21 February 2018

Review: Dinosaur Lotto from Orchard Toys

Orchard Toys have recently released a whole host of new games and jigsaws to the market and Harlow has been lucky enough to receive one to review. Harlow was sent the Dinosaur Lotto game and couldn’t wait to get stuck in when it arrived through the door.

Dinosaur Lotto is a simple fun dinosaur themed matching and memory game which is sure to capture the imaginations of little ones. It’s suitable for ages 3-7 and has two ways to play. You get 4 double-sided jigged boards, 24 item cards and an instructions sheet with the game. It really is a lovely game which players will grasp quickly and the aim is to take it in turns to turn over the colourful dinosaur cards and be the first to fill their dinosaur board with matching pictures.

Like I said there are two ways to play, with the jigged boards having both illustrated and blank sides for simple or more challenging gameplay. This means that both younger and older players can play at the same time by choosing which side of the board they want to suit their needs. So the illustrated side of the board has photos of the items you need to fill your board whereas the blank side doesn’t. The illustrated side is obviously easier to fill however in order to fill the blank side you need to look at the dinosaur picture provided (at the top of the board) and guess what cards match the picture. It’s a great challenge for older children. My son is 8 and he stilled enjoyed doing this with his little sister. He’s competitive so of course wants to win!

As well as being a great game it’s also a brilliant way for children to find and identify dinosaurs as there’s a wide variety of characters to spot and discuss. Not forgetting how colourful this game is as well which will help reinforce recognition for the younger players. Harlow’s quite good at her colours but sometimes gets them mixed up. This game has been perfect for swatting up on her skills especially when I ask her to look for the green dinosaur or the purple dinosaur etc.

What I really love about this game is that it takes seconds to set up and play but also seconds to put away. It’s great for bringing out to have some one to one time or to play as a family. It’s also a really handy size for taking on trips and holidays too. When we next go up North I’ll be packing this in the suitcase to take with us along with a few of the other portable Orchard Toys games.

Overall a perfect family fun game which I’d highly recommend. Dinosaur Lotto retails for £7.50 so won’t break the bank and it’s fab for those dino mad kids in your life. As an extra little bonus Orchard Toys have a lovely section on their website entitled Things to do. If you click in there you’ll be able to find some free fun fact sheets on dinosaurs. It’s a great way for some extra home education and learning.

We were sent this game in return for an honest review. All opinions are my own.


12 February 2018

Experiences Not to Miss When Travelling Abroad with Kids

As a family we love our little holidays away from the front door and some of the best have been abroad. We also love experiencing new and wonderful things and what better way to do this than when you’re travelling. It’s something to look forward to and definitely something the kids will talk about for years to come.

One of the best experiences I had abroad as a child was spending the whole day with family on a gorgeous beach, swimming and snorkelling in the water. It was so care free and fun. I remember seeing lots of little fish and exploring the different caves along the coastline. So if you’re looking for something different for your family to experience when travelling abroad please do read on for my suggestions.

Camel Rides
On a recent trip to Lanzarote I noticed quite a large sort of Camel Ranch on the way to our hotel in Puerto del Carmen. My son got very excited when he saw it and so I investigated further at the hotel. Turns out it was a Camel Safari tour which took you on a stroll through desert terrain so you could enjoy the mountain views. It’s suitable for children aged 7+ and they can either ride single seater or two seater if they prefer to be beside a parent. It’s a lovely idea and the Camels all look well cared for. We never managed to go on our recent trip sadly but at least I know it’s there and we’ll definitely be going next time.

Snorkelling and Freediving
One thing I highly recommend doing with the kids abroad is snorkelling or freediving. Snorkelling of course is simply obtaining a mask and snorkel and floating on top of the water (preferably near a reef) to see what you can spot down below. Freediving is basically donning a mask and flippers, holding your breath and diving under the water without any breathing equipment. It’s a good way for kids to practice their breath holding skills (hands up who else did this in the bath as a child!) and of course see some beautiful wildlife under the sea in it’s natural habitat. Make sure you're equipped for your adventure by checking out Simply Scuba. There’s lots of lovely places to snorkel and freedive all over the world from Egypt to the Canary Islands. I’ve personally snorkelled in Egypt with my Dad and the creatures we sighted were amazing. I think the octopus had to be my fav.

Swim with Dolphins
If your children are slightly older then why not book a trip to Mexico to swim with the dolphins or even visit the Whale Sharks out in the open ocean. It’s a great thing to have on the bucket list and your kids will love it. There’s something so beautiful about being up close and personal with animals of the deep so I highly recommend. I swam with dolphins when I was in early pregnancy with my daughter and they could totally tell she was in there. Fascinating to watch.

Climb a Mountain
This might be hard for younger children however Calamorro mountain in Benalmadena has lovely cable cars that travel all the way up to the top. This means children of any age can go and enjoy the mountain and you can take in the great views. At the very top they even have a birds of prey display during certain times which is beautiful to watch. Especially the vultures! Those birds are so big when you see them up close. My son’s favourite part was when one of the little birds of prey was bobbing about and landing on people’s heads. Very hilarious as you can imagine.

The Beach
Sounds simple but you can’t go abroad with the kids and not visit a lovely beach. One of the best beaches we’ve visited as a family has to be the one in Caleta de Fuste in Fuertaventura. It’s super family friendly with the waters being calm and full of little fish. A top tip is to take some crackers/biscuits along with you from your hotel so you can feed the fish. The splashing and commotion they make when you throw some crumbled crackers in will have the kids delighted. My two personally loved it and kept them occupied for ages.

This is a sponsored post. All opinions are my own.


Review: The Grown Up Chocolate Company

Last week I was lucky enough to be sent some tasty chocolates from The Grown Up Chocolate Company. I couldn't possibly have said no so of course agreed to do a review of their scrumptious goodies. I was sent a box full of their treats and honestly couldn't wait to tuck in.

So why the name The Grown Up Chocolate Company. Well the idea behind the Grown Up Chocolate bars is that they are reminiscent of the bars we all ate as children, but re imagined for Grown Ups only. I wish I could have kept mine for the grown ups only however the kids had other ideas! The chocolates are super tasty though and use only the highest quality ingredients with 41% of pure cocoa solids - an exceptionally high ratio compared to the market standard of 18%.

I received a few different flavours to try; crunchy crispy toffee trilogy chocolate bar, crunchy praline wonder bar, superb salted peanut caramel bar, very naughty nutty nougat and glorious coconut hocus pocus chocolate bar. I also received a couple of boxes of their chocolate cups; heavenly whole hazelnut praline cups and perfectly buttery peanutty chocolate cups. I think my favourite had to be the chocolate bars with the salted peanut caramel. Oh my goodness these were amazing!! I tried my hardest to share with the other half but sneaked a few of these to myself.

In each chocolate bar box (around 70g) you get 2 snack sized bars and in the chocolate cups boxes (around 80g) you get 6 cups to enjoy. I would say share but they're so delicious there's hardly going to be any chance of sharing on the cards. The individual bars and cups boxes retail for £2.25 however The Grown Up Chocolate Company have lots of offers on their site to choose from. For example you can purchase 10 bars for £20.09 or even 100 bars for £165. They would make excellent wedding favours and if you purchase 100 that works out at £1.65 per bar box which is fantastic.

What I really love about The Grown Up Chocolate Company though is that you can make your very own personalised chocolate bars from a wealth of ingredients. Things such as mango cubes, nutmeg, fig & port, poppy seeds etc. There really is loads of choice and how awesome would it be to give this as a gift! Totally understand if you kept it for yourself though as they're so tasty.

Everyone in our house (including the kids) loved the chocolates I was sent from The Grown Up Chocolate Company. They must have been devoured in less than a week, that's how heavenly they were to eat. If we hadn't eaten them too quickly I would have popped a few in my hand bag as an emergency snack stash for when I was working in the office. It's always handy to have a piece of chocolate on hand when you're stressed out with spreadsheets.

Overall 100% amazingly moreish bite sized pieces of chocolate that'll leave you wanting more. Highly recommend if you fancy something different to the old boring chocolate bar you have in the cupboard and also recommend as giving to someone as a gift. Say like Mother's Day (hint hint). They'll be talking about it for weeks afterwards.

This is a collaborative post. All opinions are my own.


10 February 2018

Things to Consider When Building Your Own Summer House

A few years ago now the other half and I decided to have a little summer house built in the garden. Our garden is on 2 levels so we thought putting a summer house of some sort in would make better use of the space. It was either that or try and level out the whole garden which I'm not sure would have worked.

We'd never done anything like this before and didn't realise the amount of time and effort you need to put in when building from scratch! I've seen a lot of people start to build their own summer houses recently so I thought I'd write this post to help those embarking on their own summer house project. Do read on then for my tips on things to consider when building your own summer house.

North, South, East, West
You guessed it. Which way will your summer house be facing? Depending on your garden and the size you'll need to consider what way your summer house will face. We get the sun at the bottom of our garden in the afternoon and evenings (when the sun is setting) so it didn't matter too much where we placed ours. We've also got stairs going down to the bottom level where our summer house is so there was only one way it could face. If you have more options than us (hopefully) then choose wisely.

What will your summer house be built from? Will you go for a weathering timber such as cedar or maybe something cheaper that you can paint and weather seal? We personally went for cedar, yes it's more expensive than some other timbers however we haven't had to do a thing to it and it's still going strong 6 years on.

What style of door(s) will you choose to have on your summer house. Some people quite like the double patio door style while others prefer bifold doors. We actually have a lovely set of bifold doors on our summer house and they're fabulous for opening right up in the heat of summer. Getting a price couldn't be easier either with a bifold door quote so definitely have a think about it.

Usage of Summer House
You'll also need to think about why you're building this summer house. Is it going to be a garden room to chill in, an office/work space, a chill out zone for the kids and their friends, your own pub or perhaps a gym or even a beauty therapy business? Ours was a chill out zone but is now a gym which is quite handy although I haven't used it for a while, whoops.

Depending on your choice of usage you'll need to consider how you're going to decorate the interior. I went for a forest feature wall at the back using wallpaper and the rest of the walls are skimmed and painted so it looks like any room in a house. My parents have a summer house and they've left the wood exposed in theirs so it looks like a log cabin. It's really nice and quite an effective look I think. You'll also need to think about the type of furniture you'll have. Will it be modern, hand made, all wood etc.

This is a sponsored post. All opinions are my own.


7 February 2018

Review & Giveaway: Titanic for Children and My Perfect Puppy Books

Carlton Books have some new releases on the shelf soon which have excited the kids no end. Logan and Harlow were lucky enough to receive a book each to review with Logan getting The Story of the Titanic for Children and Harlow getting My Perfect Puppy AR.

As you'll have seen from our previous reviews Carlton offer a wide variety of Augmented Reality books for children and My Perfect Puppy AR is an excellent new addition for young readers. With technology such a big part of our world now combing tech with books is a genius idea. My daughter loves her stories at bed time but adding the AR is an extra delight to book reading and interacting.

So with the My Perfect Puppy book and accompanying app (which can be downloaded from the app store), children can take care of their very own Augmented Reality pup. All the fun with no mess. Each page of this book is bursting with cute puppy photos and all the info you'll need to know how to care and look after your new friend. To make things more exciting there are 13 special interactive pages so loads to get involved with.

It's simple and easy to use as well. You download the free app, point your phone or tablet's camera at the book and say hello to your new virtual friend! There's so much you can do. You get to name your puppy, feed it, play with it and teach it new tricks and commands. You can even taken photos and save them in the My Perfect Puppy Hall of Fame.

Harlow personally loved this book and found it fabulously amusing to be able to interact with a virtual puppy using her iPad. It was easy to do and scanning each interactive page was no issue. I think her favourite was getting her Puppy (named Pup) to play the piano and fetch. She also loved choosing accessories for her puppy to make him look pretty.

Next up is Logan's book - The Story of the Titanic for Children. As most of you will know Logan is a collector of facts and loves to share his acquired knowledge with the world. So this titanic book is perfect for him. This paperback has 48 eye catching pages which are full of facts, photos and illustrations sure to ignite your little ones imagination. The titanic is of course a very famous ship and this book helps to teach your little one the great history surrounding the legend.

Logan was particularly fascinated by the stories of the children on board and also couldn't believe how big the iceberg was that sunk the ship. He found it incredible how most of an iceberg is submerged underwater and only a tiny portion is seen from the surface. Another snippet to fill him with joy was the youngest survivor of the titanic who was 7 weeks old at the time but lived to 2009 (the year Logan was born) at the ripe old age of 97.

So if your little one is into history, facts, boats, ships, the sea etc then this book is definitely for them. The Story of the Titanic for Children will satisfy even the most curious minds. Carlton Books of course have lots of other fabulous reads on their website for children so do go and take a look.

Luckily for all you readers I also have a copy of each book to give away. So simply enter via the rafflecopter widget below as always and good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

This is a collaborative post. All opinions are my own.


5 February 2018

What the Husband Really Wants for Valentine's Day

I'm lucky that I can mostly read the other half like a book and usually know what kind of gifts and surprises he's after on special occasions such as birthday's, Christmas, anniversaries etc. So with Valentine's Day coming up in just over a week I thought I'd put a little gift guide together with the things I think he would quite appreciate and like to receive.

I've gathered together a few different gifts with a variety of prices which I'm sure will suit a lot of men out there. Read on to see what I've selected.

New Trainers
If your hubby is a child of the 90's then they're probably still in love with trainers as a daily footwear choice. My other half loves a good set of trainers and the brighter, bolder and funkier they are the better. I usually pick from the Nike website as there's always a sale on and they tend to have a good selection to choose from. There's even some Nike Jordans for as little as £69.

Personalised Watch
The other half is a mad watch collector but he currently doesn't have any personalised watches in his possession. I find this strange because he absolutely loves watches so I would have thought he'd have a personalised one by now. I'm never too sure about personalised gifts as I worry I'll mess it up or get something wrong however GiftsOnline4U let you check it all before ordering and have some amazing engraved gifts for men to choose from. So if your man doesn't wear a watch you can always get him a hip flask, whisky glasses, work tools, pocket tools etc. There's something to suit everyone. I chose a watch though as he'll love it and the one I choose has an unusual face (see photo above) with a lovely leather strap. The engraving on the back is clear and perfect. I went for "time will always tell how much I love you..." soppy I know but very true. You can pick up a personalised wrist watch for as little as £40 so definitely not going to break the bank but it's such a lovely personal gift to give. One that will be cherished and well thought of for years to come.

A Gadget
There's never normally an occasion goes by where I cannot purchase some sort of gadget for the other half as a present. I always try to get him something different and quirky and that's why this discovery channel smart phone telescope is perfect. He's constantly on that iPhone of his so I'm sure he'll love trying out this little beauty. And when he's not using it I'll be stealing it to nosey in on the neighbours, haha. This is of course a cheeky joke (or is it!).

Slogan Tee
I love buying my other half a good slogan t-shirt and I always find funny ones from Weird Fish. They have plenty to choose from online but if you're anywhere near the Livingston Designer Outlet they also have a shop in there with t-shirts from as little as £10. Quite the bargain if you ask me. If you do a quick search online you'll also find many a slogan tee to choose from as well. I believe Amazon have a good few for a decent price as I bought a couple of them for Christmas presents last year.

Beard Grooming Products
If you haven't already noticed from my photos and Instagram feed then my other half has a beard. He loves using beard products on it daily such as beard oil, balm, combs, conditioner etc so getting him a set of beard grooming products will go down a treat. I love the beard oil from ishga as it smells amazing and you get a massive bottle for £45. There are loads of other fab beard companies out there though so do shop around to find the perfect gift.

This is a collaborative post. All opinions are my own.


3 February 2018

How to Make Your Home Look More Expensive on a Budget

If you're like me and you love making your home look fancy and expensive but don't want to spend a fortune then this post is for you. I'm going to share with you my tips on how to make your home look more expensive on a budget. It's really simple and anyone can do it, you just have to know how.

The last rooms we decorated and freshened up in our home was the kids rooms and it's now time for my bedroom to get a little makeover. It's been the same for the past maybe 6 years or longer and it's about time I changed it. So here's a few of the things I'm going to do to make it look fabulous with very little money.

We do currently have matching furniture for the bedroom but we've had it for ages. It would be really nice to get something new and exciting so I'm going to look at some second hand stores, outlet stores and any end of line discounts in furniture stores. You just never know what you can pick up and I'll also have a nosey online to see if there's any good bargains on there to be had. It really doesn't have to cost a fortune to have nice furniture. I could always be really thrifty and give my current bedroom furniture a new makeover with a lick of paint. The options are endless and it saves waste.

I think having the right accessories around your home is definitely key to making it look more opulent and loved. Things like matching cushions, luxurious throws, scented candles or reed diffusers, paintings and prints for your wall. All the little details make such a difference but you can pick up some gorgeous accessories very cheaply from high street stores as well as online. If you're like me and you love a good candle as well do a quick search online for a Yankee candle sale as there's always plenty to be found and they make your home smell amazing.

A fresh lick of paint on the walls will instantly add the luxury feel to any home. Keeping the walls light and crisp can lend to an air of sophistication and also allows for rotation of furnishings and colour. Like I said my bedroom currently needs a make over and it's a rich mustard/yellow at the moment. I've grown sick of it though as I can't do much else with it so I'm going to go for possibly a light grey or white walls next. It just leaves so much room for adding detail and colour in elsewhere.

I haven't bought fresh flowers for ages but 2018 is going to be the year I start and they won't just be for the living room or kitchen either. Instead I'll spread them around the home and have smaller arrangements throughout the one living space so it adds to the sophisticated look. It's kind of like what hotels and stately homes do. Fresh flowers also add some much needed colour and draw the eye, they also don't cost the earth so are quite practical.

Less is More
Clutter and mess definitely don't scream luxury so try and keep your space as tidy as possible. I know it's harder when you have kids but good storage can definitely help. Ikea have loads of different storage solutions so start there as they're very cost effective. I haven't had a look around Ikea myself for ages but we do need more storage ideas for our house so I must take a trip soon.

This is a sponsored post. All opinions are my own.


2 February 2018

Saving Money with the Penny Saver Challenge

A few years ago now I spotted a good money saving challenge doing the rounds of the internet but never really got involved myself. I don't know why as I do love a bit of money saving and cash generating ideas so when I spotted the Penny Saver Challenge with WOW FreeStuff I couldn't wait to give it a go.

So what is the penny saver challenge? It's a simple money saving exercise that will have you over £600 better off by the end of the year. You simply start with saving 1p on the first day then increase it by 1p every day. So for example 1p, 2p, 3p, 4p, 5p, 6p, 7p so you'll have 28p saved after this. You keep saving like this each day and increasing by a penny so that on the last day of the year you come out with £667.95 in your pocket!

I honestly didn't think you could save so much by putting away so little but the numbers don't lie. Also because you are putting such a small amount away each day you're less likely to notice such an impact on day to day living which is really good. It of course means you'll have a healthy little sum of money at the end of the year to do with as you please. Maybe use it for Christmas, some home decorating, a staycation here in the UK (you can have a 3 day staycation here for as little as £300 for a family of 4, that's including breakfast and trips out). There's no amount of things you can't do with this money and I bet it'll come in handy.

I'm definitely going to give the penny saver challenge a go myself as I could so do with saving a few pennies this year. We plan to continue doing our monthly travel trips as a family so these extra pennies would come in so handy.

If you have any other money saving challenges or ideas you know about please do share in the comments below as it's good to hear of new ways to save some cash. 2018 is the perfect year to start getting your savings in shape and looking healthy.

This is a sponsored post. All opinions are my own.


1 February 2018

Review: Brewhemia Restaurant in Edinburgh

Last week the hubby and I had a free night to ourselves so we headed into Edinburgh to have some couples time without the kids. It was Burns Night and we'd been invited along to Brewhemia to enjoy their burns supper. I honestly couldn't wait as I've never really done a proper burns supper out before (I know, shocking since I'm Scottish) and to make it better I made the executive decision to get the train through from Fife instead of driving in case the roads were busy/ hassle looking for parking etc.

Brewhemia is towards the Edinburgh old town so when we got off the train we headed that way. I was super surprised to see that the restaurant was directly outside the train station! How amazing is that for transport links. It also meant I could wear my heels for a change (which I never do anymore) and not have to walk far at all.

When we arrived it was a little busy at the front desk waiting to be served and shown to our table. I can only assume this was because it was a special night i.e. the burns supper but we were quickly directed away from the bar/pub area and through to the dining area. Through here we were seated quickly and efficiently. As I've mentioned it was a burns supper night so we opted for the set burns supper menu which was £30 per head. I thought this was excellent value for what you received. With this menu you were given 4 courses plus a glass of prosecco and a nip of whisky to toast the haggis of course. It's worth mentioning that you didn't have to have the set menu and could have ordered from their regular menu as well.

Settling down for the evening I surveyed the dining area as the other guests started to arrive. It's a gorgeous large area with high ceilings, a balcony wrapped around, an area for performers above the bar and a delightful friendly relaxed atmosphere. All the staff seemed in good spirits and our lovely waitress for the evening explained all the entertainment that would be going on whilst she served our drinks. There were promises of bagpipes, poems, Scottish dancers, piano music played live and of course a toast to the haggis. It all sounded so exciting and I couldn't wait to see for my own eyes.

Before long the first course was served which was a small appetiser to get your taste buds started. It was a lovely crispy cod ball with accompanying sauce. So delicious and I could have easily eaten a tray to myself! After this a young chap playing the bagpipes came out followed by some Scottish country dancers. It really set the night and was great to have entertainment with our meal. Soon the lovely Compare for the evening, James, arrived to have a chat and toast the haggis. He was brilliant and so lovely. By this point I was starving and thankfully the starters were literally coming out of the kitchen and being served. It was a scrumptious dish of posh haggis, neeps and tatties with a whisky sauce. Oh my it was so good!

The live duelling piano duo, Howl At The Moon, had now set up for the evening and were handing out request cards to the diners below. I requested All The Single Ladies by Beyonce but I wasn't around to see if they played it or not. I'm sure they would have though. The main course was now being served and it was a delicious Balmoral chicken. You would think you would get sick of haggis but you really can't, it's just too good. Last but not least our dessert arrived. It looked amazing and honestly tasted even better. I'd rather go for a starter than a dessert myself but this Cranachan we were served was mouth watering. To top it off it was served with Scottish shortbread. Absolutely delicious.

The hubby and I had such a fantastic night here, so much in fact that I ended up purchasing a gift voucher for my father-in-law as a birthday present! He'll love getting out for a meal with my mother-in-law especially since Brewhemia have the duelling piano guys every Thursday night. I can hand on heart say I'll definitely be back myself and probably with friends and other couples this time. I've even thought about having the works Christmas lunch here! Highly recommend booking a table and getting yourself down to Brewhemia folks.

We received a free meal in return for writing an honest review. All opinions are my own.


Our Family Winter Getaway to Lanzarote

Last year the family and I decided it would be a good idea to get away for some Winter sun. We’ve never really been abroad so close to Christmas but decided to give it a go and jet off to Lanzarote for a much needed fix of Vitamin D. So on 19th November 2017 we flew out to lovely Playa Blanca for a weeks stay. You might remember we visited Lanzarote in February last year too but were in Puerto Del Carmen so thought we’d try somewhere different.

We traveled via Edinburgh airport again and their additional needs team was first class as always. And the best bit of all, the airport itself was totally dead! Security was a breeze to pass through, the departures lounge had minimal noise and bustle and our gate was beside a small soft play which helped no end. Our flight out was really good as well and the kids really behaved (for a change) so that was lovely. 

When we arrived we jumped on our transfer bus and traveled to the resort. I didn’t realise how far away from the airport it would be and it did take a good 30-40 minutes on the bus. It was fine because the kids were tired and more subdued but not so good for the travel sickness passengers.

The Labranda Suite Hotel Alyssa was our accommodation of choice and it was really lovely. We received a 2 bedroom apartment which had a bathroom with shower only and a large living area with a big TV, plenty of seating and storage. Since we were all inclusive we didn’t require a kitchen in our apartment which was fine with us. We did have a fridge though to store water, drinks and snacks so that was really good. The apartment we were allocated was very modern and overlooked the children’s play area/ kids club. It was perfect for us as in November there were hardly any other kids around so not noisy at all. It meant we could sit outside the apartment at the table and chairs provided and watch the kids have fun.

The accommodation was a bit out of the way however it was only a 10 minute walk to the beach and a 5 minute walk to a nearby water park, called Aqualava, so we really had all that we needed for our weeks stay. The accommodation had a lovely simple pool and bar area so plenty to keep the kids amused. Even though it was November it was still a good 22c some days which meant that even though the pool was chilly we could still use it and swim in it no bother. 

The Aqualava water park was a big hit with my two kids. It's not huge but it has lots of lovely flumes and a great area for toddlers and young children to walk around or swim in. I liked that I could let Logan go off on his own to ride the flumes and felt safe there was plenty of staff on hand watching. It was reasonably priced as well to get in and the food within the park was tasty and cheaper than I thought it would be. We spent a whole day here as the kids loved it so much so I highly recommend going if you get the chance.

Like I said it took 10 minutes to get down to the beach from our accommodation and what a lovely little beach it is. It's small but well protected from the harsh waves and this makes it perfect for little ones to paddle and play in the water. We did wonder round to a beach further up the coast but the waves were quite big and I worried about the kids playing too close to the water. We stuck to the smaller beach as it wasn't busy and so much safer.

Since we were all inclusive we of course had our meals in the hotel and we were really happy with the food. It was fresh, tasty and had a good variety for adults and children. I liked that they had a fresh pasta area where the chef cooked different pasta dishes for you. This was by far Harlow's favourite. I'm glad to say the kids happily ate their meals every day and the pool bar had snacks and drinks available throughout the day if you got peckish between meals. The kids often got hungry since they were always on the go so we'd often order up a portion of chips or a toastie to keep them going.

Our trip to Lanzarote has been amazing and if you know me you'll know I love to get the best deal possible for my money. I'm always searching the internet and local travel agents for the best holiday deal I can get and you should too. Anything to make your money go further for holidays is definitely the way forward. Just think if you even saved yourself £50-£100 that's more Euros towards trips over there or even money towards more food like a nice meal out for a change. So definitely shop around and do a few comparisons if you can. We can't wait for our next trip abroad and currently have a little holiday booked for May. Bring on the sunshine!

This is a sponsored post. All opinions are my own.


28 January 2018

6 Tips to Get Your Car Winter Ready

This is a sponsored post.

A lot of the UK had snow last week and it looks like this is just the start of our Winter instead of tailing off. The season's are definitely changing here and it's best to be prepared when out and about in case the worst should happen. How many times now have we seen road closures due to bad weather and people are physically stuck in their cars. Or when you're out and about on the road and the cold chilly weather sets in but you're far from home.

With this in mind I believe we should all get our cars Winter ready. With most of us having children along for the ride it's really the responsible thing to do. So please read on for my 6 tips on getting your car Winter ready.

Check Your Tyres
It's very important that your tyres are up to the job when it comes to Winter. Check your tyre pressure first then check for wear and tare in case you need a fresh set. If there's hardly any tread left then they won't do well in Winter conditions. You might want to consider winter tyres depending on where you live and how bad the weather forecast is. Also a wheel alignment check can be great as if you're not fully aligned this can chew through tyres a lot quicker costing you more.

Winter Safety Check
Some garages offer a free Winter safety check where they'll go round the car for you so you don't have to. Of course garages charge for this service as well but it's worth getting done for peace of mind. It might be worth checking is you have a service package with your local garage/ dealership as things like this are included. Find out more from Cars.com.

Washer Fluid
In Winter it's important to have some sort of antifreeze in your washer fluid as subzero temperatures will cause liquid to freeze. You don't want this when you're travelling on the motorway and all the dirt and grime from the road is being splashed onto your windscreen. Make sure and keep the fluid topped up as well, check regularly from week to week so you don't run empty.

Car Supplies
What if the worst happens and you become stuck!? I always believe it's good to keep a supply of blankets, snacks, a torch, first aid kit, lighter or matches, ice scraper, in car chargers for phone, possibly a shovel for snow in the car just in case. Even in the summer months I always have a blanket, first aid kit and snacks in the car as you never know what could happen.

Give your wipers a check and make sure they're fit for purpose. If you've been needing new ones now is the time to get them. Most wipers are quite cheap starting from £5 or less so there's no excuse. Also give them a little clean to take any grime off them or you'll only be spreading that over the windscreen.

Check Your Lights
In winter a lot of the time you'll be driving in the dark so it's really important you can see where you're going and also that other cars/ road users can see you. Have someone on hand to help you check your lights or if you're on your own check them in the dark against a wall so you can see your break lights etc.

This is a sponsored post. All opinions are my own.


23 January 2018

2017 Blogging Goals Revisited

Last year I decided to write up some blogging goals to give me more of a focus and basically a kick up the backside to keep going and steer my blog in the right direction. Now that it's 2018, a whole year later, it's time I revisited last years goals and see where I'm at.

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.

Last year was definitely an improvement on 2016 although I did start to kind of flag come November and December. It's a busy time of year at best but I also have the kids birthday's to think about. I'll keep trying to be consistent though as it's much better for you readers.

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.

I didn't get any scheduling done but I did manage to write posts in advanced a lot of the time. I'll definitely be doing more of this in 2018 as it makes the world of difference when you've got deadlines to meet.

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.

I actually don't know what's wrong with me but I still don't have a respectable media pack on hand. I have got one through a PR site which is handy to ping on but I'd love to have my own pdf which I can update as and when required. This needs to go back on the list of things to do. 

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.

The business card pile has taken a hit and I've been handing them out left right and centre when I get the chance. I think it's really helped so I will be continuing to do this. What's the point in having them if you don't hand them out!

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.

The BlogOn conference was amazing so if you're thinking of going def do. It was my first conference for bloggers and I loved every minute. I'm hoping to go again this year but don't have my ticket as yet. Will need to get that sorted. I have increased my engagement with other bloggers though and it's good to be part of something with other people like minded.

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.

Haven't really done this so will need to get a move on won't I. One to put on the list for 2018.

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.

I was getting so good at this but it kind of dropped off especially on Twitter. I'm back to it now though and trying hard again. Sometimes it's not easy being social, haha.

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.

I was doing so well and this dropped off a bit too. With a new year I'm starting back again though and it does make such a difference.

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

I'm not sure if I was being totally optimistic here but my Facebook went from 648 to 844 followers which is an increase of 196. Still pretty good but not quite the 1200 I wanted. I'll get there though. For Twitter I wanted 5000 followers but have only reached 2743. It's definitely an improvement on what I had but I can't quite remember back to 2017 and what I began with. A note to self to take notes! It's the same story with Instagram. I'm now at 2787 and wanted 5000. Not quite there but can't remember what I had back in 2017!

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.

I'm now at 488 which is great and fingers crossed I can get back up to the 200s or even higher.

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.

I'm nailing this at present. Trying my hardest to get back to people asap and I'll keep at it.

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.

As above, I'm reply as fast as I can as don't want to miss out.

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.

I've pitched a few times and it does work but of course not all the time. Some companies and business it's just not for them but others love it so I'll keep trying.

So as you can see it's not all bad and I've definitely made some improvements. Rome wasn't built in a day (or a year) so I'll just need to keep plodding on and doing my best. Hopefully my best is enough as it's not going to move forward itself. Nothing ever got done from sitting back and watching the world go by. Here's to a more productive 2018. Fingers crossed!


21 January 2018

Review: My Pocket Money Toy Party Boxes

Everyone knows that when you usually leave a kids party you're waved out the door with a party bag in toe. Kids love them but they're normally full of absolute trash that breaks or gets thrown in the bin two seconds later. There's now a brilliant alternative on the market from My Pocket Money Toy so you no longer need to live in fear of dull plastic rubbish. No, what you need is the fabulous Party Boxes!

If you are looking for something a little different for your child’s birthday this year then the mini party boxes are for you. The mini party box is an ideal party favour and can be tailored to any budget. All contents sourced are good quality items and can be matched to your party theme. Just think rainbows and unicorns, dinosaurs, football, teddy bears picnic, the jungle, under the sea. The possibilities are endless. Every child will be delighted with their mini box, and no more party bags going straight in the bin! Prices range from as little as £4 per box and can be completely tailored for your needs. The lovely My Pocket Money Toy can also create a personalised ‘Ooh Katie Q’ birthday colouring sheet to be included in your boxes. It really is something different.

Since Harlow's birthday was last week we were sent a few boxes to take a peak at and to give our thoughts. First impressions are really good. The box itself is good strong quality cardboard with a lovely ribbon design on the front. There's a name tag rectangle on the top so perfect for personalising boxes for each child at the party and writing their name so they get the correct box. The box is simple and easy to open, no stress here, and the items inside are lovingly wrapped in tissue paper (which can be personalised to a colour of your choice) with shredded pearlescent confetti on the bottom.

Inside each box (we received 4) there were a selection of lovely little gifts. From glitter pens, sweeties and story cards to dinosaur modelling clay and beautiful hair bows. I was really very impressed with the selection of items sent and that they were such good quality for being party favours. I always remember party favours as being tatty but these are superb. My personal favourite was the gorgeous unicorn hair bow from Claras Bowtique. It's stunning and also nice to see that My Pocket Money Toy use small independent businesses.

I really would highly recommend these mini party boxes. They're so cost effective starting at £4 and save you the hassle of running around buying favours and organising them all into bags. I love that they can be personalised the way you want them and that themes can be done too. I'm thinking Minecraft theme for Logan when he has his next party as how awesome would that be!

Also don't forget that My Pocket Money Toy do subscription boxes which also make excellent birthday presents so do check out their website for more details and simply email info@mypocketmoneytoy.com to discuss your party needs. My Pocket Money Toy are more than happy to help in anyway they can.

I was sent 4 boxes in return for an honest review. All opinions are my own.


20 January 2018

Harlow's 3rd Birthday

Another year has some how rolled on by and Harlow is now 3! I say it every year with both kids but my don't the days fly by. When I was young it felt like forever before your birthday came round. Now as I'm getting older everything passes in a blur. My baby girl is no longer a baby but a rather confident toddler who will be starting nursery school soon. She just missed out on the cut off which is a shame but April will be here before we know it and that'll be her, away to nursery with the other boys and girls.

Her birthday fell on a week day again this year so we had family over on Sunday so she could see them and receive some lovely presents. It was a chilled day really. There was a friends party in the morning but apart from that we just chatted to family and Harlow played with her new toys quite happily. On her actual birthday, which was a Tuesday, we got up early so she could open her presents from us. Her favourite was definitely the Pony Cycle she received. It's big but totally cool and even Logan can ride around on it too. Speaking of presents if you're on the hunt for something lovely and different check out What2Buy4Kids and you can get 10% off with my code as well BRENEWS218.

Since Logan had to sadly go to school we dropped him off and then headed through to Five Sisters Zoo to see some animals. Logan's not that fussed about animals so it was fine. Harlow however loves them so a great birthday treat for her. It was very cold at the zoo but we all really enjoyed it. I think the meerkats and tortoises were Harlow's favs. I personally loved the new reptile house they've got. It was of course warm and cosy but full of amazing animals and really big!

After picking Logan up from school we headed out to Dine at 29 in Dunfermline for a lovely celebratory family meal. We ate loads, laughed loads and sang happy birthday to Harlow with her awesome unicorn cake. It was homemade by a lovely guy I work beside and it tasted amazing! Thanks Gavin.

All in all a fabulous wee day celebrating Harlow's birthday and everyone had a good time. As I mentioned nursery will be the big change for Harlow this year but I'll have to wait and see what else there is in store for my wee babe.


19 January 2018

Review: The Humble Hostess Personalised Party Packs

As most of you will have seen from my social media channels (especially Instagram stories) it was Harlow's 3rd birthday last week and we celebrated it in the house with her as well as going out and about too. Since she wasn't having a proper party this year, maybe next year, I wanted to make sure the house looked lovely for her to make her day special. Step in The Humble Hostess. 

The Humble Hostess was started by Jo, a London based mum of 2 who wanted to create the beautiful themed parties you see online. She found that putting together all the elements of a picture perfect day was both time consuming and stressful so The Humble Hostess was born.

It's a beautiful concept and one which takes the hard work out of planning your child's party. They've put together the themes, done the searching for you and created lots of personalised items for your party to help it look fantastic and, most importantly, freeing up your time to help you focus more on enjoying your little one’s special day. I have plenty of experience throwing parties and it is really stressful so having someone else do all the hard work for you is amazing.

The Humble Hostess provide complete, personalised party decoration packages with their kits containing unique, handmade, personalised decorations to help your party stand out. It's a beautiful box full of party goodies for 16 guests and once it arrives you simply hang the personalised bunting, set out the decorations and enjoy your little one's special day. It's also nice to note that the handmade personalised party items are designed and made at home in London. How fab is that.

I chose the fabulous Rainbows and Unicorns theme for Harlow's birthday as she's horse mad and would really appreciate it. Other themes include Superhero, Chevron Bunny, Animal, Dinosaur, Train, Football, Princess and so much more. So what did we receive in our box for Harlow's birthday then? Well there was; personalised happy birthday bunting, a framed print, stickers, tissue pom poms, balloons, cupcake picks, table confetti, stickers, themed food cards or for smaller parties these could be name place cards. The box included instructions on how to assemble the tissue pom poms and ideas on using the other items and I found that really helpful.

All of the items were lovely. The table confetti was fab to scatter on the table or you can use as party bag tags if you so wish. The cupcakes picks are perfect for sticking into the top of cupcakes, sandwiches, sausage rolls etc. The stickers I used for adding on extra touch to Harlow's wrapped presents but you could use them for party bags, stick to cloths, decorate plain cups or seal invitations or thank you cards with. The farmed picture was cute and read "Happy Birthday Harlow". It's perfecting for displaying on the buffet table. The food cards are also great for naming themed food. I had a pirate party for Logan and named all his food different things like cheese puffs were cannon balls and fruit skewers were swords. Fun times for the kids. The Happy Birthday bunting was gorgeous and included Harlow's name which is an excellent personal touch.

There are 3 different types of party packs you can buy from The Humble Hostess with the first set starting at 35.00 called Decorations only pack. You can then move up to the Get the Party Started pack for 60.00 and last but not least the Ultimate Party pack for 80.00. Each pack contains different items so do have a look on the website for more information on each package.

I was totally thrilled with all items in the party pack I received. They were good quality, colourful and did the job they were meant to do. Harlow loved all the rainbows and unicorns and I still have the tissue pom poms hanging from my ceiling in the living room. They're just too lovely to take down yet. Do check out The Humble Hostess if you have a party coming up soon that you're planning. It really will save you so much stress and hard work.

I was sent a box of party supplies in return for an honest review. All opinions are my own.


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