Getting Christmas Ready With Pines And Needles

For the past two years now I have been lucky enough to celebrate Christmas round one of Pines and Needles beautiful Nordmann Fir Christmas trees.

Pines and Needles offer a completely unique service that allows you to choose your tree from the comfort of your own home or go along to one of those many stores and select your own which they can then deliver to you or you can take home with you there and then.

If you want a little more than just a tree they also offer decoration service ranging from a fully decorated tree or simply threading of the lights which I know is a job that I always hate doing!

Something else that is always a pain is the disposal of the tree after Christmas but Pines and Needles have this covered too. They can simply pick up and dispose of your tree after you have stored away all your precious decorations or even come into your home to remove and carefully wrap your decorations as well as removing the tree and tidying up all the mess.

We have been over the moon with our tree each year and can’t wait for this year and if this sounds something that you would be interested in in then there is a summer offer that is still running until the end of this month which gives you 10% off your order. Just add the code SUMMER10 when placing your order and enjoy all that Pines and Needles have to offer.

Days Out With The Kids This Christmas

Yes I know we have only just put our sandals and summer dress aways but before you know it Christmas will be upon us and if you want to get those special days booked in then you really do have to start thinking about it now!

Christmas is by far my favourite time of year and I have compiled a list of a few of our favourites that I hope you might enjoy:

Lapland UK – This one just had to be top of my list as I have experienced nothing like it before. We were lucky enough to have our first trip there last year and we were absolutely blown away.

From helping the elves in Father Christmas’s toy factory, icing biscuits with Mother Christmas, taking to the ice in the most beautifully setting and finally meeting the main man himself who Frankie has named ‘the real’ Father Christmas it was sheer magic.

It brought a tear to my eye and I don’t think that day will ever be topped!

Hever Castle – For me Hever brings you everything you would imagine when you think of an English christmas celebration. The traditional fairground rides and beautiful christmas trail are perfect for the little ones, whilst the stunningly decorated castle is a sight that everyone will enjoy.

We are off there at the end of November so keep an eye out for what they have in store this year.

Chessington World Of Adventure – The Winter’s Tail event at Chessington World Of Adventure is always a fantastic day out. There is the chance to visit Santa in his grotto, ride on a few selected rides that are specially opened including our favourite – The Gruffly River Ride Adventure, decorate festive treats in the Gruffly kitchen and something new this year will be The Gruffalo Christmas Groove.

alongside all of this they are also offering sleepover packages and we can highly recommend a stay in their fantastic hotel.

Painshill Park – This one for us has the ultimate wow factor when it comes to the grotto. After a walk along a pretty lit walkway you find your way to the crystal grotto where Father Christmas is waiting to hand out his gifts.

It is certainly different from the norm and gets booked up extremely quickly so don’t leave it until the last minute.

Southbank – If you are looking for a day out with festive foods, quirky gifts and the perfect London backdrop then the christmas market at Southbank if definitey one for the list.

Hobbledown – I am so sad that I won’t be going along to the toddlers lunch with Father Christmas this year.

I have visited for many years now and it is the perfect trip for preschoolers where they decorate a biscuit, have some lunch and meet Santa in the cutest little wooden hut.

Winerville – We had our first trip here last year and it really exceeded our expectations. It is an uber cool experience in the heart of Clapham common offering a bit of everything from great food and drink to ice skating, roller skating, fairground rides, crazy golf and a whole lot more.

Disney On Ice – This has become somewhat of a tradition for us to visit a few days before christmas. The culmination of all our favourite Disney characters, the chill of the ice and the excitement of Christmas makes for a great day out.

National Trust – We have visited a fair few properties over the festive period and each one has its on unique and wonderful christmas feel. They offer visits to Father Christmas, crafts galore christmas markets and brilliant trails to wear the kids out which is always a bonus!

CBeebies Christmas Show:Thumbelina – Getting cosy in the cinema is perfect at this time of year and when its to watch a classic such as Thumbelina put on by some of your favourite Cbeebies characters then its always going to be a hit.

We are off to see this later in the year so keep an eye out for what we think!

RHS Wisley – Now the illuminated trail at Wisley is something I’ve heard so many good things about but haven’t actually got there yet. I think it will have to go on my list for this year.

Winter Wonderland – If you want Christmas on a grand scale then this is the place for you. Winter Wonderland is a huge area in Hyde Park full of fairground rides, food stalls, gifts, ice skating, shows and bucket loads more. We had our first trip there last year and had an amazing time!

Bocketts Farm – I love a farm visit over the christmas period and Bocketts offers an amazingly festive day out complete with a trip to santa in his hay barn.

The Snowman – My children laugh at how much I love The Snowman in any form. My first love was of course the illustrated character and I have loved watching how he has evolved over the years. We watched the stage show a few years ago which was absolutly spell binding and keep the attention of my younger two for over two hours which is no mean feat. This year there is also a magical exhibition at the Brighton Museum and Art Gallery, an immersive experience at The Backyard Cinema, a special story telling session at Bath Pavilions by the talented author Michael Morpurgo and a the most magical showing of the animated film at the Royal Albert Hall accompanied by the Royal Philamonic Orchestra.

Priory Farm – This has been our Christmas Eve tradition for a few years now. We stop off in the cafe for a mince pie and a warm drink, get the last of our foodie bits at the fab farm shop and a trek round the discovery walk to wear out the over excited little one.

Celebrating The Small Things:Week Thirty One

This week on ‘Celebrating The Small Things’ I am talking about my love of kickboxing, travelling into town and candles!

Kickboxing – My love of kickboxing started many years ago now and was actually one of the reasons me and Darren got together. It was a shared passion and something we always enjoyed together. Over the years teaching the skill became a job for me and in between having the kids I have always loved getting back to it.

Since having Oscar though I had really stepped away from it and its only been the past few months that I have fallen back in love with it and have enjoyed every moment of it…well maybe not at the time!

Candles – I’ve had a thing for scented candles for years now, one that unfortunately my husband doesn’t share. I would fill every room with a different scent if I could but he would be one step behind me blowing them all out.

My passion was filled for a day however when I went along to the Yankee Candle Christmas event where I walked into a room filled with beautiful scents and gorgeous christmas displays. I have so many new candles on my wishlist now and the only thing I have to do is encourage Darren to like them too.

I Love London – One of the many things that blogging has brought me is the opportunity to visit central London so much more than I ever have done before. Pre blogging I would probably only venture in a couple of times a year and usually to the same old places.

I am now in time several times a month exploring new areas, seeing new things and loving every moment of it.

Crate Creatures Surprise:Review

Anything crazy looking, involving monsters and noise making is always a hit with Frankie and Oscar. Although I hate stereotypes my youngest two are definitely boisterous creatures and are always drawn towards toys that are a little bit naughty.

When I was asked to review ‘Pudge’ from Crate Creatures Surprise I knew they were going to be a big hit.

Pudge arrived caged and padlocked up and the boys took great delight in trying to crack the cage open and release the monster. Frankie could do this with ease and I loved the fact that aside from a few little bits of plastic there was no wasteful packaging as the cage could be used to store your new found friend.

Once freed the boys had a brilliant time pulling at his super long tongue that made his eyes glow bright as he shakes with temper that he has been pulled at! Although you need batteries for Pudge I was pleasantly surprised that there are batteries included to allow for a little play on demo mode which is pretty unusual and very welcome feature.

Just like the boys he is always hungry and pizza is definitely his meal of choice. He calls out to be fed pizza and makes noises of appreciation once he has chomped away.

Any kind of fast movements with him such a flipping and ticking will see Pudge squeal with delight which also had the boys in stitches.

I think one of the favourite features though was the response you get from him when spoken too…it has certainly been a breath of fresh air to have questions aimed at him rather than me!

There are four monsters to collect in total and each one has its own unique character offering a whole host of different features.

There is so much to love about these differnt creatures and they would make an absouotly great gift for both girls and boys.

*collaborated posts

Celebrating The Small Things:Week Four

This weeks ‘celebrating the small things’ is a little self indulgent as I’m unusually pleased with what I have achieved. I’m usually full of self doubt and always see the negatives in what I do which is really counter productive and something I want to try to improve so here it goes:

Happy In My Work- I recently restarted teaching my ladies fitness kickboxing classes which I have found a whole new love for. Teaching was always a huge passion for me but the more children I had the trickier it became to fit this kind of work in and sadly it stopped a few years ago.
Thankfully the New Year has bought with it some lovely faces both old and new that have made my job an absolute pleasure once again.

Weight Loss Going Well – A New Year, restarting my classes and a big hit of self motivation has seen me finally losing some weight.
I wrote a post a while ago on how the past few years have seen me gaining a lot of weigh which has really bought me down and I’m so pleased that over the past few weeks I have seen some changes for the good.
I’ve banished the scales as these are always a source of disappointment for me and have simply used how I look and real as motivation to keep me going.

Looking Back – Last week the lovely Carrisa over at Little Likely Lads tagged me in a post on Insta Stories that needed me to scroll back through my hundreds of photos on Instagram to find my first ever post.
Of course this task had me stopping and looking over all the photos through the years and made me love this social media platform even more.
Moments captured in pictures are hugely important to me and Instagram allows me to see a whole host of my favourite moments in seconds.

LaplandUK Early Bird Booking

I know you all probably think I’ve gone completely mad by talking about Christmas 2018 when if you are anything like me you are still trying to find places to home all the presents and loose all the weight from the Christmas just gone!

I can however confirm though that my marbles are all still firmly intact and I just wanted to give you a heads up the our favourite christmas experience EVER – LaplandUK is running an early bird offer from 29th January-2nd February 2018 that isn’t to be missed.

LaplandUK sold out completely last year and as someone that has visited countless Father Christmas’s over my twenty years of parenting I can confirm that this was the most amazing experience I have ever been to and something I don’t think could ever be topped.

LaplandUK offers a completely immersive experience that is completely spellbinding for the adults as well as the children.

If this is something you would be interested in then I really urge you to take a look HERE and get in quickly and take up this offer which is to good to miss!

Celebrating The Small Things:Week One

When I first started blogging it was a subject I knew very little about, and to say that I went into it blindly would be an understatement; but through the encouragement of family and friends I began my blogging journey and haven’t looked back since.

Over the past few years my blog has gone from strength to strength, it has now become my full time job and has bought me and my family some of the most amazing opportunities and allowed us to meet some wonderful people…some of which I would now class as good friends.

My blog is a place that I come to when I want people to find out about a great day out we have been on, somewhere I can give advice on great new products I have tried out or to celebrate big milestones in our lives; but as the New Year sets in and we naturally evaluate the different parts of our lives I have realised there is one area I have really overlooked when it comes to writing…The Small Things.

There are so many small moments in our lives that we take for granted or miss all together, moments that although may seem small and insignificant they give us great pleasure and we should learn to cherish and show our gratitude for them all.

I have decided to now do a weekly post highlighting all those little moments that would normally pass me by as a document to look back on in years to come and remember fondly.

Brotherly love: When it comes to the youngest two its always been a bit of a love hate relationship, with the latter certainly being more predominant, so when a special moment such as Frankie requesting to take his little brother out to share his birthday treat is an occasion that should be marked.

Lego: This may seem like a strange one, but the wonderful world of Lego has bought us all so much joy since Christmas in many ways. It dominated the youngest two’s christmas lists this year but has brought the whole family such pleasure and brought us together for some much needed quality time as we all muck in trying to make the next creation.

Storytime: Its been more than a few years since Izzy has requested a bedtime story, and to be truthful its not very often she willingly picks up a book! So after buying her the fantastic Goodnight Stories For Rebel Girls it has been an absolute pleasure to see her engrossed in reading and sharing what she has learnt about a whole host of ‘kick arse’ women.

Being Present This Christmas

How many of you spend too much gazing at a screen, running backwards and forwards trying to get a million and one things done or getting bogged down with a huge workload.

This all sounds to familiar to my everyday life and it is something that I think about continually. I tell myself I am going to change so many of these things but life gets in the way and I never do.

I know that my phone and my camera are like a third hand to me and I spend way much time using both of them more than I should. Doing the job I do makes it hard to switch off as so much of my day to day life is in fact my work and I always end up using this as an excuse when I know that this isn’t healthy for any of us.

The children also spend more time than I like using devices so this Christmas we have all taken a step back and spent our Christmas how it should be…making conversation and playing games with family and friends.

I would usually be filming and photographing every minute of the day from the minute we wake up, right through the day, but instead I took a few snaps and a few Instastories that I couldn’t resist and spent the rest of the past few days being in the moment rather than trying to capture it.

I also made a conscious effort this year to buy the children games that allow them to use their imagination and interact with each other and that is exactly what has happened.

We have all been coming together to build Lego creations and the boys have been playing relatively argument free with their Playmobil models which has been so lovely to see.

It has also come to my attention that simple things such as board games are a real novelty to my children when really I should be making time much more often to sit down and play games like this with them as they bring so much joy to us all.

Emails have been ignored and any impending work has been put to the back of my mind so that I can concentrate on the people that are most important to me.

The world hasn’t stopped spinning because I haven’t opened posted to Instagram, the children haven’t missed out because they haven’t spent endless hours playing games on their Kindles, but what we have had is a few days of enjoying each others company that happens all to rarely and is certainly the best gift I have received this year.

Hot Chocolate Stirrers

With only a few days left until christmas I sure that most of you are all prepared and have gifts all bought and wrapped ready to go…however if you are anything like me then there are always those last few presents that you completely forget about!

My recipe for hot chocolate stirrers will make a lovely gift and is something super easy to make.

I use wooden spoons as the handle for mine but you can easily use lolly sticks or even something like cardboard straws.

The stirrers can be wrapped individually or like we did for the teachers gifts you can add a few homemade biscuits together with the stirrers and package them up in a nice Christmas mug.

If this sounds good to you then the recipe is below for you to try:

Makes 24 sticks

  • 800g mixture of dark and milk chocolate
  • 8 tbsp cocoa powder
  • hundreds and thousands, marshmallows or fudge pieces to decorate
  1. Break up the chocolate into a bowl and heat over a Bain Marie until completely melted.
  2. Slowly add the cocoa and mix thoroughly.
  3. Pour the mixture into a silicone mould(we used a round ice cube tray) and into each section place the spoon/stick into the centre.
  4. Decorate with your toppings of choice and then place in the fridge to harden for about an hour.
  5. When they are ready pop them out and gift wrap however you fancy!

Getting 2018 Off To A Swimming Start

Oh yes in only a few weeks all the jollities of Christmas will be over and it will be time to start thinking about the brand new year ahead of us.

After weeks of gorging on mince pies and mulled wine, spending hours in front of the television dipping into the christmas chocolates and feasting on three course meals with the family the first thing on my mind is going to be how to shift all of that winter weight gain!

If I’m completely honest it isn’t just Christmas that is to blame for my expanding waistline it has slowly been creeping on over the past two years and I’m finding it increasingly hard to give off that ‘I’m happy with my body at any size’ vibe!

Over my adult life I have struggled terribly with body image and still harbour a very unhealthy relationship with food that over the years has left me very poorly from under eating and over training to bringing out huge insecurities though talking things to the other end of the scale where I massively over eat and lead a very sedentary lifestyle.

Its not just what I look like on the outside that is an issue, I know I’m currently in a place when I’m not feeding my body as I should and this is leading to me feeling constantly lethargic and lacking in motivation.

My mental health is also bearing a lot of strain as my confidnce has taken a huge battering and I am finding myself avoiding social situations where I might feel intimidated by other women and am making myself feel very isolated at times.

Sitting here writing this has really brought this issue to light for me and although I’m really not a lover of setting New Years resolutions I am going to go into the New Year with a positive mind about getting myself fit and healthy so that I am happy within myself and not letting this have a detrimental effect on my family.

Through a combination of over training in my younger days, being overweight and the general effects of getting older my joints are really feeling the strain these days and I think the best way to get things back on track again is to ease myself into exercise with swimming.

Im not the strongest of swimmers but with even an easy swim burning off up too 500 calories it is certainly a great way to kick start exercise again.

The thought of donning a swimsuit however is filling me with dread but there are some great plus size swimwear options out there to ease the pain.

Once in the pool its not only calories that will be burned; it will also help to boost my metabolism and all the while keeping my joints safe.

Water is also a massive 800 times denser than air so with each push, pull and kick it will give your body a great resistance workout too.

So this new year will hopefully see me facing my fears, changing my way of life and fingers crossed getting some great results!

*collaberated post