Monday, 31 August 2015

Meal planning Monday!

I don't know about you but my food shopping seems to have been getting more and more expensive as the weeks go by, yet I seem to have less in my trolley!

I have to admit though I am guilty of falling into the trap of "offers" and "deals" then end up losing track of what actual meals I've purchased, yet I always seem to have an abundance of snacks etc. This usually then results in several trips to the supermarket in the week buying ingredients to complete meals for the week, wasting more and more money in the process.

So in a bid to save money and be a bit more organised I have decided to start meal planning! I have also joined up with the Meal Planning Mondays linky so each week I will share with you our meal plan for the week and what we will be eating.

I am hoping this will help keep me on track, of course I am not totally unrealistic, I realise there are days when plans may differ or change for various reasons but I think a meal plan will definitely help us keep more organised and keep the expensive "quick trips" to the supermarket down!

So here is week 1 meal plan for us -

  • Spaghetti Bolognaise with Garlic bread,
  • Tomato, chicken and bacon pasta bake with crusty bread,
  • Pizza (usually on James swimming lesson day as we get home late),
  • Cheese and bacon jacket potatoes with beans and veg,
  • Chicken pie, mash, peas, sprouts and gravy,
  • Homemade chips with burgers and salad,
  • Chicken fried rice with spring rolls and curry sauce. 
These are necessarily in the order we will eat them in but it means I know what I need to buy at shopping and it means we will have all of the ingredients for all of the above meals and we can all pick which one we fancy on a day to day basis. 

Do you have any favourite meals to share as I would love some new ideas! 


Monday, 24 August 2015

LEGO Dream Home competition with Ocean Finance.

If there is one thing that can keep James quiet and still except for a near miracle is LEGO! He can happily spend hours with his box of LEGO and his imagination creating weird and wonderful creations and then making up stories with them.

So when we were recently asked my the lovely people at Ocean Finance to let James create his dream home using LEGO we knew he would gladly accept the challenge! Armed with his box of LEGO and his Marvel superhero LEGO men James set about creating his dream home. Here is James dream home and the descriptions he has given me for the different bits of it -

James humble abode features a double diving board, water slide, bat signal, motorbike and even a baddie! When I asked James about why his house was striped he said its because "it looks like a rainbow and rainbows make people happy and smiley and he wants his happy to be a happy fun place that makes people smile". Very cute I thought and I love the thoughts he has put in to even the outside of his house like the colours and stripes representing a rainbow!

Apparently the double diving board is so that both he and his sister can play together in the swimming pool without having to wait for turns. James said the water goes under ground from the swimming pool to make the water slide wet!

The house also features its own red wheelbarrow, this is for collecting strawberries and potatoes from tea time apparently and these are grown in the garden of the house. The bat baddie protects the house and all of the fruit and veg we collect so that slugs don't get it!

So according to James this is himself riding on a motorbike! Apparently its the most coolest way to get around! (Mummy says don't forget your helmet James!).

Im pretty sure this is where the ultimate dream bit comes in to James house! This is the helicopter landing pad, its where we can fly on holidays but its also where Batman lands. Apparently the little black batman symbol you see is what we press if we are in trouble or we need some help and when you press it Batman comes and lands and helps you, the blue dish on the side of the house gives us good tv and also is how Batman heres our signal call apparently.

James had so much fun creating his dream home and loves telling people all about it.

Do your little ones love playing with LEGO?


James is aged 5 and created this Lego house, This post was created as an entry into the Ocean Finance LEGO dream homes competition. 

Thursday, 20 August 2015

Sharing some advice for new mums.

I was just 19 when I had my first baby James and boy was I scared. I had no clue what I was doing and when they handed me my tiny baby boy I felt clueless to the situation and the pain and 18 hour labour certainly didn't help towards that clueless haze I was in.

After a sleepless night at the hospital my husband came to collect me in the morning and after a quick check over and a bit of paper work we were signed out of the hospital, handed our baby in his new car seat and sent on our merry way. Im pretty sure as soon as we stepped out of the hospital doors both me and my husband looks at each other in the hope that the other knew what to do with this baby we had just been handed!

(James just a few hours old!)

It was all going to be this giant learning curve and new adventure for us both in which we would have to learn as we went, pick up new skills and adjust to life as parents. Being quite young not many of our friends had babies which made the journey even harder as it felt like we didn't have many people to turn to for advice, we soon both learnt our own parents were invaluable for such advice!

Now as a mum of 2 I am most certainly still learning, still adjusting and still often turn to my mum or other friends with babies for advice. However I have learnt a few things on the way and so today I thought I would share a few of those thoughts with you, so here they are.

  • When you first come home don't feel like you have to allow everyone round to visit straight away. Its ok to say no and its ok to need some time to bond and recover as a family. Its so easy to feel pressured into feeling like you must let everyone round as soon as you are home but that's not the case and people will understand that you need some time to settle home. 

  • Check out your local area for mum and baby groups or sessions as these can be a great way to meet new mums and get out and about. Sometimes being a new mum can feel quite lonely so meeting others who are going through the same thing as you can be an easy way to meet lots of mums in one place. If you have a local Sure Start centre these often run baby groups such as baby massage, mum and baby groups, young mum groups and stay and play sessions.

  • Pyjama days are fine, whilst going out to baby groups and play dates is a great way to meet new mums and get out and about its also ok to admit that some times you just need a day to yourself. It can be a lovely opportunity to just spend some one to one time with you and your little one with no pressure to get ready and be out and about and organised.

  • Don't be afraid to tell doctors/ midwives or health visitors exactly how you are feeling! When I had James I knew something wasn't right with the way I was feeling but I was so worried that if I told someone they would try and take my baby away that I didn't say anything. Eventually my husband persuaded me to speak to a doctor who said I had mild post natal depression and offered lots of help, support and advice. These people are there to help and support not judge or intimidate so please do feel like you can talk to them if you need to, they won't know whats wrong or be able to help if you don't. 

  • Don't feel guilty for taking some "me time", your a mum and a human not a robot and we all need a little time to ourselves to recoup and sleep (mostly sleep lol!). I used to feel so guilty about even leaving James for a few hours with my mum, it felt like I wasn't doing what I was suppose to and I was in some way failing by letting someone else care for him. Now I can look back that was most certainly not the case and by giving myself some me time I could be a better mum to my baby as I was more relaxed, had caught up on sleep and had managed some time being me rather than "mum". 

  • Try not to compare your babies milestones to everyone else's baby. Its so easy to get lured in to comparing your baby to others of similar age and then worrying if they are different. How much milk are they having, how many teeth, are they walking, sitting, crawling, do they sleep through the night are questions I am sure we all ask and so will many other mums. Whilst its great to compare stages and milestones for a bit of fun please don't worry if your baby is different, all babies develop and learn at different rates so unless you feel there is something seriously wrong try not to worry. 

Most of enjoy your baby! They certainly don't stay little for long and before you know it they are heading of for school and you are left wondering where your little non sleeping milky monster went and how time went so fast! 

Do you have any top tips to share for new mums?
Please do share below in the comments I would love to hear them. 


Wednesday, 19 August 2015

A trip to Paignton Zoo!

Every child (and most adults!) love a trip to the zoo, so when we booked our holiday this summer in Devon we knew Paignton zoo was going to be at the top of our list for places to visit.

Paignton zoo has over 2000 creatures and 6 animal habitats so more than enough to keep the whole family happy and amused for the entire day making it a great full day out. Habitats including the Savannah and the Primley give a real sense for the habitat the animals inside would live in which is great for children to learn about. 

Here are some pictures from our day - 

We loved how interactive Paignton zoo is and just how much you can learn from the large fact boards that are dotted inside and outside of each habitat giving fun and education information about different animals and habitats. A big favourite of both James and Evelyn's was the lemur section where you can walk across the bridge and actually enter the section where the Lemurs roam freely. You can get really up close to them (as you can see from the picture above with Evelyn).

As well as exploring the animals and zoo on foot you can also catch a ride on the zoo train which takes you on a loop around a small part of the zoo where you can see lots of the birds on the lake as well as catch a glimpse of the lions and a few other animals that may be around! 

Ticket prices for entry to the zoo are - 

Adults - £16.50
Children - £12.10
Children under 3 - FREE
Senior citizen - £13.95
Family ticket ( 2 adults + 2 children) - £51.95

These prices do include a 10% donation towards vital conservation work but you can choose to opt out of this making the tickets cheaper. 

We had a fantastic day out that we all loved, there was so much to do at Paignton zoo we were certainly kept entertained for the full day making the prices feel great value for money! There were so many animals and despite the zoo being busy (as expected during summer holidays) we were able to see all the animals, take photos and didn't once feel rushed around or squashed in. 
The play parks and picnic area's are clean and well kept giving great areas to take a break from walking around and have some lunch. 

One thing that really stood out for us was the passion and love for the job by the people working at the zoo. One lady in particular who was working in with the goats really stood out for us. James was a little wary about going in with the goats and touching them, she was so kind and she took James with her and explained about the goats and told him their names. She took his hand and managed to get him walking with the goats and stroking them, he hasn't stopped talking about Eric the goat since! 

If you haven't been I can highly recommend a visit you won't be disappointed. There is lots of walking so make sure you wear comfortable shoes! 

Have you ever been to Paignton Zoo? If you want to find out more about Paignton Zoo you can visit their website here -


Monday, 17 August 2015

Primula Dips **REVIEW**

You may have seen our post about our picnic using Primula cheese earlier this summer but squeezy cheese isn't all Primula do, they actually have a tasty range of dips too!

We were sent some of the Primula dips range to try in a variety of flavours. I knew these would be a hit as me and hubby regularly enjoy some crisps and dip in front of a dvd on a weekend so these would be a lovely treat.

The flavours we received were Sour cream and chive, Garlic and herb, Spicy nacho cheese, Spicy salsa and Thai sweet chilli.

All of the dips offered a creamy dip that was packed full of flavour. As soon as you opened the lid the flavour hit you and you could really taste each flavour within the dips. The creamy texture made them great for dipping too!

My personal favourite was the Spicy Nacho cheese, initially I was worried that the dip may be a little too spicy but it really wasn't! The rich flavour of nacho cheese was packed in to the dip with a subtle hint of spice that gave it a little kick. Absolutely delicious especially with lightly salted Doritos!

My husbands favourite flavour was the garlic and herb (although he said the sour cream and chive came a close second). The dip had a smooth creamy texture had a cool, fresh flavour that went well with crispbread, Doritos and the bread sticks we tried with it.

My only small issue with the dips is that they have a peel off lid which is fine but sometimes you don't finish the whole pot but as it doesn't have a reusable lid you have nothing to cover it with to keep it fresh. However we just used a small piece of foil to cover them but it would have been nice to have had a reusable lid.

Over all we really enjoyed the Primula dips, they would make a great addition to a variety of situations such as a fun snack or for a dvd date night and they would make a great addition to any buffet table along with a variety of crisps, breadsticks and crispbreads as there is certainly a flavour for everyone!

What is your favourite dip flavour?


* I was not paid for this review. All opinions given are my own.
* If you would like me to review your product or service, please email me on

NSAuk Deluxe Pop Up Travel Cot **REVIEW**

Before I had children a trip to the beach was a relaxing affair, I could pack up my towel and sun cream a good magazine/book and be on my way. Unfortunately since having children those day are very much behind me!

A trip to the beach means taking so many things people may mistake you as heading to the airport as you lug everything to the car but nope, just a trip to the beach with kids for the day!

My top priority when heading to the beach with kids is protection from the sun and whilst we always pack sun-cream and sun hats etc a sun shelter can be a perfect place for children to shelter from the sun when they want to and to keep cool during mid day.

We were recently sent the NSAuk Deluxe cot to try out, this travel cot is great as it is multi-functional, its not only a travel cot  but as it offers UV protection equivalent to UPF 25+ it also doubles up as a really useful sun tent and play tent. 

This came at a perfect time for us as it arrived just before we headed off on holiday to Dawlish and we had several beach days planned. I particularly liked the fact this travel cot features a self inflating mattress, which is not only time saving but space saving too! I felt the mattress (and mattress topper which is also included) made this more than just a "pop up tent" it really gave it that deluxe feel and something that could easily and comfortably be slept it. 

The NSAuk Deluxe travel cot banishes all of those fiddly poles which means it can be put up and down quickly and easily with a pop up function. It is small and lightweight enough to also fit in to hand luggage if you are planning on traveling, Everything fits inside the handy bag that it comes in including the mattress and mattress topper! The travel cot features a fine insect mesh to stop and bites or stings and has several different flaps that can be zipped up or down depending on what you are using it for.

As a family we loved the NSAuk Deluxe pop up travel cot! It did everything we needed and more. The mattress topper was thick and ever so soft and even though we haven't used it yet as a travel cot I certainly wouldn't hesitate to use it when the opportunity arises. As a sun tent it was great, it popped up in seconds and provided a cool shaded area for the kids to sit, we used it for both James and Evelyn to sit inside whilst they had lunch on the beach and they both loved it. Putting the tent down was a little more difficult (my first attempt looked more like i was wrestling it to death than putting it down), but after a better look at the instructions and a few practices it was really simple and can be done in under 1 minute.

My only niggles with it were that the ground fixing pegs provided with the tent weren't long enough to use on the beach but the tent was sturdy enough and when not in use I just popped my bag inside to ensure it stayed in place. My only other worry is how easy it would be to access baby when using it as a travel cot as there are quite a few zips and as the travel cot sits on the floor its low down to reach baby. However we haven't tried it this way yet so these are just observations.

The NSAuk Deluxe travel cot is priced at £79.99 and is available to purchase from the Safetots website here -


* I was not paid for this review. All opinions given are my own.
* If you would like me to review your product or service, please email me on

Monday, 10 August 2015

Evelyn - 14 Months Old.

Evelyn is now 14 months old and when describing her one word spring to mind.... DIVA!

This little lady knows what she wants and she wants it NOW!

Im pretty sure having James and him being such a calm, chilled out and relaxed baby set me up for a serious fall when Evelyn came along. It was like sitting on a calm beach where you had spent the last 5 years just chilling out, enjoying the sun and living life at your own pace them BAM a massive tornado just sweeps in and shakes your whole world around, yep that was Evelyn arriving lol.

Ok Ok so I may be exaggerating a little above but she is so much harder than James was, Evelyn is in to everything and I mean everything well everything except her toys and things she is actually allowed to touch. Her particular favourites include pulling out TV cables, attempting to eat her brothers LEGO, opening every cupboard in the kitchen and dangling off the stair gate!

Evelyn recently had her 1 year check (at 13months old) with the health visitor and they were very happy with her progress. She is right on target with her development and they had no concerns or need to see her again unless I wanted to get her weighed at clinic. She weighed in at a huge 26lbs but also measured in at a rather tall 81.5cm and so is apparently perfectly proportioned.

Oh and did I mention we now have a WALKER!!! Yes this past month Evelyn has been growing in confidence and initially with a little help from us began to stand alone and then take a few shaky steps between me and her dad. Fast forward a few weeks and she was doing it all by herself and now you can stop her, the first sign of trouble to be had or an escape to be made and she is on her feet and off she goes.

Her vocabulary is still quite limited as she only really says dada, mama and dog but she has her own ways of communicating with us through pointing etc so she still certainly knows how to get what she wants. .

The last 14 months has gone by so quickly and I cant believe my little baby isn't really a baby anymore, more a confident independent toddler with a total diva attitude. I am loving watching her grow and she seems to learn something new every day at the moment. Her relationship with her brother James is still just as strong as the day she came home and they still sit and play together most days. James really enjoyed reading to her and Evelyn is always the first one to get a hug and kiss when James come out of school each day!

(Jumping over the waves on holiday last week!)

I am feeling truly lucky to be able to watch these to grow even if they do drive me up the wall sometimes!


Sunday, 9 August 2015

Save a Life, Learn to Swim with Swimshop!

A recent study found that 57% of children between 7-11 years old cannot swim. In a bid to change this Swimshop are running a ‘Save a Life, Learn to Swim’ campaign.

Swimshop have also put together some fun swimming games you can do as a family to increase your child’s confidence in the water.

Both James and Evelyn attend swimming lessons and bath have loved water from babies which has made taking them swimming much easier! James has been attending weekly lessons at our local leisure centre for almost 2 years now and his confidence in the water has sky rocketed. Not only do swimming lessons teach your child to swim but they also teach them water confidence and most importantly water safety which is so important. 

If you are able to my advice would be to take your children swimming regularly, just being in the water will give them more confidence. Make bath times fun as this will make water seem less daunting and if you can swimming lessons really can be fantastic. 

To help your children get swimming Swimshop have very kindly given us 2 sets of swim floats and arm bands to giveaway to our readers!

To enter just complete the rafflecopter form below. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Open to UK residents only. Winner will be chosen at random using the rafflecopter app. All entries will be checked.



You may have noticed the blog has been a little quiet over the last week, that's because we have been off on our summer holidays!

Last weekend we packed up our suitcases and headed for Dawlish for our holiday this year. We actually go somewhere different each year (in the UK) and have found this to be a lovely way to discover some great parts of the UK and this year it was Dawlish.

(How beautiful is this beach we visited on our last day!)

We were very lucky with the weather and had glorious sunshine all week apart from a little rain one evening, but we were already tucked up in the caravan by this point! We had some lovely day trips at Paignton Zoo and Woodlands theme park plus some sunny and relaxing visits to beaches in Devon and Torquay. We also got to visit a circus which happened to be in town whilst we were there and spend some time in the arcades, shops and even a fun fair along the seafront! Here are some pictures from our holidays ...

We also caught a snap of these the black swan that Dawlish is home too!

Have you been or are you going on a holiday this year? Where will you be visiting?


Saturday, 8 August 2015

Peppa Pig Princess Rose plush toy **REVIEW**

As Evelyn is growing up she is showing more and more interest in toys especially anything musical or soft toys that she can cuddle. So when we were asked if we would like to review the Peppa Pig Princess Rose plush toy I knew this ticked all the boxes for Evelyn and immediately said Yes.

The Peppa toy is very soft and Peppa is wearing a pretty pink silk and net skirt with matching shoes making her look very girly and sweet. Details such as the eyes, nose and mouth are embroidered on which I really liked as it made the toy much safer for Evelyn to play with.

So how does Peppa work? Well you simply gently touch the 2 silver sensors one on each of her hands and she starts singing "Ring-a-Ring-a-Roses". The sensors are really sensitive and only have to be lightly touched for Peppa to start singing which is great for children. Evelyn did require some help to get her signing but she is still quite young. James however was intrigued by the toy and got the hang of it straight away. Since then James and Evelyn have been playing with it together repeatedly and Evelyn seems to have grasped the concept of holding one of Peppa's hands whilst James holds the other and shrieks when she starts singing!.

The Peppa Pig Princess Rose is operated via a battery pack which is hidden beneath a velcro strip to her back, this is covered and packed in with plenty of stuffing and doesn't effect cuddling her in fact it can barely be felt.

What I love about this toy is that unlike some other interactive toys Peppa Princess Rose is versatile and can be either played with by 1 child or lots of children meaning this toy isn't limited to a certain number of children and can still be played with even when the child is not with friends or siblings.

A great toy for any Peppa fans from 18 months + that will not only provide a very cute toy to snuggle with but hours of fun and music.

You can purchase your own Peppa Pig Princess Rose from Amazon priced at £19.99.


* I was not paid for this review. All opinions given are my own.
* If you would like me to review your product or service, please email me on

Pocket Money.... Right or Wrong?

As we stroll down the toy isle of the supermarket I can hear James behind us in his element surrounded by toys. He of course, like most children wants everything in sight and regularly pesters us for toys he wants or in his words NEEDS!. This has been a regular occurrence since he has been old enough to ask for toys we of course don't want him to think he can just get everything he asks for and so came about the conversation about pocket money.

Of course there are lots of things we naturally want to teach our children such as sharing, manners and right and wrong but I also wanted my children to learn about the value of money. I wanted them to know in simple terms that money doesn't come from trees and sometimes we can't just have the things we want we must save or earn those things.

So after a bit of deliberation we decided we would give James £1 a week pocket money. We went out and brought James a nice new piggy bank to save his pocket money in and explained to him we would be giving him £1 a week which he could save up to buy the toys he wanted. He was over the moon and to start with thought his £1 would buy him the world. We initially had to explain to him how much things are and how many £1 coins he would need to buy each item but he soon understood.

After some time had passed he had built up a good amount (and had a little birthday money) so we took James to Toys R Us, they have little mini trolleys which he took and we let him take the lead. He filled his trolley to the brim with all the toys he liked and then before we got to the til we explained how much money he had and explained that he had to choose the toys he really wanted as he couldn't buy them all. So he sorted through them and picked the toys he really wanted and without tears which we were worried about and off he headed to the til!

It really worked! Not only did he learn about the value of money but it made him think about the toys he "really" wanted and just the toys he had picked up on a whim.
James was beaming with delight as he handed over his saved up coins and proudly told the checkout lady he had saved them all himself. He carried out his big bag full of toys all the way to the car refusing to let anyone help and the look on his face said it all he was beaming with a smile and so proud!

When Evelyn came along we knew we would need to do the same for her. So now Evelyn also has a money pot too as we want James to see that they both must save for things they want and so she gets the same £1 each week. Of course we do occasionally treat him to things from our money but not all the time and I think he really appreciates the toys more knowing he has brought them himself!
James has been getting pocket money since he was about 3 and for us pocket money has worked a treat he has learnt lots about the value of money and how much things cost, he knows that coins have different values and that sometimes you must save up for the things you really want.

As he gets older we may start giving him the opportunity to earn more money from helping out around the house etc but for now he is perfectly happy with his £1 a week and learning about the way money works.

Do you give your children pocket money?