Celebrating The Small Things:Week Forty Four

It’s a bit of a eclectic mixture here today for my ‘Celebrating The Small Things’ and I hope it’s not just me who gets stupidly excited for the last one!

Lazy Days – Since moving we haven’t really had the chance to kick back and enjoy it. What with work and everything they come with having a large family we spend a huge amount of time out of the house, so it was lovely to be able to kick back, laze on the sofa and eat way to much!

Chessington World Of Adventures – As I’m sure many of you will know, I have been an ambassador for Chessington World Of Adventures for the past few years now. It’s a role I am extremely grateful for and being so close to it allows us to visit for full days or just take a couple of hours out and enjoy all the fun. We had a pretty relaxed day there on our last visit and I think these ones are always the best.

Christmas Sandwiches – Come the middle of November I am like a mad woman over Marks and Spencer Christmas sandwiches.

I love Christmas more than the children and to have an entire Christmas dinner all rolled up into one sandwich is my idea of heaven…please tell me I’m not alone!

Celebrating The Small Things:Week Forty One

Well I nearly made it to a year without messing up in this series, but I got so far behind over the summer that it seems a little strange to be talking about swimming in the sea when we are approaching winter so I’ve skipped a few weeks and hope to stay on track until the end of the year.

So here we go with this weeks entry:

Apple Crumble – For me the start of autumn signifies comfort food – especially thongs such as casseroles and crumbles.

This Sunday was grey, wet and miserable but it was certainly brightened up by our first crumble of the year.

Charity Shops – I’ve not put a lot in here but last week we moved house and life has been a little chaotic to say the least. The shear logistics of moving a big family are pretty hard but now we are getting settled my attentions have been on furnishing the house.

I have a huge love of mid century furniture and I have been scouring eBay and traipsing round charity shops and have been loving every minute of it. It’s just a shame my passion is not shared with my husband!

Mrs Hinch – Those of you that are fans of Instagram will not have been able to escape all things Mrs Hinch.

Mrs Hinch has gone viral through sharing stories of cleaning her home. At first I told myself I wasn’t going to get sucked into this ridiculous cult like following she has but it’s happened and I’m loving it!

I’ve always been terrible at keeping on top of the house work and this lady has turned things around for me so what’s not to love about Mrs Hinch and her Army.

Date Nights At David Lloyd

Date nights when you become parents can be few and far between. The guilt of taking time out for yourselves coupled with the need to find childcare and the logistics of simply leaving the house can be all to much sometimes and I know that this combination leads to my partner and I having very little time to ourselves.

When you finally find the time to take a few hours out to yourselves it then plays on your mind that this time could be spent doing other actives such as following that healthy living regime that is equally as hard to fit into your busy lives.

I know that my husband and I both thrive on having busy and full lives but it can at time be a real juggling act in which things need to be sacrificed.

One way that we have been making life a little easier though is to incorporate a training session at David Lloyd Health Clubs into our ‘date nights’.

As well as killing two birds with one stone training together holds a whole host of benefits:

Quality Time Together – Simply leaving behind the stresses of work and family is a huge benefit in itself and getting lost in your workout and releasing some of those feel good endorphins is a great way to spend a few hours.

Healthy Competition – I would say that the competitive edge in both of us is pretty high and we both thrive on this. Training alongside each other and wanting to be the best can only be healthy…not to say that this doesn’t lead to one or two arguments on occasion!

Better Between The Sheets – I was talking earlier about those endorphins that are released during exercise, the natural byproduct that is created when we train. Keeping fit will make you feel better about yourselves, boost confidence and make you happier which in turn will all help once you get back home!

David Lloyd not only offer a place to work up a sweat and train together, there is also the opportunity to wind down with a swim and a dip in the hot tub followed by a relaxing steam or sauna session.

After all this you can take some time out in the DLicious cafe and have a healthy bite to eat or treat yourself to a tipple or two! I have to say that on more than one occasion I have treated myself to a refreshing gin and tonic after a hard session!

If time has been really tight and we want to grab a hour to ourselves after the school run the fantastic range of childcare at David Lloyd also allows us a have a sneaky childfree breakfast whilst we are safe in the knowledge that Oscar is having a whale of a time in their creche.

If this post has got you thinking about taking some time out with your partner and getting fit too then take a look ‘here’ at everything David Lloyd health clubs have to offer.

*collaborated post

5 Things You Should Stop Wasting Your Money On

With it being summer holidays and the purse strings being pulled to the limit I have a great guest post to show you a few ways to save some pennies.

Everyone hates the idea of simply throwing money away, yet more of us do this every day than we realise. It’s easy to assume that you’re sticking to your budget and being as frugal as possible, until you start looking at your spending habits in depth and figuring out where all your cash actually goes each month.

Most people think that the only way to positively transform their spending habits, is to avoid spending money on the things that they enjoy, like evenings out with their friends or fun trips with the family. However, we think the best thing you can do is stop wasting your money on these things first:

1. Gym Memberships

Unless you’re a professional athlete, or you’re training for a local event or marathon, there’s a good chance that you don’t really need a gym membership. The truth is that you can get all the exercise you need to be fit and healthy without paying a huge fee every month. All you need to do is invest in some weights and create a fitness regime you can follow at home.

Even walking to work instead of driving can help to make you fitter and ensure that you save money at the same time. Not only are gym memberships unnecessary, but most of us fail to use them properly too. We invest in memberships with good intentions, then simply leave them in our bags, never to be used. Don’t spend money on a gym membership that does nothing for you.

2. Utilities

There’s a good chance that you won’t be able to give up on paying for utilities altogether – unless you plan on going to live in a tent and cooking your food over an open flame. However, that doesn’t mean that you should continue paying for deals that aren’t giving you the best value for your money.

Countless people over-spend on their utilities simply because they fail to check online for better offers from other vendors. You’d be surprised how much you can save simply by investing a little bit of time into comparing your options online. Check every few months to find out whether you’re still getting the best deal for your needs.

3. Phone Lines

Let’s face it, how often do you actually use your phone line? Many homeowners today are paying anywhere between £10 and £20 a month for a home phone line that they never use, as part of a deal for broadband, phone calls and television channels. Cutting your phone out of your deal could be a great way to cut costs – particularly if you make all your calls via your smartphone anyway.

While you’re getting rid of your phone line, it’s worth thinking about whether you can save cash by abandoning your television channels too. You can find plenty to watch through cheaper streaming services like Amazon and Netflix these days.

4. Food

Like your utilities, your food is something that you can’t simply do without. However, most of us spend more than we need to on food, simply because we assume that we need more than we do. Before you go out shopping, make a list of everything you need for the meals in the week ahead. Remember to check your freezer and pantry for things that you have that you can use going forward. This will help you to avoid leaving items in your deep-freeze for months at a time.

When you’re out at the supermarket, stick to your list – no matter how tempted you might be to buy something on offer. If it helps, try eating before you go shopping so you’re less likely to stray away from the list. Remember to stay away from big-name brands too. Most of the own-brand products include exactly the same ingredients for a much lower price.

5. Excess Interest

Just like you can potentially get a better deal on your utilities by comparing your options online, you can also get a better deal on your credit card and loan balances by making sure that you search for the best offers online.

If you think that you’re over-spending on your interest payments, look at reconsolidating your loan to reduce the cost of your monthly repayments. For bigger loans like mortgages, there’s also the option to re-mortgage with a different lender if you think you can get a better deal. Just make sure that you take the fees of changing your loan into account when assessing your options.

*collaborated post

Celebrating The Small Things:Week Twenty Four

‘celebrating the small things’ is still something I’m absolutely loving writing and I’ve had so many lovely comments on these posts that it means taking the time to write them is even more special. It has also got me thinking that I would love to hear about some of your little moments that have touched you, so please feel free to leave them in the comments below.

Flowers On The School Run – The school run is more often than not a bit of a fraught experience with trying to get the teen out of the depths of his pit, fulfilling the hundreds of different breakfast requests I get and finding shoes and glasses that go missing each and every day!

There is however a brighter side on a couple of days a week when its only Frankie that needs taking to school and we get a chance to have a little chat(often with the strangest of subjects) and without doubt he will always pick me a flower that he clings onto in his sweaty little hand, but I would take this wilted little flower over a big bouquet any day.

Supermarket Clothes – Its not that often these days that I take the time to actually head out and go to the High Street for clothes. With the ease of internet shopping I tend to lazily go for this option which isn’t really as exciting as getting out and about and trying things on.

Supermarket clothing is also something I rarely purchase but much to my excitement the other day I found some real corkers in my local Tesco store.

My swishy pink and red skirt has had so many compliments and I will certainly be checking out the clothing rails alongside my milk and bread from now on.

My Little Sister Getting Hitched – My little sister getting married is actually a really big thing and I head off to Bath with her and a group of friends to celebrate the occasion.

It was lovely to be part of this celebration with her but it was also lovely to spend some time alone with her, without my little ones trying to join in our conversations and demand our attention. It really was a carefree weekend that allowed me to relax and let my hair down and have some quality time with my little sis!

Elderflower Fields:Our Best One Yet

If you are a follower of my blog it will come of no surprise that we are all huge festival fans. The freedom, the adventure and chance to all be together is such a huge appeal to us that it keeps us wanting each and every year.

Elderflower Fields was the festival that opened our ours eyes to the fun and has had us coming back year after year and this year was the best by far.

Sleeping under canvas at the end of May can be a bit risky but a few weeks ago the weather was most definitely on our side and for the first time ever we managed to get our tent pitched in the sun with very few arguments.

One of the biggest pulls of Elderflower Fields is its laid back vibe that hits you from the minute you arrive. We took some time out round out tent to meet our neighbours for the weekend and grab a bite to eat.

It wasn’t long before the kids got itchy feet and wanted to head down to the main festival. We were pleasantly surprised when we got there as the layout had been changed around slightly and there was a lot more open space for the kids to go crazy in.

The familiar main stage was there and crowds had already started to build up taking in the atmosphere and listening to the fantastic music.

We headed off to see what activities they had put on to keep the little ones busy and saw some familiar favourites along with some new additions.

Mine always love trying their hand at the circus skills workshop, pitting their withs on the climbing wall, putting their woodwork skills to the test with the woodland tribe and using their brains in the science tent.

After a pretty full day we headed back to the tent for a quick rest before heading down to the evening festivities. Pretty hungry by now we decided it was time to fill our bellies and Elderflower Fields never disappoints when it comes to food choices.

Every taste is catered for from sumptuous fish and chips to rich ice creams, spicy vegan curries to sticky sweet crepes and so much more.

Allergies can sometimes be a bit of an issue for us at events like this but Frankies multiple allergies are always catered for without a problem.

Throughouly warn out we made our way back to bed excited for what the next day was going to hold.

Sunday is actually my favourite day of the festival as we are well settled in, have got our bearings and things are more relaxed for us.We started the day with more activities. Disc golf was certainly one we enjoyed along with slacklining and the giant zipwire.

All the activities are included in the price of your festival tickets which makes it great value for money but be mindful that many of them are prebookable before arrival or need to be booked once there as they get full up extremely quickly and due to my lack of organisation we often miss out on the popular activities. Take a look ‘here’ at some of the other great things that are on offer.

Sunday is also the day that the Sussex Family Picnic is held. This is something I’ve not heard of any other festival doing and it is certainly something that makes Elderflower Fields stand out from the rest.

The aim is to get people together and share good, local sorced food making it the biggest collective picnic I’ve ever seen.

Again the price of this is covered in the price of your tickets and all you need to do is grab your picnic blankets, get yourself into groups of twelve and have lots of fun!

We always head off into the woods after this and check out the fantastic art displays that have been put on by local schools, play in the mud kitchen, a little bit of pond dipping and made some cool clay sculptures in the Outdoor School.

There is no way we could visit and not have our face paints done by the wonderful ladies at Nam Nams Facepaints, I’ve honestly not found better face painting skills anywhere!

The last bit off fun was yet to come with the Sunday evening entertainment which is always buzzing. The stage was alive and the main field fun of dancing and laughter, marshmallows were being toasted by the bonfire and the big hay fight was taking place which mine wait all weekend for.
however this year is was slightly tainted by Frankie – the little allergy boy having a reaction to the hay and being carted of the the St Johns Ambulance who were absolutely fantastic with him.

Our last night under canvas left me reflecting on yet another fabulous weekend at Elderflower Fields. New skills have been learnt, new friendships have been forged, our family has comes that little bit closer together and everlasting memories have been made. Thank you Elderflower Fields for OUR BEST ONE YET!

David Lloyd:Our Family Fitness Journey Three Months On

Its hard to believe that we are already three months into the new year. Although this year I didn’t set myself any solid resolutions I made life goals that I wanted to implement without the pressure of that huge list of resolutions I normally draw up for myself and things have certainly been moving in the right direction.

My wish to be more organised hasn’t really taken shape yet and is still very much a work in progress but my biggest wish and greatest achievement so far is to find my love of fitness again and share it with the whole family.

Back at the beginning of January I was invited by David Lloyd to try out my local club with the whole family. As a Mum of five over the years my priorities have shifted and making time to exercise had firmly taken a back seat. This for me has caused a huge weight gain, taken a big hit to my self confidence and had an adverse affect on both my physical and mental health.

I’ve never been one to make excuses about not having time to get things done and always want to maximise every hour of the day so making exercise something for the whole family to enjoy was a real no brainer.

David Lloyd has to be the most family friendly gym I have ever come across. With a dedicated soft play area for the family, creche facilities and endless amounts of clubs and sports for them to take part in you really are spoilt for choice.

On weekdays it is just me and Oscar at home so a few days a week he would pop into the creche for an hour allowing me to get into the gym and workout. I have been doing my own workouts mixed with some FUSE sessions on the gym floor lead by super motivational instructors and group cycling classes that are easy to book online as and when you need to.

After a play in the gym Oscar loved to let off some steam in the soft play or head off for a swim in the beautiful pool.

If my days were to busy with work then the after school clubs were the perfect answer. Both Frankie and Oscar loved the active kids sessions when they got to run about to their heats content or the craft sessions for when they wanted something a little calmer.

The biggest hit however was the friday Movie Night where the boys got a whole two hours to chill out while I spent some quality time with Izzy to train in the gym together, take a few lengths in the pool and sneak off for a cheeky sauna!

The pool has in fact been a huge hit and we have spent many a weekend as a family splashing around for a few hours followed by a bite to eat in the cafe which offers a huge range of dishes such as simple and healthy salmon and vegetables to juicy burgers and fruity smoothies.

In the majority of gyms the actual gym floor is off limits to children and in some respects I can understand this as nobody wants noisy children under your feet when you are trying to get on with your training.

David Lloyd however have cleverly put on classes to take part in as a whole family such as the family circuit class that I did many times with Izzy. The class was made fun and appealing to the children but was also hard enough to give the adults a real workout too!

The children have also loved trying their hand at tennis which is something that I’m really not a master of but was lovely to see the kids taking part in as it really is exercise in disguise.

At the end of these three months we have all gained so much from our time at David Lloyd. We how have a competent swimmer in Oscar, Izzy has a new found love of circuit style training, Frankie is set to become the next Andy Murray and we have prized Archie away from his beloved Xbox and he has actually enjoyed spending time with us.

For me though the benefits have come by the bucketload. Spending quality time as a family, watching the joy of their faces as they accomplish new challenges and even getting to spend a few cheeky nights with the hubby for a date night.

But I really have saved the best until last as over these three months I have managed to keep up and thoroughly enjoy training several times a week which has made me drop an amazing two and a half stone and two dress sizes, boost my confidence no end and improved my physical and metal health ten fold.

David Lloyd health clubs really do offer more than just a gym. It has been our second home and be it pushing my body to the limits in the gym to kicking back with a coffee there really is some thing for everyone to enjoy.

*We were given a family membership for the purpose of this review and they are all my own, honest opinions.

Celebrating The Small Things:Week Eighteen

At the beginning of the year I wrote a post as to why I wasn’t making any resolutions this year and my ‘celebrating the small things’ series seems to be a testiment to the fact I never seem to be able to keep anything up and my organisation skills leave a lot to be desired!

I have decided to forget about a few weeks of this year and get back on track and fingers crossed more organised as I do love recording and looking back on all these moments.

Anyhow that is enough procrastinating, here are this weeks small but special moments.

Blossom Fights – This wonderful weather has meant we managed to get out and about a lot last week and we managed to spend a wonderful day with friends taking in the sunshine whist BBQing in their beautiful garden.
They are lucky enough to have to most wonderful blossom tree over hanging their decking that I sat and admired for most of the day.
As the evening drew to a close the kids…well actually the big kids decided to shake bucket loads of petals from the tree allowing them to have the roar amazing blossom fight.
They spent ages trying to catch handfuls as it fell from the trees, bundled it all up into piles and of course covered each other in it.
The giggles of excitement were an absolute delight to hear.

Finally Friends – On Sunday we attended the most amazing event with Little Tikes where Frankie and Oscar got to go on a behind the scenes tour of Silverstone Racktrack and a once in a lifetime helicopter trip. This in no way counts towards a ‘small thing’ but one thing that really stood out for me amongst all the excitement was the fact that the boys have finally started to build a lovely bond with each other and played, whispered and giggled their way through the day which after a long few years is so refreshing to see.

A Fab Parents Evening – Last week was parents evening for Izzy. She’s not naturally gifted when it come to anything academic and has always struggled at school. However since starting secondary school she has really found her feet and is blossoming. Each and every teacher said she was a delight to teach and always gives her all which is all I have ever wanted.

Handprint Flowers: #BostikBloggers

This months challenge for BostikBloggers was based on flowers. As I had chosen a more complicated craft based on a flower for Easter I decided to do something that the little ones could join in with this time.

Handprint Flowers

What you need:

Coloured Card
Wooden Skewers
Thin Green Paper
Textured Green Felt
Scicorrs
Glue
Sellotape

First take your coloured card and draw round your little ones hands.

Next cut out the handprints to form the flower head and put to one side.

Next take your wooden skewers and wrap in a little of the thin, green paper and fix along the edge with glue to create a flower stem.

Whilst the glue is drying draw varied leaf shapes on the felt and cut out ready to attach to the stem.

Once the glue has dried on the stem attach the hand prints to one end with a couple of strips of sellotape.

On the other end of the stem take a little glue and attach the leaves that you have cut out.

Once the glue has hardened the flowers are all good to go. My boys decided to give theirs to their Nanny, who would you gift yours too?

Styling Tips With Amara

A few weeks ago I was invited along to a gorgeous home in Shoreditch to attend the Amara Home Refresh Event. It was lovely to walk in and see some new faces and have a good catch up with blogging buddies Elfa from Californian Mum In London and Jacqui from Mummy’s Little Monkey.

The day kicked off with a workshop from the founder of Amara herself – Sam Hood. It was wonderful to hear the back story behind this fabulous interiors brand and see how much love and passion has gone into it.

Sam talked us through the fundamentals of interior design which was a real eye opener to me. I tend to run away with mad, random ideas and get myself in a real mess instead of having a more concise plan that starts off with the basics and can then be added to.

Mood boards were a big part of planning for Sam’s clients and for me this is a great way to channel my random ideas. Sam also surprised me by telling us that the wall colour should be the last thing to consider when designing a room. For me this is always something I choose first and will be a big game changer the next time I’m putting all this advice into practice.

Next up was a workshop with one of Amara’s stylist – Elle Taylor. Her mission was to take a table full of accessories and fill a a shelving unit.

The amount of accessories would have sent my head into a spin and I would have no doubt over filled all the shelves. But Elle cleverly selected specific items and arranged them all beautifully. I took all of her tips on board and will be using them later on to style a selection of my own accessories I was lucky enough to take home from Amara.

We finished the day with a cookery demonstration from the lovely Linda Duffin who cooked up a storm in the kitchen, creating a fresh and fruity said and a creamy chicken risotto that would certainly impress if served at a dinner party but required very little preparation.

With my mind spinning with all this new information I couldn’t wait to put my new found knowledge into action and get started on my own creation.

I was a big lover of the Amara ‘Arcade Trend’ that uses all my favourite vibrant, eye catching colours, in short…everything my husband hates!

To his defence my love for everything colourful can get a little out of hand at times so the first of Elle’s tips I put into practice was to keep a similar theme and use no more than four different colours. I was more reserved than usual and went for vibrant greens and yellows and set these off with darker blacks and greys.

I took a selection of these objects and as advised placed them in different positions with varying heights.

Elle also told us to make use of greenery which is usually something I avoid as I’m not to green fingered, she did however showcase some wonderful artificial plants that I would never have realised weren’t the real thing.

Lastly Elle told us to give every area a personal touch. For me this tends to equate to pieces of kids art work randomly stuck between vases which probably isn’t the best look. So instead I utilised the small clear vase and used it to home small pieces of jewellery.

Amara have ignited my passion for interiors and given me some real food for thought!

*I was invited along to the Amara event and was gifted the items to style in my own home.