Treating Your Mum And Giving Back To Charity At The Mother’s Day Toy Exchange

[AD] We kicked off our Mother’s Day celebrations a little earlier than usual this year with a trip to Centrale and Whitgift Shopping Centres in Croydon to take part in their Croydon toy exchange.

They set up a fantastic project which allowed families in and around Croydon to take a pre-loved toy along to the shopping centre and exchange it for a gift of goodies to give to your Mother as a treat on Mother’s Day. The pre-loved toys will them be distributed to the families of Rutherford School who help provides wrap-around services for people with disabilities in the Croydon area from age three onwards.

The boys loved dropping their toys into the big box that was already looking pretty full by the time we got there. They collected their cute pink bags they were full of goodies from shops inside the centre including House Of Fraser, Body Shop and Superdrug.

From here we took the opportunity to take a look around the shops to see what they had to offer in the way of treats for Mother’s Day…well once I prized the away from the children’s area that I have to say is a pretty cool way to give the little ones a treat whist you are there.

Centrale and Whitgift Centres have been my go to place for shopping in Croydon for pretty much as long as I can remember. I actually have fond memories of going along there as a child and selecting gifts for my own mother with my hard earned pocket money.

Spring forward a few years to say the least and I relished in the fact I could take my own little ones ones along to help me chose a gift for their much loved Nanny who deserves a medal for putting up with us lot!

There is such a great variety of shops that suit all budgets. There are plenty of the popular high street favourites such as marks and Spencer, House Of Fraser, Zara, Boots, H&M, Topshop and Superdry to name but a few.

It’s a tradition for us to buy a simple bunch of daffodils every year for my Mum as they are here favourites but you can equally find anything from gorgeous clothing, beauty products, homeware or even a voucher for treat herself to a beauty treatment or a new hairdo!

After all our hard work we stoped for a bite to eat which is also something that is pleasure in Centrale and Whitgift Shopping Centres and there is always plenty to chose from. We always opt for sushi that is set right in the middle of the Whitgift Centre so you can enjoy your food whist watching the hustle and the bustle of the shoppers going by.

We had a brilliant afternoon and if you are looking for a shopping destination with all you can look for under one roof then you really should take a look at Centrale and Whitgift Centres.

Vertbaudet:Clothing, Homeware And So Much More

[AD] I first started shopping with Vertbaudet over twenty years ago now when I had my first. I loved that they offered something a little different to your run of the mill catalogues at the time and their clean and simple lines made for a range of childrens clothes that reflected their chic french background.

For some reason over the years they had fallen from my radar a little and when I was asked to work with then at the beginning of the year I was astounded at just how much they now offer and how the brand has grown into something pretty amazing.

They offer a huge range of clothing from babies to teens and even have a range of maternity and nursing wear which is something that is always tricky to find.

Not only can you find some great pieces for the little ones wardrobes but you can also get some gorgeous homeware pieces for their rooms that are as individual and beautiful as their clothing plus a fabulous range of indoor and outdoor toys.

The boys had great fun scrolling through their easy to use website and being the little fashionistas that they are selected a pair of skinny jeans each that is always their go to style. Their jeans were a brilliant fit, had plenty of stretch so that playtime wasn’t restricted and had plenty of length which is something I tend to find a problem when buying childrens jeans.

Giving the boys somewhat of a free rein  when it came to choosing an outfit can sometimes be a little dangerous and their faces immediately lit up when they saw some character sweatshirts. They are normally something I steer clear of but the retro design of the Mickey Mouse sweatshirt and the cool faded fabric on the Star Wars jumper was fabulous and they were definitely winners with all of us.

For me footwear is a tricky one to order online for children as getting a good for for them is so important. I needn’t have worried though as the suede boots that arrived for the boys were a wonderfully soft leather with good support for their feet and looked super stylish too.

All kitted out the boys were then ready to play with their new toy. I’m a sucker for wooden toys and their delightful wooden garage didn’t disappoint. It was easy to put together, looks amazing and has been one of the boys favourite toys.

I am yet to see what they have to offer by the way of homeware but it won’t be long as I already have a long wish list ready and waiting.

Bringing A Colour Splash To A Bare Wall With Desenio

A few of you will know that we have recently moved and I have been really excited to be able to start a fresh and put my own stamp on it. We are lucky enough to have really high ceilings which make for a wonderfully light and airy space but on the downside it has left us with huge expanses of bare walls to fill.

The lounge for us is the hub of the home and the place we spend the most time so it was important to get this room ready first. Our sofas are a neutral cream colour as are the walls so i needed to add some colour as neutral really isn’t me.

I have been lucky enough to work with Desenio who offer a huge range of posters and prints that offer something to incorporate all tastes.

The fact that they have thousands of pieces to offer was a little overwhelming to begin with, especially as I had no idea what I was really after. But with the help of their themed sections and amazing gallery wall that allows you to choose exactly how you would like to see the pieces on the wall it wasn’t long before I had made my selection.

I went for a few motivational quotes which I hope will encourage the children to think positively by seeing them everyday, a little bit of abstract art and of course a big splash of colour with a small palm print and one of my favourite ladies – Freida Kahlo.

The prints all arrived promptly and were beautifully packaged and took no time to put into the frame and get onto the wall. The fact that you can select the frames at the same time as the prints was a massive pull for me as it saves dragging from the shops trying to get frames to fit.

If you are looking to create a gallery wall of fill a small space with something beautiful then Desenio is the place to look.

If you have been as taken with Desenio then please feel free to use the code “THEJOYOFFIVE” at the checkout which gives you 25% off posters between 27th and 29th November. This excludes frames and handpicked/collaberation posters.

Learning More About Sustainable Food

Here in the UK we all love to eat, in fact over the year we consume tons of food that probably most of us don’t really think to much about.

We all want something that tastes good, is easy to get our hands on and quick to prepare but the back story behind how our favourite foods get to us is a pretty complex one and also something that we all need to give a little more thought and consideration.

Sustainable food is something that starts at the very beginning and over the past few years a lot of work has gone into getting the farmers, fishermen etc to change their way of working to make the detrimental impact on the environment far less.

The ethos behind sustainable food is taking into account the environment, health, social and environmental concerns.

Farmers are moving on from using conventional fertilisers and swapping over to an organic way of farming. This is one way in which this can help the environment, the animals and the workers.

There is still a lot of work to do in this area but with time and knowledge I am hopeful we will continue to see changes.

Back to use now as there are plenty of thing we can do to help in the home by following these guidelines and I have listed below:

Shop Local And Seasonally – Our high streets are sadly becoming a thing of the past with large supermarkets and internet shopping bringing us such competitive prices the pull is pretty great but taking things back to basics is what we need to do.

I also find that shopping locally and getting more hands on with your approach food is great for the children and gives them a far greater knowledge of where food comes from.

We managed to get some delicious apples from our local green grocer the other day and created some delicious deconstructed toffee apples that we all loved!

Shopping locally from the butchers and green grocers allows us to support small business and buy local and seasonal products that have a huge impact on the way we eat.

Buy Organic – Buying organic can put people off as the price tag is generally a lot heftier then ordinary produce. The benefits of the quality of the food and the impact on the environment are certainly worth those extra pennies though.

Promote Heath And Wellbeing – We are fast becoming a glutinous nation and steps need to be put into place now to educate ourselves and our children on healthy eating, balance and food waste.

Choose Fair Trade – Wherever possible try to keep an eye out for the fair trade symbol on packages. They go to great efforts to insure their producers get a good deal and put so much back into social and economic opportunities for people.

Cutting Back On Animal Origin Foods – My sister turned vegan a fair while ago now and a lot of her decisions were based on the impact on the environment eating meat and it’s byproducts have.

I don’t think this could ever be a move for me but I am certainly putting in place wats to cut down on meat a few timed a week and switch over to milk alternatives such as soya and oat milk.

We are also big fish fans in our house but we are opting to cut back on spies such as cod that are facing danger of being wiped out due to over fishing.

I hope this has given you all a little food for though…excuse the pun! I would love to know if sustainable food is something you already do something about and if you have anymore tips I could try out.

*collaborated post

Celebrating The Small Things:Week Thirty Two

This week one ‘celebrating the small things’ I really am talking about very little things that bring me lots of joy.

Tea – I think growing up with a father as a builder who drank ‘builders’s tea’ by the gallon it was instilled in me to become a tea drinker. Whilst I was out the other day have a delicious cream tea it made me realise just how much I love a good strong cup of tea and how it really is a cure for everything!

Stationary – Since I was little I have had a love for pretty stationary and I certainly share this love with Izzy. We love nothing more than walking round stationary stores, selecting our favourite shinny new pens and fresh pages in new note books. The only problem is I tend to hord notepads in fear of messy them up with my terrible handwriting!

Why, Why, Why – I have a love hate relationship with the relentless ‘why’ questions I still get from the youngest two. It can be massively draining when they are in full swing but equally as indering that they have such a thirst for knowledge and what to know about absolutey everything that is going on around them.

‘Tour De Trike’ With Little Tikes

Until recently I thought that we were passed the stage of trikes, but my mind since attending a fantastic event with Little Tikes when Oscar feel in love with their Pack n Go Trike.

So when we were asked to take part in the Little Tikes ‘Tour De Trike’ we absolutley jumped at the chance. We were send the Pack n Go Trike to try out and Oscar was keen to get out and about with it.

The Pack n Go Trike is new to Little Tikes and there are a whole host of features that I found so appealing.

The trike is suitable for ages 1-5 which makes it a great buy due to the years of usage you get from it. for little ones aged 1 – 1.5 the trike can be steered solely by the parents and the children can just enjoy the ride. Moving up to ages 1 – 1.5 the children can have a little more of a real of actually ring by using the pedals whilst being steered in the right direction. Finally little ones aged 2.5 – 5 can take the lead and ride the trike independently.

Although we are huge outdoor fans I find taking things such as trikes and scooters out with us a real faff and more often then not I talk the children out of it due to having a lack of space for everything in the car. The beauty of having the Pack n Go means that due to its unique folding design it can be folded down to half its size which makes it really easy to transport and store.

Although Oscar has reached the age where he is pretty good at riding when we are out and about he simply can’t be trusted to go it alone so we kept the handle on and headed out for our ‘Tour Le Trike’ to see if my fearcley independent child would be happy with this.

We mixed a little bit of shopping with a trip to the park and I can safely say it went really well. Oscar was more than happy to buckle up and pedal alone the road thinking he was in charge as he was peddling and steering the whole way and I still had the peace of mind he wasn’t going to be able to shoot off anywhere.

We explored the book shop, picked some flowers for his teachers and had a nosy around the shoe shop…well there had to be some perks for me.

The trike was easy to manuvoure both inside and outside due to its slim design and smooth steering.

After our shopping we stopped for and ice cream and coffee to refuel and then headed into the park. Oscar was also pretty taken with he handy drinks holder where he could stash his favourite drink.

Given the vast space in the park where there was no need for me to panic I asked Oscar is he would like to have a go on his own, but he was so taken with me helping him out when he fancied rising his legs he was more than happy to carry on as we had been.

Our tour saw us hit the High Street, navigate shop isles, cobbled streets and grassy turrsin and handled them all with no problem. look out ‘Tour De France’ Oscar is coming for you!

Celebrating The Small Things:Week Twenty One

It has been a pretty quiet week which has made it perfect for my ‘Celebrating The Small Things’ series.

My Little Personal Shopper – Over the years clothes shopping on the High Street has become somewhat of a distant memory for me.

With the rise and ease in internet shopping and the number of children I had increasing the lure of shoppers by centres became less and less and now nearly all of my clothing purchases are done online.

The other day I had to get some last minute bits before our camping trip which ended up being a thoroughly enjoyable trip with Oscar.

We chatted over a babychino, stocked up on goodies for our trip and my most memorable moment was Oscar picking out outfits for me and giving his expert opinion on what looks good and what not so!

Daisy Chains – Sometimes the simple things in life pass us by and one thing that I hadn’t done for such a long time was to make a daisy chain. It’s such a simple task and the kids absolutely loved it.

How We Eat – The other day was actually a pretty big one as we had Mumset come into our home to film the way we eat as a family.

This was a pretty nerve wrecking experience as my kids can be pretty unpredictable at times and goodness knows what little gems they could have come out with!

Although the day was a huge thing for all of us I came away from the day extremely thankful of the fact I get to share dinner time with all my crazy loons!

Celebrating The Small Things:Week Eleven

This weeks ‘Celebrating The small Things’ has been a seen us doing a lot of catch up with the things that got cancelled and postponed due to the horrible snow. Did the bad weather mess up any of your plans?

World Book Day – World book Day came a lot later than expected this year due to it being way to icy for the little ones to get into school in their flimsy outfits.
Frankie was super excited to get all kitted out as Willy Wonka and got completely immersed into the character; it was a different situation with Oscar though who flat out refused to join in.
He has gone from being a little boy who lived in fancy dress and couldn’t even take a trip to the shop without some form of dress up to not wanting anything to do with it at all!
I was still desperate for him to join in through the worry that he would fill singled out, but he waltzed into nursery without a care in the world it was in fact him who was the odd one out and I have to admire him for that.

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Weight Loss Goals Being Achieved – I am a few months into my membership at David Lloyd Health Clubs now and I have really been keeping the benefits in so many ways, with the biggest of those being my weight loss.
For those of you that regularly read my blog you will know that my weight gain over the past few years has been a real problem for me and something I have been really struggling with.
Since joining David Lloyd at the beginning of the year I have seen a real change to my body shape and in turn a boost to my self confidence which I hoping will allow my to be a little braver in front of the camera soon!

Bridesmaid Dress Shopping – My lovely little sister is getting married this year and the bridesmaids dress have been a bit of a problem to say the least! None of us have been able to find anything we had all liked until the other day when we had a trip to Dig For Victory and found a whole shop of adorable dresses that can be made to measure and to your exact requirements.
In a few weeks time we will be getting measured up and ready for them and I literally cant wait.

Celebrating The Small Things:Week Three

Im a little bit late with this entry as life has got in the way and things have been sidelined. Last week was full of mundane tasks but I certainly have a few special moments to record.

Isla’s First Haircut: Being a grandparent is a completely new ball game to being a parent and one thing that I have found hard is bitting my tongue when Alice does things differently to I would. I have to hold myself back and remember all those times I got annoyed with my own mother for voicing her opinion so I told myself I wouldn’t be that fussing, interfering mother.
For months Isla’s hair has been growing out of control and I have wanted to take the scissors to it for so long.
Finally this week they decided it was time to be taken for her first haircut and I was so please to have been able to take her along for this experience.

Eyesight Improvement For Frankie: Last year Frankie was prescribed glasses and the vision in the right eye was a lot poorer than his left. The glasses alone hadn’t made any improvement so just over a month ago he was given a patch to wear for four hours everyday.
To be honest I thought we were going to have more trouble getting him to wear it then we have and apart from a few strops he’s been pretty good with it. This has paid off and he had improved by two lines on his sight test last week which was a big win for us.

Shopping With The Boys: Walking round the shops is somewhat of a distant memory for me since having children…well actually it’s only the last two that have put me off shopping with children for life.
All my shopping is done online and it wasn’t until we had a walk down Carnaby Street at the weekend that I realised now the boys are older they actually loved being able to walk around picking out things they like and trying the on.
They both certainly have and know their own minds when it comes to their style and Frankie was over the moon to be able to choose his first pair of ‘real’ trainers.

Tootsa MacGinty:Bold, Comfy and Perfect For Kids

‘I wanted to offer an alternative to the sea of pinks and blues, whilst also being practical, easy care, quality clothing. A unisex range which doesn’t limit a child and and lets a child be a child.’

These are the wise words of Tootsa MacGinty owner – Kate Pietrasik and are the exact thoughts that have run through my mind so many times whilst out shopping with my little ones.

As a mum of five I know how each and every child is so wonderfully different and not one of mine has fallen into a box that goes with those stereotypical tags that are in place when it comes to choosing clothing for girls and boys.

I have two little boys that have a huge love for pink and neither of my girls have been big fans of pink, frilly dresses so to find a brand that allows them to chose what they like without the worry of choosing something from ‘the wrong’ section is a breath of fresh air and this is exactly what Toota offer.

Their bold patterns and striking colours make this brand stand out from the crowd and the comfortable, wearable design and fit are perfect for active little ones.

My boys were lucky enough to be sent some items from Tootsa and they certainly put them through their paces.

The Newfoundland Lumberjack Jacket has been pretty much surgically attached to them since it arrived!

The bright checked print and cosy fluffy lining bring a more wearable addition to the usual denim jacket for this time of year and we have been stopped on more than one occasion to ask where they are from.

We love layering in this house as being on the go all the time and going from being cosy inside to hitting the great outdoors several times a day we need clothes to suit every eventuality.

Tootsa has a great collection of cosy sweatshirts to help with this. There is a whole host of different colours and patterns To choose from. The boys absolutely love their Toronto Sweatshirt covered in eskimos and totem poles that is perfect for this time of year.

Lastly we tried out their Classic Slimfit Jeans. This was a bit of a change for me as I always opt of super skinny jeans for all the children and I ordinarily don’t like the fit of any other styles, but I was very pleasantly surprised by these.

The looser fit that tapers in at the ankle was a great style and makes for a great wardrobe staple.

The thing that really draws me to Tootsa clothing though is their attention to detail and quality make in every piece.

From patches on the pockets to flashes of fabric in the turn-ups they have thought of everything to make for happy parents and happy kids alike!

* We were sent these items for the purpose of this review and they are all my own, honest opinions.