My Family

My Family

Friday, 30 December 2016

Goodbye 2016 .. You've been ..

Goodbye 2016 .. You've been ..

Goodbye 2016. You've been a year filled with highs, lows and everything in between. Our family lost a loved one which sent ripples of grief through us all. It's been a tough year but all was not lost. We've got our memories and she'll always remain in our hearts, forever!

It's weird but when I look back at 2016, the normal day to day things disappear. 

I don't remember the bad times or the family arguments, the boring school runs or the mundane day to day stuff that we do on repeat. All those things don't really matter.

What I remember most is the wonderful trips we took, the family holidays and the exciting adventures we went on. It's these memories that stick in my mind making 2016 overall, a pretty amazing year for us. In 2016 I decided that material things didn't matter so much and decided to save more and spend more on travel and I'm so glad that I did. It was definatley the right choice because now that we've almost reached the end of the year and I look back, it's those journeys that we went on that I remember most. Those wonderful journeys.

In April we went on our first whole family adventure abroad to Lanzarote. Two of the kids loved flying whilst I was a little more cautious and din't enjoy it quite so much as them. We had 7 whole days of sunshine and fun as a family. We visited lots of cool places and hung around by the pool most days. We tried lots of new foods and laughed out loud a lot. We set sail on a boat trip adventure and even sailed the open seas of a canoe built for two. It was our first taste of family fun abroad and only made us want more. It was truly wonderful.

In August we went to Blackpool for a weekend to do as many of the Merlin Annual Pass attractions as we could. It was a pretty busy weekend but it was so much fun. It rained most of the weekend but that was OK as we were inside most of the time anyway. We visited the Sea Life Centre and took hundreds of pictures in Madame Tussaud's with our favourite wax work characters. We entered the Dungeons and went through a terrifyingly scary afternoon of torture (of me), stories of the past and screaming children (that would be my daughter). 
It's these times that I will always remember, the little things in life that money can't buy.

Later in August we hired a beautiful cottage over looking the sea in Newgale, Pembrokeshire. This year we decided to swap the noise of the arcades and the business of the usual family holiday parks for something a little more private and quieter. It was the best decision we made as our week away was wonderful. We kept it simple with visits to the beach every day and BBQ dinners outside at night. We took drives out to find more adventures and just that we did. We bounced around for a while hour in an old air hanger which is now a trampoline park. We checked out a local farm and woodlands where we got to ride go karts and have lots of simple fun together. It was so lovely to see the children all playing together so well. Yes we had a few minor arguments but nothing major. It was lovely to enjoy a much more laid back holiday where we could just go at our own pace and speed.

 There's lots of other little trips that I haven't mentioned like our weekend in The Forest Of Dean where we joined Granny and Grampy on one of their breaks. Our day trips out to Lego Land and Warwick Castle and not to mention all the theme park visits to Drayton Manor.

Overall I think my children have a had a pretty good year for travel and adventures. I just hope that when they grow up, they'll remember some of these good times and love travelling just as much as I do. There's so much to see in this world - I wanna see it all!

Last but not least I squeezed in one last Winter holiday just for the adults. The kids stayed with Granny and went to school everyday as normal as I wouldn't want them to miss that. I headed off to Cape Verdi with Daddy and 2 friends. All that Winter sun and those never ending white sandy beaches. I was in pure holiday heaven! I try to go somewhere different every time I get the chance to go on holiday as life's too short not to try and see it all. I'm glad we chose Cape Verdi as it's such a beautiful place. It's an Island of beautiful beaches, friendly people and Sun, Sea and Sand. If you're looking for more, then it's not for you.

I for one, was more than happy to just relax, eat, drink and be merry. The food was amazing and the drinks were pretty good too. The pools (all 6 of them) were refreshing and the beach was just, well, out of this world. The crazy waves were big enough to keep me out of the water but that was OK as the pool was much safer and cooler for me. We did leave the resort a few times to enjoy a Champagne adults only Catamaran trip which was ace and we hired Quad bikes for a whole 24 hours to enjoy the sites of the Island by ourselves. This was something I'd never done before but have to say it was pretty awesome and definatley something I won't be forgetting any times soon. Cape Verdi was amazing and sure gave me the taste of wanting more. Next time I'm thinking Jamaica or Morocco maybe. Who knows.

 Looking back at our year of travel makes me smile and feel grateful. I've been to some amazing places and made some special memories with all of the people in my life that I love the most. So when I look at shoes that I don't need or the newest gadgets out that we just won't use. I won't be spending my money on those, no not me. I'll be saving for our next adventure and looking forward to creating even more memories like the ones we made this year. 2016 has a been good to us (mostly) but I have a feeling 2017 is going to be even better! Our year is going to be what we make it be and we've decided to make it great!

Where have you travelled to in 2016? I'd love to hear all about it. 

Monday, 26 December 2016

Chad Valley asked over 1000 children: What their Dream Play Pad would look like?

Chad Valley asked over 1000 children: 
What their Dream Play Pad would look like?

Chad Valley asked over 1000 children, 1,004 children aged 5-11 to be exact: What their Dream Play Pad would look like? A traditional castle came out on top (26 per cent). 

The Pad’s top features included a swimming pool (40 per cent), a cinema (32 per cent), an ice cream maker (31 per cent), a trampoline (28 per cent), a bouncy castle (25 per cent) and even a slide to whizz inhabitants downstairs (24 per cent). The home would also feature its own tree house (22 per cent) and a secret passageway (21 per cent). Proving entertainment is a must for playful kids, a fifth of kids added a football pitch, while 17 per cent wanted a disco and 15 per cent a bowling alley. Snack time also ranked highly, with 16 per cent asking for their Dream Play Pad to feature a popcorn maker, while eight per cent chose a vending machine. A bedroom ball-pit also made the wish-list for seven per cent of kids.

That right there definatley looks like MY dream pad. It's got everything you could possibly need and more. Children sure have some vivid imaginations and know what they want. 

We've been playing with more and more Chad Valley toys here over the past few months as part of the Chad Valley Play Panel and I have to say, it's been a pleasure to watch my children grow through play. Watching them run around in their own little worlds, so happy and content. It almost makes me want to be their age again so I can join in.. almost.

With over 400 products across the Chad Valley range there’s plenty of play inspiration to be found. Just take a trip over to Argos' Chad Valley section to see what’s on offer right now.

Disclosure: We are part of the Chad Valley Play Panel 2016, I've shared this post because I thought it was interesting and you might like it.It's not a sponsored post - just for fun.

Tuesday, 13 December 2016

5 Things You Need For The Perfect movie Night In ..

5 Things You Need For The Perfect movie Night In ..

A few weeks back we were asked to take part in the E.ON Winter Watching Blogger Challenge so I got thinking about our next movie night in and what I could do to make it our best one yet. I came up with a list of just 5 things that would make it a great evening: 

  1. The preparation - This is the shopping trip to get everything you need ahead of the big night.
  2. Getting Comfortable - You need the right amount of fluffy cushions, soft sofa throws to lie on and fluffy fleece blankets to keep warm and cuddle up together under.
  3. Snacks - You need a nice selection of snacks and drinks to get everyone in the mood.
  4. A good family movie - We used Sky Cinema as it has such a large range of movies to suit all the family. There's comedies, cartoons and festive fun galore.
  5. The company - Gather all your friend sand family and just have fun together.
E.ON did some research into Britain's TV habits and found that among 2,000 Brits four in ten of us (39%) say films are our saviour from the day-to-day stresses of life. They also found out that nearly half of Brits (46%) look forward to snuggling up on the sofa as Christmas gets closer. Other things people look forward to are: Watching winter TV (30%) and having the perfect excuse to stay in on the evenings (28%) I like staying in during the Winter too so watching a movie comes quite high on my own list of Winter things to do.

The preparation was lots of fun, we headed off to our local super market to get ready for our big night. We bought everything from cushions, to throws, to blankets, to food and drink. The children were staying over at Granny's for the night so they had no idea what they were going to come home to. I was excited to surprise them with our biggest movie night in yet.

Getting comfortable was easy when you have so many fluffy fleeces around. I treated the kids to a lovely fluffy fleece blanket each with their favourite Disney character on. I covered the sofa in new super soft throws and threw out the old 'worn out' cushions to replace them with some new plump ones. The sofa was looking great, now I just hoped they'd save me a seat as it can get a little crowded for movie night as it's the one time of the week we all actually sit on the sofa all at the same time. It's a bit of a squash but I like it that way.

The snacks included everything from crisps and dips to yogurt tubes. Ginger bread men biscuits to chocolate cookies. There was peanuts and of course toffee popcorn as you can't watch a movie without popcorn. Not only did I buy lots of lovely food and drink but I also bought some cute festive paper plates, bowls and cups to use too. The kids were so excited when they came home and I filled them in on my little secret. Their little faces lit right up.

Finding the right movie was a little trickier as trying to please all 3 children when they're so far apart in ages can be a hard task but we got there in the end. Sky Cinema has lots of great movie to choose from so after a little family discussion we decided on Snoopy and Charlie Brown: The Peanuts Movie. The movie was a great light hearted cartoon comedy filled with lots of funny 'laugh out loud' moments which made our night so much better.

The movie didn't matter too much as it's never really about the movie. It's about the effort of spending time together as a family and spending just a few hours doing something as one. The company is what matters most to me as I love spending time with my children but as they get older, they tend to drift off into a world of online social media and gaming which means they then spend a lot less time with me. Our movie nights are always something to look forward to in our house and with Sky Cinema on our TV, we can do it whenever we like.

Lily and Ryan had such a great time and loved all the treats. Chloe may be a bit older (13) but even she had a nice time and actually managed to put her phone down for a few hours to join in. Family movie nights are a great way to spend quality time together, every family should try it. Who knows, you may enjoy it so much that you'll do it every week like we do.

I think our movie night in was a success as everyone had such a great time. The only problem now is that the kids are expecting the next one to be even bigger and better than this one which is going to be hard to top. I think I have my work cut out for me, oh dear.

E.ON is now the proud sponsor pf Sky Cinema Premiere and Sky Cinema Family.

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Chad Valley Design a Friend Styling Head Doll #Review

Chad Valley Design a Friend Styling Head Doll Review 

As part of the Chad Valley Play Panel we get to review some of their awesome toys. This month we've been playing with their Chad Valley Design a Friend Styling Head Doll. 

Lily has already got several of the Design a Friend dolls from the Argos collection which she loves, you may have seen our last Chad Valley review post about her newest doll Tiffany. 

The styling head doll is a very different kind of doll to the other ones though as it's more of a styling and make over toy whereas they're more lifelike. Lily's never had a styling head before although she has asked for one several times, I was just never sure about them. I kind of thought they'd just make a mess and then get left in a corner abandoned after being played with once. So this month Lily got her wish and got her first styling head.

The first thing I really liked about this toy is that it pretty much came straight out of the boy all ready to play. There wasn't loads of ties to undo, just two and one string to cut free. Inside the box you'll find your pretty Design a Friend styling head and shoulders on a heart shaped stand. The doll has a naturally pretty face and long blonde hair which comes ready bunched in pigtails. The stand has several spaces in it for the make up and hair accessories to go. Included are: 4 eye shadow colours with applicator, 6 coloured hair braids, a lip stick, a lip gloss, a hair band, 4 glitter hair stickers and a hair brush. You do get quite a lot to play with included but you can always use your own hair accessories and bobbles too.

Lily loves brushing her hair and changing her hair styles daily. One day she might have her hair down and straight and then the next she may have a crazy plaited braided style. It's a great way for Lily to practice doing her own hair as even though she'd 9 years old now, she still struggles to do her own hair. I'm hoping that after a few more weeks of playing with this, she might get the hang of it and actually start trying to do her own which would be great.

The make up included can be used either on the doll or on yourself. Lily likes to give them matching looks, the other day they had matching pink eye shadow with pretty pink lipstick. 

The Chad Valley Design a Friend Styling Head Doll is a lovely toy. Lily really enjoys playing with her and she hasn't yet ended up in a corner like I had feared so that's great news. You'll be happy to know that the doll is easy to clean as the make up wipes off really easily. I don't let Lily have too  much make up so this set has been a real treat for her and she's loved it. 

I'm happy to say that the Design a Friend Styling Head doll has been a hit with both of us, She's a very pretty doll with lovely long hair just waiting for a new style and hair do every day. Lily's had lots of fun playing with her and I've had lots of peace and quiet whilst she was. Any toy that can keep Lily quiet and happy for a while, gets a thumbs up from me.

Disclosure: We received our Chad Valley Design a Friend Styling Head Doll for free for the purpose of this review but all the opinions expressed within it are 100& our own and honest.

Oral-B GENIUS 9000 Rose Gold Electric Toothbrush #Review

Oral-B GENIUS 9000 Rose Gold Electric Toothbrush

Christmas gifts for me are all about the things that people want but necessarily wouldn't want to buy them self. Maybe for money reasons or personal reasons but whatever the reason, this is where I come in. Christmas gifts can be both practical and magical. You don't have to spend a small fortune to make someone's day and you don't have to buy diamonds.

We each have an electric toothbrush in our house, my kids get new ones for their Birthday's or for Christmas as they can be quite pricey if not in the sales. This past few weeks I have been reviewing the Oral-B GENIUS 9000 Rose Gold Electric Toothbrush from Boots.  

First of all, it's so pretty as it's rose gold which is very unusual but also very nice. This is no ordinary toothbrush though as it has so many weird and wonderful features, it's pretty cool.

The Limited Rose Gold Oral-B Genius 9000 in Rose Gold is the latest and most glamorous addition to the GENIUS smart toothbrush range. With it’s 3D whitening brush, which the shape of a dental professional’s tool to gently polish away surface stains, revealing a perfect white smile. The unique triple pressure sensor technology alerts you if you are over brushing and a revolutionary combination of cutting-edge motion sensor technology in the brush, called ‘Position Detection’ guides you to a perfect clean smile with no zone missed.

This is Oral-B’s most premium brush ever. it features: a new handle design, longer battery life, an LED SmartRing customisable in 12 colours and a Travel Case that not just charges your toothbrush, but also your smartphone too which is so clever and pretty cool. It features 6 modes: Pro Clean, Daily Clean, Sensitive, Tongue Cleaning, Whitening, and Gum Care.

With a dentist-inspired round head and superior oscillating-rotating and pulsating technology, it is clinically proven to provide superior cleaning and whiter teeth starting from Day 1. Many people press too hard when they brush, but how do you know if you are brushing too hard? This new GENIUS 9000 features an automatic speed reduction, which alerts you and slows down the brushing speed if you brush too hard. How clever is that!

What's inside the box?
  • 1 GENIUS connected handle with 6 modes
  • 4 brush heads
  • Premium travel case
  • Upgraded charger
  • Refill holder and Smartphone holder

I happily swapped my old Oral B electric toothbrush for this new much prettier and much smarter version and am so glad that I did. Brushing has never been so quick and easy. 

Not only does it clean my teeth really well but it packs away nicely so I can take it everywhere and anywhere I want too. I love the smart charging case that charges your phones as well as the toothbrush. It's made brushing on the go so much easier and much more discreet. Now if I want to take my toothbrush with me, I just pop it into the travel case and off we go. I've never had anything rose gold before but now I love the colour. It looks so lovely sat on my bathroom window shelf next to the less pretty other ones that belong to my family. My daughter's have been so jealous over this toothbrush, they all want one now.

If you're looking for the perfect Christmas gift for your Mum, Sister or maybe even Best Friend then this could be it! It's not only practical and useful but so pretty and clever too.

This toothbrush is exclusive to Boots and used to cost £280.00 but it's currently on sale for just £99.99 which is a huge saving of £180. You can't ask for much better than that.

I love this toothbrush and definatley won't be going back to my old one, no way.

Disclosure: I received my Oral B Toothbrush for free in return for an honest review.

Family Fun Time this week was in the form of a Pate Party - Castle MacLellan pate #Review

Family Fun Time this week was in the form of a Pate Party - Castle MacLellan pate review.

Family time can be anything from watching a movie to playing a board game. For us this week our family time was spent doing something a little bit different as we had a pate party. 

I love pate but don't have it too much throughout the year so I tend to go a little over board at Christmas time. If we're having Christmas Dinner Starters or Starters in general then I will always go for the pate option as I just love it so much. The other options are usually Prawn Cocktails or Soups which I'm not a fan of either so it's always got to be the pate for me.

I'd not heard of Castle MacLellan pate before so we were excited to try it. I must admit that when 5 pots of it arrived, I was over the moon and way too excited to get stuck in. I didn't want to buy too much fancy bread so I opted for a simple box of assorted crackers. Daddy, Chloe and I tried each of the pate's and have to say we did have a great time doing so.

There are five different pate's available to choose from: 
  • Chicken Liver Pate: A smooth, rich and creamy chicken liver pate enhanced with the sweetness of Scottish heather honey.
  • Orkney Crab and Scottish Smoked Salmon Terrine: A delicious dual layered Orkney crab terrine and Scottish Smoked Salmon terrine enriched with full fat soft cheese, crème fraiche and lemon juice.
  • Smoked Salmon Pate: This pate is a blend of smoked and poached salmon, enriched with cream, lemon juice and horseradish.
  • Oven Roasted Mushroom Pate: A rich, creamy, oven roasted mushroom pate made with full fat soft cheese and créme fraiche, and seasoned with a hint of garlic and thyme.
  • Rannoch Smoked Duck Pate: A deliciously smooth duck liver pate with pieces of Rannoch smoked duck, complimented with locally produced Bramley apple jelly and aromatic tarragon.

Each was very different and had it's own good and bad points. I don't like mushrooms that I skipped that one but Daddy however loved that one and chose that as his favourite out of the five. Chloe chose the duck pate as her favourite and almost ate the whole pot. My favourite had to be the chicken liver as that one was just so rich and delicious. There's a flavour for everyone and a texture to suit all too. Some were totally smooth whereas others were more chunky. I don't mind the difference in textures as I love both smooth and chunky.

We had lots of fun trying out all the delicious flavours of pate from Castle MacLellan. It was a tough job but someone had to do it. Nothing beats an evening of pate tasting in front of the TV with the family. It's almost my perfect night in, just minus the bubbly champagne.

Did I enjoy the pate? Yes, each one was unique and enjoyable but would I go out of my way to buy it instead of my usual supermarket brand? No, I don't think I would. Maybe I'm just a creature of habit or maybe I just prefer to grab it off the shelves as and when I pass by.

Overall, we had a lovely time trying them all out and did enjoy the tastes and flavours.

Disclosure: We received our pate samples for free in return for an honest review.