Saturday, July 30, 2016

Our Travel Plans & 21 Travel Hacks You Need To Know This Summer ♥

It's now less than two weeks until we're going on our first holiday as a family of four and I have to admit, although I'm excited about going abroad for the first time with our two boys in tow, I feel very unprepared!

I'm going to have to start packing soon because I know I'll end up forgetting something - I always seem to forget somethings these days, usually a blanket for Beau, which means I end up buying him another blanket when we're out and about (I love baby blankets so I'm not complaining!).

We're going to the Costa del Sol in Spain, to a place I holidayed at with my own family back in the early naughties, so it's lovely to know that I'll be making new memories there with my own family - I accidentally hit my little brother in the face with a golf club during a game of mini golf during my last visit so hopefully this time it'll all be accident free! We all laugh about it now but I remember my mother being very distressed at the time!

We're flying with Ryanair and I'm going to pre-book our seats so that we have the entire row and are able to sit together, because my worst nightmare would be having to sit apart from each other, like this fellow blogger and her family had to. This is something which I'm going to do tonight in fact so that I don't forget!

I also need to decide what buggy we're going to take for Beau, we use a Quinny with him on a daily basis but it comes in two parts and although I've heard that you can by a 'buggy bag' to check your buggy in to the plane, I'm not sure I'll have the time to go and get one. I might end up bringing our Cosatto Supa Firebird (reviewed here) which has the extendable sun shade - although I don't know if I'm too happy about putting my two month old in a buggy already, even if it does lie completely flat. If you've been on holiday with a newborn what buggy did you take?

I'm going to get packing next week and will be using some of the travel hacks below to make sure that I'm getting as much space from our cases as possible because I know we'll have a lot with the boys. I'll be rolling things up, packing things in our shoes, etc. and trying to make sure that I don't forget any of the essentials.

My favourite hack from the ones shown below in the infographic by Hassle.com is taking an empty water bottle through security and filling it up in the departures lounge. I always end up spending an obscene amount of money in the airport shop on (over-priced) drinks for the plane and it never even crossed by mind before to take an empty water bottle so I'm definitely doing that now.

travel-hacks (2)
Are you and yours going on holiday this year? Will you be using any of the 21 travel hacks shown above?

Friday, July 29, 2016

My 7 Top Money Saving Tips ♥

These days, saving money is something that I'm becoming really good at. I've always been quite thrifty but I've never managed to save much, but now that I'm a mother of two, saving is something which I've had to become serious about. 
 
I have made some changes to how I spend my money and have put plans into effect to help me be a better saver. I have learned to stop wasting money on unnecessary items or bills (although resisting gorgeous clothes for the boys is still something I struggle with!) Below are my seven top money saving tips, all of which I'm following in order to save my money and set myself and my family up for the future.

1. Use discount vouchers and codes to reduce the cost of what you want/need to buy

When shopping online I always look up discount codes for websites before making a purchase because if one is available then I'd rather use it and not have to pay full price for something. There have been many times when I've looked for a code on a whim and found one, so you never know when there's a discount to be had - always look! One site I use for codes and savings offers is Promo Vouchers - they have offers available for lots of well known sites and high-streets shops including John Lewis, Boots, etc. They also have an app available for checking offers when on the go.

I purchase from Etsy a lot too (I can never resist the vintage loveliness on there) and always check the shop bio for any discount codes as sellers usually pop one up to clear stock.

2. Manage your money sensibly and budget, budget, budget!
This is something which a lot of people struggle with and I'm one of them. I always feel so in over my head when people talk about different bank account options, interest rates, etc. but once you sit down and look into them it's actually not that complicated.

Setting up a savings account and having a direct debit taken from your current account for a portion of your wages to go into it every week is a great way of saving up for those rainy days aand big purchases in life. Regular saving like this is also a positive for you if you go about getting a mortgage. We've just begun saving for our mortgage and it's great to see the pot building up and being one step closer to the dream of owning our own house.

Budgeting for everything is a great way of ensuring that you don't overspend, therefore saving money and not spending money allocated for other things. Nevertheless, there will be times in life when an unexpected bill or situation crops up that you may not have the money for right away or available in your savings and it can be stressful - we've had one of these moments this week with Jacek's car breaking down and now we've decided to just get a new one because the cost of repairing would be too much.

Availing of a loan from a reputable lender such as UK Credit can be a good way of getting the money you need and as long as you budget in the repayments into your finances there should be no problem paying it back. They offer guarantor loans for both homeowners and tenants and I've actually had to take a loan such as this in the past and I was able to pay back the loan before time. However, I would only ever consider taking out a loan if you really are in need of it and are one-hundred per cent sure that you can manage the repayments. UK Credit also have a great blog called Money Life, where you will find, in their own words "stories, musings and tidbits about the weird and wonderful world of money".

3. Be more energy efficient
As a family, we are probably overly conscious of how much electricity we use in our house due to Jacek having a bit of a thing about having too many things on at once. You can save a lot of money on my monthly electricity bills by simply taking more care about what appliances and lights you're using at one time. I no longer use the big lights in our house unless I really have to, the table lamp gives sufficient light. I unplug and switch off sockets when I am done using them and I try not to have the television on whilst I'm on the laptop because I know I can't focus on both at once. These simple changes have really helped keep our energy bills down and it's great to know we're being energy efficient too.

4. Follow a saving money plan and stick to it
This year I am doing the 52-week money saving challenge (or at least I'm trying to!) and although it can be hard to stick to it when I have so many outgoings, I am determined to put away money each week to save up for trips that Jacek and I want to take next year. Having a plan to follow can really help to focus on what you need to save every week and it's great to tick off the weeks as they go by and see your saving stash getting larger each week. If the 52-week money saving challenge isn't for you there are other templates which you could follow to be found on Pinterest.

5. Set up a savings account and contribute to it weekly/monthly
I used to never have a savings account and I'm kicking myself about this because I know that if I had had one sooner I would have actually contributed to it and would have had a bit saved up by now. Last month I opened credit union accounts for my boys and I and plan on contributing to them on a month basis. It was actually a bit of a thrill depositing money into the accounts and seeing the savings figure on our books - money that I know I won't touch because it's not readily available. I've already begun thinking about how much I'll be depositing into the accounts this month and I know it'll be great seeing the savings stack up - especially the boys ones as I don't plan on letting them touch those savings until they're eighteen.

6. Sell unwanted/unused items
This is something I've been doing the past few months to try and save up for some things which I've been wanting and needing for some time now. I've begun selling the clothes Beau has already outgrown, as well as some things we never used and I've already made €100. I'll be honest, it can be hard letting things go, I thought long and hard about selling the Peter Rabbit photo prop I featured him in for his one month old photos, but he hated wearing it so what was the point in holding onto something that will never be used again? Seeing the money build up to put towards things I really want has been great - as has seeing the house get a decluttering too.

7. If you need to shop, shop in the sales
This is a relatively easy way to save money and if I'm honest, I usually wait until there's a sale to buy something as I hate paying full price for things. Some places seem to have a permanent sale on, particularly Debenhams and Mothercare, and I always pick up clothes for the boys in the sale. I've even seen some of my fellow bloggers shop in the recent sales for Christmas gifts and just this week I purchased some of Beau's Christmas gifts as they were discounted on Amazon - being super organised and saving savvy this year. 
*This is a collaborate post.

Date Nights | A Guide To Planning A Great Romantic Evening ♥

Whether you’ve been with your other half for just a couple of months or for many years, it’s likely you always look forward to your next date night. After all, if you're busy parents like myself and my other half, it may be your only weekly or monthly (the latter in our case) child-free night and one where you can do what you want to do - even if you do end up talking about the kids a lot (always happens to us!). Planning the perfect evening out with your partner can be quite tricky though - the biggest obstacle being actually trying to allocate a night for a date night - so if you’re stuck for some date inspiration the ideas below may give you some to plan a great romantic evening with the one you love.

Make a dinner reservation
Since there’s nothing quite as romantic as a scrumptious, candle-lit dinner, make sure you book a table at your favourite eatery for your next date night. Sitting opposite your loved one in a calm, serene setting could be just what you’ve been yearning for, especially if a typical meal at home involves you rustling up a meal for your little ones (who probably won't appreciate or eat your efforts!) followed by cleaning up the mess. By making a dinner reservation, you can sit back and relax as you’re wined and dined into the evening.

You may have a preferred spot that you’d like to visit. However, if you’re open to trying something new, why not go somewhere you’ve never been before? Instead of sticking to your usual local hangouts, you may find that by venturing further afield, you can discover a wide selection of restaurants to choose from. For example, if you’re from Liverpool or the surrounding area, you could travel into the city centre and check out the range of restaurants located at Liverpool One. Whether you fancy a burger, a bowl of pasta or some spicy fajitas, you’ll be spoilt for choice.

Do something fun
Aside from chowing down on some delicious grub, why not make the most of your evening with your other half and do something fun? There are a whole host of activities you can take part in late into the evening, so instead of restricting your evening to just dinner, why not just keep going? For example, you could take to the lanes at your local arcade for a game of bowling, or you could schedule in a visit to the cinema to watch the latest flick. If you’re able to plan your date night in advance, you could even get tickets to see a play or concert - Jacek and I love going to gigs so anytime the chance crops up to see one of our favourite bands we're there!

Kick back and relax
Especially if you’re a busy parent, getting the chance to go out with your other half may be an opportunity that doesn’t come up often. You may even feel a slight twinge of guilt at the thought of leaving your kids behind. However, if your little ones are being taken care of for the evening by a friend or relative, there’s no reason why you can’t kick back and relax. Time alone with your significant other is a crucial part of a healthy, happy relationship, so make sure you don’t feel bad for taking an evening off every once in a while to reconnect. Jacek and I recently had a night away at Killashee Hotel and Spa and had a lovely, relaxing time in their hydrotherapy suite - something I'd highly recommend for a couple in need of relaxation!

If you're looking for something completely different, fun and romantic to a normal date night, I've shared a list of twenty fun and alternative date night ideas on the blog before, which you can read here.

Regardless of what you get up to on your next date night, you’re guaranteed to have a great time if you’ve got your partner in tow. Afterall, they're not just the ones we love but our best friends too and you can never not have a laugh with your bestie.

Healthy Homemade Snacks For When The Urge For Sugar Is Strong ♥


Between the early nights, the interrupted sleep and the never-ending demand for attention, it’s no surprise that we all experience the odd craving (or 2…3…you get my point). By now, we all know the dangerous effect that sugar can have on our bodies and that so many of the ‘healthy’ snacks that are pre-packaged are so full of artificial sweeteners, additives and preservatives that they are usually far from any resembling healthy!

When you are running a family, or having rings run around YOU by your family you need to have some pretty exceptional energy levels to keep up! So creating some simple homemade snacks that will give you the sweet hit you need without the unavoidable guilt afterwards. It also gives you peace of mind that they aren’t going to result in a hyper child - if you are gracious enough to share them with your little love of course!
Talking to children about the foods that they are eating and creating an awareness about fresh and wholesome food will set them up to make smarter choices as they grow older and start to make choices for themselves. You don’t have to be the next Ella Woodward (aka Deliously Ella) to create these nutritional snacks, just a bit of time and some simple fresh ingredients; and perhaps a little human for the all-important taste test!

Sweet Potato Crisps
Even though they are cooked in oil and smothered in salt, the UK consumes over 6 billion packets of crisps each year! This snack is not one that is contusive to long term health or even short term satisfaction and its hold almost no nutritional value.
On the other hand, the sweet potato is rich in vitamin A and super high in fibre. Thanks to its unique tastes, it lends itself to both sweet and savoury dishes, and while this recipe is savoury, you could certainly have a play with sweet flavours too.

• 2 Large (organic if possible) Sweet Potatoes
• 1-2 tablespoons coconut oil
• Teaspoon Paprika
1. Preheat the oven to 250
2. Using a vegetable peeler, thinly slice the potatoes
3. Mix all of the ingredients together with your hands (one for the children!) and makes sure all of the potato slices are covered with the oil and seasoning.
4. Lay the slices on a baking tray, lined with greaseproof paper in a single layer and bake for 90-120 minutes, turning half way through for even cooking.

There are other vegetables that you can bake in the same way – take a look at this Good Food tutorial for some inspiration.

Covered Fruit
Although it presents many benefits, fruit can be as high in sugar as some sweets, and when it comes to our 5 a day – fruit should only be 1 or 2 of the portions, the others made up by vegetables.
To make a little portion go a long way in terms of hunger stakes, you could add a coating of Greek Yoghurt. Greek Yoghurt with honey is an absolute all time favourite in our household! The positive being that it’s much lower in sugar that most adult or children’s brands (a Petit Filous has 12.1 grams of sugar per 100g!) it’s also high in protein – keeping us fuller for longer!

• Soft Fruit of your choice (strawberries, raspberries and grapes work well)
• Greek Yoghurt/Greek Yoghurt with Honey
1. I find the best way is to empty both the yoghurt and the fruit into a bowl to ensure everything is covered
2. Spoon the fruit out onto a tray lined with greaseproof paper
3. Pop into the fridge or freezer for 30 minutes to set

If you want to explore different flavours; there is always the dark chocolate classic or you could opt for a variety of nut butters such as these – why stop at peanut butter??

Flapjacks
Soft, oaty, chewy deliciousness – I challenge anyone to resist a flapjack! Filled with oats, they are high in fibre and protein as well as Vitamin b1 and Magnesium they will certainly give your energy levels a boost!
They are perfect for making with the little ones as there is no baking required. If you wanted to make the recipe even higher in the nutritional stakes then you could swap out some of the oats for puffed brown rice, puffed quinoa, pumpkin seeds or even a little chopped dried fruit. Many flapjack recipes are filled with lashings of golden syrup, treacle and butter wiping out any of the good stuff from the oats, however with a few adjustments you can create something that Jamie Oliver would be proud to serve in a school dinner!

• 2 cups of Oats
• 1-2 tablespoons coconut oil
• ¼ -1/2 cup honey (depending on consistency)
1. Line a baking dish with greaseproof paper
2. Mix all ingredients together so everything is coated in that glorious honey
3. Spoon into the dish and press down firmly with your hands so that everything is nice and compact
4. Pop into the fridge to set before slicing into bars

If you wanted to add a little extra ‘treat’ to your healthy flapjacks, you could always pick an indulgent topping to drizzle over the top!

And there you have it! Some nutritious snacks that will break neither the monetary or time bank and will leave you feeling satisfied and guilt free! Enjoy!

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Peter Rabbit Boys ♥

Today is Beatrix Potter's 150th birthday and seeing as we love everything Beatrix Potter, I decided to dress the boys up today in some outfits inspired by probably her most famous character - Peter Rabbit! And their outfits are matching - sorta.

When Beau was born, one of my friends told me that I would have so much fun dressing the boys in matching outfits and I didn't believe them... until now that is - who knew that it could be so fun to dress boys and the same! Lucky I don't have twins or I might have died from the excitement of adorable matching outfits... can you tell I'm easily pleased?

These gorgeous little outfits are handmade and are all the way from New Zealand. I found the lady who makes them by searching the Peter Rabbit hashtag on Instagram - I'm always finding the most adorable things on Instagram, not very happy times for my purse but hey ho... This lady in particular makes the most gorgeous handmade rompers and I'll be getting Beau some more of her Peter Rabbit inspired rompers soon. The shop is Amelia Lee if you fancy taking a look at her creations for yourself.

We have so many vintage Beatrix Potter outfits, some of which you can find featured here, but I love the handmade pieces too. There's something so special for me about having handmade clothes for the boys, especially when they're as lovely as these ones.

Happy Birthday Beatrix Potter!

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

The Rock of Cashel | Guide Of Ireland ♥

I'm continuing with my Guide of Ireland today as I love sharing beautiful places right here in my own country. Ireland is a very historic place, with lots of castles, abbeys, churches and forts dotted around it's lush, green landscape. One of the most historic places in Ireland, and one which Jacek and I visited again this month, is The Rock of Cashel.

The site dates back to the 12th century and considering this it's actually quite well preserved, especially it's round tower. They're currently doing maintenance on the site - something we've they've been doing for quite some years now - so there's scaffolding covering a lot of the site, which isn't very appealing to look at (or photograph!) but these sites need to be preserved for future generations.


The Rock of Cashel is situated in Co. Tipperary and is surround by lush, green fields with the town of Cashel right by it too. For me it's such a traditional little Irish town, with cottages and old buildings dotted around the place, it's quite charming really.
I just wanted to share some pictures of this very majestic and historic place for anyone who's curious about Irish history or who'd like to visit the rock for themselves one day. Jacek and I love visiting historic sites and I actually have a degree in history so places like this really fascinate me. History has always captivated me, I just find some aspects of it so completely unbelievable and I think it's that sense of awe that keeps me wanting to learn more about the past.
Walking around The Rock of Cashel you begin to think about the people who walked around and who used the building all those years ago when it was first built. How different their lives were and you wonder what they were like. It's quite a surreal place in that sense and I'd definitely recommend a visit if you're interested in Irish history. I've been there twice now and Jacek has been their numerous times and it still hasn't gotten old for us - pardon the pun!

Before we continued on the long drive back home to Cork we stopped by this beautiful little cafe 'Granny's Kitchen' for a coffee and some homemade Madeira cake. The cafe is so kitsch with lots of different notes of currency on the wall and little knick-knacks dotted around the place. It really does have the atmosphere of being an old Irish Nana's house. I love all the flowers at the side of the little lane too overlooking the Irish countryside, it's just such a pretty place.

This little cottage was also on the lane and I was quite taken with it, it's got such a charm. Look at the little horseshoe on the door for luck and the window boxes , isn't it just lovely?

To enter The Rock of Cashel it's €7 for adults and €3 for children and students. I do think that children should be free but hey ho, if the money is going towards the conservation of the site then I personally don't mind paying for my little ones to see it.


Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Easy Ways To Grow Your Business Online (And Offline) ♥

When you’re looking to expand your customer base and your market reach, you have literally thousands of tricks at your disposal. Some are aimed at the long game and some take more than a smidgen of techy know-how and expertise to use properly. Others, however, are quite easy and user-friendly, so here, in no particular order, are eight of the most effective ways to get your name out there. I use a lot of these in relation to growing my blog so I can definitely vouch for how well they work when used correctly.

Use free embeds and widgets on your website
Dead simple, this! By embedding a tool, button or widget on your site, your visitors can share your content with their friends on social media, save and like your pages for later perusal (don’t forget, folk are always on the move and it’s easy to lose track of the content you want to look at). Use a wide variety of embeddables, like video, audio, live feeds and so on.

Bring your visitors on board
If you have a lot of fans and likers, ask them to contribute ideas, content, photos and even short videos. They’ll want their friends to see their handiwork, of course, so these chums will end up seeing you.


Have contests and competitions
These are brilliant ways for getting your brand out there. Customers and participants will do half of your marketing for you as they’ll mention the contest, especially if they win! If you have a big event coming up – opening a new office, or a milestone business birthday, then a generous giveaway competition is in order!


Perform the occasional survey
Doing surveys helps you to understand your audience and customer base more and it also makes your customers view you as an authority in the industry. It also gives them a say in how you do things, especially if you listen to and act visibly on the feedback. 


Never stop SEO-ing
You can never do enough SEO, especially as it’s always changing! Research your customer base – what do they do while on your site, where do they go when they leave? Always be looking at and tweaking your keywords. 


Use your landing page
Don’t focus just on your homepage – your landing page is part of your online real estate and it should be working for you too. Grab people’s attention, make them fill out some details or enter a prize draw, or sign up for emails – something to keep them on the page so your chances of conversion go up.


Watch the competition
You don’t exist in a bubble, so look at what your rivals are doing and see how you can do it better. You can also learn from their mistakes without having to make them yourself, which is always a bonus!


In real life, now…
Reach out to your physical community in some way – have a happy hour, give 10% of your profits to a local homeless shelter, donate leftover food if you’re a cafe, or sponsor a school footie team. There’s so many ways to raise your profile without breaking a sweat.



Simple Ways To Keep Children Entertained On Holiday ♥

So, you’ve booked your summer holiday. Dreams of a white sandy beach, the sea gently lapping at your feet, the sun beaming down, and a gin and tonic in hand are a very welcome thought. Except, you’ve got the little ones to entertain too. Not quite as relaxing as you first thought.

But take a moment to think of it from their point of view. They’re in a new country, away from their everyday comforts and whilst a world of adventure awaits, it can be a bit daunting. Especially when all they want is their favourite toy. Which incidentally is currently residing on their bedroom floor at home. 

Fear not though, as this little guide should help you to keep cries of ‘but, I’m bored’ at bay and leave everyone with a holiday full of happy memories. 


Create a Reading Challenge
If there’s one thing we as adults love doing on holiday then devouring a good book is top of the list. So get them in on the act too and set up a reading challenge for them on holiday. Reading is one of the best ways to get little minds thinking creatively and aiding their literacy skills too. 


Make a visit to your local library before your trip. Charity shops are also a great place to pick up books for less than a £1. Harry Potter is always a winner, and for young adults the John Green novels prove particularly popular. If they don’t want to read then use an audio book app such as Audible instead.


Make a Holiday Diary
Remember when you were younger and you’d always make a holiday scrapbook or diary to treasure all those tickets, photos and trinkets you gathered on your travels? Well why not get your littles ones to make one as they go along on holiday. You can read more about Tyler Lee's first ever holiday journal here.


Take a plain notebook and add in sections by day or activity you are planning on doing. Then get them to fill it in each day with the things they ate and any activities they did. You could also get them to draw in pictures of their surroundings too. If you’re stuck for inspiration these ideas should help.


Be Creative
If your idea of getting creative at home involves all of the paint, glue, card and glitter you can get your hands on then it’s probably best to avoid packing up your kit and decamping it to the beach. The sand is enough mess to deal with after all! 


Adult colouring books may be all the rage, but it was the kids who loved them first of all. Grab a some colouring and puzzle books, and a pack of pencils and keep to hand when the boredom monster strikes. 


If In Doubt…iPad
There are times when only the iPad can solve the mother of all tantrums. Whether they want to curl up in the shade watching their favourite TV show for the zillionth time or play on the latest game craze to be sweeping the country - Pokémon Go I’m talking about you.


But if your iPad is liable to be getting a lot of usage, then don’t forget to pack in a power bank charger like this one. There’s nothing worse than your tech saviour dying in your time of need and we'd definitely be lost without ours, it'll be going into my handbag for the plane for sure!


Hopefully these ideas have made you feel that entertaining your children on holiday can be a lot simpler than you first thought.


Monday, July 25, 2016

Thank Heaven For Little Boys ♥

We recently had Beau christened and I just wanted to share some of my favourite pictures of him in his beautiful gown. I don't think it's any secret that I love vintage clothing and this gown is definitely the most special vintage piece of clothing I've ever dressed my boys in.

This christening gown was made from my mother's wedding dress from 1988 and was made for me for my own christening twenty-six years ago. I love the fact that I wore this, as did my brother and now my two boys and I think Beau looked simply angelic in it on his special day.

The little details on the gown make is something truly special. It's got little lace embellishments, ribbons and a big bow detail on the back, it's so beautiful.

I took these photos of Beau myself on the morning of his christening. I'm really trying to get back into my photography - with life being so busy at the moment it's been hard to get out and about with the camera with two boys in tow - and Beau is the perfect little muse for me at the moment, he's so easy to photograph.

I think he looks like a little doll. As the lovely, kind old lady in the hospital called him after he was born - a little dolly dowse. Jacek and I both looked at each other and laughed when she said that because she didn't even know about the blog when she said it.

I feel so blessed to have to handsome, loving and wonderful sons. Thank Heaven for little boys.


Friday, July 22, 2016

My Love Of Nature ♥

It's no secret that I love flowers, being outside and being surrounded by nature. It seems the older I get, the more I enjoy spending time outside and I particularly love photographing flowers - I can never resist stopping to snap a picture of a pretty bloom. I think it's so important to get some fresh air every day, especially for the little ones and as I'm now a mother of two, having a lovely garden space for the little ones to enjoy and getting them to love nature just as much as I do is something that's very important to me.

I've loved nature ever since I was a child and was always adamant that I would one day live in a cottage in the countryside, with a lovely garden full of wild flowers and ivy growing up the wall. I haven't gotten my dream cottage yet but I still hold that love for wild flowers and if I'm ever out in the car or for a walk, I can't help flower spotting and remembering where the most beautiful ones are so I can go back and photograph them - I must have thousands of pictures of wild roses but I can never help taking some more. I even began a new blog, Fawns and Fables, to share all my nature photography. I also have an Instagram to go with this too which is full of my flower captures.

I like gardens with a bit of chaos to them and love seeing a carpet of wild flowers with splashes of different colours in flowerbeds is just awe-inspiring to me. My dream garden would have lots of poppies, giant daisies, lavender, crocuses, daffodils and hyacinths, all of which make for perfect photo opportunities as well as being pretty to look at. I think this is why I love meadows too, so many beautiful wildflowers in one place and they always make the perfect backdrop for photos.

I'd really love to begin gardening more and creating some nature of my own. It's been on my 'to-do' list to plant some window boxes, pots outside the front door and a hanging basket ever since we moved to our house over three years ago, yet I still haven't gotten round to it, disgraceful really.

If we ever did move to our cottage in the country though I could totally envision myself being one of those women with the big straw hats, who has all the gardening tools - these shabby chic ones would be perfect for me, with her gardening clothes - such as the workwear from Engelbert Strauss, lovingly tending to her garden and then being able to photograph all the pretty blooms - a girl can dream, right?

I'd really love a seating area in my garden, with potted plants in my pastel coloured pots and some hanging bird feeders would be lovely too, after all, it's no use loving nature if you don't look after the wildlife and I love the ones I found not long ago that resemble teacups and teapots, they're very sweet and so whimsical, perfect for a cottage inspired garden. It'd be the perfect place to sit outside and just enjoy some fresh air. Also, anytime I'm out in the garden butterflies flutter by and they're another part of nature that I love capturing on camera.

For now we'll have to enjoy the delights of my parents garden, which is pictured above. Isn't it beautiful? All of those purple flowers make for a lot of butterflies in the summer and I think it's this garden that sparked my love of flowers. I'll keep loving the nature around me though, I'm always looking for new places to explore, new flowers to discover and new moments to capture in the great outdoors. I just hope my boys will love nature just as much as I do. A family of nature lovers, that's my dream.

Do you love nature too?

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

aden+anais | Bambi Disney Baby Dream Blanket Review & Giveaway ♥

One of our favourite brands and one we've featured on the blog before, aden+anais, are celebrating their 10th anniversary, and to commemorate the occasion they've teamed up with Disney Baby to produce the most beautiful and whimsical collection of classic Disney inspired dream blankets, muslin swaddles and squares and burpy bibs.

The three classic Disney stories which the collection focuses on are Winnie the Pooh, Bambi and The Jungle Book - all iconic stories with well loved characters, perfect for passing on to your little ones. The designs of the aden+anais Disney collection are all hand-sketched and have such a classic feel to them. The prints remind me of the illustrations seen in the books themselves and I think this makes them all very special.

We were very kindly given the chance to receive something from the collection and having fallen in love with the Bambi inspired items, we went for the Bambi Disney Baby Dream Blanket (£44.95/€55). The Bambi inspired items from the collection are absolutely beautiful, sporting a pink, blue and green colour palette, with water painted designs that give a vintage feel to the products. The designs feature Bambi himself, flowers and a blue floral pattern on the back. It's great that this is a double-sided blanket, it's always nice to have something pretty on both sides of a baby product.

I chose the Bambi Disney Baby Dream Blanket for Beau (although Tyler Lee has now claimed it too as you can tell from the pictures!) as it was my favourite item from the collection and even though the colours used may be on the girlier side of things, Bambi was in fact a boy, so I thought this blanket would be perfect for my boy too - we don't discriminate in this house when it comes to colour!

However, I also thought the Winnie the Pooh Disney Baby Dream Blanket (£44.95/€55) was beautiful and this have just gone onto Beau's Christmas list. The Jungle Book inspired items from the Disney collection don't have a dream blanket, but the swaddles, bibs and muslins available in that range are lovely too.

The aden+anais dream blankets are one of the best products I have ever used with Tyler Lee. He still sleeps with his one to this day and he's three, so I'm glad I now have one for Beau too. He loves his muslin made products and always seems to be comforted by the material, so I know he'll just love his new, large blankie too. Due to being made from !00% cotton muslin the dream blankets are breathable, meaning that the child won't overheat when sleeping under it and they also get softer with every wash. They are so comfy, soft and perfect for snuggling up in. They're also a large size at 120cm X 120cm, meaning that they'll last baby until they're well past the toddler stage - as I said Tyler Lee still uses his and he's almost three and a half. Plus, as you can see from the pictures the dream blanket is also the perfect size for two little siblings to snuggle up in too.

The lovely people at aden+anais have very kindly offered one of my lucky readers the chance to win a dream blanket of their very own in either Winnie the Pooh or Bambi design worth £44.95/€55.

To enter this lovely giveaway simply enter via the easy widget below. Best of luck to all who enter.

Terms and conditions:  
This giveaway is open to residents of Ireland and the United Kingdom only.
This giveaway will run for two weeks and a winner will then be chosen at random using the Gleam widget.
One winner will receive an aden+anais Disney Baby dream blanket of their choice from either the Winnie the Pooh or Bambi collection.  
The prize is being supplied directly by aden+anais. Incomplete entries will be disqualified.
 This giveaway will end at 11.59 on August 3rd.

aden+anais Disney Baby Dream Blanket Giveaway

Beau Samuel James | Two Months Old ♥

My darling Beau,
You're now two months old and I feel blessed to have had you already in my life for two wonderful months. You're the loveliest baby I have ever known - so placid, content and always smiling, you make everyone around you happy and everyone comments on just how happy you are and how lovely it is to have you, even if it's just for a quick hold. You're such a joyous little soul, just like I knew you would be and it's amazing to see someone so happy in life, not yet affected by the world around them.

You're still sleeping throughout the night, as you have done since five weeks and you seem to really love your sleep. I'm so glad you sleep, daddy and I wouldn't have been able to function without ours! Your favourite thing is to swaddled in muslin, it seems the material makes you fall asleep instantly, especially if some of it is touching your chin - I think we'll have to abandon the muslin cloths when feeding you your bottle because you always want to snooze when we use them for mopping up your baba dribbles.

You also love your milk, you never stop drinking - hence why you're such a big boy! I'm just glad you're thriving, even if sometimes it's hard to quell your thirst!

You now want to be entertained throughout the day. You love nothing more than having someone sit and chat with you, this makes you burst into constant smiles from everything they say and I only wish I had all the hours in a day to sit and have chats with you. You now love playing with your play gym, batting the hanging toys and looking up at them in awe. It's so lovely to watch you play and interact with things around you. You also gave your first proper hearty laugh last week, it was adorable, I hope you do it again soon. Nothing makes a mother happier than hearing her child laugh with joy.

You're the most friendly little thing I know, always greeting everyone with a big, welcoming smile and it's infectious. You remind me so much of my Nan, she was always so welcoming too and anytime you look up at me with that radiant smile and opened arms I can hear her saying - "Wish you hello", I must teach you to say that when you're older, that greeting would really suit you too.

You're such a cheeky boy, always playing around with your bottle instead of drinking and when someone points this out to you you smile in the most mischievous way, as if you're so happy to be playing jokes on us. I can imagine we'll have lots of fun when you're older and become even more playful.

Your looks seem to have changed a lot this month too. Your hair was so much redder before but now it's more of an auburn colour. The hair at the front of your head is also growing back and quite quickly too, but this seems to be a blonder colour - you're all hair colours at the moment! Your eyes are still that beautiful deep blue, the same as your big brother's and everyone says you look just like him but I don't really see it yet.

My Beau, I'm so happy to have you in our lives, you're the loveliest person I know and I couldn't love you more. Stay smiling happy boy.


© Dolly Dowsie | All rights reserved.
BLOG TEMPLATE HANDCRAFTED BY pipdig