Sunday, November 29, 2015

Christmas | 'Main Present' Ideas For Children ♥

 Rose Petal Cottage // Tidlo Country Play Kitchen // Bright & Blue Teepee 

I don't know about you, but when I was a child my Christmas present list to Santa included just three things - a 'main present', which was something considerably bigger (and in most cases more expensive) than everything else, a small present that I really wanted a surprise, the latter usually meant for a few small presents and a selection box. I was always delighted with what I got for Christmas but in all honesty it was probably the 'main present' which got played with the most.

My son is too young to write a Santa list at the moment (he's only two) so I have to decide his gifts for him and whilst this is great fun, it can be quite hard to come up with a 'main present' idea, especially for a child his age. I thought I'd put this list together of my top 'main present' idea picks at the moment and hopefully they'll give other parents some gift ideas.

1. Rose Petal Cottage by DreamTown - This may quite possibly be the prettiest playhouse I have ever laid eyes on and thankfully I've been able to see it up close for myself and it's just as beautiful in person. Rose Petal Cottage* is an indoor playhouse designed for toddlers (although my 7 year old cousin was inside my sons one and she loved it too!), which inspires hours of imaginative play and make-believe games. The beauty of this playhouse is in it's details which feature 'chocolate box' cottage illustrations, an opening door with letterbox, shuttered windows, broderie anglaise trim, shelf and photo frame, all finished in the prettiest of pastel colours. Rose Petal Cottage also boasts a toddler high cooker with opening over door and dials - sure to appeal to any budding bakers! This really is such a beautiful playhouse for little girls AND boys - my little guy loves his! Rose Petal Cottage is £99.99 and you can find stockists as well as details on the cottage and it's matching accessory sets on the DreamTown website. A more in-depth review of Rose Petal Cottage shall be on the blog next week.

2. Tildo Country Play Kitchen - This was my sons main present last year and I can honestly say that it was well worth the investment, he absolutely loves it and plays with it everyday! When I went searching for a kitchen last year the Tildo Country Play Kitchen was the most beautiful I came across. When I spotted it in the window of Pinocchio's Toy Shop in Cork last year I immediately had to go in a put a deposit down on it. The kitchen is done in a beautiful powder blue colour - a perfect choice to appeal to boys AND girls, it's made from wood so it has that traditional vibe to it, it boasts a Belfast sink, clock, working and clicking dials, an oven and a cupboard as well as three kitchen utensils, a wooden washing up liquid bottle and salt and pepper shakers. I joke that this kitchen will be passed on through the generations but it really is so beautiful and my son has hours of fun with it. The Tildo Country Play Kitchen is currently £120.40 on the Amazon website.

3. Bright & Blue Teepee - This gorgeous and bright teepee is from Youmi and Teepee, the website which I ordered my sons black and white chevron teepee from for his 2nd birthday. Youmi and Teepee's teepees are all fantastically made and come in the most beautiful patterns - their English rose teepee is absolutely beautiful too. The teepee's all come with poles for making them stand, windows with open and close curtains with tiebacks and the best thing is, they fold down for easy storage. My son loves his teepee and the best thing is that it can be used indoors and outdoors for imaginative play all year round. The Youmi and Teepee Bright & Blue Teepee is £86.99 and is available from the Youmi and Teepee website (no longer available).

4. Sylvanian Families Beechwood Hall - As I child, all I wanted every year from Santa was Sylvanian Families and sadly I never received them, thankfully I now have a son who loves Sylvanian Families so childhood me gets some enjoyment out of watching him play with his houses, families and cars. Beechwood Hall is one of the Sylvanian Families houses that he has and in my opinion it's the most beautiful of the houses available at the moment. It boasts five rooms, stairs, a balcony and working lights. Beechwood Hall is especially lovely to play with when the lights are on because it looks so beautiful all lit up and it would be the perfect gift for little ones to play with on the evening of Christmas Day and beyond. Beechwood Hall is £59.99 and is available from the John Lewis website.

5. Play Shop & Theatre (White) - This is such a gorgeous gift idea and is one I am considering for my son for his 3rd birthday in February. It's the perfect role-playing toy, acting as both a shop and a theatre with it's love red and white gingham curtains. It has two shelves and two chalkboards from displaying all your shops produce. This also the perfect gift for siblings as they can play shop together or put on a festive puppet show for all the family. The Play Shop & Theatre is also available in pink and is now £112 available from the Great Little Trading Co. website.

6. Jamm Scoot Ride On (Red) - A ride on is a great 'main present' alternative to a bike, especially if your little one is that bit younger. I really love the retro feel of the Jamm Scoot Red On in red, it looks super cool and the colours of it make it perfect for little ones of both genders. It's made of wood, meaning it's sturdy and perfect for hours of zooming around the house. The Jamm Scoot Ride On (Red) is now £44.80 and is available here.

7. Le Toy Van Complete Wooden Farm Set - We're huge fans of Le Toy Van products here in the Dolly Dowsie household and this Complete Wooden Farm Set is just beautiful, containing everything your little one needs for creating lots of farmyard adventures. This set has four parts and comes with four buildings, including a hen house, cow shed and stable as well as farmyard accessories, animals and characters - which are super adorable! It is £128.95 and is available here.

Hopefully this post has given you son gift inspiration. Is there anything on the list that you think your little one would love?

*This post contains a PR sample.


Friday, November 27, 2015

Our New Christmas Tradition | The Elf On The Shelf ® ♥

It's almost December 1st and I don't know about you, but for me that's the start of the Christmas season, the date when it's finally acceptable to embrace all things festive, glittery, magical and Christmas themed. I really do love Christmas, I always have and I always will and now that I'm a parent myself I try to look for ways to make Christmastime just as special for my little boy (and his future sibling!), as it was for me when I was a child.

Last year I discovered The Elf On The Shelf ® and thought it was such a lovely idea. I'm all for promoting the magic of Christmas and Santa to my son and I knew that this year, now that Tyler Lee is that bit older and understands what Christmas actually is (oh how his face lights up at a scene of anything Christmassy on the TV or in a book, he's a boy after his mother's own heart!) I've decided to introduce The Elf On The Shelf ® tradition to him.

The Elf On The Shelf ® is a scout elf who families can adopt from the North Pole. The Elf On The Shelf ® watches over your little ones during the day to make sure they're being on their best behaviour to get on Santa's 'nice list'. I would have loved a scout elf when I was a child, all we had was 'Santa's Magic Spot' and if you know what that is then you also had a fab childhood!

She (our elf is a girl!) uses Christmas magic to fly around the house and anywhere else she needs to go and where she ends up the next day and whatever she may be doing is the most exciting aspect of The Elf On The Shelf ® for little ones - who can resist some magic and wonder, especially at Christmas? I know I would have loved to have my own scout elf as a child and that is why I am beginning this tradition with Tyler Lee.

Our scout elf's name is Trixiebelle (you may notice that this is also my Twitter name!). Both names 'Trixie' and 'Belle' popped up on a The Elf On The Shelf ® name ideas board on Pinterest and I thought it was just perfect. Trixiebelle will beginning sprinkling her magic around our home and setting her good examples for Tyler Lee come December 1st, the day we register her name at the North Pole and I honestly can't wait to see his reaction, I'm sure he'll just love her!

We also have The Elf On The Shelf ®: A Christmas Tradition book to read to Tyler Lee, to let him understand a bit more why Trixiebelle will be in our house on the run up to Christmas. It's such a gorgeous book and I'm delighted to have it as part of our scout elf's visit.

I shall be posting about all of Trixiebelle's magic and good examples to Tyler Lee on our Instagram @fiandtylerlee and I may just have to share some snippets of her festive adventures in our home, here on the blog too.

*We were sent this product for the purposes of this feature.


Wednesday, November 25, 2015

15 Week Pregnancy Update | Baby #2 ♥

I'm now at the end of my 15th week of pregnancy and I'm just waiting for the day when I can actually enjoy this pregnancy instead of having health problem after health problem... This week I got an awful dose of the flu, passed onto me by my darling little boy. He had such a hard few days with a high fever, runny noses, coughs and a course of antibiotics and all he wanted was cuddles from his mummy, so it's not surprising I then got sick myself - I really wish I had gotten a flu shot when I was at the doctors a couple of weeks ago!

I'm absolutely miserable, have been confined to my bed most of the week as I feel so dizzy and weak when I stand up. I've been throwing up, can't breathe through my nose and have now gotten a horrible, dry cough - the joys of winter eh? I have also gone completely off my food and have no appetite at all, which I know is definitely not healthy during pregnancy but I just can't stomach anything. I just want to be better, get out and about, prepare the house for Christmas and take some new pictures of my boy. Fingers firmly crossed for a week of no ill health soon!

This week...

Baby is the size of a - pear, according to my pregnancy app.

I'm looking forward to - finding out the gender! It's actually all I can think about at the moment. Is it a boy or a girl?!

My favourite moment was - seeing Jacek graduate with his Bachelors Degree in Irish Law. I was so proud of him and I may have teared up a little watching him line up to accept his degree off his college's president.

I've been feeling - so ill! Stupid flu, please go away and let me breathe normally again!

I've been buying for baby - nothing so far, I'm so sorry baby! But I have gone through some of Tyler Lee's old things to see what we already have. I have an adorable Guess How Much I Love You comforter put away for the baby and all the little cardigans my Nan knit safely in a vacuum bag, ready to pop in the wardrobe when the nursery is put together.
I'm missing - feeling normal and actually being able to have a day without feeling ill, weak and generally under the weather.

I'm craving - nothing, thanks to the sickness my appetite has gone altogether.

I'm loving - all the rest I've been able to get. I don't think I've spent so much time sitting in bed watching TV shows online since I was last pregnant!
I've been meaning to - begin painting the house. The box room, which is going to be the nursery, desperately needs a new lick of paint. I want everything fresh and clean before baby arrives.

I can't wait for - the gender scan! It's all that has been on my mind. I knew from the beginning that Tyler Lee was a boy but with this baby I'm uncertain.


Monday, November 23, 2015

Tyler Lee's Christmas Gifts | 2015 ♥

Once again I'm super organised with my Christmas shopping, well, with the Santa list anyway. I find it so much easier getting things bit by bit and when they're on offer, it's much more cost effective this way and the only thing I really have to worry about is where I'll store the gifts before Christmas Eve night - next year it's going to be impossible to find a hiding place that Tyler Lee won't discover, he's become so curious lately. 

Recently I haven't been in the best health due to my pregnancy so I haven't been able to get out and about and to do my Christmas shopping - I'm actually dying to see the Christmas displays, thankfully I've been able to find everything I needed in an online toy store and I was actually able to see a larger selection of toys this way too instead of traipsing up and down the aisles of the only toy store in my city. I honestly find it much easier to shop online for toys and just get them delivered to my house - anyone else with me on this?

This year we had no main present to get Tyler Lee. We initially were going to get him his first bike but we're going to save that for his birthday in February. Now that he's a year older he's able to tell me things that he likes and he specifically asked if Santa could bring him a Bing and a Flop toy. He loves playing with LEGO so we've gotten him a couple of new Duplo sets, my favourite is the playhouse set, it's really sweet. He also loves his cars so we got him a wooden garage to keep them all in. I'm a big fan of wooden toys but the older he gets the harder it seems to find ones he'll be interested in but this one will be a real winner for sure! He also loves cleaning - using our mop, brush and hoover, so I got him his own little set for his toy kitchen.

Sylvanian Families Tree House //  Sylvanian Families Chocolate Labrador Family // Painting Caddy // Crayola Inspirational Art Case // LEGO Duplo My First Playhouse

Tyler Lee has quite the selection of Sylvanian Families already so we decided to build on it some more. It's great when your child has a collection that they love because it always makes way for a gift idea! We got him the Sylvanian Families Tree House - I just know he'll love putting them all down the slide! We also got him the Chocolate Labrador Family to go with it. By the way, I found a huge selection of Sylvanian Families toys here, a much larger selection than I've ever come across before. Ever since beginning playschool back in January Tyler Lee has become very interested in all things art and drawing - he can spend hours in a day drawing pictures, so we decided to get him some art sets. The Melissa & Doug stamp set will be a real winner with him because he gets a stamp on his hand everyday at playschool and loves it! The Crayola Art case has everything he needs for creating his little masterpieces and the paint caddy has everything for some fun-filled painting sessions at the kitchen table. It'll be lovely to do some arts and crafts with him after Christmas.

I just know he'll love everything and I don't think we've gone too overboard this year. Everything we bought is something I know he'll use and have fun with, plus the art stuff is quite educational I think, especially as he loves drawing and painting so much.

If you're looking for some more Christmas gift inspiration for your little ones you can see what Santa brought Tyler Lee last Christmas here.

What is your little one getting for Christmas this year?


North Pole Cupcakes ♥

I made these North Pole Cupcakes last year as part of a Christmas blogging challenge and I decided to share them again this year because who can ever resist a cupcake? They're especially harder to resist when they have a theme and I really love how festive these ones were. 

I have yet to make any festive recipes this year but I have some ideas floating around in my head and when I've recovered from this awful flu I shall be in the kitchen baking - we need some treats! You can be sure that I'll be sharing them all on the blog too, I love sharing my various creations and bakes with you all.

Now don't ask why they're called 'North Pole' cupcakes because I really don't know why! I just made theme in a snow and candy cane theme and the North Pole just sprung to mind so that's simply how they got their name! 

These cupcakes are super simple to make - just like everything I make because anything complicated I know I will get wrong! These cupcakes have a chocolate sponge topped with creamy vanilla icing, a good sprinkling of coconut flakes and decorations of silver balls, chocolate drops, candy canes, white fondant icing and blue glitter to make the various snowflake designs.

50g butter
115g soft dark brown sugar
2 large eggs
115g plain white flour
1/2tsp bicarbonate of soda
25g cocoa powder
125ml soured cream
Chocolate chips
Betty Crocker Vanilla Icing
Coconut flakes
Silver ball sprinkles
Ready to roll fondant icing
Blue glitter icing tube
Chocolate drops
Candy canes

1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees. Line a cupcake tin with cupcake cases.
2. Place the butter, sugar, eggs, flour, bicarbonate of soda and cocoa powder in a large bowl and beat together until smooth. Fold in the soured cream and chocolate chips and mix well. Spoon the mixture into the cupcake cases.
3. Bake for 20 minutes or until a knife comes out clear when inserted into the middle of the cupcakes.
4. Take out of oven and leave to cool completely on a wire rack. I cover my cupcakes with a tea towel to keep in the moisture.
5. When cool apply icing of you choice. I used Betty Crockers Vanilla Icing as I was short on time and I really love the taste of this particular icing.
6. Cover the vanilla icing with a generous sprinkling of coconut flakes.
7. Decorate with silver balls and other decorations of your choice. I chose to do snowmen made of chocolate drops and leftover orange sprinkles from Halloween. I rolled out my fondant icing and used a snowflake shaped cookie cutter to make the snowflake shape. I decorated some with silver balls, some with blue glitter icing and some with both - every snowflake is different, right? I also made some with tiny marshmallows, silver balls and a candy cane.
8. Serve and enjoy your North Pole cupcakes!
These delicious North Pole cupcakes are simple, easy to make and so tasty for a real Christmas treat! If you have little ones you can let them join in on the decorating and you can be as creative as you like.These are lovely for Christmas parties or family get-togethers or a something sweet if you just want to show someone you care whilst you're doing your Christmas visiting. I shall be dropping some of these out to my parents house for them to enjoy too.
Do you like the look of my North Pole cupcakes? What is your favourite Christmas recipe?

Thursday, November 19, 2015

The Common Misconceptions Of Being A Stay At Home Mother ♥

Before I became a mother I wrongly, was under the impression that stay at home mothers had it made. What could be better, I thought, than staying at home all day with your little darlings, not having to conform to strict time keeping to make it to work on time and being able to plan your week how you wanted - essentially I thought stay at home mothers were their own boss, oh how wrong I was!

I will admit that when my son was first born it was incredibly easy to look after him, I'd be lying if I said it wasn't. He used to sleep all the time, I'm sure he would have loved to have slept twenty-four hours a day if it wasn't for the fact that he had to eat and have his nappy changed. He was such a little angel and my house was cleaner than it ever had been, I had everything organised, dinner made every night and even had the time to shower and do my makeup. I was becoming the perfect housewife, something which I never thought I would achieve, this mothering malarkey is easy I oh so foolishly thought.

As the months went on I found it harder and harder to get my house in order, the lack of organisation drove me mad and it still does to this day, there are toys everywhere! I now don't have the dinner ready until my other half literally walks in the door and even at that it's a 'take frozen food out of the freezer but it in the oven and bam!' job. A stay at home mother is most definitely not her own boss. In fact, my boss, my darling son, is the most demanding boss I have ever had! He works me to the bone and doesn't even realise it!

Work can start at five in the morning, sometimes he will give me a lie in until seven but it's rare, very rare... and my day doesn't end until eight o' clock that night, that's a sixteen hour day, breaks are not included in my contract. He needs everything done when he wants and not a second longer otherwise his roars become intolerable, he's certainly got a good pair of lungs on him.

I am not allowed to work on my own initiative, he has me on a strict schedule that allows for no other 'jobs' to be done, meaning the laundry basket keeps breeding whilst I'm not looking and the basket of ironing sits on the tumble-drier unloved and untouched. By the time my 'shift' ends I am exhausted, I want to do nothing but lie on the couch and chill out but unfortunately there are things to be done - school bags to be prepared for the morning, blog posts to be written and other bits and bobs which are necessary to the smooth functioning of my next working day, in reality it's a twenty-four seven job - you are always a mother, always on call, always needed.

Stay at home mothers are unable to leave the house on their own the majority of the time and this task is no longer as simple as getting yourself ready and picking up your handbag - do you know how many things a child needs when out and about? A lot! I always have to have a supply of nappies, wipes, a change of clothes, snacks and an all important 'grink', because when he's thirsty boy is he thirsty! I went on a three day holiday with my boy and had to take four big bags, four! I can't exactly remember what was in those four bags but we needed it all, that I can assure you.

Being a stay at home mother can also be quite lonely, some days go by where the only adult I get to speak to is my other half when he comes home from work. There are no work colleagues to have a laugh and some banter with, no work nights out and no company throughout the day, you're not part of a team it's just simply you and everything is up to you to get done.

A stay at home mother also plays many roles - chef, cleaner, driver, carer, playmate, teacher, entertainer, along with so many others, how many jobs out there have these many roles for one employee? People seem to think I have all the time in the world to do what I want when I want - I think they're crazy! As you can probably tell these are people without children, oh the shock they're in for when they do eventually reproduce! I want to be a fly on the wall when the thought finally hits them that being a stay at home mother isn't all it's cracked up to be.

Another misconception of being a stay at home mother, and this one really boils my blood, is that people seem to adopt the false impression that stay at home mothers sit on their arses all day and sponge off the government - the people that think this are both ignorant and wrong! I for one don't receive any money from the government, not a cent. The only benefit I get is child benefit, something which every child is entitled to and all that money goes on my son. You won't find me spending my 'dicky dole' as it's so affectionately referred to in certain parts of Ireland, down the pub on a Friday night.

One of the most challenging things in my day is entertaining my son - do you know how easily toddlers get bored?! They can be occupied for literally a maximum of twenty minutes before they need something new to catch their attention. I am constantly on the move looking for a new toy to give to my son, new activities to spark his imagination, changing the TV channel because he wants 'Daisy', not realising that In the Night Garden is only on once a day! It seems like I'm constantly moving him around the house trying to keep him happy, it's better than being at a gym!

People laugh at me when I say I have to feed my son at a certain time and need to go home, find somewhere to sit, etc. They think he'll be okay for another few minutes, he most definitely won't be. When it's lunch time it is lunch time and that's at one o' clock, the time he gets home from school. If I didn't follow this strict schedule my life would be chaos and that would most certainly not be fun.

Stay at home mothers have no time to be sick, therefore it's necessary to make sure you're in optimum health! There is no cover to take over for you, children do not and will not ever understand that mammy needs a day in bed, they're unable to fend for themselves. When people express how much they're looking forward to the weekend I just smile and nod, the weekend is nothing to me, just another day just like the rest of the week following the orders of my boss and sticking to our routine.

However, there are many perks to my job which I could not live without. I get paid in lieu of lots of cuddles, what other boss would be so affectionate? I get to play with my son, see him laugh, giggle and shriek because apparently I'm hilarious! I get to see him grow, explore, learn and be amazed by the general wonder of the world that surrounds him. Being able to witness these things on a daily basis and be safe in the knowledge that I, as his primary caregiver, am the one who knows him best and will mind him like no one else will ever do, (mammy knows best after all!) really does give me peace of mind.

Being a stay at home mother is one of the hardest tasks in the world. This vocation that I decided to undertake has been the best thing that has ever happened in my life. To be a mother... it's a feeling I cannot describe. Nevertheless, there are far too many misconceptions surrounding stay at home mothers, people really think we have it made. I would love one of these people to spend a week in my shoes and do what I do everyday, it's bloody hard work but my God is it worth it.


Wednesday, November 18, 2015

14 Week Pregnancy Update | Baby #2 ♥

I'm now 14 weeks pregnant and once again I'm late writing this as I'll be 15 tomorrow, although I quite like writing these updates at the end of the week rather than at the beginning so I can really document everything.

This week I've been feeling quite a bit better, still experiencing headaches quite regularly but the chest pain only came on two evenings, last night being one and I wanted to cry with the pain. I must go back to my GP on Thursday to check my blood pressure again but it's pointless really as it's always fine in the morning and spikes late evening and night. I also threw up this week, I have no idea why this has started again as I haven't thrown up since seven or eight weeks but I really don't want this symptom back!

I've begun to really think about the baby's name, I think I've settled on a boys name - first and middle, although this might change between now and actually meeting the baby. I'd just like to get Tyler familiar with a name before baby's arrival so that he knows who we're talking about. Any guesses for the name?!

Hopefully the weeks fly by now to week 18 where we can find out the gender. I'm awful not being able to live with the suspense of not knowing!

This week...

Baby is the size of a - peach, according to my pregnancy app. I love being able to imagine the growth week by week now because of the fruit!

I'm looking forward to - finding out the gender on or around December 10th - who was I kidding thinking I could leave it as a surprise?!

My favourite moment was -getting lots of cuddles off my poorly boy. I wish they were happy cuddles and not sickly cuddles but the fact that all he wanted was his mummy has made me safe in the knowledge that I'm not redundant yet!

I've been feeling - better this week and the chest pain only occurred on two occasions, although it was very bad and painful last night - I wanted to cry.

I've been buying for baby - still nothing, I haven't even been out of the house due to my car being in the garage and the awful weather but I have begun to think about the things we already have for baby and that I should get them cleaned and organised soon.

I'm missing - a life without breathlessness. Climbing the stairs is like conquering Everest at this stage...

I'm craving - the cravings seem to have subsided this week, although I would love a hash brown roll with some red sauce if anyone's up for getting me one?!

I'm loving - all the dreams I've been having about babies this week. I actually had a dream about the baby being born, what the gender was and their full name. The middle name was Dawn, a name that I had never even contemplated before. A sign that the baby will be born in the morning like it's big brother?
I've been meaning to - begin clearing out the room which will be the nursery. It's currently our office and there is a lot of stuff in there. I predict everything being done after Christmas though.

I can't wait for - the private gender scan! I just want to know if it's another boy or a girl at this stage so I can get organised and pick a name.


Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Christmas | Perfect Gift Ideas For Him ♥

Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 / James Bond Seven Fragrance / Daniel Wellington watch // Gillette Spectre Box Set // Magical Zoetrope Gift Set // Retro Sweet Hamper

Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 - Everyone loves receiving new gadgets for Christmas and this Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 is the perfect gift for him this Christmas - Santa may or may not be bringing this for my other half this year... I researched through loads of tablets looking for not only the best specifics but also the best price too and this one came out on top. John Lewis also have an offer with this tablet at the moment where you receive a free mini wireless Bluetooth speaker worth £89.99 with every purchase - too good of a deal to miss out on! The Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 is £319 including the speaker.

James Bond 007 Seven 50ml Eau de Toilette Gift Set - If the guy you're buying for this Christmas is as much as a James Bond fan as mine then you can't go wrong with this gift set of the new fragrance 'Seven'. Jacek has all the James Bond fragrances so far so it's only right that I get him this one too and they really do smell amazing. This gift set is £27.95.

Daniel Wellington Dapper St. Maws Watch* - This is the watch which I got my other half for his graduation and it really is such a beautiful watch, exuding style and luxury with it's understated, chic appearance. This is a watch that will last forever and with it's stunning genuine Italian leather tan strap, large face and blue dials, it will always be in style. This Dapper St. Maws is $299 and is available from the Daniel Wellington website. Use the code dollydowsie to get 15% off your order, valid until the 15th of January 2016. I recently held a giveaway in conjunction with Daniel Wellington, you can read the post here, and the winner was Kate S. so congratulations to her!

Gillette Spectre 007 Flexball Box Set - When I asked Jacek for a suggestion for this gift guide he said one of the best gifts you can get a man is a new razor and this special edition Spectre one from Gillette looks good. Apparently it makes for a very smooth and close shave, making it an ideal gift for the man in your life this Christmas. Also, it's now half price in Tesco for just €13.74 - bargain!

Tickets To See His Favourite Band - This is a gift which I always love to get someone whenever I can. I always think 'experience' gifts are some of the nicest you can get and so far I've taken people to see Radiohead, Deftones, Beck and Slipknot, so it'd be nice to add to the list! I really want to get Jacek tickets to see Black Sabbath next year but sadly they only seem to have one UK date, hopefully they'll add more. Band tickets are always the perfect gift choice for music lovers and they'll always be delighted with their tickets and the memories of the experience will last a lifetime too!

Lush Magical Zoetrope Gift Set - Guys love Lush too! Last year I picked Jacek up a gift set and he loved it, it really helped him to relax and unwind after work with a lovely, warm bath full of Lush goodness. Magical Zoetrope is one of their new gift sets for Christmas, although I'd say it's decidedly less Christmassy than some of their other offerings. This gift set contains 8 bath time products which he's sure to enjoy when soaking in the bath. Magical Zoetrope is £39.95.

Retro Sweet Hamper - I think hampers are some of the most fun gifts you can get/put together for someone as the recipient has the anticipation of opening it to see what's inside. This retro sweet hamper from Getting Personal is bound to satisfy any sweet tooth. Filled with Flying Saucers, Love hearts, Black Jacks, Foam Shrimps, Candy necklaces and a whole host of other classics, it's bound to keep him happy and reminiscing about his youth! The retro sweet hamper is £24.99.

*This post contains a PR sample.


Monday, November 16, 2015

Christmas Tree Toblerone Brownies ♥

 Last Christmas I made these adorable and delicious (if I do say so myself!) Christmas Tree Toblerone Brownies. I was originally going to make normal brownies and decorate them similar to the previous years Christmas Tree brownie effort but I decided to go that extra mile and make something a bit prettier this time around.

I decided to add in the Toblerone last minute after I remembered I had put some away for Christmas, (score!) this gave the brownies a really lovely, chunkier texture and Toblerone infused throughout really made them mouth-wateringly good.

These were super simple to make, even if they did seem to take an age thanks to my perfectionist nature! I did some 'lazy girl' baking and used a Betty Crocker brownie mix to make the brownies, (tut, tut I know but I only decided to bake last minute - so spontaneous!) I then cut up bits of Toblerone and put them in the blender to make them a lot smaller and smoother. I folded them into the brownie mixture and poured it into a parchment paper covered tray. I baked them for twenty minutes at 180 degrees. When done I took them out of the tray, left them on the parchment paper and put them on a wire rack to cool down.

I had some green fondant icing left over from Halloween so I rolled it out with a rolling pin until it was quite thin. I then used my Christmas tree shaped cookie cutter to cut out the Christmas tree shapes. When the brownies were cool I used the same cookie cutter to cut out little brownie Christmas trees. I then cut up some red and white candy canes and stuck them in the end of the brownies to make stands for the Christmas trees. I then placed the green fondant icing on top of the brownies to create little green Christmas trees.

 I then used yellow and pink (I had no red) glitter icing tubes to create the look of tinsel and lights on the tree. I then stuck on gold balls for stars and silver ones around the trees to give the look of baubles. Finally I sprinkled some red candy bits over the trees to give the look of decorations on the trees - it really was that simple!
I think these Christmas tree brownies look far more complicated then they actually are. They were absolutely delicious and I'll definitely be making more of these for this Christmas tooand giving some to my relatives, I think they're so pretty. These Christmas tree brownies are proof that even 'lazy baking' can make tasty sweet treats too!


Sunday, November 15, 2015

Pregnancy | Baby #2 | My 1st Trimester Essentials ♥

You have no idea how happy it makes me to say that I'm finally in the second trimester with this pregnancy. The first trimester was pretty tough going. I lived on soda bread and butter with copious amounts of water for most of it and I reached a point where I couldn't even look at another piece of bread without feeling ill. There are a few things which made me feel better during my pregnancy and I thought I'd share them on the blog, just in case there are any other pregnant ladies out there who are suffering during this stage of their pregnancy too and are looking for some things to make them feel a bit better and healthier.

Pregnancy Vitamins
My pregnancy vitamin of choice for this pregnancy is Vitabiotics Pregnacare Original, which are vitamins that you can take throughout the whole of your pregnancy. I like to think that these vitamins are doing myself and baby a world of good because my skin has improved a lot - it was so dry due to the pregnancy, my nails are shiny and so strong now and my hair is growing like wildfire. I love that these contain everything you need to nourish yourself and your baby during pregnancy and it's great to have an all-in-one so you don't have to remember to take separate folic acid tablets, etc.

LUSH H'Suan Wen Hua Hair Conditioner
As I said above, my hair is growing loads at the moment - probably due to a combination of pregnancy and the pregnancy vitamins and it was becoming very unruly and quite dry at the ends. I absolutely love LUSH products and have featured them multiple times on the blog before, they really work for me and I never find myself disappointed with how they work for my skin and hair, H'Suan Wen Hua is no exception. I put this on my hair twice a week and leave for 20 minutes before shampooing and conditioning as normal. The smell is a little 'out there', it reminds me of a Christmassy smell and it wasn't one I liked at first but it's growing on me, but my God, the results are amazing! My hair is now sleek, shiny and in great condition - which makes brushing so much easier.

Baby Names Book
It may be early days but I just love looking through my baby name book for some name inspiration, after all, naming your baby is one of the most important decisions you will ever make for them. My book is The Brilliant Book of Baby Names, What's Best, What's Hot & What's Not by Pamela Redmond Satran and Linda Rosenkrantz and it's filled with name inspiration. I find that when I'm awfully sick, thinking things about my baby like what I'll call them, what they'll look like, etc. really helps to get me through the bad days. I've only thought of boys names so far and I like a name beginning with an S, B and a J! Feel free to make some guesses!

I recently got a Marella Cool BRITA Filter Jug* and it has been the best thing ever for helping me to drink lots of water. I fill it up about three times a day and always empty it. I keep it in the fridge and it's great to be able to have some ice-cold water throughout the day - it really helps me to feel better. I've never been keen on drinking the tap water from my area, it always seems to have small particles floating about in it and a funny taste but once it's gone through the BRITA Filter it comes out crystal clear and quite pure tasting. It's one of the best things I could have gotten myself during this pregnancy because all I'm drinking is water and it makes me stay away from the fizzy drinks. It's making me healthier!

Pregnancy App
I was searching on Google Play Store for a week to week pregnancy app and the one that appealed to me most was Pregnancy +. It's a really lovely app that gives you a weekly update on how baby is doing but also how you may be feeling, what you should be eating and how your body can be changing in that particular week. It also gives you weekly 3D and 2D images of what your baby may look like, what size it should be on a particular week and it has sections for baby names, things to remember and appointments. It's free for the first 15 weeks and then it's €3.49.

Lip Balm
As with my hair, my lips are also incredibly dry too and they can be quite sore - no amount of water is giving them hydration! I was lucky enough to be sent the Lanolips 101 Ointment Multipurpose Balm* which was a product I had never used before but which had immediate effect on my lips. The results with this balm from just one use are amazing, it transforms my lips from dry and cracked to soft and supple and it's something which I'll also be taking into the labour ward with me.

It may not be an obvious pregnancy essential but candles have really helped to put me at ease during this pregnancy. They've helped me to calm down when I'm having terrible chest pain and the scents of them have even helped get me to sleep when I'm having an attack of an awful headache. There's something so peaceful about lying in bed with the curtains closed and a beautiful scented candle beside you. My favourites at the moment are Yankee Candle Sparkling Snow and Lavender.

Frozen Drinks/Ice Lollies
There is nothing more refreshing when you're feeling terribly ill and are too nauseous to eat than a frozen drink or ice lolly. I lived on these during the first trimester and they really did help to make me feel better - I think it's the coldness to them. I couldn't (still can't!) eat ice-cream because dairy is making me ill so these were a great alternative and are really cheap too. You can even make your own with some water and fruity cordial left to chill in the freezer.

What were your 1st trimester essentials?


Wednesday, November 11, 2015

13 Week Pregnancy Update | Baby #2 ♥

I'm now 13 weeks pregnant and am a little late writing this as I'm 14 weeks tomorrow, finally it seems to be progressing because I felt like the weeks were dragging before! According to my app I'm now in the second trimester and it feels great to say that because being pregnant after a miscarriage, I find myself constantly checking my symptoms, etc. My mind is slowly becoming at ease now.

This week has been quite hard. I had another visit to my GP to recheck my blood pressure and I complained to her again about the chest pains I'm getting because they're very painful and are becoming quite unbearable in the evenings now - I find myself having to go to bed at half eight to try and ease the pain - watching the Royle Family on YouTube is helping to give me some giggles and take my mind off the pain!

The GP sent me up to the ER in the maternity hospital as she said she couldn't let those symptoms I was having - chest pain, headaches and blurred vision, go without being checked by the hospital. I had a four hour wait (I admit, I cried a little because I was on my own, extremely tired and in pain) but when I finally got to see the doctor I got an extensive check up just to see what is going on and causing all these symptoms.

I had an ECG, had my lungs checked, have been put on medication to try and bring down my blood pressure and I got another scan just to check all is okay with baby. I also got to hear their precious heart beat for the first time! It was such a lovely moment and it really ended my awful day on a high.

My blood pressure was very high again when I was leaving the hospital - 147/100, so I have to return to my GP soon to see if the medication is working to bring it down. I really don't think so though because if anything the chest pain is getting worse. I hope week 14 is a healthier one for me!

This week...

Baby is the size of a - kiwi, according to my pregnancy app. I finally can relate to the size!

I'm looking forward to - a day when I actually wake up and feel healthy and like myself again. I've felt so ill since my last update.

My favourite moment was - seeing the baby again this week and hearing it's heartbeat for the first time! Even though I was in the emergency room for more serious symptoms it was so lovely of the doctor to check that baby was okay.

I've been feeling - so weak. I'm now on bed rest and it's awful. I'm actually so bored and I don't even want to turn the laptop on because I've already caught up with all the shows I watch!

I've been buying for baby - nothing so far, I haven't even made it out the door this week. Jacek bought a large box of baby wipes but I predict these will be used long before baby arrives! I have been thinking about what we need for baby though and working out what we already have. As this is my second pregnancy I know what I'll actually use with the baby and won't be wasting any money on 'must haves' which we didn't even end up using with Tyler. I recently contributed to a New Baby Checklist, where I gave my honest opinions on four products that people usually buy and use during pregnancy and once their baby arrives. You can read through the list here, which contains 36 'essentials' for mum and baby.

I'm missing -a life without acid reflux, headaches and chest pain. Hopefully it all stops soon...

I'm craving - still salad. It's quite sad that my unborn baby is already healthier than I will ever be!

I'm loving - lighting my Christmas scented candles and taking some time to relax. I've been told by family members and the doctors I've seen that I need to de-stress.

I've been meaning to - Begin my pregnancy journal and record this pregnancy to look back on in the future. I know I have these blog posts but I love having everything written down too. I also need to complete Tyler's scrapbook of all our time together before the new arrival.

I can't wait for - the next scan, which will be on December 23rd - a lovely Christmas present for sure! I love seeing my little baby on the screen and it's such an active baby already, so lovely to see it wriggling about.


Monday, November 09, 2015

The Perfect Gift | Daniel Wellington Dapper St. Mawes Rose Gold Watch Review & A Giveaway ♥

Daniel Wellington has become a very popular brand to have when it comes to watches. I remember a PR lady at a blogger event complementing my Classic Sheffield Lady watch and telling me how Daniel Wellington was the 'in' thing when it came to watches, at that point in time I had no idea just how popular they were.

It's not hard to see why their watches are so popular, not only do they serve as quality timepieces but they are effortlessly stylish too with their sleek look, they have such a luxurious feel to them. So when the lovely people at Daniel Wellington got in touch and asked if I'd like to review another of their beautiful watches I really couldn't resist, only this time I chose one as a gift for my other half. I've spoken on the blog before about how Jacek is graduating this month and I thought what better gift to present him with than with a stunning, classic looking watch that he could treasure forever.

I browsed through the Daniel Wellington men's range and fell in love with the Dapper St. Mawes Rose Gold watch. I thought it was different from any watch Jacek has had before, something quite special and the tan Italian leather strap was really stunning to me, I love how it goes with the rose gold casing of the watch and the blue hands on the face. The numbers are done in Roman numerals and there is also a date dial on the watch face. It's such an elegant and expensive looking watch, making it the perfect gift of choice for someone who is graduating from a law degree.

I can't wait to see Jacek sporting his Dapper St. Mawes Rose Gold watch*, it'll be the perfect timepiece for him to wear each day and to make those suits he'll be wearing in work look extra dapper and handsome for sure.

The Dapper St. Mawes Rose Gold watch is $299 and is available to purchase from the Daniel Wellington website. Use the code dollydowsie to get 15% off your order, valid until the 15th of January 2016.

The fabulous people at Daniel Wellington have very generously offered one of my lucky readers the chance to win a Daniel Wellington watch of their choice. Enter via the Rafflecopter below and make sure to fill out all entries. This giveaway is open worldwide and shall end on November 16th. Best of luck to everyone who enters.

*I was sent this product for the purposes of this review, as always, all thoughts and opinions are 100% my own.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, November 07, 2015

The Book Advent Calendar ♥

 Last year I began a new Christmas tradition for Tyler Lee, I put together a book advent calendar for him. Whilst scrolling down through my Facebook feed one day (as you do) this image of books wrapped up in gorgeous Christmas wrapping paper popped up and being a Christmas lover I had to click on the photo and see what it was all about.

The idea is to wrap up twenty-five books, they don't all have to be new and they don't all have to be Christmas themed, in fact, I went with the theme of childhood favourites of Tyler Lee's father and I, winter and Christmas and some of the books are ones which were in his Christmas Eve basket last year but the idea is for the child to choose a different book each night before bed beginning on December 1st so that they have a new bedtime story each night leading up to Christmas Day.

 I've put tags on the books to say what book they are and what date they should be read on starting with the least Christmassy and winter themed books first. Of course, when Tyler's older it'll be a pot luck pick for him to see which book he picks from the basket and this will add even more excitement to the book advent calendar for him.

 I simply loved this idea and I loved how it all turned out last year so I'm continuing on with the tradition. My boy is a little bookworm and I regularly catch his taking books off his shelf and sitting down to have a look through them. He loves bedtime stories and sometimes even looks for a story at nap times too. He always wants to see the books after he's been read them and he really shows and interest in the pictures, turning the pages and pointing to the characters he likes so I think the book advent calendar is something that he'll really love throughout the years.
These were just some of the books I wrapped up for the book advent calendar last year. We now have a big box full of Christmas books and we picked up a lot of Christmas books from a local charity shop at the end of last year so I'll be including them within the calendar this year - it'll probably turn out to be a complete Christmas theme this time round.

I'll do a little update on this years book advent calendar when I'm wrapping it all up - must try to do this sometime next week.

1. The Gruffalo's Child // 2. The Snowman and the Snowdog // 3. The Christmas Tale Of Peter Rabbit // 4. The Night Before Christmas // 5. Richard Scarry's Best Bedtime Stories Ever // 6. Santa Is Coming To // 7. One Snowy Night // 8. The Nativity // 9. Baby's First Christmas (Similar) // 10. Stick Man // 11. Millie-Mae In Winter

I think the book advent calender idea is perfect for Christmas time too as it promotes what Christmas is all about for me - spending time with family and treasuring each moment with them. Jacek and I have tried to make bedtime a fun and enjoyable time for our son with all his night lights, lullabies and bedtime stories and this book advent calender just adds another fun element to this time of day with a great festive twist.

Do you have this tradition in your house? Is it something you would like to do this Christmas?

Tuesday, November 03, 2015

Pastel Inspired Fashion For Autumn/Winter From Joules ♥

Autumn is well and truly upon us and the colder winter days won't be long coming too so it's time for a wardrobe update. I'll be honest, I tend to only buy clothes that can be suited to various seasons - dresses that can be worn on their own in the summer or with tights, boots and cardigans in the winter for example - and I'm never one to shy away from prints or colour no matter what time of the year it is, so when I saw the above pieces, some featured in the Joules sale, they really inspired me to add some new, pastel loveliness to my wardrobe for the autumn/winter season.

I'm a big fan of Joules clothing, not only for myself but for my son too. Their offerings are always stylish and the fabrics have quite a luxurious feel to them, the quality of the garments is just perfect and it's something which makes me always keen to repurchase from the brand.

I really love the above look, it's one I'd wear for everyday and it's the perfect look for going shopping, running errands or doing the school run. I love the posy print on the sweatshirt and the pink and blue combo is really pretty. I think the ditsy print scarf is the perfect, pretty accessory for not only keeping warm but for adding detail to the outfit too and I really love Joules scarves, I'm always wearing my one. The ditsy print scarf is now half price in the Joules sale and you can get it here. Skinny jeans are now a staple of any casual look and go with everything, they're perfect for dressing up or down too depending on the event you're wearing them too. 

Autumn and winter means cold, rainy weather and lots of puddles so a pair of fleece lined wellibobs are just the ticket for keeping feet warm and dry. I really love these French navy style wellibobs, the fact that they're an ankle welly means that I'd wear them daily because they have the look of boots rather than traditional wellies and I really like that. The powder blue dot print raincoat is a style staple for autumn and winter and I'm not lying when I say I'm in desperate need of a new raincoat! I really love the look of this one and the fact that it's part of the Joules sale is making me want it even more - I can never resist a bargain! Finally, I like to have a handbag with me if I'm going shopping or running errands but I don't want something too big or bulky. This tan coloured crossover bag is just perfect for carrying what I need and the tan colour is perfect for this time of year.

I really do love this look. Pastels and floral prints will always be a favourite of mine, no matter what time it is. I love picking up bargains in the sale too, especially when the pieces can be transitioned for different seasons throughout the year.

Are you a fan of Joules clothing? Do you shy away from pastels in the autumn/winter months or embrace them like I do?

*This is a collaborative post on behalf of Joules.

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