Hello 2019 – pleased to meet you!

So you’ve probably noticed – it’s a new year! Now, I am not a believer in the whole ‘new year/new me’ stuff but I do like to have goals, I like to constantly try to do better and I thrive on the feeling of being proud of myself and my achievements.

So I decided to use the rolling over of ’18 to ’19 to come up with 10 manageable (and that’s the key word here) things to keep me on the right track for moving onwards and generally achieving my goals over the next 12 months.

Lets be clear though, these are NOT resolutions. I am not a believer in New Years Resolutions. Over many years I have set myself ridiculous goals – started strict diets, tried to force myself to do things I didn’t really want to do and unsurprisingly I failed. And then the excuses would start, the guilt would come, which was often followed by some self loathing. And then usually I would forget all about it all and not really achieve anything over the next 12 months!

But what are my 2019 aims?

Face the fear (and maybe do it anyway)

My biggest enemy is anxiety. For as long as I can remember I have been a worrier and at times I have suffered with panic attacks and illness due to anxiety. I have worked very hard to control my demons and during 2019 I want to make sure I am as self-aware as possible remember to always put my mental health first. One of the biggest challenges for me is telling people when I feel anxious but I know if I share my worries and seek support the easier it is. Part of this is also looking after myself physically, so I need to get enough sleep, keep away from alcohol, exercise regularly and not eat too much junk food as I find if my weight goes up so does my anxiety. I will not allow my worries steal my happiness.

Stay ‘present’

One of my worst traits is being easily distracted. I have a very busy mind and often find it hard to focus on just one task as I am always thinking ahead. This year I am going to work really hard to stay in the present particularly with my loved ones and put that phone away and keep my focus where it needs to be. I want my children to feel they are the centre of my world not Facebook or Instagram. Plus I am going to try ‘seize the day’ where I can (someone often harder for anxious people) and be more spontaneous and hopefully have more fun!

Be the star of my own story…
Family first

Start a new (mini) business

Last year I had the idea to launch a new Etsy business. I already have an Etsy shop selling vintage items (find it here) but I wanted another a business that was a bit more creative. I did quite a lot of work on it but life got in the way and I never got to launch it. This year I want to bring that business alive so watch this space!

Be real (aka don’t just ‘do it for the gram)

This year I am going to work hard to remember social media is definitely NOT real life. Working as a social media manager for a large retail company, I really should know to not judge myself against the 1000’s of curated, photoshopped or stylised images out there but I still do. This Christmas I realised I had hardly taken any photos but had a lovely time which was a real eye-opener for me. Everything doesn’t need to be recorded digitally and immediately shared…memories are really all you need.

This year I am going to work hard to not believe everything everyone else is doing/living/sharing is perfect and that sometimes an outtake photo is a better representation of the moment than a stylised Instagram worthy shot as seen below…

Silly faces – thought = I dont look pretty enough
New Years Eve – thought = laughing and bent over is unflattering
Bonfire night – thought = no make up and too dark

Re-do our lounge

Last year we made some real progress doing up our house. This year I want to tackle my favourite room – the lounge – and create a really lovely space to relax in. Theres a lot to do as everything needs changing but I can’t wait! Look out for updates as we progress…

Continue to run

I’ve now been running regularly for over 4 years and last year I ran 750km in total. I run every week, 2-3 times a week and it has really changed my life. I ran over Christmas, on holiday, in the cold and rain and when injured or unwell. I don’t always want to run but I always am glad I did. In 2019 I don’t want to run further or faster, I just want to keep making myself proud every week about the level of exercise I do because it is really hard to run every other day, EVERY SINGLE WEEK.

Thinking of adding regular exercise in your life? Why not have a read of the blogs I have written about it – find them here and here I cannot recommend it enough.

2-3 5km runs EVERY week

Karrimors on…

Read more

I buy a lot of books but they just mount up by the side of my bed! I read on holiday but that’s about it, so this year I am going to try to read a book a month. I am going to read them at night and allow myself the time to do so. I also think it will help me wind down before sleeping which can sometimes be hard for me.

Keep on exploring

I love to travel particularly with my fiancé Russ. Last year we visited Venice as a couple and Majorca as a family as well as taking some great days out in the UK and I want to make sure we achieve that again this year as it makes us so happy. I’d better start saving again as we all know sadly holidays aren’t cheap!

Venice
Copenhagen
Budapest

Be kinder to myself

Now this one is hard. I am my own biggest critic and this year I want to try to be kinder to myself. Self care will be key to this – I need to give myself permission to relax and spoil myself whether it is a pamper session, allowing myself some chocolate or just having a lazy Sunday.

Work hard, Play Hard, Love hard

I am very lucky. I have a partner I adore (and he feels the same thankfully), a beautiful family of loving, healthy, beautiful boys, a nice home and most recently, a job I love. In 2019 I am going to make sure I remember to be thankful for all these things and never take them for granted, as well as working hard to make sure things stays that way. I want to excel at work, be the best girlfriend and mum I can and have fun as I go along.

My soulmate xxx
My beautiful boys

What are your plans for 2019? Are you going to push yourself harder or just enjoy the ride? Whatever you choose enjoy and be part of 2019 – we are never going to get this year again!!!

No Tricks only Treats this Halloween

Halloween these days is a time for treats and this Halloween I treated Reuben to a very special afternoon tea…

This treat tea is a mix of savoury and sweet and is filling enough to be served as a meal. I added some Halloween decorations and confetti to create a really spooky look.

decorations from Poundland

As well as a sandwich (a gingerbread man cutter was used to make it body shaped), a selection of fruit and carrot/celery sticks and hummus, a selection of sweet treats was served too.

An oreo topped spider cupcake….

Spiderweb cupcake wrap from eBay

A lime jelly in a jar…

Mini jars from Wilkinsons

Homemade lemonade (coloured with natural orange colouring)…

Mason jar glass from Wilkinsons

A vampire chocolate chip cookie…

A chocolate brownie severed finger…

If you wanted to re-create this tea, much of it can be created with existing items. If you’re not much of a baker, an iced cupcake can have an Oreo cookie added to the top with legs make from chilled piped chocolate, Matchmakers or coloured icing. The Vampire cookie can be created with a shop bought white chocolate cookie, some pink icing, mini marshmallows and a jelly strawberry or icing tongue. The lime jelly can be made spooky with some cake decoration eyes (available from the baking aisle – these ones are from Cake Decor) which are also used on the spider cupcake. The brownie finger is the most complicated, made from a stick of chocolate sponge or brownie covered in royal icing and coloured with some natural food colouring.

As you can see, it all went down rather well!

With my son just turned 12, I know my time of being able to have this kind of fun is running out but I’m loving still being able to share these moments with him. Now anyone got any ideas for teenagers at Halloween? Now that IS scary!!!!

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With thanks to Clarrys Restaurant.

Another way to say thank you with Cadburys Roses

On Saturday I had the chance to have the most lovely experience in London thanks to Cadbury’s Roses.

On a quiet street at the back of Oxford Street just opposite Soho Square, this gorgeous pop-up shop was hiding, waiting to share its beautiful thank-you with anyone who happened to pop in.

It looked absolutely adorable, from its 3D flowery signage right down to the vintage style yellow bike outside.

Once inside it got even better…

Set up like a high end florist, each classic Roses flavour had its own hand-made paper rose with the chocolate hidden inside surrounded by foil petals. I’m a Strawberry Cream and County Fudge kinda girl…what are your favourites?

The idea was you could pick one flower, write a thank you note to someone special and then take it away for free to gift to the person you wanted to say thank you to.

The pop up shop was created by GoLin PR Agency and Bearded Kitten Events with 7000 hand-made flowers created by set designer Tamara D’Silva and her team and was really lovely – a chocolate florist shop…it doesn’t get much cuter than that! As a creative, I love seeing a concept delivered really well and the shop was utter event/pop up perfection! I believe its due to go on tour around the UK so keep your eyes peeled for it in your city!

I had my son Reuben with me and he wanted to say his ‘thank you’ to me. I saw him chatting to the lovely ladies running the shop and the next thing I knew he had a huge bouquet in his arms for me! See the video below…

And this was his message to me…*heart almost bursts with love*. What a wonderful treat.

I think its fair to say I was very pleased with my bouquet of chocolate Roses (one of every flavour no less!). I mean, look at how I’m looking at them

Cadburys Roses Thanks a Bunch Another Way to Say Thank you 80th chocolate pop up event

Cadburys Roses Thanks a Bunch Another Way to Say Thank you 80th chocolate pop up event

Cadburys Roses Thanks a Bunch Another Way to Say Thank you 80th chocolate pop up event

The real reason for all this loveliness? Well that’s lovely too –  Cadbury’s have created a limited edition Roses tin to mark the chocolates 80th anniversary. Can you believe Roses have been around for 80 years? The retro vintage design tins feature a variety of coloured roses surrounded by ribbon-style banners against the traditional ‘Cadbury Roses Blue’ background. The design is really nostalgic and reminds me of a Nana’s sewing tin! On that note, sustainability has also played a key role in the decision to opt for metal packaging for the once-in-a-lifetime celebration tins. Its definitely not something you’d ever throw away – I mean, look how pretty it is…

Find your limited edition 800g tin exclusively in Tesco now! Its RRP is £9.99 although it was just £8.00 when I checked while writing this blog post. A total bargain I say!

And thank you to Cadburys for making me feel so happy and giving my wonderful son the opportunity to say thank you to me! If you’d like to say thank to someone too, I think the vintage tin would be a lovely way to say thank you to someone special this winter.

What we did in the Summer Holidays…

So the summer holidays are over.

Reuben started back at school last Wednesday and now we are all back in the busy routine of school runs, working days, clubs and play.

I have to say I have genuinely enjoyed the last 6 weeks. Although a struggle at times to manage childcare while working in marketing part-time and running an online vintage shop, the more laid-back vibe and opportunities to do new things together has been wonderful.

I, like many, dont have tons of spare cash to throw around so the summer holidays are always a mix of days out and either free activities or time at home.  So in todays blog I thought I’d share some of the things we got up to big and small… hopefully making memories that will last for years to come.

Bletchley Park

This hidden gem on the outskirts of Milton Keynes is a great place to really experience the lives of the WW2 codebreakers (led by Alan Turing – who you may of seen immortalised in the Benedict Cumberbatch film The Imitation Game). Theres lots of information, exhibits and a replica of the Bombe, one of the first computers as well as an original German Enigma machine.  The grounds and house are lovely with plenty of spots for picnics and fun, plus theres a cafe and restaurant too.  A great historical visit that has something to interest everyone.





The National Museum of Computing

Next to Bletchley Park is the museum of computing and with two computer/gaming crazed 9 years olds we couldnt not visit!  The museum holds all types of computing devices and the boys marvelled at the huge old computers from the 1960s as well as interacting with robots, retro consoles and even some virtual reality. There were lots of passionate helpers on hand to explain things and were very patient with our children helping them program, play and generally interact with the exhibits.



Cinema – Finding Dory

OK, its kinda a no-brainer but the cinema was a great day out for all of us and we made sure to fit in some ice cream afterwards!  Finding Dory was a great film that all our children enjoyed (with the age difference this can be hard) and had a beautiful message.



Roald Dahl Museum

What a delight this place is. Small but perfectly formed, it is located in Buckinghamshire where Dahl lived and shares his childhood, all his wonderful work, insights on his process (he ate 3/4 bars of chocolate a day, wrote during strict working sessions and never cleaned his writing hut) and his ongoing legacy. Theres lots of interactive displays, memorabilia, storytelling and talks and a lovely little tea room if you fancy a slice of cake.  It is great for school aged children as they are already familar with much of his writing and all visitors are given a cute pad and pencil to write down their ideas just as Dahl did.


The Science Museum

I’d not been to the Science Museum since I was a child and I was pleasantly surprised to see it had changed alot since then. Its free to get in, theres lots to see and do and kids eat free in the restaurant when you order and adult meal. However for all the REALLY cool stuff you do have to pay – the IMAX cinema, 4D experiences and flight simulators add up £ wise, but make for a cool techy day out…and if you travel by train you can get 2for1 vouchers which bought the cost down a lot.  Great for inquisitive minds, young and old, and don’t get me started on the amazing gift  shop…




Theme Parks

We are a thrill-seeking family so summer wouldnt be summer without a trip to a theme park. We visited both Alton Towers and Thorpe Park this summer and had a blast!  Look for 2for1 vouchers and online codes to make it more affordable and think about bringing a picnic lunch. We usually purchase the refillable drinks bottles too and refill throughout the day via the Hydration Stations.  Now our 9yr old’s are taller we have a lot more rides to go on so keeping hydrated is important!

thorpe park and alton towers


Swimming

The pool, the garden, who cares?!? If its hot get wet!  Our local pool does lots of kid friendly swim sessions and we bought a bigger paddling pool last year and I was determined we would get good use out of it!  Again quick and easy, but very fun.




Trampoline Park

This was a new experience for us as a family and boy it was fun! Be warned though it is EXHAUSTING!  Our local trampoline park has a ‘Total Wipeout’ machine, dodgeball and basketball areas and lots of high points to jump off of! We will definitely be visiting again.




Frappincino Dates

A simple quick thing to do but it feels special. I love having a Starbucks ‘date’ with my 9 year old and it makes him feel very grown up. He knows its a treat (those drinks are yummy but calorific) and we get some sweet one on one time.



Days at the Seaside

Living in Kent we have quite the pick of the seaside towns. Margate, Whitstable, Broadstairs and Herne Bay are all great to visit and filled with everything you would expect. We walked the pier, played in the amusements (2p machines a speciality), ate chips and swam in the sea. Just perfect.


And of course there were plenty of quieter days at home. This year I made sure our boys didn’t expect to do something everyday and they made use of the many toys and books they have as well as visiting our local play park and spending time with other family members. All in all I think we found a good balance.

Find more photos via my Instagram – follow all the photographic fun and games here.

Easter Bank Holiday Weekend Inspiration

Happy Easter! What ever your personal beliefs, this weekend in the UK is a double bank holiday weekend for most of us that we can spend with our families, hopefully seeing some sunshine, having fun and treating ourselves to lots of naughty food.  I’m a great believer in seizing any free time I have and making the most of it while creating some great memories at the same time. However that is easier said than done – in todays blog I share some things I do to acheive just that. 

Start the day right

Make a healthy breakfast exciting using boiled eggs (well it is Easter!) and some carefully chosen egg cups – I love this stylish cutie by Buddy and Bear or try Etsy or NotOntheHighStreet.com for similar contemporary designs. For a more eclectic look, seek out vintage ones and create a mismatched set.

 photo Buddy and Bear via EtsyUK 

Or maybe choose not so healthy… Creme egg stacked pancakes, you say? Easy to make (one egg per stack was enough sweetness for us) and very, very indulgent.  Yes it’s laden with calories but for one day over Easter it makes an amazing treat! 

Dress for it     

Spring means we can start dressing in pastels and cute prints again so lets embrace it. Spend Easter digging out some of your summer clothing and styling them up to feel and look great.  I love being able to get out of dark jumpers and boots and embrace something more joyful! Fingers crossed the sun shines too…        

Get crafty

More free time means more time for activities! I do like a project with the kids – for Roald Dahl day Reuben and I made this Mr Twit beard as seen below and this Easter I want to make some of these amazing giant origami rabbits that I saw on the wonderful Oh Happy Day blog. Find the tutorial here  Photo via Oh Happy Day

Have an egg and spoon race

Want to get the kids off their games consoles/TV’s and out into the fresh air? An egg and spoon race is easy to do and you dont need to buy anything. We use plastic toy eggs (find race sets in most Easter seasonal aisles) but you can easily use chocolate or hard boiled versions instead.  On your marks, get set, GO!!!

 

Make and bake

If the weathers not so good, another great activity is to bake cakes or make some other special treats to share. We recently made homemade Lemonade as a family (à la Diary of a Wimpy kid) which the boys loved doing and often make cakes over Easter (see our 4yr olds nursery-made offering from this week below). This year we’ve made Spring themed fairy cakes together and I’m sure they will all get gobbled up soon. 

   

  
 

Go for a special day out 

Ok, it can be expensive to go on big days out but across the two weeks of the school Easter holiday we always try and fit one day trip in. Look for 2 for 1 offers, discount codes or free events – whether its to a theme park, zoo or just the beach or play area its perfect for making those special memories. And lets be honest – who doesn’t want to act like a kid again for the day?!?

     Do an Easter Egg Hunt

Easter wouldn’t be Easter without chocolate eggs but I do like my kids to work for them! Last year we hid them throughout the house and garden and our three boys had to follow clues to track them down…they loved it! We will do the same this Sunday, as well as give them a couple of their favourite chocolate bar eggs too.

 
Do some exercise

After all that indulgence some hard work is required to balance all those calories out…I know it’s boring but if you eat lots of chocolate and treats you have to exercise. As someone whos lost a lot of weight and now exercises regularly I will make sure, holiday or not, I’ll run my usual 5k run. As well as meaning you dont put on weight its great to de-stress, have some ‘me-time’ and clear your head and for me, Spring is THE best season to run in.

  
 

So make the most of those extra days of fun with the people you care for the most and make this Easter one to remember!

All photos via my Instagram unless otherwise stated. Follow me on Instagram for lots more here.

The thing I fell in love with this week

Lego mini-figure head storage: large £16.99, small £9.99 – Amazon (plus other retailers)Our house is Lego mad, its a fact, and I’ve been after some storage for it all for quite some time now. Luckily Father Christmas delivered my boys just the thing (thanks Amazon wish list!) and it is as stylish as it is practical! image via my Pinterest

I love a great piece of design and these heads are iconic. They also do a female version, an extra large shake and sorter, a skeleton and a pumpkin. 

We now have 4 which will look great displayed within the white shelves in the boys bedroom when I redecorate (our house is still a work in progress) and I think we might get a couple of the oversized brick boxes as well, as although the heads hold quite a lot, we have a huge amount of Lego and its growing!   And if nothing else they make a great photo opportunity! You just can’t help but be won over by them…  

Creating Christmas in a childs bedroom

They say Christmas is for kids, and I always like to make sure my childrens bedrooms feel festive too. In todays blog see my top 5 tricks to do Christmas in a fun and child friendly way, easily and cheaply…and best of all your kids will love it!

‘Days till Christmas’ countdown –

This is a great way to stop those ‘how many days…” questions you get pretty much every day of December. I like using a very cute, child friendly one and then have it displayed in their bedroom. Cute decoration groupings –

In the rest of my home my decorations have to be ultra stylish, but in the kids rooms? Anything goes! I let them pick ones they like then display in groups amongst their usual toys.  These were all bought in our local pound shop! Christmas duvet covers – 

This is a simple way to add Christmas cheer to their beds and there’s some lovely designs out there starting at around £9.99. We bought ours from Dunelm Mill and bought a new one this year for our 8 year old for £12.00 – find it here.Bunting – 

A great way to add decoration to the ceiling or on higher pieces of furniture. If bunting isn’t your style, making paper chains is a cheap and extremely effective solution too.
Festive soft toys – 

For smaller children a soft toy or two can really add a cute Christmas touch to their bedroom or nursery. Remember normal Christmas decorations could be dangerous for any child under 3 years, so keep safe by adding cute plush toys like the one below.I hope this gives you some inspiration to add some decorations upstairs in your home as well this year!

See my blog on advent calendars here.

Advent Calendars with style

So, today it is the 1st of December (how did that happen?!?) and if you have kids (or are a kid a heart) its time to put out your advent calendar. The question is, what do you do to count down the days of December? 

A few years back I decided that I (and my stylish home) could no longer live with the cardboard calendars filled with cheap chocolate that come covered in advertising for the latest TV show or movie. Plus when you have three children in the house under 10, you end up with three Peppa Pig/Spiderman/ Star Wars/Disney etc ones dotted around. Also just to make it a bit more complicated we are a ‘blended family’ so at different times we have different amounts of children living with us – the idea of having uneaten chocolate building up and calendars three or four days behind didn’t feel festive at all, just slightly depressing.

So what to do? I have seen some lovely ideas via Etsy of bespoke handmade creations – here are some of my favourites…

Envelope advent calendar by MummyPuddleduck  buy here

Box tree advent calendar by DorsetHodgepodge buy here

Fabric pocket bunting advent calendar by SewSweetViolet  buy here

Paper bag kit advent calendar by PeachBlossomUK 

buy here

All lovely reusable and flexible solutions.

I happened to be in Ikea when I chanced upon our stylish solution – a 3D cardboard calendar in a Scandinavian style design with 24 drawers that could be filled with whatever (and most importantly whatever amount) of sweets we wanted! We decided to fill it with milk and white Christmas chocolate coins but you could as easily add small toys, messages or small amounts of money. And best of all its completely recyclable and something we can bring out every year as a family tradition. I love that.
  The kids are happy, my partner is happy and I am happy. I call that a win!

Why not try something new this December and create a family tradition of your own?  Look out for more blogs this month on how I like to do Christmas.

The thing I fell in love with this week

Iwako Japanese rubber sets – £6.75 Paperchase  

Rubbers…boring huh?  Well not in Japan. In Japan they are AMAZING!!!

You know sometimes you don’t need something but you just really want it? Well this was one of those times. Iwako erasers are unbelievable in their detail and can be collected singularly or in sets. They come in every variation you can imagine and if you like a quirky bit of design (and maybe are a child of the 80s when rubber collecting was big) you’ll love them.    
I now have the fast food set sitting on my desk…on its own tray! They are sort of too beautiful to use! I’m a total nerd I know…

IMG_7861

Look out for my blog next Saturday on what else I’ve fallen in love with.