine is moisturiser. I received the No 7 Lift & Luminate Triple Action Serum in April to try out and I've just finished using it. I was quite impressed with how nice it made my skin feel and I definitely noticed a difference in the tone of my skin; it looked more even. But, at £27 for a 30ml tube, it isn't cheap and I don't think I need it quite just yet. Maybe in a few years. What I have been using from No 7 is the Protect & Perfect Eye Cream as it's under my eyes that could end up looking really dark and puffy through lack of sleep or stress. You only need a little drop and it goes a long way. I'm also loving Asda's own moisturising night cream. It smells lovely and feels really cool on your skin.

I'm always interested to try new products so tell me what you use to keep your skin feeling its best! What products are your favourite and what would you recommend I try? I have quite oily skin so if you know anything that's really good for that, let me know! Please!

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