Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Me & Mine {February 2017} ♥

Well here it is... the end of another super quick month is upon us and it's time for us to join in with the monthly Me & Mine project again. I really believe what people say - that the older you get, the faster the years go by, because ever since I had children, that's exactly what's been happening.

Maybe it's because with children you're always busy, so you don't ever really get a chance to get to sit down and notice time passing you by, but time sure is flying ever since I became a mother.

As always, this months pictures were taken on the last day on the month - I'm so organised... meaning that we get one chance at them and that's it. No prepping, planning or many outtakes allowed! Also, for this months pictures we literally had a three minute window before it started lashing rain down on all of us... the joys of an Irish spring!

This month we celebrated Tyler's fourth birthday and he of course, had to have a washing machine themed cake to fulfill his obsession with them. It was so delicious, I want another!

We also visited Blarney Castle and Gardens again and I captured some beautiful pictures of the boys sitting amongst the bright yellow daffodils.

We also visited Fota Gardens again, which resembled the secret garden when we found a hidden door amongst the bushes and we also explored a castle on the beach. We also visited Farran Park for the very first time too, where Tyler had great fun taking full advantage of the playground and seeing 'Bambi' - the deer that live there.

Even though the weather wasn't the best this past month, I'm glad we still managed to get out and about and I hope the outdoor adventures will continue throughout March, just with a little bit more sun to enjoy too.

There we are, soaked... I'm so glad I spent half an hour doing my hair...

This month Jacek is loving:
Watching Dragon's Den on a Sunday night
Listening to music (loudly) whilst cooking
Family days out and visiting new places

This month I'm loving:
Buying (and fitting into) new clothes
Chocolate biscuit cake and Russian log cakes
Time to myself with friends and family

This month Tyler is loving:
Watching Totally Spies on the tablet
Going to the playground lots
Being four

This month Beau is loving:
Learning to move around
Pancakes and rice cakes
 Bath time with big brother

The Me and Mine Project


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Sunday, February 26, 2017

Shabby Chic Bedroom Inspiration ♥

I've made no secret of my love for all things shabby chic, if you've followed my blog for quite a while now you'll know that it's been a constant theme in my posts and pictures. Honestly, the shabby chic look is the one home decor style which I am absolutely in love with and if I could decorate every room in my house in this style I would. 

One room which I have already decorated somewhat in this style, is my bedroom. However, I would love to build on it and make the 'perfect' shabby chic space. A gorgeous girly space, ideal for relaxing in and drawing inspiration from too.

For me, the most important element in any bedroom is the bed. Metal bed frames are perfect for the shabby chic style, I had one all through my childhood and teenage years with a canopy overhanging the headboard and it was just perfect. They're also perfect for stringing fairy lights around.

Floral bedding such as the gorgeous prints available from Cath Kidston and lots of mis-matched scatter cushions and throws, are ideal for creating a shabby chic inspired look in the bedroom. I have lots of floral and Parisian themed cushions and a beautiful big floral and patchwork throw which I use to dress my bed.

Windows can be a great feature in a shabby chic inspired bedroom, with curtains, tulle, lace nettings, etc. all being perfect for framing windows and tying them into the shabby chic feel of the bedroom. However, if you don't have a traditional window in your bedroom and instead have ones such a Solstro Roofwindows, you can still find the perfect blinds to match your shabby chic decor.

Perfect colour palettes for shabby chic inspired bedrooms are soft pastels and fresh clean whites and ivories. Duck egg blues, pale mints and pastel pinks are my favourite colours for decorating bedrooms in a shabby chic style.

For decoration, lots of sweet weathered pictures and plaques, white photo frames and shelves with little trinkets on display, make for great pieces in a shabby chic bedroom. Anything floral is also perfect, whether it be real or fake flowers themselves or anything adorned with floral print. I buy fresh flowers every second week and love having them in my home, especially in my bedroom.

Distressed or upcycled furniture is another great element to have in a shabby chic inspired bedroom. You can pick up some great furniture pieces quite cheaply from charity shops and car boot sales, which can be transformed and made into something beautiful by just giving them a lick of paint. I've done this before with some old chairs that I upcycled in a shabby chic style.

I really do love this style of decor in the bedroom and it's my mission to create a pretty, calming shabby chic space for me to relax and sleep in. I love the florals, vintage and romantic style of it all.

Are you a fan of the shabby chic style?

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Playtime with Miffy ♥

Last week the boys received some adorable Miffy goodies... and then we read the sad news that Dick Bruna, Miffy's creator, died on February 16th - Tyler's birthday.

It was such sad news, but the fact that Dick Bruna brought joy to so many children (and adults!) through the creation of his happy little bunny Miffy, and is still doing so today, is so lovely and such a great legacy to leave behind.

The boys are very close now and enjoy playtime together a lot, so I set up the teepee and let them look at and play with their new Miffy goodies and honestly, they were so happy in there playing happily.

Beau has previously received some goodies from the Miffy baby range, so this time it was lovely for the boys to receive things they could play with and enjoy together.

The Miffy Look and See book (£5) was a big hit with them both, and I especially liked the camera cut out peek-a-boo page in it, as did Tyler - can you tell the kid is always being photographed and has taken to the camera?!

The Miffy My First Blue plush (£13) was a favourite of Beau's and he's had many a snuggle with it since he first laid eyes on it. I think Miffy's Peter Pan collar is such a lovely touch - who knew she was such a stylish little bunny?

The Miffy Nightlight (£15) is just adorable and is a lovely addition to Beau's room. I think it's so sweet with Miffy holding her teddy for bedtime. I'm a big fan of having fairy lights and nightlights on in the boys bedroom as I hate the thought of them waking up during the night and being in complete darkness, so things like this provide a bit of comfort for them and I.

There are many 'first word' books on the market, but you'd be hard pressed to find one much sweet than the Miffy's Word Book (£6), as it's done in the shape of Miffy - a lovely book to display on baby's book shelf.

My boys are big fans of Miffy and it's not hard to see why. She's an adorable, happy character who kids can fall in love with and cherish through her stories, plushies and other accessories, all available from Miffy Shop.

The lovely people at Miffy UK have very kindly offered one lucky reader the chance to win a lovely little bundle of Miffy goodies too. The prize includes - a Miffy plush, Miffy Look and See book and a Miffy's word book.

To enter, simply complete the Gleam widget below. Best of luck to all who enter.

Miffy

Terms and conditions:
This giveaway is open to residents of Ireland and the UK only.
This giveaway will run for two weeks and a winner will be picked at random via the Gleam widget.
One winner will win a Miffy prize bundle stated above.
The prize is being supplied directly from Miffy UK. Incomplete entries will be disqualified.
This giveaway will end on March 12th at 11.59 p.m.

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How To Choose Flattering Plus-Sized Swimwear To Suit Your Shape ♥

Dressing for your shape takes some patience but when most people say they are limited when it comes to dressing for their specific body type, that’s simply just not true. Identifying and understanding your body’s specific shape is about knowing what works for the largest and smallest parts of your body — accentuating your strengths, and minimizing attention drawn to problem areas. Think of shape identification as the single best guideline.

Swimsuit shopping can be a particular challenge, but you might be surprised to learn that thanks to new trends in the fashion world, previously avoided styles are now available to women of all sizes, especially when you buy your swimwear online.

High-Waisted Bikinis
When you want plenty of coverage but still want to show off a bit of skin while lounging poolside, high-waisted bikinis are the perfect option that will make it easy to avoid wearing a one-piece. The style is retro and have been seen on body positive models like Ashley Graham.

Tankinis
Tankinis are the perfect option for plus-size women who want to hide part of their tummy and cover up while still wearing a feminine frock, according to the fashion experts at realsimple. Tankinis are flirty and fun with a relaxed fit that doesn't contour to the body.

Skirtinis
When you want to draw more attention to your bust without showing off your thighs, skirtinis are perfect for those who want a stylish look that mimics a mini skirt. You'll wear a trendy swimsuit that will stay in place while swimming at the beach and can enjoy having plenty of coverage that allows you to feel confident while wearing the garments. It even includes a built-in brief, which will allow you to avoid showing off more than you feel comfortable with.

Faux-Wrapped One-Suits
One-suits have officially made a comeback and have been seen on body positive models like Ashley Graham and Tess Holliday. One-suits offer the most amount of coverage and are easy to wear for those who don't want to worry about their suit falling off while in the water. Even Oprah Winfrey is singing their praises, and she insists that you can choose a playful pattern or print with the suit, which will camouflage any trouble spots and will allow you to feel slimmer with your figure. Visit an online retailer like swimsuitsforall to find the latest fashions, and cash in on some major winter sales.

Side-Tie Briefs
Sie-tie briefs can dress up your thighs when you want a cute detail. You can pair the briefs with a halter top to enjoy plenty of coverage while still looking appropriate while on a tropical vacation during the winter season.

With the recent trends and styles that have emerged in the fashion industry for plus-size women, it's easy to have more options and look fashionable. There are now thousands of different options that are available online for those who want to have more of a selection. When you're looking to rock a flattering look that is popular in the fashion industry, there are a few swimsuit styles to consider.

*This is a guest post.


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Thursday, February 23, 2017

What To Pack For A Mini-Break in Amsterdam ♥

Amsterdam is one of my favourite places and I'm happy to say, it's a destination that I've visited quite a few times now (six in total I think). I'm also super happy to say that I'll be celebrating my 27th  birthday in Amsterdam next month and I honestly can't wait to go back.

It's a city that offers so much and is brimming with interesting and beautiful places to visit and explore.

Jacek and I last visited back in 2015 when we had a brilliant two days exploring Amsterdam and I had my first visit to the stunning Royal Palace and I'd love to go back as it truly was stunning in there. We also visited Madam Tussauds for the first time on that visit, but we won't be returning there because it was awful... honestly, don't waste your money.

I'm in the midst of planning what we'll do on this visit to Amsterdam and also what to pack for a 72 hours trip, so I thought I'd share what I think are the essentials to pack for a mini-break in Amsterdam.

Comfy shoes
Amsterdam is a walkable city, in fact, I've never used an public transport in the city, apart from a taxi one time to get to a Deftones concert in the Melkweg - and that was simply because we couldn't find the place! We always walk from Centraal Station to our hotel and from then all around the city. It's the perfect city to discover on foot as you can stumble across lots of cool shops, coffee shops and graffiti art in the backstreets.

Also, comfy shoes are an essential if you plan on hiring a bike and cycling around the city. There are bikes everywhere in Amsterdam.

Camera
I bring my camera everywhere with me, but Amsterdam is an especially lovely place to capture on camera with it's unique architecture, canals, tulips and graffiti art. The city makes for lots of great photo opportunities, so a camera - whether it be a DSLR or on your phone, is an essential.

Backpack
When packing for a mini-break I never want to bring too much luggage - especially when I'm going to a city like Amsterdam, where most of the hotels don't allow check-in until two o' clock and my flight arrives in at eight in the morning... This means that I have to carry my luggage around with me all day and a backpack is a great solution for being able to carry everything with me easily.

Portable power bank and European plug adaptor
My phone battery is always dying - probably because I'm always using it! So a portable power bank is an essential for me for charging my phone whilst on the go. Amsterdam is on the continent so the plugs are different from here at home, meaning a European plug adaptor is an essential for using an electricals in your hotel room, such as your phone charger, hair straightener, etc.

Cash
These days, most people prefer using cards (I'm not one of them by the way, I never use cards) but having cash and loose change really is an essential when you're in Amsterdam.

The easiest way to get from the airport to Amsterdam city centre is via train and loose change is needed for purchasing tickets from the machines at the airport. There's also lots of great outdoor markets in Amsterdam which sell a whole host of things from vintage clothing to flowers, so having some cash for paying the vendors for something you fall in love with and want to take home with you is an essential.

I can't wait to be back in Amsterdam in just weeks time and no doubt I'll have a post all about mine and Jacek's adventures there, this time round, in the coming weeks.

Have you ever been to Amsterdam or is it a place you'd love to visit?

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Tuesday, February 21, 2017

The Johnson's 3-Step Bedtime Routine & App | Our Experience ♥

If you follow along with my Twitter or Instagram, you may have seen that Beau has been quite ill the past few weeks. The poor little dote went off his bottle and food completely due to ulcers on the roof of his mouth, then teething took him by full force and he then inherited a nasty cold off his big brother.

It's been a tough couple of weeks for my poor little babe and all of this sickness and pain has resulted in him not sleeping as well as he used to - and when I say 'well' I mean that he was a baby who slept through the night from the age of a mere five weeks, so this restless sleep and night-time antics were a big change for us all...

During all of this sleep havoc, I was contacted by Johnson's and asked if I'd like to take part in their #BedtimeChallenge, to see if their 3-step bedtime routine could help in getting Beau to sleep better in just one week, and if their Bedtime Baby Sleep app could help to track and monitor his sleep.

Johnson's 3-step bedtime routine is the first and only bedtime routine clinically proven to help babies and toddlers to sleep better in just one week, so I had high hopes that it would also work for our little Beau - but what is the Johnson's 3-step bedtime routine? Well, you can read about the routine in more depth here, but basically, it consists of giving baby a warm bath, baby massage and some quiet time before putting them down to sleep.

So, how did we get on with the 3-step bedtime routine? Johnson's had very kindly provided us with a beautiful hamper full of their Bedtime range products, a lavender coloured blanket for Beau to snuggle up in and some dried lavender - all to create a relaxing atmosphere for bedtime. I used these as my 'tools' to get Beau to sleep better and I'm happy to say that they had a positive effect on his sleep.

During the height of his sickness he was awake almost all night and was screaming crying - very unlike him and quite distressing to say the least. Since we began doing the 3-step bedtime routine with him he's gone from being awake and restless all night long to sleeping throughout the night again - yay!


The first part of the routine is to give baby a warm bath, so we pop Beau in a bath of Johnson's Bedtime Baby Bath, alongside his big brother and rock him back and forth in the water. We also give him a few minutes to play with the bath toys and with Tyler Lee in the bath and honestly, he lives for bath time now! The scent of the bath really helps to calm both boys before bedtime and they come out of it rubbing their eyes and very relaxed.

We then massage Beau with Johnson's Bedtime Cream before getting him dressed for bed and since we began doing this, he's been falling asleep a lot easier than he was before - previously we were having to rock him in our arms to get him to fall asleep, since doing the 3-step bedtime routine he's been falling asleep soundly in his cot again.


Finally, we enjoy some quiet time with Beau before he goes to sleep. He's now begun having a 'bedtime bottle' post bath time and he likes to snuggle up in our arms whilst drinking. When he begins rubbing his eyes continuously we pop him into his cot, get him wrapped up snuggly in his sleeping bag, turn on his lullaby cube and mobile for his lullabies and light show and then we leave him to fall asleep peacefully on his own.  



I'm happy to say that the 3-step bedtime routine has worked for us and oh am I glad to have a peaceful, sleeping baby once again. We love using the products on him - and his big brother, the scent is so calming and really does help to relax and soothe both boys in the bath and help them to sleep better. 

Even Tyler, who has been an early riser since birth, has been sleeping on average one and a half to two hours later in the mornings, so it really has been a win all round for us in the sleep stakes.

Along with doing the 3-step bedtime routine, I've also been using the Johnson's Bedtime Sleep App - which is free to download, to track the boys sleep patterns at nap time and bedtime. The app also provides lullabies and tips and tricks to help your baby to sleep better. It's a great thing to have on board when you're trying to get your baby to sleep soundly once again.


What did I learn from the app? Well, it seems that Beau's naps are a lot longer than I thought, with him napping over an hour and fifteen minutes at a time - I honestly thought it was much less. He also only naps twice during the day. Also, I learned that he sleeps for twelve hours on a good night and on bad nights can wake up twice - usually around half eleven and three, for his dummy or some soothing.

Honestly, bedtime is now an enjoyable experience for us all now. Seeing the boys play and splash together in the bath is so lovely. Giving Beau his massage and calming him down for bedtime allows us to bond with each other some more and having some quiet snuggles with him before bed is what I live for.

His sleep has definitely improved since we began doing the 3-step bedtime routine and it's something that we'll continue to do, after all, if it's not broke don't fix it, right?


*This is a collaboration with Johnson's. We were provided with a hamper of Johnson's products to complete our #BedtimeChallenge, however, as always, all thoughts and opinions are 100% my own. 


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Monday, February 20, 2017

Ideas For Creating A Relaxing & Pretty Bedroom ♥

A lot of people see their bedroom as being the most important room in their home. After all, it's a place of sanctuary, a relaxing space and a private one too, as it's not a room that many visitors get to see.

With the bedroom being such a private space, it's the perfect room for giving a personal touch to and decorating however you may wish. I have to say, my bedroom is probably the one room in my home which is most definitely 'me'. It's my happy place, my place to just sit back and relax in and escape from the chaos of the rest of the house that has been overtaken by my children and their plethora of toys!

My bed is my sanctuary and honestly, I wish I could spend a lot more time in it as it's the most comfiest place I could possibly be, and for me, it's the most perfect place to retreat to after a long, hard day of parenting the kids and snuggling up under the covers and reading a book or blogs and having a pre-sleep scroll through my social media, is one of my ultimate favourite things to do. I also love to sit on my bed and listen to my beautiful VQ Retro MK II radio - I absolutely love the Emma Bridgewater floral print on it.

My bedroom is a place I'm constantly looking to improve and searching for beautiful bedding sets online and other little pretty touches is another thing I love to do - and to think, I used to think my mother was crazy for constantly redecorating her room and buying new bedding, I've morphed into her!

Create a calming atmosphere
I've created a calming atmosphere in my bedroom by using fairy lights and candles to give a warm glow to the room after it gets dark. Fairy lights are super cheap these days and most are LED meaning you can leave them on and not worry about wasting electricity. I love my rose style fairy lights and I always have a lavender Yankee Candle burning before bedtime to give the room a calming scent.

Pay attention to the soft furnishings
I have a plethora of cushions on my bed, as, not only are they pretty to have displayed on the bed and handing for sitting up with when I'm having a few minutes to myself during the day, but they're also a real style statement too. All of my cushions are miss-matched but each as pretty as the other and I love seeing them on the bed.

Having a nice duvet cover is always a must for me too and I like to switch it up between plain white with lace trimmings and floral print for a change of look and mood in the room from time to time. Having decorative lampshades and canopies are other great things to add to a room. My room back in my parents house had a tulle canopy over the bedhead and it was the most beautiful touch to the room, I loved sleeping under it. A chunky knitted throw or patchwork quilt are other great soft furnishing for displaying on your bed and using for those cold, wintry nights to keep warm too.

Have personal effects on display
Your bedroom is your personal space, so having things that mean a lot to you on display is just perfect for creating an inviting atmosphere. I have pictures of my family on display in white frames on my windowsills, dresses I love hanging on the back of my door and my favourite jewellery pieces displayed on trinkets on my dresser.

Invite nature into your room
One of my favourite things to have on display in my home is fresh flowers and I especially love to have them sitting on my dresser. They just really help to brighten up the place and the prettier the flower, the better - peonies and roses with gypsophila are my personal favourites for the bedroom. If flowers aren't your thing, then succulents, cacti and other potted plants are a great thing to have displayed on windowsills or bedside tables. You could also add nature to your bedroom by displaying some outdoor prints or pictures on your walls.

As you can see, my bedroom is very floral and shabby chic inspired, but it suits my taste and personality and ultimately, that's what you want in a bedroom. It's my perfect space to relax in and I love all the pretty pieces I have in there.

I'd love to know how you've decorated your own bedroom?

*This is a collaborative post.

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Sunday, February 19, 2017

Beau Samuel James | 9 Months Old ♥

My darling Beau, you are now nine months old.

You've now been alive for the same amount of time that it took me to grow you in the womb and in all honesty, it hasn't felt like that long at all, these past few months have flown by in the blink of an eye.

You're still your happy, cheeky and smiling self, although this past month has been a hard one for you, and I'm sorry to say for the rest of us aswell.

You've had your first visit to A&E and three separate doctors visits, before anyone could figure out why you just weren't yourself and why you weren't eating or drinking. Thankfully those ulcers on the roof of your mouth were finally detected and you're slowly getting back to normal now, but it's been a hard slog these past few weeks.

You used to sleep through the night, but since you were so sick you wake now, frequently. We're all absolutely exhausted but we know this won't last forever and hopefully, one day soon, you'll be able to sleep soundly once again. The sad thing is about it all is that you don't even want to be awake during the night, your little sleepy eyes close when you're in my arms but then the sickness or teething pain takes over and you can't help but whimper... my poor dote.

Two teeth is all you still have, but not from want of trying. Your top gum is so swollen and I can see the white of a new toothin peeking out, so hopefully it'll make it's appearance soon and you can have some relief from the pain of it all.

Moving around is something you seem to be taking more an interest in this month now too. You can't crawl yet but you shuffle around on your tummy with ease and I've spotted you pulling yourself up to sit and getting up on your knees a few times now. I don't know if I'm ready for you to be crawling about yet! You're a cheeky one so I can imagine you're just going to get into everything!

That hair of yours is getting curlier by the day and I can only describe the colour as being auburn, it goes well with your gorgeous big blue eyes.

Things you're loving at the moment are - digging all the toys out of your toy basket, watching Postman Pat on the television, bath time with your big brother, snuggling up to your comforters and bunnies in your cot, sleeping on your side and front (you were previously always a back person), holding my phone, riding along in Tyler's wagon, going for walks in your pram and sitting on people's laps and playing 'see-saw'.

You're such great fun Beau and your joy for life is so lovely to see, even through the pain you've had you still find the energy to smile. I hope this month of your life is a much easier one for you. You're our little cheeky one, our smiley, happy boy and we love you so much.

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Tyler Lee | 4 Years Old ♥

My little angel man, you are now four years old.

How we've already reached this stage in your life, I don't know... it seems as though these first few years of your life have gone by in the blink of an eye and here you are, a walking, talking, independent yet clingy, funny, happy and very loving four year old.

I'm not going to lie Tyler, you're absolutely crazy! You say and do the funniest of things and that creative little imagination of yours never ceases to amaze me. Your obsession with the washing machine is still going strong... (God help us), but at least the washing basket is always empty - quite a feat in a house with two young children I can tell you!

You're such a loving boy and I honestly think that having a little brother has been the making of you. You were unsure of him at first, but now he's your "best friend ever" and you're super protective of him - which I must admit is lovely to see. Having a little brother has taught you how to share, be gentle (kind of!), feel compassion and care towards others and how to show affection in leaps and bounds and I'm honestly so happy that you have a playmate for life.

You're not a man of material things, you never ask for new toys or things and you're honestly happiest when you're playing with your (broken from overuse!) toy washing machines, an empty box of colour catchers, some old clothes and a little basket from the pound shop. I should be happy really, although sometimes the washing machine talk does grate on us all, but for now it's fine and I live in the hope that one day you'll be fascinated by other things besides the washing (please!).

Gone is that little toddler who I loved so much and in his place stands a proper little boy, who I think I may love even more - if that's even possible. Your innocence is charming and wonderful. You're a 'true child' as I would say.

You still play with all your cuddly toys and call them your friends, you make up the most imaginative of scenarios to act out and play, you're unaware of things being gender specific (yay for this because you can like and play with what you want, always), you don't see people as being different and you're always happy to play with anyone you can and even though you exert your independence, you still crave cuddles from Daddy and I and in some ways are still quite 'little' and I love that, because one day, probably soon, you'll no longer want us as much as you do now and I think it might break my heart... just a little.

Your memory is amazing! You know where everything is located - even if we've just visited there once. You remember things from way back in the past, even when you were just a few months old and at times you scare me with just how much you know.

You're not just my son, my eldest boy and my baby - you're my best friend, my adventuring partner and my muse when it comes to taking pictures. I've known you for four years now and I couldn't feel more blessed to be your mother. Yes, there are times when I feel like I can't even deal with you, when your stubbornness is just too much and that 'little old man' trait you have where you think you know everything outweighs your cuteness, but my God do I love you.

Keep being you, keep smiling and being happy. Keep going on adventures and embracing the world around you. Keep being your quirky self and not following the crowd. Keep being imaginative and creative. Keep being the sweet, loving and caring little boy you are and keep being my baby - for another few years at least, please!

Don't grow up too fast, there is no need. Never change, you're perfect just how you are.

I love you, forever and always.

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Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Tyler Lee & Beau | Siblings {February 2017} ♥

It's such a cliché to say, but another month really has flown by - honestly, how are we already halfway through February?! My boys have been siblings now for almost nine months and their relationship continues to blossom and grow, in fact, they have a very close bond now and it's so lovely to witness each day.

Tyler still continues to be an overly protective big brother, still not being very keen for strangers to look at or speak to Beau and he's now begun calling him "his baby", which is quite sweet really, although I'm sure I did all the work?!

He reminds me throughout the day how much he loves Beau and says "he's my best friend" and he hates the thought of them being separated in any way, it's important for him, for us to do everything together and that's just fine with me.

Beau is still the cheeky little brother, smiling and giggling any time he sees his big brother throughout the day. He's very keen to sit by Tyler as he's playing and seems to find it quite amusing and entertaining to watch him running around and playing with all his toys. In fact, yesterday when we went for a walk, Beau was trying to lean forward to look out of him buggy to see what Tyler was doing - I may have to think about using the buggy in forward facing position soon... *sob*.

Tyler gets all his cuddly toys together and pops them next to Beau on a daily basis so that they can pretend they're 'on a bus' or that Beau is in school with his friends and he's the teacher - I love seeing him make up all these scenarios for them both, the imagination of an almost four year old is a wonderful thing!

This months photos were captured in the beautiful and magical grounds of Blarney Castle, a place we visit each February to take Tyler's birthday photos. This was Beau's first encounter of daffodils and he seemed to love the flowers just as much as his mummy does. Although these pictures are far from perfect, I absolutely love them and these captures of my two little boys surrounded by a sea of sunny, yellow flowers is just perfection for me.

Tomorrow Tyler will turn four, so I'll have a four year old and an almost nine month old - no way am I old enough to have children of these ages - where have the years gone?! It'll be interesting to see how the boys relationship grows over the coming year and how grown up they'll both become.


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Monday, February 13, 2017

20 Exciting & Alternative Date Ideas To Try With the One You Love ♥

I'm not going to lie, it's been an absolute age since Jacek and I have had a date night - much to my dismay. The two of us are always so busy and finding someone to babysit the boys while we're out and about is always a task, especially as our family members live out of town and are working all hours.

As the days go by though, I've realised that Jacek and I really do need a break from the kids once and awhile. Just some one-on-one time where we can enjoy a date together and have some laughs together. So, it's time to find a babysitter, someone reliable and who we can trust to look after the boys just as well as we do, without feeling like we have to rush home.

I feel as though finding a good babysitter is our only option now, as family just aren't available much these days and we don't have any other people to help look after the kids and we desperately need some time together.
 
We had agreed on having a date night once a month. A chance for us to have some 'us time' and to just enjoy being in each others company again doing fun things, because if I'm honest 'the couch' isn't the hotspot I want to be stuck on every Friday and Saturday night anymore.

I'm twenty-six for Gods sake, I need some excitement! So, in light of all this I've decided to put together a list of some fun and alternative date night ideas, things we wouldn't normally do but which I'd love to do throughout the rest of the year and hopefully they'll give others some date inspiration too.

Go to an outdoor movie. You know, like Grease style where everyone pulls up in their cars and watches a movie on a big outdoor screen? That. There's actually an outdoor cinema about fifteen minutes from our house and we've never been - shame on us. It only operates during the summer so this summer I'd love for us to go out and watch a film in the great outdoors, it'd be such an alternative from a normal cinema date and all from the comfort of our own car too.

Have a scavenger hunt. I think this would be such a fun idea and a really exciting one to put together too. Now that the nights are longer and brighter I'd like us to spend some time together outside and what better way to make it more interesting than putting together a little scavenger hunt for my other half? I'd have a ball putting together clues, hints and prompts and choosing a prize or two for the end. It'd be so much fun egging him on and seeing him trying to figure out my clues for each stage - yes I am easily impressed!

Have a BBQ and drinks on the beach. This is something we've never done in our area at night and there are so many beaches to this so I really want to do this some night soon. We could get one of those little disposable BBQs, make up some cocktails and mocktails (for the person driving home) and just sit amongst the sand dunes, watching the stars and listening to the lull of the waves drifting in and out on the shore - romantic huh?

Have a themed date. I'm all for themed things - parties, clothing, days out, etc. so what could be more fun then a themed date night? One or both of us could choose the theme and match everything to that, from the food to the music, the film we watch, the places we go, etc., we could even dress up for it, if we wanted to go all out of course.
Go bowling. This is something Jacek and I have never done together even though there's a pretty decent bowling area in our city. We've talked about going there a few times but just haven't gotten around to it, I really want us to do it this summer, it'd be a laugh seeing each others poor bowling skills!

Go to a gig. This is a date night we have had before and it was great fun - I was the only blonde and the only girl at a local metal gig but it didn't phase me. I know Jacek loves seeing live music and has been wanting to go to another gig as of late so we should just go for it and go out and enjoy some music and drinks together.

Visit a psychic. I am so into seeing psychics, spirituality and the paranormal and I'd love for Jacek to see how fun of an experience it is visiting a psychic too so I'd love for us to make a date out of it. I've gone on psychic visits with friends and family in the past so why not my partner too? It'd be fun to see if they mentioned either of us to the other and see if our fortunes come true - if not at least we had a fun time!

Hot air balloon ride. Now this certainly wouldn't be cheap but imagine the memories?! I have a slight obsession with hot air balloons at the moment what with my dress, my sons t-shirt and my soft furnishings so to actually go on one with the one I love? Priceless.

Watch the sunset and moon rise together. Is there anything more romantic than watching the sunrise or sunset together with the one you love? No, but possibly watching the moon rise - did you ever see that before, I didn't until last week, what planet have I been living on?! It was romantic thought and it's something I'd love to witness with Jacek too.

Photoshoot date. As you all probably know I love photography and capturing a moment in someones life. What better moment to capture than a date and the love between two people? I'd love to set up the tripod and capture moments between my other half and I in the meadow or somewhere else quite scenic, they'd be beautiful reminders of a lovely, simple date together.

Visit a historic place. Jacek and I have visited a lot of historic places together during the years and each time was so much fun exploring and learning about past times. You and your other half could pretend to be king and queen of an old castle - imagination is everything when it comes to dates people!

The first date night. Have you ever thought about your first date, the excitement, the butterflies and suspense you felt before meeting your other half? I would, only I didn't get one! So how much fun would it be to reinact (or actually have!) a first date. Meet somewhere, pretend you don't know each other and fall in love all over again? I know my whimsical self would love this.

Road trip. One of the best days Jacek and I have ever had together was when we drove around the Ring of Kerry in a day. We saw so much, experience all kinds of weather in that one day in one of most beautiful spots of the world and I even bought a played a tin whistle on the way home to him in the car. It was like something out of P.S. I Love You and I want to do it again.

Write letters to each other and post them. As a former snail mailer I absolute love this idea and think it's so romantic. My first boyfriend (I'm only ever had three mind, including Jacek), used to write me letters and leave them in my locker at school. It was such a special thing for someone to do for me and I'd love for Jacek and I to do this for each other, a Valentine's card one a year isn't enough, we need more romance!

Play truth or dare. Go outside, choose a scenic place and play truth or dare together. I used to love this game as a child so how much fun would it be as an adult? I'd have to come up with some very risque ones for Jacek if he picked dare!

Have a picnic together. Pack up a picnic, sit on a blanket by the lake or somewhere else you both really love and just enjoy being together. This is something I really want to do soon in one of our favourite places.

Mini-break date. If you fancy having your date last a whole lot longer than a night or a day why not surprise your other half to a mini-break date? I took Jacek away to Amsterdam as a birthday gift and that was our little date weekend together, it was perfect and something we must do again soon.

Eat chips along the seafront. Is there anything nicer than chipper chips smothered in salt and vinegar, ate on a bench along the seafront beside the one you love? This is such a simple date idea but one which I really like.

Go dancing together. Okay, if dancing isn't for you then you could always substitute it for clubbing. This may not be for everyone and although Jacek and I aren't dance fans or that fond of clubbing there is a decades themed nightclub in our city and we're both mad to get to the 90's floor one night. There'd be nothing more fun than having a few drinks and dancing along together to Rhythm Is A Dancer with each other - big box, little box people!

Go ice-skating. This is something we could only do in winter as the ice rink only arrives to our area in November but it'd be a really, fun and quite romantic date idea. You could hold hands with your other half and make sure each other don't fall!

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Friday, February 10, 2017

Dreaming of Beach Days & Tips For Choosing the Perfect Swimwear For Boys ♥

We're in the depths of February and here I am dreaming about sunny and warm beach days - I blame all the Australian people I follow on Instagram and their gorgeous, dreamy beach photos!

Finding the perfect comfortable and sun protective swimwear for my son is something I have to do every summer. We go to the beach quite a lot during the summer and ever since Tyler's first ever visit to the beach, he's been hooked on the foamy waves and the salty sea air.

Tyler absolutely loves going to the beach and jumping into the swimming pool whenever we're on our holidays, so a good quality and comfortable set of swimming togs is an essential for him. When the warm, sunny months and beach days come along, I'm always conscious about covering up his skin from the sun and making sure his swimming togs are comfortable for him.

Before I had Tyler, I always assumed that boys swimwear consisted of just shorts, either long or short, and that was it - oh how wrong I was. I wasn't aware at the time of just how sensitive children's skin is to the sun and just how well it needs to be protective - call me naive for sure!

Luckily, over the years, I've been able to find him some fun and colourful swimwear, consisting of matching tops and bottoms, all with UV protection and sleeves that keep him fully covered from the suns harmful rays, yet still comfortable enough to run about on the beach and go for a paddle or a swim.

Some things I've learnt about boys swimwear over the years are -
To avoid any bottoms which contain mesh on the inside, or if they do, to break it off. I've read some horror stories of boys being caught up in this and it actually causing them an injury - ouch!

Board shorts look super cool but aren't very ideal for swimming as they come down to the knee and inhibit movement a bit. So if you're little one is more interested in playing on the sand and going for a paddle then board shorts are fine, but if they're more into swimming than shorter trunks are more ideal.

For boys bottoms, it's good to find a pair which either have an elasticated waist or a drawstring at the waist - this avoids them becoming loose or falling down, yet still being easy for little ones to get up and down or untie for toilet breaks, etc.

Buying a size up is a good thing to do - especially if you're buying your son shorter trunks, as kids swimwear tends to run a bit smaller than normal children's clothing.

UV protection swimwear is a must, especially if your little one likes to play on the sand is exposed to the sun throughout the day. I also favour long-sleeved swim tops as they keep my son well protected.

I'm hoping that the weather this summer is good to us so that we can enjoy lots of long, lazy beach days. The beach is Tyler's happy place and he's at his most content when he's running around the beach, collecting stones, digging in the sand and jumping into the sea - no matter how cold it is!

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Thursday, February 09, 2017

Decorating With Flowers ♥

If you're anything like me, then you'll love having fresh flowers in your home. Not only are they such a pretty focal point, but they really help to brighten the place up too - especially on dull January days like today, where there's not a bit of natural light or colour to be seen.

I try to have fresh flowers in as many of the rooms of my home as I possibly can and honestly, decorating with flowers doesn't have to be a luxurious thing, there are plenty of lovely DIY projects you can do to display flowers creatively in your home and nowadays, even the most beautiful of flowers are now accessible to everyone - you can even get flowers delivered in Australia and they include rainbow roses, so magical for brightening up your home!

Flowers in glass bottles
This is such a simple idea but one I really love. Glass milk bottles are available from a whole host of places these days and they're perfect for popping some little flowers in to.

Flowers in painted jars
A cost effective little DIY and a great way of displaying flowers around your home. Simply paint some old jars (clean jam jars are perfect for this) in your favourite colours - pastel being my favourite for flower displays, and you have a lovely little colourful display for your petals.

Watering cans, wellies, wreaths...
Honestly, anything can be used to display flowers, so long as it has a hollow inside to hold the stems. I love the idea of displaying fresh, seasonal flowers in wellies outside the front door, popping plants and flowers in old watering cans to decorate the garden on a budget and making wreaths for the door to reflect the season - wreaths aren't just for Christmas and I already have some lovely spring wreath ideas in mind.

Fairy perfume
When I was a little girl I used to get a bowl of water and fill it up with flowers and petals in the hopes of making fairy perfume. I'm not quite sure I ever did get that beautifully scented perfume I was hoping for, but my efforts did result in quite a stunning little display of flowers and petals floating on water. This is a lovely display to have as a centerpiece or on tables around your home.

A 'washing line' of flowers
This is something I see a lot on Instagram and something which is so simple yet so pretty too. You simply need to put a piece of string across a wall in your house and hang fresh or dried flowers on it with little pegs. Extra points if you display some botanical postcards or floral pages from old books behind or beside it.

A floral chandelier
This is such a gorgeous idea and one that I think may be quite easy to make (or so I hope as I really want to try it!). Simply tie strings with flowers attached onto your light fitting and you have a pretty floral feature to adorn your ceiling. I absolutely love this DIY flower chandelier. Stunning!

Use vintage/old china teacups to display flowers
I'm a lover of shabby chic and have spoken about my love for it on the blog before and one of most beautiful, shabby chic-y things I can think of, is displaying flowers in vintage/old china teacups. If you have none to hand, your local charity shop or vintage shop will be sure to have some for very little money.

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Wednesday, February 08, 2017

Two Million ♥

Yesterday, this little blog of mine reached a milestone that I've been waiting for for quite some time now - it reached two million page views.

I honestly have no idea how I've amassed this many clicks on to this little space of mine on the big wide web, but here we are and I'd be lying if I said I was anything but delighted. Jacek even bought me a cake to mark the occasion, bless him. He also bought me a cake when I reached one million page views, so I think he's beginning a little tradition for me, it's very sweet.

This blog is much more to me than just a hobby. It's given me a sense of purpose in life, allowed me to stay at home with my babies and still feel as if I'm doing something worthwhile, it's brought me some amazing opportunities, allowed me to meet and speak to some of the loveliest people on Earth and it's a documentation of all of mine and my family's memories and adventures together.

I always wanted to be a writer, but I think that blogging has made me realise my true passion in life - photography, and one day, I hope that I'll be able to call myself a photographer and be happy to wake up every morning and know that my job is capturing other people's memories for a lifetime too and the beauty of the world around me.

Some days I feel stuck with this blog, never knowing what to write and becoming so defeated, but for now I'm not giving up. I have so many more thoughts, memories and adventures to share and I will continue to embrace this space that is all mine.

Thank you so much for reading and supporting my little blog, it really does mean the world to me.

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A Sick Baby, Sleepless Nights & Mum Guilt | When Parenting Takes It's Toll... ♥

This last week and a half has been absolutely hellish and it seems as though things are slow to improve...

On the night of January 26th I heard Beau crying in his cot. He had rolled over in his sleep, was unable to roll back (he hasn't learned that bit yet!) and must have bitten onto his finger, as there was blood on his cot sheet and his face. At this point in time he was inconsolable and I began to think he was getting sick as he just wasn't his happy, placid and contented self - usually he gets over any mishaps he has quite quickly, but this time there was just no calming him down.

For the next few days Beau began getting worse and suddenly gave up drinking his bottle. Along with this he began waking at all hours of the night, screaming uncontrollably and just not being able to be calmed at all. I decided to take him to an out of hours doctor, who was quite concerned about him not drinking - giving us a letter to go to A&E with him the following day if he didn't start drinking again.

The next day he didn't begin drinking again and even began refusing his dummy too, so I decided to take him to A&E, who, after a two hour wait, decided he was "still hydrated enough to not put IV's in or take blood tests". They sent us home on the advice to "give him frozen drinks"... what an absolute joke that was, especially as he wouldn't open his mouth.

It took two more visits to my own GP, eight days of  Beau being ill and refusing liquids, for him to be diagnosed with ulcers on the roof of his mouth, which presumably were making it impossible to drink due to the pain of the bottle teat hitting off the ulcers.

Why it took so long for this to be diagnosed I have no idea. I'm both angry and saddened by the fact that myself and my baby son were fobbed off that he had "a sore throat and an upper respiratory infection". He - and us to a certain extent - have been suffering for a week and a half now. Pain, hunger, thirst, sleepless nights, hours of just crying uncontrollably, rocking him constantly to give him some comfort... my arms are ready to fall off and the lack of sleep is killing me - and probably Beau too, considering that he used to love his sleep and slept through the night from the age of a mere five weeks old.

This is the first time that I've really felt like parenting has taken it's toll and I hate that I'm feeling this way as it's giving me flashbacks to when I suffered with post-natal depression after I had Tyler and I feel so selfish for just wishing Beau would sleep and drink so things can go back to normal. I feel close to breaking point multiple times a day and am trying to hold my cool - it's incredibly hard when your baby won't stop screaming, nothing you do comforts them and you feel like you have no help.

In some ways I feel useless - why can't I make him better? Then I feel frustrated as I'm making bottles, trying to feed him, enticing him to drink, only for him to refuse completely and then having to throw the milk away.

I'm also riddled with guilt due to the fact that Tyler obviously feels quite neglected and has taken to sleeping in my bed next to me just so he can be near me for awhile, sans Beau. He didn't even want me to leave his room last night and I feel awful for constantly having to tell him that "I need to do so and so for Beau" before I can do anything for him.

The only positive to all of this is that we've been getting plenty of fresh air - me being of the belief that fresh air cures everything, and plus, Beau really seems happy in his buggy as we walk around, even nodding off to sleep a few times.

Yesterday we went to Blarney Castle to take Tyler's birthday pictures, something we do every year and whilst Beau was sleeping I managed to have some fun with my older boy. It was great to have some one on one time with him and honestly, it was lovely to have a break from the crying.

It's been eleven days now since Beau drank anything that wasn't syringed into his mouth. He's living off yogurts and fruit purées and my days are centered on trying to keep him hydrated.

He's currently sound asleep in his room, with the rosiest red cheeks I've ever seen. I feel for him so much and wish he'd recover soon rather than later. I worry that after all of this he won't ever want to take a bottle again and I feel like a horrible person for wanting to lose the will to live anytime I hear him crying again at two o' clock in the morning, when I've just spent the last hour trying to get him to eat a yogurt and rocking him to sleep...

Parenting is taking it's toll right now and I'm yearning for my happy, smiley baby boy back...

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Safe Driving Practices & Things To Remember When Purchasing A New Family Car ♥


Since becoming a mother I've become a much better and more safety conscious driver. My hands are now always in the 'ten to two' position on the steering wheel, I'm more alert and aware of other road users and I never speed. In fact, I've never had any points on my driving license - thank goodness - but I know how easy demerit points are to pick up, even for the slightest of driving offenses. If you were driving on Australian roads it would be very easy for you to lose demerit points in NSW.

I think it's being aware of the precious cargo of my two sons I'm driving around now, that have helped me to be a more careful driver. After all, it's my job as their mother to keep them safe and the car is one of the places that I take maximum care with them - I hear of too many road traffic accidents in our local area not to be vigilant with our safety in the car.

I've been needing a new car for quite some time now. My current car is a three door and although I've now gotten used to getting both kids into the car in a quick and easy manner, I know that a five door would be so much easier, especially for getting Beau in and out of his swivel car seat.

I also need a bigger boot. I have a Silver Cross Pioneer pram for Beau which I'm planning on using until he stops using a buggy altogether, and the chassis is slightly bigger than a normal buggy so I need a roomy boot for fitting it all in - at the moment it just fits, but then there's no room for bags, shopping, etc.

Getting a new car can be quite costly though. I don't mind getting a second hand car but I need something reliable and if I'm honest, I'd actually love to get a new car, something which I can have for many years and not have to worry about upcoming repairs, NCT, etc.

There are a few things I'll be keeping in mind when purchasing a new car and I thought I'd share these with any fellow parents who are contemplating purchasing a new family car.

1. Safety is a priority
No parent is willingly going to put their children in an unsafe car, hence why I'm more inclined to want a new car. However, if you're going for a second hand car make sure you do thorough checks before purchasing. Bring a mechanic or a family member who you know is knowledgeable about cars, with you to the viewing and let them check the specifics of the car and determine in just how good a condition it is. Also, make sure to pay special attention to tyres as they are crucial for keeping the car in road worthy condition.

2. Determine your budget
Although I know I would love a brand new car, I know that it would be quite costly and with two kids to pay for I have to judge whether or not I can take on an extra bill every month. If you think you can afford it then car finance can be a great route to go down when it comes to being able to purchase your new car and pay back it back on a weekly or monthly basis, but remember to look carefully at the interest rate (APR) to make sure you're getting a good deal. This is an option I'm currently looking into, I just need to work out my monthly budget.

3. Take your family size into account (and if it'll be growing some more!)
As I said I need a five door car as I have two children. There's no point in sticking with a small car just because you've had it for a long time. I need more space in the car and I really do need those extra doors for getting everyone in and out easily.

It's important to take into account how much space you'll need for car seats and booster seats as your child will be using them for a considerable time. We're using the Maxi Cosi Axissfix with Beau and the Graco Milestone All-in-one with Tyler, which are both quite large car seats, so having the right amount of space to fit them both correctly is crucial. Also, it's important to think about whether or not your family will be growing some more, going for a bigger car can help you in the future by not having to upgrade or change your car again too soon.

4. The Economical Aspects
It's important to take into account, when changing your car - the cost of insurance on the new car - whether it will be going up or down, how much tax you'll have to pay on the car each year and petrol/diesel costs (if you're going up an engine size). My current car is only a one litre and is quite cheap to run and tax, hence why I've been slow to change it. I'll be considering the economical aspects before I purchase a new car as these will also have to be factored into my monthly budget.

5. The age of the car
I've recently discovered that some insurance companies are refusing to accept new policies on cars that are over ten years old. This means that you could be shelling out money on a car that's perfect for you, only to then not be able to insure it. If you can afford to get a newer car then definitely go for it.

Remembering these four tips will help you to choose the right car for your family and your budget.

*This is a collaborative post.


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Wednesday, February 01, 2017

Valentine's Day Gift & Treat Inspiration ♥

Valentine's Day is just two weeks away now (seriously, how quickly has that already crept up on us?!) and I have to admit, it's a day which always leaves me puzzled as to what to get Jacek. He literally is 'the man who has everything' and I always struggle to find the perfect Valentine's Day gifts for him - seriously, why is it so hard to find great gifts for men?

We always seem to end up just getting a takeaway or trying to fit in a child-free day to go for dinner or afternoon tea, but these are rare and far between, so I'm always keen to get him a physical gift for the day that's in it, just so he knows he's appreciated.

Whether you're searching for unique gifts for your husband or gifts ideas for wives, online gift stores such as Uncommon Goods offer unique, creative and ethical gifts that are sure to bring a smile to your loved ones face. My whimsical, dreamy self is loving these beautiful birthstone wishing balls and I think Jacek would love something quite kitch like these personalised whiskey barrels.

As well as the gift giving, I think I may end up baking some Valentine's Day treats such as my white chocolate popcorn again and putting up or Valentine's decor on the mantle as I like the house to be seasonal.

Hopefully Jacek and I do get some child-free time on or around Valentine's Day, but even if we don't, as least we'll still have a treat or two to look forward to on the day.

*This is a collaborative post.

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