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.

Glam Goo Deluxe Slime Pack:Review

Izzy has ben obsessed with slime for months and months now and sadly along with this obsession comes a huge amount of mess!

She spends hours in the kitchen trying to create the perfect slime, mixing, stirring and generally creating a huge mess that the majority of the time is left down to me to clean up.

I have to admit that it is quite therapeutic to sit an play with and aside from the mess I do like the creative aspect making it needs from her.

When I got an email to ask if I would like to review a Glam Goo Deluxe Slime Pack I knew that Izzy would be over the moon.

The pack comes with a large container of Glam Goo which is a pre-made slime(this made me very happy), three slime decorations, two sparkle colours, one scent and a spoon to mix it all together with.

Pieces of slime can be taken from the main tub and mixed together with the decorations of your choice and it all cause very little mess.

Once the slimes are made to how you want they can then be placed into one of the sections in the glitter handbag or the double ring.

The slimes can be changed around and added to as much as you want and then kept safe inside the bag which can be easily transported anywhere you fancy.

This really is a slime lovers dream and Izzy has spent many hours creating new mixtures with her friends.

*we were given this set for the purpose of this review and they are all my own, honest opinions.

Hanging Hearts For Valentine’s with #BostikBloggers

Crafts are something that sadly got sidelined a little last year and something I have really missed doing with the children. Life seemed to get so hectic that sitting down to be creative was always put on the back burner; so I was really pleased when I was asked to become a Bostik Blogger for 2018 as it has given us all a great opportunity to put of thinking caps on and let our creative juices flow once again.

Now that Christmas is over the house is feeling empty with the distinct lack of decorations filling each and every corner, so with Valentine’s Day just round the corner there is no better excuse to fill the house with pretty things once again.

The lovely people at Bostik sent a box brimming with pink and glitter that I was itching to get up around the house.

I decided upon hanging hearts that would look great hanging from the branch in my conservatory that had been looking pretty sparse since the baubles had been taken down, but they would look equally great hanging from just about anywhere you fancy.

Take a look below at how we got on and have a go if its something you think you fancy:

Valentine’s Hanging Hearts

What You Need –

Glitter foam sheet
Corrugated card
Brown card
String
Felt hearts
Jewel hearts
Patterned paper
Glue dots
Glue stick
Scissors
Hole punch

With these hearts there really is no right or wrong way to decorate them. Once the basic heart is made then simply use your imagination to decorate however you wish.

Start off with either paper, card or foam sheet to simply draw on a heart to the size of your choice and cut out ready for the next step. You can have a variety of different sizes like me or more uniformed if that would be your preference.

Next up you need to get your hole punch and make a hole just under the dip in the heart. This then makes it ready to thread through a small length of string to make a loop to make it ready for hanging.

Lastly is where the real fun starts! pick a variety of different paper, foam, felt of jewel hearts and attach to the main hearts with glue dots of the use of a glue stick.

They are now ready to adoren the house in time for all your Valentine’s celebrations.

*We were given a craft box for the purpose of this post.

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!

Shop Small And Share The Love This Christmas

Christmas lists have been written and people are heading to the high street in droves and spending many an hour sat staring at a laptop filling their virtual baskets with very little thought behind where each of these presents is coming from…many will also think does it really matter?

We are all looking to get value for money and ease of purchase and very rarely take five minutes to search independent shops that offer so much more than the big chain stores.

Small business offer you something completely different to just a straight transaction. There is a little bit of love send with each order, a personal touch with each package and that warm feeling inside knowing the fact you are helping to build someones dream.

When they package arrives through your door beautifully packaged, usually with a little handwritten note inside it makes the experience so different and so worthwhile.

Over the past few years I have found a real love for many small business, most of which I have stumbled upon on scrolling through Instagram and not only do I get fabulous products with amazing customer service, I have built good friendships with many which makes a huge difference to my whole shopping experience.

I have listed a few of my favs below and I highly recommend you go and check them out:

Five Boys Clothing:Five Boys Clothing is an amazing online store that I came across a couple of years ago now. They turn the stereotypical thought the all boys clothing is boring on its head and offer an amazing range of cool clothes and quirky gifts that would bring a smile to any face if they were tucked under the tree this year.

My boys are absolutely in love with Lego and its the only toy they go back to again and again. However somethings they could do with something a little different to create and this is where the Brikkon Ninja Temple is a brilliant gift.

The easy to assemble wooden structure can be put together and then covered with Lego bricks from your own collections. It really allows children to use their own imaginations and create whatever they want.

Little Gnashers: Mine may be past the teething stage now but it dosent mean I can’t enjoy the contempery designs of Little Gnashers teething jewellery.

The fab necklace pictured here would be perfect to cheer up any outfit and still keeps my youngest one occupied whist out and about.

Handmade in London these necklaces come in a huge range of colours and shapes and can be mixed and matched to create the perfect combination for you.

Kids LDN: Kids LDN is a brand that is relatively new to me but has had me hooked since I first caught sight of them on Instagram.

Their bold colours and edgy designs give a quirky look that suits my youngest two’s personalities perfectly and certainly makes them stand out in the crowd.

Oscar and Frankie are both the proud owners of these super cool beanies that not only keep them toasty but also puts a smile on their face with every wear.

Sweetpea Pantry: Getting the kids in the kitchen is something that is very important to me along with trying my hardest to make good food choices.

Sweetpea Pantry have come up with a fantastic range of mixes that allow little ones to prepare delicious, nutritious goodies that are fun to make and soooo good to eat.

These mixes would be perfect to keep the children busy over the holidays and what could be better then getting them involved with the present giving by getting them to make some delicious gifts.

Sidneyboo: If you are looking for fun clothes for boys and girls under the age of 10 then this is the place to come.

Sidneyboo has been on my list of favs for a long time now as their clothes are so wearable which is a big must for my very active family. I love clothes that allow kids to be kids and Sidneyboo offer just this.

One item that I go back to time and time again are their Individual sweaters like the ‘trail’ footprint sweater.

Its cosy fit and fab colours make it a real favourite of ours.

Have you opted to shop small this Christmas? If so I would love for you to give a shout out to some of your favourite brands.

* I was given these items for the purpose of this gift guide and they are all my own, honest options and I’m sure you would share the same love as me too!

A Christmas Classic At The Snow Kingdom

Last year we were lucky enough to visit the super cool Backyard Cinema in South London that really is a cinema with a difference. This cinema gives you a unique experience with each and every visit.

With it being Christmas time they have gone with a wintery theme that sees you transported into a wonderful magical Snow Kingdom.

As we arrived and grabbed our tickets we waited patiently in the queue until we were handed a cute lantern to enter through a little door, behind which we were greeted with a snow covered cave and a little wobbly bridge that took us over the frozen lake us into the cinema that had been transformed into an enchanted castle.

A huge stained glass window filled the screen and a crispy white flooring that created the illusion of snow across the whole floor. Candelabras and old books were scattered around creating the perfect setting that made you feel anywhere but a cinema.

We headed to the bar to grab some sweets and took a look at the delicious looking cocktails that were on offer.

We took to our seats…well actually our cosy beanbags and snuggled under a blanket to wait for one of our favourite Christmas films – Elf.

Before the show we were treated to a short story that brought the whole cinema alive with flashing lights, dramatic music and puffs of smoke before the main film began.

Nothing could be heard from the packed audience aside from rustling of popcorn packets and fits of laugher as Will Ferrell graced then screen and came out with those all familiar catchphrases.

A trip to the backyard cinema is no ordinary cinema visit, it is an immersive experience and a feast for the senses.

If you are looking for a special way to watch on of your favourite Christmas movies then this comes highly recommend from me!

* we were given tickets for the purpose of this review and they are all my own, honest opinions.