Saturday, December 31, 2016

Me & Mine {December 2016) ♥

It's Me & Mine time again and it's the last day of 2016 - I can't quite believe it! These pictures were taken on the tripod which Jacek bought me for Christmas, but I think I may need to have a good practice with it before next months pictures, as the pictures we took last month by just balancing the camera on Beau's buggy came out far better than these - oops!

I mean what face is Tyler even doing in the above picture?! Three year olds and their spontaneous funny faces in play again! We also couldn't get Beau to look at the camera, so it was a fail all round, but at least we tried! We'll hopefully fair better next month. At least we're candid!

This past month was filled with preparing for Christmas and then the festive season itself and having been in the house for days I was delighted that we could all go out to our favourite woods for some fresh air, walking and picture taking.

This month Jacek is loving:
Building his Simpson's Lego house
Having a break from work
Festive dinners - cooked by others!

This month I'm loving:
Spending some quality time together as a family
Catching up with friends
Having both my boys fall asleep in my arms at night time 

This month Tyler is loving:
Playing in his new playhouse!
Chocolate treats
Playing with Daddy's Lego house - 'Simsims' he calls it!

This month Beau is loving:
Being able to sit up 
The Peter Rabbit music box Santa brought him
Sitting on mummy's lap whenever he gets the chance!

The Me and Mine Project


Friday, December 30, 2016

My Weight Loss Achievements 2016 & A Giveaway ♥

2016 was the year I finally took the bull by the horns and decided that I had to do something about my weight. My weight is something I've struggled with since I was 19 - a lifestyle of inactivity and takeaways started it all off, and two babies later I was feeling less than pleased with myself and how I looked.

On July 30th I made a simple change to my diet - instead of skipping breakfast and then snacking on junk food, I began having a high protein shake each morning and then a lunch and dinner later on in the day.

This was such a simple change, making it very easy for me to stick to and later on in the year I even began vlogging about my weight loss journey. I meant to do a vlog update two weeks ago, but with Christmas preparations and then the festive season being in full swing, I just haven't had the time. You can check out my channel if you're interested in watching my weight loss update vlogs.

I'll begin vlogging about my weight loss journey again in the New Year and hopefully I'll be able to do a weekly update, but for now I thought I'd share my achievements from the year here on the blog and a giveaway for any of my readers who are on/or hoping to go on, a weight loss journey too.

This year I've lost a total of 105cm off my body. My biggest losses have been in my bust and hips and even though I got a bit lax with my whole diet and fitness regime in December, I haven't had a big gain in my centimeters.

I started listening to my Thinking Slimmer Slimpod over a month ago now, but I find that I can go a week straight of listening and then forget and I feel as if I'm totally failing with it then. I'm really going to put an effort into listening for a month straight come January and hopefully I'll see some positive changes in my attitude to food and losses with my measurements and on the scales too.

I've dropped two dress sizes this year and I now wear a size 14 in tops and dresses and a size 16 in bottoms. It's great to be able to go shopping and actually feel good about what I'm seeing back in the mirror. I'm wearing clothes that I've had in my wardrobe that have been neglected for years as I couldn't fit into them, but now they fit fine and some are even loose on me.

My goal for the New Year is to lose 42lbs and hopefully with some hard work, exercise and a balanced diet I can achieve this. I would be lovely to be slimmer for summer and not hide away in leggings, like I have done for previous years.

The online health and fitness supplement suppliers, Discount Supplements, have very kindly offered one lucky reader the chance to win their own 'stay on track kit' for helping to achieve their New Year health and fitness goals.

This giveaway is open to residents of the UK and Ireland only. The giveaway will run for two weeks and end on January 15th. Best of luck to all who enter.

Terms & conditions:
This giveaway is open to residents of Ireland and the UK only.
This giveaway will run for two weeks and will end on January 15th at 23.59pm.
The prize includes the items shown in the picture above.
The prize is being supplied directly from Discount Supplements.
All invalid entries will be deleted.

Discount Supplements


My Blogging Progress In 2016 & My Goals For 2017 ♥

Another year has come to an end. I can't quite believe how quickly it went by and although so many people think that 2016 was an awful year, for me it was a great one, as we welcomed our beautiful baby boy Beau into the world and I made some great progress with this little blog of mine.

Last year I shared a post on my blogging progress in 2015 and my goals for 2016, and I thought it'd be good to make this an annual thing, an evaluation of sorts, so that I can see that I'm actually succeeding at something in life.

I have to admit, this year I was a bit lax with this blog, and my second blog, Fawns & Fables, was awfully neglected too - I think I just shared five posts on it this past year, how awful of me... Being pregnant and wanting to sleep all the time made the first part of this year a rather unproductive one. Then once Beau arrived all I wanted to do was spend time getting to know him and get out and about as a family. The latter part of the year was spent running around after two little boys, leaving me too exhausted to blog.

I also hit many 'walls' this year, having so much inspiration and many ideas, but I felt stuck when it came to actually implementing them and getting everything written and shared on here and on my other blog.

However, both blogs have still done really well this year and I'm delighted with my progress, even if I wasn't fully on my blogging game.

I started 2016 with just shy of 1,250,000 page views and I now have 1,870,000, that's an average of 52,000 page views a month - which I don't think is bad going considering I gave up promoting or writing new posts on many occasions throughout the year.

However, in December alone, I gained 170,000 page views, so I think things are definitely on the up and I'm ever closer to reaching my next milestone of 2 million page views - yay!

Fawns & Fables has also reached 50,000 page views this week and I'm delighted with this little milestone. It's great getting to experience all these achievements with my new blog again.

My social media has also grown this year, especially my Instagram which has doubled in followers. My next goal with this is to reach 10 thousand and hopefully I'll smash that in the New Year. I didn't really bother with my other social media channels this year as I don't really care about Facebook, I just leave my Twitter to do it's own thing and I'm not quite sure how to grow my Pinterest, but I did gain new followers on my YouTube channel and now have over 600 followers - 1,000 is my goal for the New Year.

Vlogging was a big step for me this year but I actually find it quite fun and I hope to make more videos of our family this year.

This year I was asked to be an ambassador for two great brands, the first being Frugi, who I have worked with since the beginning of the year and Pampers, who I began working with in October. It was such an honour for me to be linked to these brands and I was delighted to be chosen as an ambassador for them both.

I was also invited on two press trips this year, the first to Frankfurt to visit the Pampers Innovation Center and the second to London to attend the AVEENO Baby skincare symposium and BlogFest.

I've had the pleasure of working with some amazing, well-known brands this year too - Kokoso, Dyson, Oliver's Travels, Expedia, Silver Cross, Yankee Candle, Laura Ashley, Greentom, Whiskas, aden+anais, Mattel, Travelbag, Hasbro, Graco, Maxi Cosi, Lamaze, Cadbury, 7am Enfant, Polarn O. Pyret, Miffy and Joolz, to name a few.

I don't think I will be accepting many products for review in the New Year, unless the product is something I desperately want/need or think that my readers will benefit in knowing about. Instead I'd like to concentrate on collaborations and social media promotion, as I feel this embraces the photography aspect I want my blog to have a whole lot better.

This year I attended another blogging conference - Blogfest in London, but sadly I had to leave early to catch my flight so I'm not sure I gained a lot from it. It was lovely to meet up with some of my fellow bloggers for dinner and prosecco the night before though and meeting my lovely friend Hayley from Sparkles & Stretchmarks was a highlight for me.

My goals for both of my blogs this year is:

To post all killer and no filler (and no I don't mean the Sum41 album). I want each blog post I write and feature to be inspirational in some way and a true expression of me. I've shared my thoughts on the importance of being true to yourself and I believe that the only way to succeed in life and especially within the blogging world.

I want the blogs to be very photography orientated and feature more days out, more DIY, more ideas and tips and to share all of my loves and experiences with my readers. I received a tripod for Christmas and I'm upgrading my camera, so I have no excuse not to gain more skill with my photography and create more creative shoots this year.

I've already turned down work this year as I felt the posts just didn't suit my 'brand' or what I want to express in my blogs and I'll continue to do that.

I want the posts and work I share to be of a high standard and identifiable to me and what I stand for - if it's not personal to me then it's not being shared, end of.

That's it really and I think it's a pretty easy goal to achieve.

As it's the beginning of a new blogging year, I thought I'd share some blogs I love to read - Sparkles and Stretchmarks, Gingerlillytea, Missing Sleep, Sparkle's Suitcase and Hubby Helps

Here's to another great blogging year!


Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Best Present Ever! | Tyler Sees His Playhouse For the 1st Time ♥

This Christmas Tyler asked for two things - Paw Patrol and a playhouse and lo and behold, Santa managed to deliver his request, albeit, a few days earlier than expected.

I made a little video of Tyler seeing his playhouse for the first time, because I want to capture these memories and really step up my vlogging game in the New Year, so please do have a watch.

The paint is Rust-oleum All Surface Paint in Duck Egg and White for the windows. The playhouse itself is from Waltons and it's the 7X5 Honeypot Snowdrop Cottage with loft - Tyler loves that he has a bedroom in his house!

I just need to do some more finishing touches with the paint (the unpainted parts couldn't be done until the playhouse was put together) and I need to get some lino or something for the inside to cover the floors.

Tyler has been in his playhouse ever since he got it and he has his kitchen and all his washing machine toys out there as well as one of his toy garages and cuddly toys. He loves it! Best present ever!


Friday, December 23, 2016

7 Simple Money Saving Tips Everyone Should Follow ♥

Have a month-long spending ban / Use reward schemes
Are you like me and have multiple boxes and baskets full of makeup and beauty products which you have yet to use? If so, why not challenge yourself to a month long spending ban and resist buying products which you really don't need? I've made a vow not to spend anymore money on makeup or beauty products until I've used up my current stash and so far I've stuck to it and have saved a lot of money in the process.

If I do feel the need to try something new then using reward schemes such as Back To MAC, Boots advantage points or Lush's reward of a free fresh face mask if you return six empty pots, is a good way of getting your beauty fix without physically spending any money. 

Use promo codes and discount vouchers when shopping online
I do the majority of my shopping online these days as with two young children it's much more convenient for me than trudging around shops with them, plus I find much better deals online than in store. 

Before making any purchases I always search for relative and active promo codes and discount vouchers. The site  offers a whole host of promo codes for many websites and shops, and I love finding codes and discounts for products that I was going to buy anyway.

Be more energy efficient
We are probably overly conscious of how much electricity we use in our house, but we're always thankful of this when it comes to bill day. You can save a lot of money on monthly electricity bills by simply taking more care about what appliances and lights you're using at one time.

I no longer use the big lights in our house unless I really have to, the table lamp gives sufficient light. I unplug and switch off sockets when I am done using something and I try not to have the television on whilst I'm on the laptop because I know I can't focus on both at once. These simple changes have really helped keep our energy bills down and it's great to know we're being energy efficient too.

Sell items you no longer need
If you're home is full of things you're no longer using or will no longer need in the future (baby items for example), then selling them on to people who need/want them is a great way of making money.

I have a lot of things to sell this year and will be putting the profits into mine and my sons credit union accounts. This is perfect for both decluttering the house and making money all at the same time.

Manage your money sensibly
Finding a good savings account which allows you to gain a good amount of interest on your savings is an essential thing to do if you want to save money.

At the moment I favour credit union accounts for my sons and I over bank accounts, as they offer a great interest rate and the credit union itself is owned and run by it's members, which gives me some peace of mind that my money and my sons money is in good hands.
Follow a saving money plan and stick to it
This year I am doing the 52-week money saving challenge (or at least I'm trying to!) and although it can be hard to stick to it when I have so many outgoings, I am determined to put away money each week.

Having a plan to follow can really help you to focus on what you need to save every week and it's great to tick off the weeks as they go by and see your saving stash getting larger each week. If the 52-week money saving challenge isn't for you there are other templates which you could follow to be found on Pinterest.

Make a weekly meal plan before going grocery shopping
Making a weekly meal plan is such a great thing to do as not only will it help you become more organised when it comes to preparing meals but it will also help you save money whilst doing the weekly shop.

I always have a list of dinners that we're going to have during the week with me when I go food shopping, this helps me focus on what I actually need to pick up instead of buying things we probably won't end up eating and therefore saving us money. We also stay away from brand name products when we can which really helps to keep the weekly food shop cost down.
Following these simple tips can really help you to save money this year and when you think about it, they're all quite easy to follow, so money saving success is inevitable.


Monday, December 19, 2016

Beau Samuel James | 7 Months Old ♥

My darling Beau, you're now seven months old and I don't think anyone can quite believe it. That time from the first moment we met in May, to just six days from celebrating your first Christmas, has gone by in the blink of eye.

You're still such a dream baby, you never make a peep or a fuss - except if you're starving for your morning bottle and even when you do cry it's a very quiet whimper, I think you're far too happy in life for many tears! You're always laughing and smiling, even through teething and almost two weeks ago you got your first tooth, yay!

You're such a tall boy already and are growing out of clothes like there's no tomorrow. I hate having to pack up all your little baby clothes, it's just a reminder for me that you're growing up so fast.

This past month you also rolled over for the first time! I swear you were saving all your milestones for the month of December. You're now always rolling over but can't yet roll back to your back so we're constantly standing by to help you back over when you get fed up of the tummy time.

You're a lot more vocal now and have started babbling "dada" and "dad dad". I know you're not really calling for daddy but it's very cute.

You love to play and we always make you laugh with games of peek-a-boo and talking to you in a deep 'heavy metal' type voice. You're such a cheeky little one and I think you'll have a brilliant sense of humour.

You're also able to sit up unaided for a few minutes by yourself now, but you can't yet pull yourself up into sitting position. I know your dying to sit by your brother and play though, I think you're sick of lying down at this stage!

Your hair is coming on in leaps and bounds now and it's got a curl to it, so I wonder if you're going to have a head of hair like your big brother. The colour gets lighter everyday and we're not quite sure how to describe it as in the light it looks blonde, it the dark it's a light red and sometimes it looks like a light brown too, Grandma describes it as auburn and maybe she's right.

I'm so excited for you to experience your first Christmas this week. I know you won't remember any of it but you seem to enjoy looking at the lights and seeing your big brother's excitement. It's such a magical time and made all the more wonderful by you being here with us this year.

We love you prince, forever and always.


Sunday, December 18, 2016

AVEENO Baby Skincare ♥

If you're a regular reader of my blog, or if you follow me on social media, you may know that last month I was invited to London by AVEENO to attend their skincare symposium and Blogfest.

I shared my trip experience here if you'd like to have a read, but today, I thought I'd share my thoughts on the AVEENO Baby Skincare range, now that I've been using the products for a good few weeks with Beau.

AVEENO Baby Soothing Relief Baby Emollient Cream (£8.50/€11.99)
This cream is clinically proven to moisturise skin for 24 hours. I've been using this everyday on Beau's skin and it really has made him feel so soft, I'm actually amazed at just how lovely it's made his skin feel - it makes me want to use it on my own skin.

It's a great cream to use as an everyday moisturiser, especially if your baby has very sensitive skin. The cream absorbs into the skin straight away, which means it doesn't get all over baby's clothes or make them feel uncomfortable with wetness on their skin. The cream isn't scented and, for me, it just feels like a natural product that I'm happy to use on my baby's skin.

AVEENO Baby Soothing Relief Baby Emollient Wash (£8.50/€11.99)
This wash is formulated with natural colloidal oatmeal and emollients. It gently cleanses and soothes dry skin which is prone to irritation. This is also soap free and tear free - perfect for baby baths.

I've been using this for Beau's bedtime baths and if you or your baby is very fond of bubbly baths then this probably isn't the product for you as it doesn't really bubble up, but I think that's what makes it so perfect for a baby's bath as it's pure and gentle. This wash also isn't scented and it leaves Beau's skin perfectly cleansed and soft after his bath.

AVEENO Baby Daily Care Barrier Cream (£6.99/€9.99)
This cream contains natural colloidal oatmeal and zinc oxide and helps to soothe and reduce redness on dry and delicate baby skin. This cream has also been developed for newborn skin, so it's safe to use with baby from day one.

Beau is prone to getting red, irritated patches on his skin and this cream is perfect for popping on to soothe them. This cream is a slightly thicker white cream, so it will be noticeable on the skin, but I find that a little does go a long way.

For me, the packaging of the AVEENO Baby product range evokes naturalness and purity - both elements which I look for when it comes to choosing skincare products for my sons and I think the product really does live up to that 'pure' and 'natural' vibe that it's packaging suggests.

*We were sent these products for the purposes of this review, as always, all thoughts and opinions are 100% my own.


4 Ways To Make Your Home More Energy Efficient ♥

I've spoken on the blog before about the benefits of making your house energy efficient and practicing energy efficient methods within your home. Today I thought I'd share just how to make your home more energy efficient and these methods are things that we have implemented in our own home.

Switch off and unplug 
This is such a simple thing to do but one which a lot of people avoid or neglect simply due to habit. Jacek is big on energy saving and over our last four years together he has taught me, and gotten me into the habit, of being energy conscious and remembering to switch off appliances and lights at the switch, as well as unplugging them when I'm not using them. 

For example, I don't turn on the big light now, only on rare occasion, the light from our small lamps and their LED bulbs are perfectly sufficient. Our microwave, phone chargers, tumble dryer, etc. are constantly unplugged unless we need to use them. It's such an easy thing to practice once you get into the habit of it and having things unplugged and switched off on the switch itself makes it easy to manage what energy is being used in your home while saving you money on your bills too.

Invest in energy saving windows and blinds
Blinds are an essential in our house - perfect for privacy in the evenings as we live in an estate and also perfect for these summer months for keeping light out of our sons room when he's napping and sleeping. Blinds these days are not only energy efficient but super stylish too, with brands such as VELUX offering some beautiful designs for their windows. 

Having good quality, well-fitted windows is also essential for improving the energy efficiency of your home. If your windows are old, or fitted incorrectly (which can be the case in many new build houses), then draughts will occur, making your home colder than it needs to be and essentially wasting energy from your heating system.
Make sure your home is properly insulated

This is the one area of our home which we've tried to improve on a lot over our four years of living here. We have bought insulating tape, again for very cheaply, and insulated all our windows and front door at the beginning of autumn. Doing this insures that there aren't any drafts in the house, that warmth is being kept in the house - very important if we're spending money on heating and having a fire lighting.

This is such an easy thing to do and it literally takes about half an hour to insulate windows and doors, making it easy for everyone to do to keep their home warm and a lot more energy efficient, especially during the colder months.

Switch to LED bulbs
When we moved into our house we switched every light bulb to an LED one. This has not only saved us a lot of money on your electricity bills but it's also made our home a lot more energy efficient. I used to think these kinds of bulbs were very expensive but they're actually so affordable now, we've even picked up some for the bargain price of €1.49 in our local Dealz store and they're working fantastically - definitely disproving the theory that these are a hefty expense.

These are the ways in which we make and keep our home energy efficient. Not only have these methods saved us money on our energy bills - always a big plus - but they have also made us feel good about being energy conscious too.

*This is a collaborative post on behalf of VELUX, however, as always, all thoughts and opinions expressed are 100% my own.


My Visit To Pampers Innovation Center in Germany & Pampers Baby Dry Nappies ♥

Back in October, I was invited over to Pampers Innovation Center in Germany and as this was my first ever press trip, I was excited to see what the day had in store.

When we arrived at the center we were first given a presentation on Pampers, their history and lots of information about how they develop their nappies, and let me tell you, they've come a long way from the bulky nappies of the past - one from the 1970's that was passed around for us all to be amused at being evidence of this!

Obviously I have a little babe who is just at the beginning of his nappy journey, but just like his brother before him, Pampers have been our brand of choice. I'm so glad of this because Pampers newborn nappies are the only ones to be certified by the British Skin Foundation. I always love to support a brand who give something back, especially to people who are in need, and Pampers contribute a lot to charity, not just in their partnership with UNICEF, but also by donating to local communities too.

The trip to the Pampers Innovation Center was great for me to get some insight and a proper look into a product that I use every day. I couldn't believe the amount of work that goes into just one nappy. Did you know that it can take Pampers up to ten years to develop a new nappy? A lot of science and engineering goes in to keeping babies dry and comfortable!

Families in the area surrounding the Pamper Innovation Center are supplied with free nappies in exchange for giving Pampers regular feedback and insight into how their nappies are performing. Every morning babies are brought into the center to have their skin moisture tested (this tests the moisture absorbency of the nappies) and have some play time in the two play areas the R&D center has (this will show how well the nappy fits and how comfy it is while babies are on the move). There were lots of adorable little ones there on the morning of my visit, all helping Pampers make sure that their nappies are performing as they're supposed to for babies.

The particular nappy range that Pampers had focused on during my visit was the new and improved Pampers Baby Dry nappies and I was glad to get some more information on these as they're the particular nappies I used on Beau.

The new Pampers Baby Dry nappies have three absorbing channels made of Micro Pearls which help to distribute wetness more evenly throughout the nappy, for up to 12 hours. This helps babies have a peaceful and dry night’s sleep.

At the Pampers Innovation Center we got to test the new Pampers Baby Dry nappies for ourselves and see just how well they work. We got to pour blue water onto the nappies to see the three absorbing channels and Micro Pearls in action, and believe me; they really do work super fast. In just over a minute they had soaked up a lot of moisture and felt almost dry to touch - I was seriously impressed! 
The below video features some shots of the Baby Board's visit to the Pampers Innovation Center in Germany. I may also make a very short cameo in this...
The effort and precision that goes into making Pampers nappies is something we often don’t think about but there’s a reason why they are winners of the Best Nappy Range in Ireland. In fact, recently, Pampers won a gold award at the Maternity & Infant awards in the category for Best Nappy Range while also winning two gold awards at the National Parenting Product Awards in the categories Best Disposable Nappy Range and Best Toilet Training Pants/Nappy. 

I'm delighted to be associated and working with an award winning brand and I look forward to bring your more news and insights about Pampers in the New Year.

*This is a collaborative post with Pampers for whom I am a Baby Board member.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Tyler Lee & Beau's Christmas Eve Basket | 2016 ♥

The Christmas Eve basket is a tradition which began in our house in 2013 for Tyler's first Christmas and four Christmases later I'm still as enthusiastic about putting together these Christmas Eve baskets as I was in the beginning.

The Christmas Eve basket is essentially a basket of goodies to keep kids happy, entertained, cosy and excited before all the festivities of Christmas Day began.

If you didn't know already, our family is tri-national. I am of course Irish and Jacek is Polish/South African, so when important times of year such as Christmas come along we try to merge both our traditions to make a fun and traditional type Christmas for us all and as Christmas Eve is the most important day in the Polish tradition, we exchange our gifts on Christmas Eve night and Tyler gets his Christmas Eve basket.

Christmas Eve is a rather quiet day for us as Jacek works for it, so it was always just Tyler and I on Christmas Eve and I liked that although our day was a simple one, that he still had a surprise to look forward to.

Now that we have a new little babe in our house it was lots of fun finding baby bits to pop into the basket once again, along with all the goodies that my excitable little three year old to enjoy.

Included in this years basket are:

A Christmas themed babygro for Beau and a Christmas themed onesie for Tyler - These have a very similar print and I like that the boys will be kind of matching on Christmas Eve and Christmas morning. These ones in particular are from the Leigh Tucker Willow collection in Dunnes Stores.

Four books - The Little Reindeer, 10 Shiny Snowflaskes, The Perfect Christmas Tree and Smiling Snowman. All of these were bought in Dealz for €1.49 each.

A Lush bubble bar - This is for the boys Christmas Eve bath and Tyler chose Peeping Santa this year.

Fluffy reindeer socks -  €1.50 from Penneys

Chocolate Santa lollies

Milkybar buttons

Smarties chocolate robin

Smarties Santa and reindeer chocolates

Box of Milka chocolates

Gold coins - all the chocolates were €1.40 each from Dealz  

Two glass milk bottles with straws - €2 each from Tiger

I also bought a new basket this year as I liked the darker wood with the white inlay on this one, and it's from Penneys (€10 for two, one big, one small) and the ribbon is from Tiger (€1).

I had so much fun putting together this years basket, it feels quite surreal saying it's for both of my boys, instead of just one like past years. I hope they'll have a wonderful Christmas Eve and love all the surprises that their basket has for them.

If you're looking for even more Christmas Eve box/basket inspiration, please do read my post on what to include in a Christmas Eve box/basket for kids.


Tyler Lee & Beau | Siblings {December 2016} ♥

My beautiful boys have been siblings for almost seven months now. This has been such a lovely time for me as a mother, watching my two children meet each other, get to know one another and form a brotherly friendship.

The boys are very close now, with Tyler adopting the role of overly-protective big brother and Beau being the cheeky younger brother.

The baby loves his big brother so much, always smiling whenever he sees him or hears his voice and Tyler is absolutely besotted with his baby brother, always wanting to include him in his games, sit by him, hug him and check on him whilst he's sleeping.

Tyler now loves getting his picture taken with Beau, in fact, this months photos were Tyler's idea and even yesterday he was asking to take pictures with Beau outside, but sadly the ground was too wet.

Beau is able to sit up by himself now for a few minutes and Tyler is so happy about this fact, he pretends that the two of them are driving in a camper van to go on holiday or that Beau's his customer in his imaginary restaurant. He also gives Beau his little iron and ironing board so that they can do the laundry together - so adorable to witness!

Tyler is protective over Beau, he gets so upset if he's crying or things that Beau is in pain. I think he'll be great at looking out for him as they get older.

I'm so looking forward to them having their first Christmas together as it's Beau's first and the first Christmas where Tyler really knows what's going on. It's going to be lovely and I honestly can't wait!

Next month will mark the beginning of a whole year that the boys will be siblings and I hope that they'll have lots of adventures and mark mounds of happy memories together.

Here are the boys other Siblings photos from the year, I can't believe how much they've both grown.


Wednesday, December 14, 2016

My Purrfect Christmas | Christmas Memories With My Cats ♥

Eighteen years ago I received the best Christmas gift I could ever have imagined, and little did I know that that gift, (or maybe I should say gifts, as they came as a pair!), would bring me years of companionship, love and joy.

I still remember that day fondly, the day I met them for the first time. I was eight years old and my mother drove to my aunt's workplace, popping in for a few minutes and emerging with a cardboard box with some clingwrap pierced with little holes on the top.

When she handed the box to me my face lit up, as inside was what I had asked for for Christmas - a kitten, only she had doubly blessed me, giving me the gift of two! Both kittens were from the same litter and we always referred to them as brother and sister.

That drive home was one of the happiest I have ever experienced. The kittens were popping their heads up through the holes in the clingwrap as if it was a little game to them both - it really was quite funny, and it was on that trip home that we named them, Sassi and Salem.

I could never have imagined that those little kittens would grow to be with me throughout the last years of my childhood, my teens, my twenties and into motherhood, it must have been the great cat food we fed them over the years, making them healthy and strong and making their coats perfectly shiny.

That first Christmas at home with the kittens was so much fun. As an eight year old little girl who loved animals, it was great to have not one, but two adorable little kittens to look after.

From that first Christmas, and each year after, my mother would even buy a Christmas card for the cats and sign it off with a paw print (yes, we're those kind of cat people!) and even now when I see pet Christmas cards it makes me smile and remember those Christmases and our quirky little tradition.

Salem sadly died last year and I miss him dearly. He was such a peaceful and happy cat, always purring and he had the most beautiful tabby coat. My eldest boy, Tyler Lee, is especially fond of Sassi and it's lovely to see him be her pet now as well as mine.

The Christmas memories I had with my cats will last a lifetime. They're very happy memories which will always bring a smile to my face and those cute little kittens of mine, really were the best Christmas gift my eight year old self could ever have asked for.

I'm so glad I got to experience 17 and 18 years respectively, with them both. I'm really looking forward to this Christmas and seeing what fun it has in store. Whatever it brings us all, I know that it'll be just purrfect because we have each other.

*This post is a collaboration with WHISKAS, but all thoughts are my own. Check out their website for more information on their cat food and their YouTube channel for fantastic Kitten Kollege videos.


Monday, December 12, 2016

Fairy Searching & Moon Gazing ♥

It had felt like an age since I had gone outdoors and photographed. The weather was awful for a good few days, not an ounce of natural light to be seen, dull, grey, gloomy skies, covering the sky like a thick blanket, it was depressing to say the least.

So once the sun had broken through again on Saturday afternoon I decided to bundle up the kids and take them to the fairy woods, a favourite haunt of ours.

There's something so magical about this place for me, not just because of the presence of fairy doors and lots of pretty trinkets hanging off the trees, but because it reminds me of my own childhood and I love that my son now plays amongst the trees that I once used to.

The kids went in search of fairies and as it was T's first visit she was in awe of it all and loved discovering new doors hidden amongst the mossy ends of tree trunks and all the other eye-catching things which adorn a fairy wood.

Tyler was just happy to have a companion and followed T around. The two of them stopped for a hug at one point, it was heart-warming on a cold December's day.

Tyler was looking especially stylish for a trip to the wood in his handsome checked shirt and blue jumper from Ben Sherman, the kid has style. I thought he looked quite lovely in these teamed with his jeans and they must have kept him warm as his discarded his jacket a few minutes after entering the woods. The Ben Sherman kids collection is available from Debenhams, for anyone who has taken a liking to these pieces.

His feet were also kept snug and dry from the wet leaves below thanks to his amazing new wellies from Muck Boot. Of course he had to pick a pair from their new Hasbro Transformers collection, Optimus Prime being his transformer of choice. He's worn these everywhere since he received them, even bringing them to school to show his friends there, because they all love transformers too.

We reached the woods quite late in the afternoon so the sun was setting, giving my photographer's eye that beautiful 'golden hour' light which is so craves.

The kids witnessed the moon rising at one end of the sky and the sun setting on the other and they were amazed to spot them both at once.

We walked a good bit into the woods, constantly keeping our eye out for an fairy habitats and happenings, but the mist started rolling in thick and fast and I decided it was time to leave.

I won't lie, it was starting to feel a bit creepy being alone in woodland with three young children to mind and although they didn't want to leave, the promise of an ice-cream on the way home was more than enough to entice them out.

Arriving back at the car we were greeted by the most beautiful view - the mist covering the rolling green fields below us and a pinkish-purple sky with the moon hung high. I couldn't help but take more pictures, it was such a beautiful sight.

9 Great & Inexpensive Stocking Fillers For Kids ♥

I'm almost sorted for Christmas. The only thing I still need to get some bits for are the boys stockings and I have to admit, I was a bit clueless as to what to include, so I went searching online for some inspiration.

I don't want to spend too much on the gifts for the boys stockings, after all, they'll get lots of lovely gifts as it is, but I do think it's nice to include some little, non-expensive gifts for them to enjoy.

The Works Christmas Shop has lots of great stocking filler ideas for great prices too and I thought I'd share some of my favourite ideas, for any other parents out there who are in need of some gift inspiration.

The Irish Fairy Door - Winter Special (£20)
I'm all for anything that engages a child's imagination and a fairy door is such a great way of getting them excited about all things magic and fairies.

Jingle Bell Stick (£2)
Again, this is a great stocking filler for babies and ideal for getting them interested in music. Beau has one of these and loves it!

The Dr. Seuss Colouring Book with 36 Colouring Pencils (£6)
This is a perfect stocking filler for kids who love to colour and who are fans of the Dr. Seuss books too. Plus they can use the colouring pencils for school too.

Teamsterz - Big Builders (£2.50)
I have yet to meet a child who doesn't like dinkies and they always make fab stocking fillers. My eldest boy loves them so I'll definitely be including some for him in his stocking.

The Snow Queen (£1)
We have this and it's such a lovely book and I can't believe that it's on sale for just £1. The story is lovely and the book itself has beautiful illustrations and glittery bits. It's Christmassy without being too festive so it can be read all year round too.

Snowy Bear - Plush & Book (£7)
I always think it's lovely to get a book with a character plush, it just makes the story come to life even more for the little ones and this bear plush is super cute! A perfect stocking filler.

Snowman and the Snow Dog Snow Glow (£5.99)
Once again, I have yet to meet a child who doesn't love snow globes and this one is perfect for a Christmas stocking fillers with it's festive characters.

Jelly Pizza (£4)
A treat or two is always a welcome surprise for kids in their Christmas stocking and this jelly pizza is a fun and yummy novelty option.

Festive Hand Puppets (£2)
This would be a lovely stocking filler for babies and I think including one in Beau's stocking would be a great idea. There's a reindeer, a penguin and a snowman to choose from and at just £2 they're a great inexpensive stocking filler idea too.

If you're also putting together a Christmas Eve box/basket for your kids and are looking for some inspiration for that too, then do pop over to my post which shares lots of ideas of what to include and the previous baskets I've made for Tyler.


Sunday, December 11, 2016

5 Tips For Capturing the Perfect Flat Lay ♥

Ever since Instagram came along, flat lay photography has soared in popularity, an it's not hard to see why. Flat lay's are a great way of capturing everything you want to show off, in one picture.

I love flat lays, I captured one weekly for my pregnancy updates and it was a great way of showing off baby's scan pictures, baby clothes and other bits and pieces I had bought for my impending arrival.

I also love putting together flat lays to show off beauty products, pretty things I've bought, my bakes, etc.

I've collaborated with The Furniture Market to share some tips for capturing the perfect flat lay, for anyone who's wanting to embrace this style of photography and show off many things in just one frame.

1. Natural light is your friend
Whenever you're photographing you'll want to find your light and this is a key thing when it comes to capturing the perfect flat lay. If you're photographing indoors, make sure to place your flat lay as close as you possibly can to a natural light source - window, sliding doors, etc. The natural light will you your flat lay perfect brightness, and show off the photo subjects as well as they can possibly be shown.

The key to capturing natural light is knowing when and where the light is best in your home. For example, I know that in the afternoon, my bedroom has the best light, it just floods in through the windows, so I'm always photographing there after lunch. However, in the morning, my kitchen table has great light thanks to the sliding doors right beside it.

2. Choose your background wisely
When it comes to a flat lay, the clue is in the title - you need the surface you're photographing on to be flat. Tables are the ideal choice for flat lays, my favourite being natural wood as it gives a great element to a flat lay picture.

3. Editing apps are your friend
I love a good editing app, but not for filters, instead I use them for brightening up my image or increasing exposure. Snapseed is my favourite, the exposure tool on the app is the best I've ever come across and better yet, it's all free! I just wish I could get it on desktop.

4. Remember your props
Whenever I put together a flat lay I always try to include flowers, in fact, I always try to include flowers in all of my photography whenever I can and I recently shared a post about 5 ways I use flowers in my photography. Other things that I love using as flat lay props are books, postcards, jewellery, polaroid pictures, pieces of fabric and handwritten notes/letters.

5. Top-down is your best view
The best angle for snapping a flat lay is from top down. Holding your camera over your flat lay to achieve the best shot is essential. I regularly have to stand on a chair, a bed or a box to capture that perfect top-down shot, but it really is the best way to capture a flat lay, any other angle just gives a distorted view and doesn't stick to the 'flat' theme.


Friday, December 09, 2016

5 Last Minute Family Holiday Destination Ideas ♥

Ever since our first holiday as a family of four back in August, Tyler has been asking to go on holiday again. He regularly asks me when we're going to the airport or Spain again and even last night he stated that he wanted to go to London with mummy - remembering that I had gone on a press trip there last month and sadly wasn't able to bring him along.

I have to admit, Tyler's thirst for wanderlust and the dull, gloomy weather we've been having lately has made me really want to escape to sunnier climbs for a week or two too.

I've been thinking about booking a last minute family holiday and have been looking up some destinations that offer lots of winter sunshine.

The place where Tyler keeps asking to go back to and where we have great memories from our holiday back in August, Spain is a great choice when it comes to a family holiday destination. The flight isn't long, which is ideal for traveling with two small children and the weather is still lovely in the south of Spain this time of year.

This is a destination where I used to go regularly with my parents when I was a child. I remember going on holiday there the week before Christmas (coming home on Christmas Eve) and the weather was still nice and warm there. Lanzarote is such a family friendly place and the airport isn't miles away from accommodation either.

This is a place which Jacek and I would love to visit and I really love the thought of taking our boys to a new continent. Morocco always looks so beautiful and full of culture, making for a different family holiday experience. Plus, in Morocco the sunshine is guaranteed this time of year.

This is a place we've holidayed in twice now and have always had a lovely time while we were there. The beaches in Portugal are absolutely beautiful and the people are really friendly there too and just like Spain the flight isn't too long for young children either.

This a place where all my friends used to visit with their families and I've always been curious about it. The island looks so beautiful in any pictures I've ever seen of it and it's actually a destination which Jacek and I considered for our holiday back in the summer. There's also lots of historic places to visit there, making for perfect sight-seeing opportunities - just what we love as a family.

All of these destinations are perfect for soaking up some winter sunshine and there are lots of great last minute deals for all of these places too - ideal for saving some money whilst still getting a great family holiday.


Thursday, December 08, 2016

A Very Merry #FrugiFamily Christmas & Giveaway ♥

We've been part of the #FrugiFamily for a whole year, and what an incredibly fast year it was.

We've been delighted to show you some beautiful, colourful, fun and great quality pieces that Frugi offer for little ones and this is our last post for Frugi for the year (hopefully we'll be back with more Frugi loveliness in the future!).

This time around we didn't get to choose which item we'd like from the Frugi range, instead, in the spirit of Christmas, we were sent a mystery gift, which arrived in such lovely packaging - the red ribbon on the front of the box is such a lovely touch, it's always great to receive a nicely packaged Christmas gift, so top marks to Frugi for their Christmas packaging!

Inside the beautiful packaging was a gift for Beau and a lovely gift it was too. Beau was sent the Snuggle Baby Gift Set in Grey Marl Breton/Croc print (£39), which is a super soft and snuggly top and dungarees set with matching hat.

I've never dressed Beau in dark green before but I have to say, the colour really suits him. Grey is one of my favourite colours so I really love the dungarees and hat.

Seeing a baby in a matching outfit and hat is always super cute to me. What I like about Frugi is that they actually make hats to fit my baby's head. Usually hats as part of sets wouldn't even fit a doll, but this one is even a little bit too big for Beau right now so yay for getting some longevity out of it. The hat has a really fun spike detail on the top too.

Frugi's sizings are always proper sizings too and the outfit Beau was sent is 6-12 months so it's a bit big on him at the moment, but I'm always happy for my boys to grow into things rather than have them too small.

The Snuggle Baby Gift Set is so well made, just like every other piece from Frugi that we've received. The quality is just amazing and the clothes always wash well too, never fading or bobbling.

A big thank you to Frugi for the beautiful gift, it's always so lovely to get new clothes for the baby and also a huge thank you to them for having us as part of the #FrugiFamily this year.

If you're looking for a fun, colourful and joyful gift for any little ones in your life this Christmas then Frugi is definitely the place to look.

It wouldn't be Christmas without a surprise or two now would it, and the lovely folks over at Frugi have put together a pretty amazing surprise for one lucky reader to win - a jam packed hamper full of fabulous goodies!

To be in with a chance of winning, all you have to do is click here and pop in your details to be entered into the prize draw, it's as simple as that.

The competition is open from today until December 15th and the winner will be drawn on December 16th, giving Frugi a chance to get the prize to the winner in time for Christmas. Best of luck to all who enter!

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