29 January 2017

My Sunday Photo - 29.01.17

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Photalife

Sunday Snap

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26 January 2017

Family Trip to Cameron Lodges

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It’s definitely a busy time of year over the festive period and although the kids are excited with their new presents I often find there’s a lag between Christmas and going back to school. It’s almost as if time has stopped and you don’t know who you are, where you are or what you’re meant to be doing with yourself. Add to that a couple of kids who like to annoy each other just when you want some peace and you have a recipe for disaster. Hence why I booked the family up for a few nights stay at the lovely Cameron Lodges on the bonny banks of Loch Lomond.


I had noticed a few bloggers got the opportunity to stay at one of the lovely lodges on the Cameron House Hotel estate so to give us a break and something to do I thought what better way to start the new year than with a little trip. It’s only about 2 hours from our house so not much of a car journey really. I had looked over the photos online, and of course from bloggers who had stayed, and the lodges looked amazing. I made sure to book a refurbished lodge quite close to the hotel as I like a bit of luxury and Logan hates walking too far.


The estate itself is quite big but the lodges aren’t too far from the hotel. We had one which was a 5 minute walk away and that was perfect. It was also a short walk to the Boat House restaurant however if it’s bad weather the concierge can pick you up and take you down in one of the hotel’s cars. I thought this was really handy and it saved us a walk one night when Harlow fell asleep on her Daddy in the hotel.


The lodge we had was semi-detached and was stunning. It had a massive open plan living, dining and kitchen area upstairs with a bathroom and downstairs was two lovely big bedrooms both with ensuites. The master bedrooms ensuite had a huge bath in it as well. We never used the bathrooms much though because they only had underfloor heating and this took a while to kick in so they were quite chilly. Also you have to pay for your own electricity which I wasn’t too keen on. In the end for the 3 nights we were there it cost £33 and that was me switching lights off and turning heating down etc when we weren’t using it.


Staying in the lodge meant we could use the hotels facilities and luckily for us they have a lovely children’s pool complete with slide and a small paddling pool for tots. There is also a bigger pool beside this one which is sometimes adults only, understandable because if I was there with just the other half I’d want some child free time too. The changing rooms for getting ready were massive, plenty of lockers, but freezing when you came out of the pool. Luckily you’re given massive complimentary fluffy white towels to use so I wrapped Harlow up and she literally didn’t move, wee soul.


The Boat House restaurant and the Great Socts Bar (within the hotel) were both really child friendly and provided highchairs on request. The food was delicious and I couldn’t fault it. My only niggle was the price but then what do you expect for 5 star luxury. All in all it was a brilliant little trip away and I’d love to go back just as a couple for a relaxing break.

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24 January 2017

Easy After School Dinner with Birds Eye

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I don’t know about you but trying to fit in healthy meals for the kids when you’re working, or generally busy with after school clubs etc, can be exhausting. I like to cook the kids something healthy ish but something that is quick and won’t take hours to prepare or actually cook. Step in Birds Eye. They’ve recently launched some tasty Gluten Free Fish Fingers to the market which are perfect to get the omega oils down the kids necks without a fight.

I’m lucky enough to be able to work part time and it definitely benefits my family, but on the days I do work I have to travel and getting stuck in traffic is the difference between a freshly prepared meal and a ping meal. I always feel guilty about the ping meals though as I never feel they live up to much. I’m more reassured by the Birds Eye gluten free fish fingers however because it’s fish and full of good stuff. My son loves fish too so fish fingers are always a winner. I normally heat up some Birds Eye peas as well to get some greens in the little monsters.


You get 12 fish fingers in a packet and I tend to put them all on to cook as Logan eats loads and any leftovers can be put into a sandwich. They only take 12-15 minutes to cook under the grill which is perfect when you’ve got some pretty hungry mouths to feed as soon as you step in the door. You can of course cook them in the oven but I feel they get just that little bit extra crispy under the grill.

Whilst perusing the Birds Eye goodies I noticed they had a bag of frozen veg (carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, peas) so decided to give that a go to see how tasty it was. On the bag it said boil for 2 and a half minutes, and that's all it took to cook which was great.

So what did we think of the actual fish fingers, peas and veg? Well the fish fingers went down a storm with everyone eating them up. Logan was even asking for seconds. I thought the peas were really tasty and so did the other half but the kids didn't touch them much. They're not massive pea fans though. The frozen veg was well received and it had actually kept most of it's freshness. I say most as the carrots were ok but I prefer cutting and cooking my own. Overall though a lovely quick healthy meal which everyone enjoyed and I wasn't running around like a headless chicken. Win win!


I was sent some Birds Eye vouchers to purchase and write an honest review of these products. All opinions are my own.

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22 January 2017

My Sunday Photo - 22.01.17

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Photalife

Sunday Snap

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19 January 2017

Harlow's 2nd Birthday!

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So last week Harlow officially turned two! Its been a quick year for her and doesn't seem like we were celebrating her first birthday all that long ago. I say it loads but time really does fly. There's lots of exciting things been happening in Harlow's world and would you believe I have to sign her up for nursery by the end of January so she can attend at the start of next year. Not really a baby anymore even if she's still in 18-24 month old clothes.

Since her birthday fell on a week day and Logan would be at school and family working the other half and I decided to celebrate on Sunday instead. It meant that Logan could be involved (he loves a birthday) and also family could come over to see her and give her some pressies. For only being two Harlow is quite clued up on the whole birthday situation. I think that's mostly helped by attending Logan's friend's parties and of course Logan's. She's really happy to get presents and open them as well as opening her birthday cards which is cute. Balloons are a favourite and she loves a birthday cake, well she won't often eat it but likes being sung too.

After all the guests had left we threw on our coats and shoes and headed over to the Irn Bru Carnival at the SECC in Glasgow. It was massive. There were so many rides, stalls and activities to do including a big bouncy castle area which I think was Harlow's fav as she got to run around. It was really noisy inside but we managed a good few hours before the kids started getting tired.

Logan was back to school last week but on Harlow's actual birthday we took her to Edinburgh Zoo and it was lovely. The other half and I hadn't been for ages as Logan gets fed up looking at animals. Harlow however loved every second and lucky for us all the animals were out saying hello even though it was quite cold. We really liked seeing the Pandas, Tiger, Pelicans, Chimpanzees and Monkeys. I'd definitely recommend going with the kids.

She's had a great second year so I'll just have to see what 2017 holds for my wee missy chops.










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16 January 2017

The Importance of Family Holidays

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I really think that family holidays are important. This doesn't mean you have to fly to some far away exotic land, not at all, some of the best holidays we've enjoyed as a family have been right here in the UK. But I do think getting away as a family is important and I'm going to tell you why.


New and Exciting Things
Going on a holiday often means that the kids get to experience something new i.e. new places and new culture. It's good for them to see how other people live and how things might be done differently to where they live themselves. One very simple example for me was when we went to Wales we couldn't get curry sauce on our chips at the chippy. They had gravy instead. Or experiencing siesta time in Spain and explaining to Logan why all the shops were closed in the middle of the day. Also languages and different accents. It's all part of the fun and learning.


Quality Family Time
You know what it's like when you're in the day to day routine of work, nursery, school runs, after school clubs, play dates, meetings etc. You hardly have any good quality family time together as more often than not you're rushing around making sure everyone's clean, fed, dressed and getting to where they're supposed to go. When you're on holiday though you can take a step back and be more focused on the quality time together. The kids get your undivided attention and they love it.


It's a Break
Hopefully it's a bit of a break for us adults too. Less washing, cooking, cleaning or none at all and if you're lucky a cheeky glass of vino to chill out with. It's a change of scenery from the front door if anything and hopefully your worries of work, money and life in general are far away.


Getting to Know You
Sometimes it feels like you don't even know your own family when you're like ships passing in the night but being on holiday means you can't escape! Good or bad it's a chance to get to know each other better and this often helps strengthen bonds which is really nice.


Refreshed and Re-energised
I'm taking a punt on this one but fingers crossed you'll feel refreshed and re-energised for what life will throw at you back home. I know holidays with kids aren't always relaxing, as man do toddlers run fast, but getting a break from the norm really does help clear the cobwebs and seeing the little ones faces enjoying all the new and exciting things makes it worth while.




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15 January 2017

My Sunday Photo - 15.01.17

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Photalife

Sunday Snap

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11 January 2017

Giveaway: Win a Cuddledry Unisex Grey Star Design Apron Towel

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Having a good towel to dry your baby with after bath time is a must have essential. You want something fluffly, soft and quite big so you can wrap your little one up safe and stop them from getting cold. Parents know that snugly warm babies and the cool air after bath time don't mix so that's why I highly recommend using a Cuddledry apron towel for your precious bundle.

Recently Cuddledry, makers of the multi award-winning hands free towel, launched a fabulous new towel to the market. In line with current trends a beautiful unisex grey stars design was released and it's truly gorgeous. The first original towel was introduced in 2006 and has been so popular over the years because it addresses one of the most difficult tasks a new parent faces, and provides a practical and affordable solution. And with the launch of the new grey stars design, now babies can be stylish as well as cozy at bath time.

The hands free Cuddledry bath towel eliminates the problem of how to lift baby from the bath, taking the stress from the situation and making it an ideal gift for any new parent. The apron towel has been winner of the Mumsnet Best award for Best Newborn Gift seven years in a row! What a fab achievement. 

The Cuddledry towel is available to buy for £29.99 from Mothercare, John Lewis, Boots, JoJoMamanBebe and Kiddicare as well as the Cuddledry website www.cuddledry.com however I have one to give away right here. So one of you lucky readers could get your hands on the lovely new towel design for your baby. It's simple and easy to enter as always using the rafflecopter widget below. Good luck!


a Rafflecopter giveaway
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9 January 2017

My Blogging Goals for 2017

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After having been inspired by a number of lovely bloggers recently (Mummy's Knees, Laura's Lovely Blog, Monkey and Mouse and Susankmann) I thought I should probably write some blogging goals for 2017. My blog has always been something of a hobby of mine. It's not that I don't take blogging seriously it's that I seem to lack time and motivation throughout the year when different things are going on in the family. The summer holidays for example can be hard as Logan is off school and Harlow isn't yet at nursery so entertaining both when one is 7 and the other 2 is no easy feet. I'm hoping that by giving myself some goals and writing them down will actually mean I achieve them.


Blogging
Posting - my posting history isn't the best at the moment. Sometimes I'll post 3 times a week then I can go weeks or even a month without posting. It's not great for my readers so I must really improve on this.

Schedule - on the back of timely posting is probably scheduling. If I managed to spend some time writing and scheduling posts then they wouldn't be so sporadic. Going to look into this and see if it helps.

Media Pack - you'd think after almost 6 years of blogging I'd have a media pack sorted by now! Wrong! So need to get my butt in gear and get that pack sorted for all the lovely brands, PRs and companies to work with out there.

Business Cards - I've got fabulous business cards which I received last year but only every plucked up the courage to hand a few out. Now is the time to stop being afraid and start actually giving them out when appropriate.

Engagement - I so need to engage more with other bloggers hence why I've purchased a ticket to the lovely BlogOn Conference in May this year. I'm really excited but a little nervous as I have never been to a blogging conference before. Hopefully this will be the start of new and lovely things to come.

Hobby to Business - Making an income from my blog would be a dream come true and now seems to feel like the right time. I just need to put myself out there and hunt down all those fab opportunities.

Be Social
Engagement - It seems like a no brainer but I really need to be more social on my social media platforms. I've been stepping it up on Facebook and Instagram recently but I must improve my A game on Twitter. I'm going to put some focus into that this year and see where it takes me.

Commenting - I want to share the love around and start commenting on other bloggers posts. I go through a phase of doing it a lot then forgetting to at all. I really enjoy a lot of blogs so giving some love back is key.

Social Media - Grow my Facebook page to 1200, Grow my Twitter followers to 5000, Grow my Instagram followers to 3500.

Tots100 - Increase my Tots100 score. I'm currently at 600 but last year the highest I got to was 219 which I was very pleased with. The whole being social and engaging should help improve my score.

Emails
Check - physically checking my emails regularly. I've got a bad habit of using social media a lot but not actually checking my emails in case an opportunity has come though.

Reply - easy enough don't you think but I read quickly then think "oh I'll get back to it". I MUST stop doing this and reply as soon as possible. Opportunities aren't going to hang around forever.

Pitch - If there's something I see which I think I could turn my blogging hand to then I need to start pitching and approaching brands who I think would like to work with me. I'm definitely going to start doing more of this in 2017.

This is only the start of a new journey for me but I've got my fingers crossed that now I've written everything down I'll be able to make a go of things, do what I can and maybe even push myself a little. I'd love to hear your blogging goals for 2017 so please share.
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7 January 2017

It Doesn’t Always Have To Be Pink #4

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Today I have another installment of It Doesn't Always Have To Be Pink for you. Don't get me wrong, after having had a boy first it's quite nice to get the pink outfits out but girls have so much choice! That's why some of the non pink clothes can actually be the cutest. Below are a few more options for you to have a nosey over and you might even find something fabulous for your little princess that you weren't expecting.


Hello Merch
Black and white, or monochrome, is a big thing these days and I've spotted lots of people getting in on the action. I myself particularly love this super cool top from Hello Merch. To me it says it all plus you get matching adult tops with the slogan "I'm So Tired", just brilliant.


Polarn O. Pyret
If you're looking for something a bit different then this Swedish brand is for you. Polarn O. Pyret have some very funky good quality children clothes in a rainbow of colours. I've been told first hand, from a Swedish relative, that their winter jackets are amazing.


Maxomorra
If repetitive patterns are your thing then Maxomorra are the brand to go to. They always have lush prints in vibrant colours which are often unisex. I personally love their pj's for the kids as they're super soft and wash well.



Lilly + Sid
I know I've featured Lilly + Sid before (back in 2015) but their clothing really is beautiful and so different to the high street brands. I know this dress has a bit of pink in it so kind of cheating here but it's so cute and perfect for this cold snap of weather we're having at the moment. Lilly + Sid also have a fab sale on at the moment so worth checking out.




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