Making 2020 The Best Year Yet!

Some years January fills me full of excitement and motivation, sometimes I am happy with my lot and other years it leaves me feeling dull and disappointed with everything I haven’t accomplished in the past year.

This year thankfully I am full of hope and have lots of ideas and motivation to make this year the best one yet! I haven’t got any grand plans or aspirations, more simple changes that I hope will lead to a calmer, more productive and happier year ahead.

Travel – Last year I took the children away in my own for the first time ever on a mini road trip around Devon and Cornwall.

I was extremely anxious in the lead up and nearly cancelled as I doubted my ability to do it on my own. I did however manage to keep us all alive and it sparked something inside me that wanted to travel more with the children and allow the to experience different cultures, discover new lands and get a few stamps in their passports.

I was lucky enough to travel a lot as a child and it’s something I’ve not had to opportunity to do very much with mine, so I want to change this and this is why it had come top of my list!

Organisation – Scraps of paper, committing to things before checking dates and time and rushing here there and everywhere due to poor time management are all things that drive me insane, yet I just can’t seem to change.

Each and every year getting organised appears on my list and every year I fail epically. I think part of this is just in my nature so I’m going to try and work with it and make small changes towards a more organised and in turn less stressful life!

Getting In Front Of The Camera – This was a resolution from last year and I did get myself out there a little more, but this year I’m giving it a big push.

All of the accounts I follow have the writer at the forefront of their blog/feeds and this is why I love and build a relationship with them and this is what I would love to be able to do more…even if it is super scary.

Giving Back – Using my platform to give back to people is certainly something I want to utilise it more for this year. As an influencers I feel it’s important to use my reach to do good. It has brought me so much and I really feel I need to give something back this year.

Self Care – Towards the end of last year I was feeling extremely bad about myself and I feel a big part of this is due to the fact I have lost the ability to take time out for me, to switch off and to treat my body with the respect it deserves.

It’s my mission this year to exercise, feed and give myself my some mental health breaks as I know in the long run this is going to benefit everyone.

Have you got any gaols for the year ahead?

Strapping Myself To The Wagon In 2020

This picture has been doing the rounds since May 2018. It was the last time I finally felt like I was getting things back on track, but sadly despite several failed attempts the gap I had created in my jeans is now well and truly full again, as is the disappointment in myself.

My life used to revolve around the gym and healthy eating. For me this was always a priority, nothing else would get in the way of it and if I’m honest with myself it was obsessional, unhealthy, made me ill and in turn made my family suffer because of it.

The cycle of super strict eating, fad diets, over exercising followed by overeating and doing nothing have since filled the years resulting in beating myself up and living with the huge sense of failure.

I have let any kind of self care go and my hair and skin have both suffered terribly because of this, so this is something I have been looking to change and have found some of the best hair products for women from Lilyhair.

As with every New Year I have filled myself with hope and a new found motivation has been fuelled with the hopes that this year things will finally change for the better and I will find a happy medium when it comes to health and well-being.

For the past few years it hasn’t just been the weight gain that has impacted my life, it’s been the implementations of this that are really showing.

I am run down the majority of the time, continual headaches and migraines that I know are linked to my bad diet, dull and dry skin that I’ve never had before and the inability to exercise like I used to.

All of these things have been staring me in the face for so long but I have been choosing to overlook them and hope they just go away which I know is not going to happen unless I change my lifestyle.

Above all of this though I want to to be a better role model to my children. I don’t want them to think that the perfect body is the only way to true happiness but I do want them to understand that we are blessed to be given the bodies we have and we should do our best to look after them, feed them, nourish them and not abuse them like I have been doing for way too long now!

2019 – Our Year In Pictures

I have been reflecting on the past year and kicking myself for not doing as much as I should, achieving as many goals as I wanted and generally beating myself up which isn’t a good thing at all.

After flicking through my camera roll I had a word with myself and realised that I am eternally grateful for my happy and healthy family and all the things we have accomplished in 2019 and I’m looking forward to seeing what 2020 brings us.

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.

Four Benefits Of Buying A 4×4 Car

[AD] the lookout for a new car? Allow us to help! If you, like us are a big family it could be worth your while to invest in a 4×4.

Not only will you benefiting the space they provide, but you may find yourself falling in love with how comfortable and convenient they are. If you need some inspiration as to why your next car should be a 4×4 here are some benefits of buying one.

They Can Help The Driver Feel Safer On The Road – 4x4s May help you feel that little bit safer throughout your journey as the height of the cars are elevated, so each driver is provided with better visibility over the road in front of them which also means that you may have more opportunity to spot any potential hazards.

They Provide More Room For All The Family – if you have a big family like us the chances are you will need a bigger car to get around. From the school run and after school activities, to weekend road trips and visiting extended family a big car is essential when you have five children and need to squeeze them all in.

A new Land Rover from the likes of Peter Vardy for example is not only spacious, but also practical.

They Are Ideal For Winter Months – in comparison to a front or rear wheeled drive, 4x4s have the benefit of added traction. This means that you have more control over your vehicle, which is particularly needed in winter when it is cold and icy.

They Can Handle The Windy Roads – 4×4 cars are particularly useful when you live in the countryside and have to manoeuvre yourself around windy roads on a daily basis. As these roads are often not maintained as well as main roads and as a result prove tricky to drive on. When you are off-roading you need to tackle any obstacles or steep hills, so you will be grateful for the power increase.

So when it’s time to but a new car, do t forget to view some 4x4s, especially if you have a large family to transport on a daily basis!

Top Tips For Keeping Your Hair Healthy In Winter

[AD] The cold affects our hair more than we know, with ice cold temperatures, rain, strong winds and even the snow, the wild outdoors mixed with the heating of your home or workplace can make for a disastrous combination.

Dryness and dullness are amongst the most common side effects of winter for our locks, so here are some top tips to keep your hair looking and feeling healthy during the colder months.

Keep Washing Hair To A Minimum – I know this isn’t for everyone but hear me out. If possible try and limit washing your hair to just two of three tiles a week. This will help prevent it from drying out in the cold. It also reduces the amount of time you spend drying, straightening and curling it too, which can be harsh on your hair, especially in winter.

Choose The Right Conditioner – For the colder months get yourself some really rich, thick and moisturising conditioner. Take a look at the ingredients list and choose one that contains fatty acids and things such as soy protein and pathanol.

Try Not To Have Boiling Hot Showers – I know it’s tempting to turn the shower up to the hottest setting possible, especially as the mornings are darker and colder, but this can damage your scalp and skin by stripping it of moisture. Throughout winter keep showers and baths to around 10 mins and have water at mid to lukewarm.

Visit Your Hairdresser For Regular Trims – It might sound counterproductive, especially if you are wanting to grow your hair for any reason, but by visiting your hairdresser regularly you’ll keep your hair healthy by getting rid of dry ends.

Keep Your Mane Moisturised – Once a week use a hydrating mask of some kind to restore your hairs natural oils which are stripped away during winter. Brush your mask through with a hairdressing comb and leave the allotted time for luscious locks through the chilly snap. And if you have heating on in the house(which I’m sure you will do), invest in a humidifier to keep even more moisture locked into each strand.

If all else fails then there are some great products on the market that can help you enhance what nature has given you such as hairpieces for women.

Taking care of your hair during winter will set you up for the upcoming season. Make a habit of repeating this routine and you’ll continue to enjoy a luscious, strong, glistening mane for years to come.

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.