Pleasing A Teen With Poster Store

[GIFTED] Trying to please a teenager is a struggle at the best of times, and as I have recently found out these times are particularly challenging when it comes to decorating their room!

Of course any suggestions that come from me are poopooed and when I ask for her input it turns into a battle ground.

One thing however that was relatively painless was picking out some prints for her walls.

We have very different tastes and I have to admit I find it really hard to let the kids have free reign sometimes. When they hit their teens though it is important even more important to let them express themselves and what better way than through art.

Izzy was lucky enough to be able to choose a selection of prints from Poster Store who offer a huge range of posters of different sizes and genres so there will be something to suit absolutely everyone. They also offer a vast selection of frames so you can have the finished piece all ready to hang as soon as it arrives.

Izzy is a big lover of monochrome and there were an abundance of prints for her to choose from.

Over her chest of draws she went for one statement piece that showed her love for her favourite city.

Above her bed she went for a gallery wall and gained a lot of her inspiration for this from the mood boards on Poster Stores sites.

Her love of fashion shone through with her choices with the statement Chanel piece being her favourite.

Izzy went for an all black theme with the frames that were fantastic quality and set the art work off perfectly.

Wether you are decorating a teens room like me or have a completely different project underway then Poster Store is definitely worth perusing.

Alice In Wonderland At Hever Castle

[PRESS EVENT] If I was ever asked to depict a traditional Christmas then Hever Castle would be it for me. We have just had our fourth Christmas visit and it is still as spellbinding and breathtaking as our first trip.

Fairy lights covering the pathways, lights illuminating the vast lake and snow dipped trees tucked away made for an amazing start to our visit.

Already full of the spirit of Christmas we headed towards the castle where we got to sip hot chocolates and mulled wine, feast on mince pies and cookies whilst taking in the splendour of the beautifully decorated rooms.

Warm and toasty we headed back out into the grounds and had some fun on the carousel and the magic hall of mirrors. The children and adults alike where all smiles throughout.

Next up we headed to see the main man himself. We were a little early so the friendly elves set the boys down to writing their wish lists to Father Christmas that they could then seal and place in the letter box which was a lovely touch.

Before we knew it we were being guided through the snowy paths by more friendly elves who chatted about all the things they had been up to before passing us over to Father Christmas who was nestled away in his cute wooden cabin.

He chatted away to the children for some time and was extremely warm and welcoming. After a little pep talk on being good…which was most welcome they all received a lovely gift and we headed out to finish the evening with the Alice In Wonderland trail.

This is always one of my favourite parts of the evening and this year was one of my favourite themes. The actors were as elaborate and engaging as ever and the decorations were a wonder to see, although Oscar found a few a little spooky this year.

The beauty of Hever’s Christmas attraction is that tickets are not needed to be booked in advance for everything so there is the opportunity to enjoy this right up until Christmas Eve.

Something For Everyone:Christmas Gift Guide

This year I have switched things up a little when it comes to my Christmas gift guide, as let’s face it we don’t all fit in one box do we!

So instead of doing separate guides aimed at specific groups I have done one big guide that allows you to take a look at everything on offer.

Something Sparkly – Jewellery is always a welcome gift under the tree and this year I have found some beautiful pieces that I’m sure you are all going to love.

Limited Edition North Star Necklace: Merci Maman are a wonderful french company that produce the most amazing personalised jewellery that I fell for a while ago now.

This year they have a stunning 18k gold plated North Star necklace that is available in with white or black and is finished off with one single white zircon and of course their gorgeous hand engraved personalisation.

Enamel Star Necklace: Iamrachelshop is a new company offering a collection of beautiful enamel jewellery, including this pretty star necklace that comes in an array of different colours so you really will be spoilt for choice!

Sterling Silver Cat Earrings: for all you cat lovers out there…or actually just gorgeous jewellery lovers these beautiful hand polished, sterling silver cat shaped earrings would make a lovely gift.

Coin Bracelet: I’m a big lover of statement pieces and this stunning coin bracelet from Anna Lou Of London certainly stands out!

I don’t think this will make it under the tree!

A Little Bit Of Beauty – It wouldn’t be Christmas without some kind of beauty product finding its way under the tree would it. Here are a few lovely pieces that would make great gifts.

Lush Gift Boxes – everybody in my house loves Lush and all their products, so when it comes to Christmas a gift box full to the brim with a combination of gorgeous smells is always a winner. This year they have yet another amazing range of gift boxes that it is hard to chose from them all!

Face Masks And Makeup Removing Cloth – Disney really does span the ages and these face masks and makeup removing cloths from Mad Beauty would make a lovely gift for such a wide range of people. They would also be perfect secret Santa gifts.

False Lashes And Nail Varnish – If there was ever a season to party then this is it so if you are looking to get yourself party ready then these Kiss Lash Couture Naked Drama Collection lashes and the Leighton Denny Colour Collection can help you to do just that.

The Personal Barber Premium Shave Kit – This kit exudes luxury from the minute you open the kit. There is everything you need from a stunning safety razor with replacement blades and a fabulous smelling shaving soap that is all ready to lather up and apply with the traditional brush.

They really are taking things back to original shaving methods and I absolutely love it.

Something Sweet – I have a massive sweet tooth and if you can’t indulge at Christmas then when can you! Here are a couple of gifts – perfect for those with a sweet tooth.

DIY Gingerbread House Kit – For me Biscuiteers are the leaders in iced biscuits by far and I have never seen creations like them. So the bar is set pretty high with their DIY gingerbread house kit. This lot comes with everything you need to create your own gingerbread house and this year we will be seeing if we can get it anywhere near as good as the experts!

This would make a lovely pre-Christmas gift to enjoy as a family.

Retro Sweets Letterbox Gift: Many of is have loved ones that we won’t be able to get to see this Christmas so this letter box gift from Yumbles full to the brim with all the old school favourites such as Curlywurlys, popping candy, Blackjacks and so much more would put a smile on anyone’s face this Christmas!

Something For The Home – I for one love a gift to be used around the home and I have a few pretty different ideas here.

Glass Straws: With the majority of people becoming more aware of the impact of waste in the environment then a gift such as these glass straws from Vaso that are BPA free, contain no plastic or toxins would make a brilliant, sustainable gift this year.

Compact Vacuum – Now don’t all shout at once because I have mentioned a vacuum for Christmas – because after hearing about this one you will all be wanting Santa to drop one down the chimney!

The Gtech HyLite is a super compact, ultra lightweight yet extremely powerful hoover. It is compact enough to fit inside a draw/cupboard, has 20 mins running time and is a extremely durable.

Egg holder/cooker – something quirky is always a winner and they don’t come much quirkier than this egg holder/storer/cooker. It is literally a one stop egg contraption that is really handy and super cute!

Toys Galore – As you can imaging with five children and two grandchildren toys are always the biggest section on my list and I have some great ideas that I know your little ones are going to love.

Rizmo – The cute bundle of fluff that goes by the name – Rizmo is an interactive toy who adores music, dancing and most definitely singing. He can dance to music, mimic your own voice, and even sing a song back to you one he has heard it. I know this is going to go down a storm in our house on Christmas morning.

Space Explorer Pillow Case: Before I even talk about this pillow case can I just take a moment to ask you to look at the gorgeous wrapping paper the gifts from Eat, Sleep, Doodle come in!

The space explorer pillow case is covered in beautiful pictures of space that can be coloured in by your little ones and simply popped in the washing machine for them to do it all over again!

Construction Site Set And Vehicles – For those of you that have followed me for a while you will know about my love for wooden toys, and Great Little Trading Co really know how to do them well.

This construction site set and construction vehicles set is outstandingly made, eye catching and the perfect toy for children to build important things such as motor skills through play.

The set comes with a base that is interlocking which is great to save space on storage, building, ramps, a crane and a whole host of bricks, vehicles and road signs for little ones to let their imaginations run wild!

Swipe Out Board Game – who doesn’t love a board game for Christmas! For this Swipe Out game you need fast hands to swipe and grab your way to be the winner.

Talking Bing – The incredibly popular Bing Bunny can be brought home and brought to life by giving pressing his tummy to hear lots of different phrases, and squeezing him super hard to hear him yell his catchphrase – vooooosh!

Baby Annabell And Baby Annabell Travel Carrier – Baby Annabell has been a welcome member of our home for many years now and my First Baby Annabell is the perfect doll to start off any little ones collection. She also comes with a whole host of accessories, including this great travel carrier so you can take her anywhere you fancy without Mum and Dad getting left with the carrying!

Robo Dash – The fun loving pup Robo Dash is a robotic pup that can walk, follow you around, chase his own tail and stretch out to an impressive 45cm long.

He would make a great alternative to a real puppy which has been on my kids Christmas list for years now!

Something To Read – A book is always a great option for a present as it is a simple gift that can bring so much joy. Here are a couple of books that will be winging there way into friends homes this Christmas.

Personalised:The Nightmare Before Christmas: Personalised presents always offer something a little special and when they come in the form of a book I think they are even more special.

This stunning book by In The Book has made the classic – The Nightmare Before Christmas even more special with its personalised greeting, stunning, embossed hardback cover and gorgeous presentation case. This really would make a present that can be treasured for many years to come.

Who Do I See In The Mirror: This fantastic book tells the story of a little girl who takes a good look at herself and celebrates everything she is. It is wonderfully written and encourages little ones to remember that we my all look different and it’s what we have inside that really counts.

Pivotal – Pivotal is a split narrative book telling the trials and tribulations of four separate women’s lives that at first would seem unconnected but are woven together through a hypnotherapist they all seek help from.

This really was a page turner and would make a brilliant gift.

Something To Wear – Now that the children are older clothing is often top of their Christmas list and mine too!

Twinning Leggings: For a good few years new twinning has been a big thing and what better way to do it than in some gorgeous cosy leggings.

These light grey leggings from Love Leggings are a great fit, perfect thickness and brilliant to wear with your mini me!

Pet Lovers – Pets are a big part of many people’s families now and why not give them a treat this Christmas too.

Pit Pat – The Pit Pat activity tracker is a great way to ensure your dog is at at their optimum fitness.

The fob is simply placed on the dogs collar and through a free, downloadable app you can track your dogs activity, set and mange their ideal weight, get exercise recommendations and much more.

Experiences – Sometimes an experience is worth so much more than a physical gift and Red Letter Days certainly know how to offer this.

They have a whole host of experiences, days out of overnight stays with something to suit absolutely everyone.

*All products were gifted for the purpose of this guide.

The Best Christmas Markets In The UK

[AD] If you are looking for something fun to do in the run up to Christmas with the kids then you should certainly consider taking them to a Christmas market. It is hard not to get caught up in the excitement and magic at these events and it’s also a good way to stock up before the holidays, but a few presents and enjoy some time in the UK’s best cities.

You are spoilt for choice when it come to Christmas markets in the UK and here are some of the best:

Winchester – Winchester is one of the UK’s prettiest and most historic cities which makes it a superb place for a Christmas market. Taking place with the stunning Winchester Cathedral as it’s backdrop, the Christmas market here is always great fun with a magical atmosphere. There are over 100 chalets selling all kinds of festive goods. Simple walking around the town and seeing the sights is also a lovely experience and sure to get you in the mood for Christmas.

Bath – Another beautiful city, the Bath Christmas market has over 150 chalets selling all kinds of homeware, decorations, jewellery and much more so you are sure to find a few things for the holiday there. The market takes place in the postcard-esque streets surrounding the Roman Baths and Bath Abbey for another scenic setting.

Birmingham – The biggest Christmas market outside of Germany and Austria, the Birmingham Christmas market of the place to be of you like delicious treats such as schnitzel, bratwursts and gluhwein, and it’s easy to get into the mood of Christmas with love music and carol singing. There are 80+ stalls to pursue, selling all kinds kinds of traditional and personalised items too.

Edinburgh – The Edinburgh Christmas market is found in the heart of the picturesque Scottish city with something for everyone, including jewellery, delicious snacks, festive beverages and more. It can also be easily reached from neighbouring Glasgow with a train from Queen Street to Edinburgh.

These are just a few of the best Christmas markets to choose from, all of which have their own distinctive characteristics and highlights. These markets will certainly get the family in the mood for the holidays and give you the chance to get some supplies.

FUNharmonics Family Concert – ZOG

[GIFTED] I think I must have walked past, taken pictures outside and wondered about the Southbank Centre more than a hundred times over the the years but have never ventured inside.

So I was over the moon when we were asked along to a the FUNharmonics family concert of ZOG that was being held there.

The Julia Donaldson, Alex Scheffler classic has been a favourite in our house for many years now and I was intrigued how the London Philharmonic Orchestra were going to execute it.

We arrived to collect our tickets and after getting our bearing we headed to a great area that had been set up with lots of ZOG inspired crafts to keep the little ones busy before the show. this was all included in the price of a ticket and was the perfect way to get them thinking about the story before the main event kicked off.

We took to our seats in the beautiful auditorium and listened to the huge orchestra warming up. The boys loved looking at a whole host of different instruments and had fun trying to guess what each one was called.

It wasn’t long before the performance was underway and I was hugely impressed with how interactive it was. The children got to answer questions to find gold stars that appeared on the big screen, there was singing, dancing and lots of information given on the orchestra in a super fun way that was perfect for the age range of the audience.

For the second part it was time to settle down and watch the super cute Dragon – ZOG.

As the animation was running we were treated to an amazing performance from the London Philharmonic Orchestra that complemented the story perfectly.

The whole concert was far more interactive and educational than I was imagining and adults and children alike throughly enjoyed it, if all of the woops and cheers from the audience were anything to go by.

It really did bring a children’s classic to life and it is something that will remain firmly in our memory banks for many years to come.

The orchestra is turning to Beethoven in February for its next concert – Why Beethoven Threw The Stew and I’m sure it’s going to be as fabulous as ZOG so keep an eye out.

Get Ready For Christmas With These Handy Tips

[AD] Christmas is creeping up on us quickly and before we know it we’ll be pulling crackers and tucking into our dinner.

But before that comes a lot of planning. Have you started to prepare yet?

As we approach the festive season we often overstretch ourselves and tend to start feeling stressed – especially if we know we are welcoming guests.

However by getting organised early you can ensure that you and your family have a magical, memorable Christmas to be enjoyed by all! So what can be done to ensure you feel ready and excited this Christmas?

Budget In The Months Leading Up To Christmas – Although it would be amazing to have a no expense spared Christmas, unfortunately that’s unrealistic for a lot of us, especially when your family had five children! Minimise the risk of of falling behind money wise or getting into debt in the run up to Christmas by budgeting for it early on.

Whilst not many of us want to think about Christmas Day in October, by beginning to purchase some presents this early on you will be able to spread costs nicely throughout the months.

Enjoy Family Activities Together – As the temperatures begin to drop there is nothing better than getting snug with the kids and watching Christmas films.

Before watching Elf for the tenth time research some recipes for gingerbread houses and once you are ready pop the film on and get decorating with your children. It’s a great way to spend some family time.

Decorate The House – If you have got guests coming over for Christmas dinner this year you may want to make home feel even more Christmassy than usual. Ensure that your house is picture perfect ready by picking some gorgeous Christmas lighting and cute decorations – they’ll not only make you feel more festive, but your guests will appreciate all the effort you’ve gone too.

Put Time In Your Calendar To Visit Family And Friends Further Afield – With family often spread across the country it can sometimes prove difficult having everyone in one place over the Christmas period. If you have presents that you need to drop off make sure you schedule your visits early on so that you have time to see everyone.

By following these handy tips you will be ready for Christmas without the unnecessary stress.

Glass Partitioning In The Home

[AD] For a long time now open plan living has been a big thing. The elimination of doors and walls creates an light and airy feel by making all living areas as one.

I love the look of this kind of design but for me the need to escape to a room on my own is far to great, and this is where something such as glass partitioning would make for a happy medium.

Glass partitioning in the past has been something used more readily in shops and office spaces, but it is making its way into the home and I for one am loving what it has to offer. Here are some of the reasons I am so taken with it.

Creates Privacy – One of the problems with open plan living is that there is nowhere to escape to get five minutes to yourself. By using glass partitioning you can section off areas of the house to get that privacy whilst still keeping the light and airy feel.

Making A Statement – I find glass a beautiful feature and when combined with stunning framing it can be a real piece of art and make a big statement in the home.

Letting In The Light – The ability to let in light is probably what I love most about glass partitioning. Doors and wall obviously create this barrier whilst glass allows light to flood through.

Reduces Noise – Having a large family equates to a lot of noise which sometimes is nice to get away from. With glass partitioning you can have these separate areas that allow you to shut out the hustle of bustle without feeling like you are penned in.

Controls Odour – We all know the feeling of going out after you have just cooked and having the small lingering around on your clothes. Well with open plan living this is heightened as there is no way to stop the odours from your food travelling around the whole house. With the glass partitioning this can act as a brilliant barrier to keep all the smells just in the kitchen.

Clearing The Jungle With Fantastic Services

[GIFTED] For those of you that have been following me for a while you may remember when we moved house last year we had a super team of cleaners from Fantastic Services that came in and did a fantastic(this is where they get there name from) job just after we moved in which got us off to a really good start.

Fast forward a year and the inside is nearly complete but the front garden was in need more than a little TLC.

It was becoming overrun with weeds and I had no idea where to start. After slogging away for hours and hours and not reaping any rewards I enlisted the help of Fantastic Services once again.

Many people that I have spoken to aren’t actually aware of everything they have to offer and they really are an all round service covering cleaning, gardening, tradesmen jobs, building, removals, storage, waste removal and even pest control.

Two friendly gardeners turned up to the house and asked specifically what I was looking for and as soon as I had given them an insight into what I wanted they set to work. Digging, cutting back and generally clearing the whole front garden which would enable me to see past the mess and get some inspiration for how it was going to eventually look.

They were only there for two hours and I would never in a million years think they would be able to complete the job, but they tirelessly powered through and complete cleared the area for me as well as getting rid of the rubbish which I know many companies don’t do.

I was just as impressed with the gardening service as I was with the cleaning and I would highly recommend trying out either..or why not both!

If this had appealed to you which I’m sure it will I have a code HERE and using the code joyoffive which will enable you to get £10 off of your first service so what have you got to lose,give them a try.

Learning The Importance Of Friendship With – The Way Home For Wolf

[AD] Being five may seem to us adults a bit of a breeze. I mean you are fed, clothed, watered and the most challenging part of your day is which cereal to have in the morning.

But in reality those first few years are pretty tough as there are all sorts of hurdles to overcome, lots of boundaries you need to work out how and if you should push and just knowing how to fit in with your peers is all pretty tough going when you are so small.

I know for Oscar who has reached the grand old age of five, the determination to do things for himself and his self belief is pretty strong…not sure where he gets that from! So it’s good to try and explain to him that sometimes it takes a team to get through life and it is important to learn to accept help from others, and also be there for other people in your team; and this is the message the lovely new book – The Way Home For Wolf by Rachel Bright and Jim Field is trying to get across.

Rachel and Jim, who are also the creators of The Lion Inside, The Koala Who Could and The Squirrels Who Squabbled, have created a fantastically fun and easy to read picture book that tells the story of the uber confident wolf cub. Wilf is determined to take the lead when his wolf pack move on one cold and dark evening. Despite being told by his elders this wasn’t a good plan he finds himself lost, alone and not knowing what to do until he is found by a whole host of strangers that reach out a helping hand to him and help him find his way back to the safety of his family.

I love to encourage my children to be forthright and fearless, but in reality we all need a hand sometimes and should also always be there to keep an eye out for others needing that little bit of help too.

This is a lovely book that would actually make a fantastic gift for those of you with little ones starting school this year and it had come out just in time for this so go and take a look.

*Disclosure: This review is based on a free sample.

Simple Pleasures At Croyde Bay Holiday Resort

[PRESS TRIP] Holidaying with children of varying ages can be somewhat of a task to say the least. Some want to be building sandcastles and hunting for seashells whilst others want to be hitting the shops exploring theme parks.

It isn’t always easy to cover all these bases and at times it can be a real headache, so I had high hopes that on our visit to Croyde Bay Resort I would be able to keep them all happy!

After a slightly nerve wracking but equally beautiful drive along the coastline of North Devon we arrived at what was going to be our home for the next few days and we couldn’t have been happier with what we found.

After collecting our keys and a little information from the super helpful and very friendly receptionist we were shown to our amazing lodge. We have stayed in similar accommodation to this lots of times before but have never found anything so beautifully designed and as well equipped as this.

The children were overjoyed to see a smart TV and quickly settled down to watch a bit of Netflix whilst I put a load of washing on from our last trip. It really was a home from home and we settled in the minute we arrived.

The whole lodge was extremely spacious with a good sized, open plan living area which had real sofas rather than the usual build in style you often find in this kind of lodge along with a great sized dining table.

Our lodge had three really good sized bedrooms with the main one having an en-suite too alongside the main bathroom which again unusually had a bath rather than just a shower room which is a very welcome addition when you have little ones.

All settled in we went of to explore and our first port of call of course was the beach which was literally a stones throw away from the resort.

We elongated the walk slightly by climbing to the top of the sand dunes and the I sat back and watched the children playfully roll down and run up over and over again. It’s little opportunities like this that allows them to really just be kids that is so important to me.

Croyde Bay was absolutely stunning and it’s rugged coastline lends itself perfectly to rock pooling, surfing and body boarding. We spent a good few hours exploring the bay and were so happy that we had this so close to the resort.

Bellies were rumbling by now so we headed back to freshen up and make our way over to the main hotel where we would be having our evening meal.

I’m not a big fan of on site clubhouses usually but Croyde Bay Resort has a lovely calm, laid back atmosphere with a main restaurant area along with a smaller bar area where we chose to have our evening meal.

The menu offered covered a good variety of dishes for both for adults and children alike with lots of locally sourced products and allergy friendly alternatives which is always so important to us.

I threw thing back to the 80’s with a prawn cocktail which was delicious and followed this with a juicy Exmoor streak and super crispy chips both cooked to perfection.

The children enjoyed a classic with sausage and chips and we all followed this up with super tasty desserts that were a feat for the eyes as well and the mouth.

Unusually I felt super relaxed at the table with the children and we finished off our evening with a couple of board games of which there are a whole host to choose from.

Ordinary I would be rushing through my dinner and hoping that we could get through a meal without them all creating, so it was lovely to be able to kick back, relax and really interact with each other as a family with these games.

We all slept soundly and decided we were going to get out and explore a little before the forecast rain hit, but before that we hit the buffet breakfast which was pretty immense. Again this is an addition to a self catering style holiday that I haven’t experienced before and it was great to have the option to eat out on site if you don’t fancy cooking for yourselves.

There was everything from a full English breakfast to pancakes with syrup, cereals and pastries, fresh fruit and yogurt and so much more.

All of this was easy for the children to access themselves which they loved and again it was a really informal set up which made it a lot more relaxing for me.

Izzy was itching to spend some of her holiday money so we took a trip into the town of Barnstable which had a good range of shops and restaurants, but I was looking for someone a little prettier to get a cream tea as it would be terrible to visit the West Country and not sample one wouldn’t it!

As I child I remember visiting and falling in love with Clovelly and I really wanted the children to experience what a gorgeous place it is. We headed down the super steep cobbled hill passing and petting the donkeys on the way, sampling some old fashioned sweets and of course getting my much wanted cream tea before getting down to the water front.

Devon really does home some amazing places to visit and this is one I’m definitely pleased I ticked of the list for the kids.

We headed back to the resort and whilst the boys played outside with the table football I prepared dinner. There is such a safe feel about this place I was more than happy for the boys to just outside the lodge enjoying their evening and having a little bit of freedom.

The predicted storm hit that evening so we stayed in and struggled up whilst listening to the howling winds and rain outside which I always strangely enjoy.

For our last full day we decided to stay local and make the most of what the resort and surrounding area had to offer so we hit the beach and then made use of the lovely on site swimming pool.

The pool had both a large and smaller pool which was perfect for us as Oscar still isn’t a great swimmer so I could keep an eye on him whilst still enjoying time in the pool with the older two. Throughout our stay the pool always stayed relatively quiet and uncrowned which is always good when you are trying to keep your eye on little ones that have more confidence than skill when it come to the water.

That evening we took a short walk into Croyde itself which I actually wish I had done when we first got there as for such a tiny village it had so much to offer. There was a great selection of independent shops and we struck lucky as there was a pop up event happening and we got to sample some amazing battered trout and chips before having some of the best ice cream I have ever tasted from the ice cream parlour.

Full up but not yet ready for bed we tried out hand at table tennis in the games room before hitting the sack.

We really did have a fantastic few days at Croyde Bay Resort enjoying simple activities and each other’s company in the comfort of the best equipped and homey lodge I have ever stayed in.

The location, the accommodation, the food and the general set up of this resort could not be faulted and it would make the perfect getaway for families of all ages.

We hope to be back very soon!