Monday, November 20, 2017

Preparing Your Home For Baby's First Christmas ♥

There’s something undeniably magical about Christmas. From Bing Crosby to Tim Minchin, many have rhapsodised about the season’s ability to bring out the best in everyone and help us to appreciate the people who are the most special to us. Christmas is the time for family, friends, food, fun and frivolity. It’s a time when we take a look around us, hold the ones we love close to us and feel that maybe, just maybe all might be right with the world.

For new parents, the season becomes yet more magical. The birth of a child has an odd tendency to cast everything familiar to you in a new light. While it’s a lot of hard work, it’s utterly exhausting and it can make us feel like we’re constantly on the verge of madness, it also coats our mundane old world with fairy dust and helps us see the magic of everyday life that much clearer.

While your baby’s first Christmas will be a wonderful time, whatever it may bring, there are a few ways in which you can make sure that your home is ready to make your baby’s first Christmas extra magical (and extra safe).

Keeping them happy and healthy

We all know just how many nasty viral infections are proliferate at this time of year. Because of their under developed immune systems, new babies are particularly vulnerable to infection. Your baby’s first Christmas shouldn’t be sullied by ill health (nor should yours). Looking after sick kids can be incredibly stressful and draining, especially when combined with the logistical plate spinning exercise that is Christmas.

With this in mind, it’s important to limit their risk of infection prior to the big day. Making sure that your hands are kept clean and sanitary is a must, especially before changing nappies, preparing meals or wiping a runny nose. It’s also important to make sure that baby’s hands are kept clean, too especially prior to eating.

Get your Christmas on in the kitchen

When most of us think of the festive season, our thoughts turn to delicious foods and merriment with friends and family in and around the kitchen. The lead into Christmas is the perfect time to give your kitchen a spruce, whether you intend to make a few cosmetic changes here and there, invest in a new appliance or rebuild your entire kitchen from the ground up.

Of course you don’t need to start rethinking your kitchen surfaces or making undermount sink choices to reinvigorate your kitchen to make it feel more cosmetically homely and functional for the unique demands of the season. At the very least you should aim to de-clutter your surfaces and deck the cupboards with wreaths, garlands or red and white candy canes (although try to keep tinsel out of the equation-nobody wants to spend their Christmas dinner picking it out of their food).


Baby proof your Christmas tree

If your baby is going through that crawling, grabby phase, you may well worry about how this may clash with the physics of your average Christmas tree. After all, the yuletide staple seems as though it were designed to be a risk to babies. With so many colourful shiny objects just outside of the reach of tiny grabby hands, the potential risk of burying your little one under an avalanche of pine needles, baubles and gaudily wrapped presents. It may not be enormously harmful for your baby, but they probably won’t thank you for the experience.

Fortunately, here are steps you can take to make your tree more baby safe. If you don’t already have a tree, it’s recommended that you buy an artificial one as pine needles can become dislodged and scooped up by baby who will respond by putting them in his or her mouth. One or two will likely be fairly harmless, but big handfuls may get stuck. Furthermore, a real tree’s bark can contain particles of mould and pollen grains which may provoke the allergic reaction known as Christmas Tree Syndrome.

Your best bet is to invest in an artificial tree that’s small enough to keep out of baby’s reach. If it simply isn’t Christmas without a real tree or a large tree, your best bet is to fence the tree off with a playpen or position it a little further away from the main living area than usual.

Start knitting baby’s first Christmas stocking

As well as being great Instagram bait, your baby’s first Christmas stocking can stay with you forever as a memento of this special day. If you’re skilled with a set of needles, you can knit your own or embroider your baby’s names onto a store bought stocking. Babies stocking can be jam packed with goodies like;

  • Board books
  • Soft toys
  • Snacks
  • Dummies
  • Clothes and socks

Don’t be shy with the decorations

Christmas is a delight for the senses, with pungent aromas, bright and vivid colours and pretty shapes and lights everywhere, there’s so much to stimulate a curious young mind. Christmas decorations can be completely delightful for a baby, so don’t be afraid to apply them to your home liberally for your baby’s first Christmas. Of course, it’s important to keep choking hazards like baubles out of reach and delicate trails of fairy lights out of grabbing reach (otherwise your whole setup could come tumbling down), but with a little care and attention there’s no reason why your home can’t be a sensorial delight for baby. For both of my boys I had a special 'Baby's 1st Christmas' tree on display on a shelf in their rooms. It was decorated with blue decorations and special 'Baby's 1st Christmas' adorned decorations too. Any new baby in our family will always have their own, special tree for their first Christmas. If they need something tangible, make sure that they have a Christmas themed teddy to cuddle.

Take lots of pictures

You’ll never get this moment again, so feel free to unleash your inner shutterbug. These are the images you’ll treasure for years (and embarrass your kids with when they bring home their prom date), so don’t be shy. But at the same time make sure that you take the time to be in the moment and enjoy the day through your own eyes and not through a lens.

3 Moments in Life When Organisation Is Key ♥

As we grow older, we come to realise the importance of excellent organisational skills. It may sound a tad dry and a little boring but being organised can make our days go smoother and the bigger events in our lives less stressful. Take the kids birthday parties. Whereas you once thought you could simply haul a dozen kids down to the local bowling alley for a birthday party, you now have a newfound respect for the necessary organisational aspect of the task. You need to have every minute accounted for, so you don’t have bored kids running riot around the skittles. You need food pre-ordered, parents on board to help shepherd the masses and a cake. Take a look at the other areas of our lives where sound organisational skills can help make our lives so much easier.

Waiting For A Little One To Arrive
There aren’t many more exciting, daunting and stressful moments in life than awaiting the birth of your firstborn. Organisational skills abound with the hospital bag packed the moment you found out you were expecting, an updated list of contact numbers for every relative known to man created and your freshly painted nursery completed three months before your due date. It’s now just a waiting game. Unlike other pivotal life moments, the birth of your little darling may take you by surprise, and you’ll have to go with the flow somewhat. Still, a little bit of preparation won’t go amiss.


Wedding Bells
When we finally meet the love of our life and realise that we are ready to commit to one another forever, your innate organisational skills are kicked into action. As soon as the proposal has been accepted, the clipboard is whipped out, a to-do list as long as your arm is formulated and the date is set. No wedding should be left to the last minute and the happiest day of your life deserves some much-needed attention and organisation. Take your time and work steadily through your tasks. Make sure that you don’t become one of those bridezilla types and that you maintain a sense of perspective. You are marrying your soulmate, and you need to enjoy your day, rather than micromanaging every aspect of it.

Moving House
When you move into your first home or take a leap up the rungs of the property ladder, packing and moving can be stressful - believe me, after moving house five times in the last eight years I know! However, with the right organisation, you can mitigate the panic attacks that a sea of brown boxes may induce. Take a look here and see how a removals company can make your moving day experience less taxing. They will often provide the packing materials, package up all of your belongings, move your stuff to your new humble abode and unpack all of your boxes too. Get organised with plenty of time to spare, and you won’t be running around like a mad woman trying to pack up all of your last minute gear.


Being organised can appear boring, however, in the long run, your ability to plan, prepare and be ready for the unexpected will aid with the key moments of your life and help you lead a more stress-free existence.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

The Christmas Snowflake by Wonderbly | Review & Giveaway ♥

 *We were sent a copy of The Christmas Snowflake for the purposes of this feature, however, as always, all thoughts and opinions expressed are 100% my own.

Today I'm very excited to share something both beautiful and Christmassy with you all - a wonderful, heart-warming and stunningly illustrated book The Christmas Snowflake by Wonderbly.

I'm even more excited as I have one to giveaway to one very lucky reader too and nothing makes me happier than being able to share the magic with you all too. Scroll to the end of the post to find out how to enter.

Wonderbly make the most beautiful, personalised books for children and we've review a few of their titles over the years, the most recent being The Golden Ticket - a book inspired by Roald Dahl's Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. This was such a special book and we were all delighted with it, so when Wonderbly asked if we'd like to receive a copy of their new release for Christmas, The Christmas Snowflake, I was only too happy to accept the offer.

 As with all of Wonderbly's books, there's a page at the beginning of the book to write your own dedication or message. 

The Christmas Snowflake story centres around Snowflake, who is looking for a place to call home this Christmas - but only you and your loved ones can help. This is such a lovely, festive tale and the personalisation in the story and the illustrations really helps to make the book all the more special.

I was able to personalise this book for our family, adding in our names to appear within the book. You can add up to nine family members, which I think is great for those who are blessed with larger families - no one gets left out.

Everyone's names appear throughout the book, illustrated on Christmas stockings, snowflakes crystals and even being carried by the wind - how whimsical!

The book's illustrations are absolutely beautiful and in keeping with the traditional, festive spirit of Christmas - which I absolutely love. Everything about this book is done to perfection.

As an added extra surprise, the final page of the book contains a sweet little pull-out keepsake Snowflake ornament - perfect for hanging proudly on your Christmas tree.

This is such a gorgeous book and definitely one perfect for a Christmas read. Children will love the heart-warming festive tale, the personalised touches and the stunning illustrations - as will their parents. I'll be popping this book in our Christmas Eve basket - an annual tradition for us and I'm sure we'll enjoy reading this book together for many Christmases to come.

The Christmas Snowflake is £19.99 and is available from the Wonderbly website.

Giveaway:
To be in with a chance of winning your very own copy of The Christmas Snowflake enter via the Gleam widget below. This giveaway is open to residents of the Republic of Ireland and U.K. only and will end on Sunday December 3rd at 11.59p.m. A winner will then be drawn via the Gleam widget and will be contacted shortly after - giving enough time for them to receive their prize in time for Christmas. The prize is being sent directly from Wonderbly.

 The Christmas Snowflake

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Tyler & Beau | Siblings {November 2017} ♥

Another month, another siblings update and my goodness, aren't the months just racing past us? It's almost the end of the year already - scary!

The boys are still spending a lot of time with each other and although we're still waiting for boy to start fully-fledged walking, he's well able to cruise his way around the house and do almost everything is big brother is able to - climbing up the ladder of the big slide, make his way around the big playthings at the playground and even climb up trees! Tyler, of course, takes great delight in all this.

As the days go on I detect more and more jealousy and attention seeking from both boys. They both want me all the time and I find that one gets upset if I'm with the other. It's been tough trying to balance my time between them both as they're both in very different stages of their development, but I try to focus on Beau in the mornings when Tyler is at school and then have lunch and playtime with Tyler when Beau is napping in the afternoon.

The boys get on for the most part, although Beau gets really annoyed if Tyler is at him or annoying him, which he is most of the time if I'm honest. It can be hard going with all the constant whinging and I seem to spend my days forever saying - "Leave him alone!". Hopefully this is all just a phase and Tyler grows out of it soon because it's draining having to repeat myself all day.

When the boys do play with each other nicely it's absolutely adorable. Beau often goes to join Tyler on his bed and they both love bouncing up and down on it as if it were a trampoline. They're both as rough as each other and have absolutely no fear - which is a little bit heart-attack inducing for me!

Their new found love is Fireman Sam and they're quietest when they're sitting on the couch together watching the cartoons. Tyler likes to pretend that he and Beau are the different characters. Tyler also has an imaginary friend called Matthew who he pretends joins him and Beau in their games too.

This months siblings picture was taken on a recent trip to the beautiful Blarney Castle. Both boys love their daddy throwing leaves over them... it really is the simple things that make them happy.

Top Tips For Looking After Sick Kids ♥

As much as we would love to protect our children and stop them from getting ill or injured, we can’t always do that and sometimes, we shouldn’t. Wrapping them up in cotton wool, never letting them go near other children in fear that they’ll be exposed to illnesses or hurt themselves can delay their development, stop them having fun and put them at a greater risk of becoming more seriously ill as they get older.

While vaccinations are in their best interest and you should always do your best to teach them how to keep themselves safe, the occasional bump, bruise or common childhood illness will help to strengthen both their immunity and their resolve. It’ll help make them stronger as they get older.

That said, seeing your children unwell is never pleasant and looking after them can be tough. Here are some top tips to follow when your child is ill.

Encourage Good Hygiene

Good hygiene is your first defence against coughs, colds and other contagious bugs, so encourage your children to wash their hands and teach them the best ways to keep clean to avoid spreading their bugs around the house.

Let Them Eat What They Want

When we’re unwell it can be hard to eat and drink. Everything tastes different and you can completely lose your appetite. While most of the time we want to watch our children’s diet and make sure they are eating the right things to help them to grow fit and healthy, it’s okay to let things slide a little when they are unwell. It’s better for them to eat lots of fruit and veg obviously, but a few treats will make them happy and help them feel like themselves.  

Snuggle Up

Wrapping up warm is essential when we are poorly, especially over the winter time. If they want to stay in bed for longer, let them, but if they’d rather be downstairs, or you want to keep an eye on them, bring their bedding down and snuggle up with them. Comfort them as much as you can.

Get the Old Favourites Out

Children today grow up ridiculously fast, before you know it, they’re watching more grown-up TV and playing video games instead of with toys. Something about being ill however tends to regress them a little. You may find they suddenly long for their old cuddly toys and favourite DVDs. Get them all out and make the most of it.

Take Time Off

As a parent, you are entitled to take some time off work when your dependents are ill. Speak to your employer and take a little time off. Having you close will help your child to recover and make you feel better about the situation.

Lots of Rest

Yes, the patient needs to rest, but, you do too if you don’t want to be struck down with the same bug. Lots of rest and early nights all around.

Know When to Call the Doctor

You shouldn’t take your child to the doctors if they are suffering from something contagious like the norovirus, and they probably don’t need to go for a common cold. But, trust your instincts. If you have any doubts, try NHS GP at Hand where you can get advice and support without having to go into your doctor’s surgery.

Activities To Keep The Family A Close-Knit Unit♥

Having a family of any age can be full of stress, as we all know. Often one of your main concerns will be how you can expect to keep everyone as close as possible. This is something that most families will agree is necessary, but it is quite another to know what you can do about it to make it happen for real. As it turns out, there are a number of activities you can consider doing together which will almost certainly help to draw everyone together in a much more lasting fashion. With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the best of those activities which you might want to consider for your family.

Holiday

If it has been a long while since you all went on holiday together, then this might be something that you want to consider. Having a holiday as a family is simply one of the single best ways to ensure that everyone remains as close as you would like them to be. Of course, it can also be true that holidays have the potential to be times of stress, but as long as you plan it out right you should be able to avoid much of that stress. The key is to make sure that you plan a holiday that every family member will truly be able to enjoy.

Achieving that, of course, is something else altogether, but with the right approach you should be able to arrange a holiday that really works for everyone. Few people are likely to argue if you book holiday accommodation in Spain for a few weeks in summer, as this is the kind of country where everyone can do whatever they like pretty easily. It’s not just about the destination itself though - if you want your family to enjoy the holiday as fully as possible, you might find that it is necessary to book a number of activities during your time away which they are likely to enjoy doing too.

With a good holiday on the cards, you will soon find that your family are much closer than they have been in a long time. This is a great feeling, so it’s worth making the most of such holidays, as they can be some of the best times that you ever have as a group.

Help in your community

If you want to bring your family together in an altogether more profound and truly lasting way, then you will probably find that doing some kind of a community service together is a great way to achieve that. Not many families will ever consider this option, and yet those who do get involved in such matters will agree that it is a fantastic opportunity for bonding and strengthening the relationships in the family itself. At the same time, of course, you will have the opportunity to do some great things for the community, thereby making your family a real part of the local landscape. But what kind of community service should you try and get involved in?

There is no end to the kinds of things you can do if you want to act in the community together. You could all join the same homeless shelter service or you could help the needy by simply working with a charity of some kind. You could also get involved in the local tidy towns group and help the children to learn how important it is to take pride in the place you live and to respect the environment too.

How you do it is not ultimately what matters, but the doing it itself. With this kind of activity on the cards, you should find that it is perfectly possible to keep the family much closer together than you might have ever dreamed of, all while helping other people in the process - and that is a wonderful thing.

Baking

Who says that you have to leave the home in order to have meaningful experiences as a family? Some of the best are things you can do in your own home. A great example is baking, and if you have ever had the whole family in the kitchen working together on a cake you will know the kind of joy this can genuinely bring. 


There is something about baking that takes you back to a more simple and wholesome time and it can have a way of foregoing many of the modern concerns and stresses that get in the way of a family being genuinely happy together. Bake together, and you will automatically feel much closer as a unit in no time. Afterwards, you can have the fun of eating together, too!

Monday, November 13, 2017

My Golden Ticket | A Personalised Adventure Into Roald Dahl's Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory By Wonderbly ♥

 *We were sent this book for the purposes of this feature, however, as always, all thoughts and opinions expressed are 100% my own.

I love growing my boys library and filling it with books to nurture their imaginations, embrace their creativity and to let them escape into a story whenever they want to. It's even better when the books I read to them are books which I can enjoy too and one book which ticks all these boxes - as well as being absolutely beautiful to look at - is My Golden Ticket by Wonderbly.

This is a book like no other and they say to never judge a book by it's cover, but with a cover this lovely it as hard to believe that this book would be anything but great.

My Golden Ticket is inspired by Roald Dahl's Willy Wonka and gives every child a personalised adventure into Willy Wonka's chocolate factory.

This book is something truly special. The illustrations are nothing short of stunning. They're fun, colourful and have a retro vibe to them, which I think is very in keeping with the Willy Wonka theme. I also got the book in hardback which I think always makes a book that little more lovely.

My Golden Ticket offers so many personalised elements too, which makes the story unique to the child it's for. There's space for a personalised dedication, a personalised sweet unique to each child and also a unique Oompa Loompa song based on the child's name.

To add to the chocolate factory theme, there's also an option to get the book candy scented - which I did. It has a faint sweet chocolatey scent, which couldn't be more perfect for a book that details a visit to a chocolate factory!

This book is definitely a 'must-have' in any budding bookworm's book collection. It's beautiful, imaginative and unique - just as all good stories should be.

My Golden Ticket is €29.99 (plus optional extras such as candy scent) and is available to purchase and personalise from Wonderbly.

My Weight Loss Journey Week #10 | Ditching the Scales ♥

Ah weight issues... Something which I've struggled with for many years now. It never fails to amaze me how I only have to look at a doughnut and can put on a stone instantly, yet it takes an age to lose even a pound.

I'm now ten weeks into my weight loss journey but all those insecurities and frustrations I have about my weight and my body are still there, lurking under all my achievements. There are days when I still wake up feeling crap about myself and I hate my appearance. I begin to wonder why I'm not losing weight more rapidly, why I'm not already in those size 14 jeans and why I'm still not feeling more confident in myself.

Then there are the days when I wake up feeling great. The days when my stomach looks a whole lot flatter than it did a few days previous and when my previously too tight clothes are hanging off me. Everyday is different in this weight loss journey but I've learnt that those feelings of insecurity will probably be there no matter what weight I am.

I've had two babies, my body is never going to be lump and bump free again. I'm never going to look like 17 year old me - how I laugh now looking back at what I thought was fat, but I will be as healthy and fit as 17 year old me and that, ultimately, is my biggest goal.

This is why I'm ditching the scales. I'm sick of feeling under pressure to be under a certain number each week. Under pressure to lose any bit of weight I can just so I can feel like I've accomplished something and ignoring all the other goals I've ticked off along the way.

Ten weeks ago I couldn't even run up the stairs without feeling puffed out, now I can run a mile along the road with the buggy not giving two hoots about what people think of me - this was a big achievement for someone who has previously been too self-conscious to even leave the house.

Ten weeks ago I had to leave the top button open on my jeans as they were too tight and uncomfortable. Now they fit great with room to spare and I'm confident enough to wear them daily.

Ten weeks ago I didn't fit in dresses I bought almost two years ago, or the top my mother bought me as a gift last Christmas - today I'm wearing that top and those dresses fit perfectly.

Ten weeks ago I'd eat a whole family sharing bar of chocolate to myself and still end up feeling hungry, now I don't even want the chocolate. I have self control and probably a smaller stomach due to eating smaller, healthier meals.

Ten weeks ago I didn't get off my arse and exercise, now you can't keep me in the house. Those daily walks are my breath of fresh air, a chance to get out and about with just one child in tow (a rarity!) and a chance for me to challenge myself - how quickly can I get around the block, how many hills can I manage... it's now something I weirdly enjoy.

Ten weeks ago I sported a double chin... I now just have one and I will never miss my moon face, ever.

All of these things are far more important than a number on a scale to me. I have goals, I'm ticking them off one by one and I'm damn proud of myself. Yes, I still have treats now and again, I'll never stop loving cake, but walking and jogging is a new love of mine and as long as I keep moving the odd treat is fine.

My new motto is - if you're not moving you ain't losing and I'll continue to be as active as life lets me be.

You can read other updates from my weight loss journey here.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

No Bake Terry's Chocolate Orange Caramel Slices ♥

Something we have every Christmas is a Terry's Chocolate Orange or ten two. It's one of our favourite treats and we always make sure to include one in each other's stockings to enjoy over the festive season.

Ever since I watched caramel week on The Great British Bake Off I've been slightly obsessed with caramel slices. A shop quite close to us sells the most delicious ones and I have to force myself to stay away from there, they're just too tempting!

I have never been a big fan of caramel before - I find it a bit too sweet usually, but these days I'm loving the combination of shortbread, caramel and chocolate all in one yummy slice.

Due to my new found love of caramel slices and my forever love of Terry's Chocolate Orange, I decided to combine the two and make a delicious, sweet treat for all the family to enjoy.

This was my first time making caramel and I have to say that I'm very relieved I didn't burn it and ruin the whole thing! These are seriously delicious though and that combo of chocolate and orange mixed with buttery shortbread and gooey caramel makes for the perfect festive treat.

Recipe -

For the caramel:
150g of light brown sugar
150g of butter
400ml of condensed milk

For the base:
350g of shortbread biscuits
125g of butter

For the topping:
250g of chocolate (I used a mixture of Galaxy Smooth and a whole Terry's Chocolate Orange for mine)
1 Terry's Chocolate Orange for decorating the top
Orange sprinkles (optional)


Method -

1. Crush the shortbread biscuits - either by food processor or by hand with a rolling pin (I use the by hand method). Melt the butter in the microwave and pour onto the crushed shortbread biscuits. Mix together and then spread the mixture on the base of a foil lined tin. Use a spoon to smooth out the mixture and pat down to form a base. Put the base in the fridge to set.

2. Put the light brown sugar and butter in a saucepan, leave them to melt together. Add your condensed milk and place the saucepan on a high heat, stirring the mixture continuously until it begins to boil. Keep stiring for two minutes, then take the mixture off the heat. Pour onto your biscuit base. The caramel should spread evenly over your base. Pop in the fridge to set for 30 minutes.

3. Melt your chocolate in a bowl over a saucepan. I used a bar of Galaxy Smooth as well as the Terry's Chocolate Orange as I found the Terry's just didn't want to melt properly at all. Once ready, pour your chocolate over the set caramel and smooth out to the edges with the back of a spoon.

4. Use Terry's Chocolate Orange segments to decorate - I decorated mine so each slice had two segments on top. I also added orange sprinkles to my caramel slices for some added crunch and prettiness, but this is an optional extra.

5. Leave to set in the fridge. Before serving, let the caramel slices warm up a bit to room temperature - this makes them much easier to cut. *Top tip* - heat the tip of your knife in some boiling water before cutting to make it easier to slice through the hard chocolate.

Don't worry if the chocolate cracks or if the caramel goes quite gooey when you're cutting, these aren't supposed to look perfect, they're supposed to be enjoy and after all, they're homemade and the rough edges just add to their charm!


How I Lost 10lbs With the Help of So Shape ♥

 *This is a collaborative post with So Shape, however, as always, all thoughts and opinions expressed are 100% my own.

These past nine weeks I have been on a weight loss journey, which I have been documenting here on the blog. Back in my week five update I stated that I had begun a new weight loss challenge in the form of So Shape smart meals and I'm delighted to say that they have really helped to contribute, not only to my weight loss, but my overall well being too.

My weight loss journey is not only a journey for me to lose weight (I should probably change the name of my updates!), but it's also a journey I'm on to feel more comfortable in my own skin, healthier in my body and to feel better about myself in general - So Shape has helped me to achieve all of these things in the 28 days I have been having their smart meals.

So Shape offer three different challenges, depending on what you want to achieve. I chose to go for their 28-day Reborn challenge as I have a lot of weight to lose.

So Shape's smart meal system is not only designed for weight loss, but is designed to help boost energy (just what I need being a mum to two young boys!) and improve muscle tone too - ideal for those who are wanting to lose weight but not muscle.

So Shape's smart meals are all 100% gluten free, vegetarian and GMO free, making them ideal for everyone. The smart meals themselves come in a powder form, which you then mix with water to form your meal.

So Shape offer a wide range of 22 flavours to satisfy both sweet and savory lovers. As part of my Reborn challenge I chose 12 different flavours to try.

I'm quite a picky eater and I was worried about not liking some of the smart meals, but I actually ended up liking the majority of them. My favorites were the Lemon Cheesecake, Brownie, Mint Chocolate Chip, Pasta Spicy Bolo, Cheese Pasta, Pesto Pasta, French Garden Soup and the Tomato Soup. These were all so delicious and I'd have them all again in a heartbeat!

I think it's great that So Shape offer a wide variety of sweet and savoury options as it makes sticking to the plan a whole lot easier when you feel as though you're having a proper dinner with one of the savoury meals.

How does the challenge work? You simply substitute two normal meals for two smart meals. You have one smart meal for breakfast (I always had a sweet option for this) and one smart meal for dinner (savoury options are perfect for this). This is not a rigid plan though, you can swap your smart meal for lunch instead of dinner if you're going out, etc. and that's the great thing about the So Shape smart meals, they work to suit you and your lifestyle.

Along with your So Shape smart meals you have one 'free meal' a day. This is a healthy meal and I chose to eat high protein foods as part of my challenge - cheese free omelettes with tuna or chicken and lots of vegetables being my go-to choices.

Your So Shape challenge comes with a handy booklet detailing how to prepare the smart meals, their nutritional facts and what foods to enjoy and avoid throughout your challenge and it's great to have all of that information available in one handy guide.

What were my results? In the 28 days of my challenge I lost 10lbs and 9cm off my body. During this time I also went on daily walks/jogs and made sure that I was as active as I possibly could be. I also drank a lot of water - I popped some lemons and limes in the container of my So Shape shaker bottle to make a detox water. During my challenge I also had my gallbladder removed, which stopped me exercising for two weeks, but the So Shape meals were perfect to have during my recovery period. I feel as though I could have lost a lot more weight with So Shape if I had been able to exercise those extra two weeks but unfortunately that surgery date cropped up and I had to have it done.

Would I use So Shape again? Yes I would, 100%. I'm a fan of these easy, quick, nutritious and delicious meals and they are so handy for someone like myself who is too busy to cook but who wants something healthy on hand. The results speak for themselves and my 28 day challenge left me lighter, less bloated and feeling a whole lot better about myself.

The So Shape 28 day Reborn Challenge is €179.00 (€2.98 per meal), which I think is good value for something which has proven results and which tastes great too.

You can find more information about So Shape, the challenges they offer and their smart meals at https://eu.soshape.com  

Enjoy twice as many flavours with the custom option included on 14 and 28 days Challenge if you use: CUSTOMFIONA


Friday, November 10, 2017

What the Boys Wore | Hand Knitted Baby Bonnets by Knitbylesley ♥

I don't know about you, but for me there is nothing sweeter than a baby in a bonnet. I guess I just love anything that is quintessentially baby-like or that has a nod to vintage baby charm, so when I spotted a shop on Instagram that made hand knitted baby bonnets I just had to buy some for Beau.

What was even better about this shop is that it's run by a lovely fellow Irish lady names Lesley, who makes all the bonnets herself. I love to support small business and I'm even happier to support when that business is also an Irish business too.

How beautiful are these bonnets? I think people may deem them to be a little too girly for a boy but you know what, I don't care, I think they're absolutely beautiful and suit him perfectly. If I could dress my boy in vintage outfits and knitted bonnets everyday of the week I would!

I chose a baby blue with grey fur trim as I thought these shades would be perfect wintry colours. The fur-trim makes for the perfect photo prop too, it just frames his face perfectly and keeps him all cosy and warm.

Green isn't usually a colour I'm drawn towards, but when I saw this green bonnet with the lace and pearl trim on Lesley's Instagram I just knew I needed to have it for my little red-haired babe. The green suits his colouring perfectly and I think it's also a great colour for Christmas and St. Patrick's Day too so it's a win all round!

You can find Lesley's beautiful hand knitted bonnets over on her Instagram @knitbylesley
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