Monday, 31 August 2015

Me and Mine - August

Where is this year going?! I seriously have no idea. July wasn't a great month and to be honest neither was August.

I seem to be stuck in a bit of a rut. I hoping that with Paige starting nursery again in a few days we can get back in the routine and I can get back on track.

I don't really feel like we've had a proper summer. We haven't had much sunny weather and we haven't spent a lot of times outdoors as a result. I remember last summer so clearly, I was knackered as Parker was a newborn but it was so lovely. We played in the garden a lot and just had a wonderful time.

I am looking forward to autumn and winter and everything that comes with it but for now I am focusing on the bigger picture. We are all healthy and happy and we are together as a family. Things will look up soon and a few bad weeks doesn't make a bad life.

This month we kept things simple. Just pictures of us in Paige's room. The kids were running around like crazy people and been silly in the mirror opposite but that is us.



Nicola Xx
dear beautiful

Sunday, 30 August 2015

Mummy and Me - August

Another month has passed so it's time again for Mummy and Me. Very stupidly of me I totally forgot about the linky this month. It just wasn't on my mind. To be honest I've had a pretty rubbish couple of weeks and then the couple of weeks before that my blog my down so it completely slipped my mind.

My pictures this month aren't the best but mummy and me isn't about having the best pictures, it's about capturing the memories they represent. Our pictures this month represent us exploring a new park and having a lovely evening. The weather was amazing and the children were so well behaved. It was so lovely to explore somewhere together as a family. It was lovely a quiet so the children could run around as they pleased without bothering anyone.

I wish the quality of the pictures was better but oh well.






These last two pictures are just selfies I took with Paige and Parker. It's getting harder and harder to get pictures with them both. Paige will pose to a certain degree but with Parker there is no chance. He wants to be off not taking pictures with mummy, hence the very grumpy face.

 

And lets face it I only added in the selfies are the other pictures are so bad quality, haha. Next month will be better, I hope!

Nicola Xx

Nicola... Life Through My Eyes

Friday, 28 August 2015

Food Bank Challenge by ThinkMoney

I was recently challenged by thinkmoney to get involved with a campaign they are running to help independent food banks. Thinkmoney recently spoke to 70 independent food banks from across the UK to highlight the work they do, and the potential difficulties they face in the future, and this is way for them to give back and raise awareness.

 
They gave me £30 to buy as much as possible for my local food bank. To start with a choose a food bank that was close to me and had a look on their website. On their site I saw that they have a list of current shortages. With this list in hand I went to my local Aldi. We regularly shop at Aldi and I thought that I could get a lot of good food for a cheaper price, and I did. They didn't have everything I wanted to get though so with £10 of the budget left I popped over to Asda to pick up a few more extra items.


In Aldi I picked up biscuits, crackers, soup, tinned curry, sugar, noodles, jam, tuna, paste, meatballs, shampoo and body wash. In Asda I managed to get toilet rolls, more paste, chilli and dried mash.
 

I think that I did quite well wit £30 and managed to get a lot of items on the shortages list. Mark dropped all the food off and sadly I wasn't able to go but the lady at the food bank was very happy to receive the items.

 
 
I hope that our items help some people out. I can't imagine not being to feed your family for whatever reason and every little donation or item helps.

We will be making this a regular thing from now on and adding a few extra items to our trolley each week to pop in the donation bin at our local Asda.

Have you ever donated to a food bank?

Nicola Xx

*Disclaimer - Thinkmoney gave me £30 to go shopping with but I didn't receive any extra payment*

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

The Heart of our Home

A house can be a home very easily. To me home is wherever my family are. They are the most important part of our home. 
 
When I was younger we moved around quite a lot. I don't really mind moving, in fact I quite enjoy it, but one day I would  love me and Mark to be able to buy our forever home. I'd love to be able to settle down and for the children to know that they have somewhere that holds loads of memories for them, somewhere we can mark their heights on the door frame. A house where me and Mark can grow old together and have our grandchildren around on a Sunday afternoon. I've always wanted a big family and a family home is part of that. 
 
Our current home isn't huge or fancy but it doesn't have to be. Our home is ours and we love it. Paige and Parker both love the garden and each have a room of their own. We are in a good area and have good shops and schools around. 
 

 
The heart of our home and where we spend most of our time is the kitchen and living room. They are joined together so it's very much an open living space. When looking for home inspiration we honestly wanted something clean and simple.  We don't like lots of fuss or anything too out of the box. We like simple colours and nice light, airy rooms. We don't spend hundreds of pounds on decor or paintings because I'd rather have pictures of the kids artwork up or prints of their hands and feet. I want a lived in house not a show home. I want the children to get all their toys out, make a mess and have fun. I would love to live in a show home but I just don't think I'd be comfortable although they look beautiful.
 
We love to bake and cook in the kitchen as a family. Buns and bread are a big favourite because everyone can get involved. It's lovely to make something together and then enjoy eating it as a family. 
 
I love that our living room/kitchen is open plan. This means that I can keep an eye on the children playing while cooking meals and be included in conversation when we have guests over. We really can be in the heart of our home and enjoy what it has to offer.

Where is the heart of your home?

Nicola Xx

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

14 Months Old

 
 Parker is 14 months old. He has started to look more and more like a toddler this month. I don't think his new hair cut helps! He is such a big boy now and there is no baby left at all.

He now has 11 teeth. When Paige was 14 months old she only had 4. Teeth wise they are very different. Parker is also very, very cheeky. He also now knows when you are telling him off of when he is being naughty, he will cover half his face asif you can't see him. He loves playing peek a boo and covering his face, although sometimes he just covers his ears, haha.

Eating and sleeping hasn't really changed. He is still in 12-18 months clothes.

As for words I think we will have another slow talker on our hands. He says mama, dada, ta and that's about it really. He has said no, hat and kiss but doesn't say them often. He loves kisses and hugs and is still such a loving, cuddling little boy.

This months he has loved wearing hats, or blankets or anything he can put on. He tries so hard to put his socks on and if our slippers are around he will try his best to put them on our feet. He enjoys brushing his or someone elses hair and kicking a ball. He also likes putting toys in baskets or tidying away. He's such great help!

He also loves drawing, although pens/crayons still end up in his mouth a lot. He loves dancing and music in general. He will also babble away to himself and flick through books.


He just seems to get more cheeky everyday. I think he's going to give me the run around when he's bigger. His eyes are still a dark green like Paige's. His are darker than hers at the same age and do have more brown in them. His hair is super light, again similar to Paige's at the same age.

 
My baby boy is getting so big.

Nicola Xx

Monday, 24 August 2015

My Travel Essentials

Very soon we are off to my mums house for a little weekend away. We always love going up to visit her as she lives in such a pretty little village. I am hoping that we have a little bit of sunshine as the previous times it's always rained! 

I thought I'd do a little post of my essentials when traveling and staying away from home. Before I start packing I always write lists of what we all need, depending how long we go for will obviously depend how much we need to take but I tend to start with the basics. Clothes and toiletries  for everyone are always a good place to start.
 
I tend to pack clothing that are comfortable and really easy to throw together. Simple jeans and a t shirt are always my go to wardrobe staples. I love ones from Espirt.
 
 As for toiletries my favourite has to be make up wipes. A great thing to take when travelling to freshen up on the journey or to take your make up off at the end of the day. I also love to pack comfortable shoes. Converse have to be my favourite. Comfortable but also cute. I love mine and Paige's matching pink ones. I also love to have a big changing bag wit me. Its really convenient to throw everything into one bag and to have the multiple pockets are changing bags come with. My current favourite is my Penguin Love Yummy Mummy bag from Pink Lining.
 
 
 
A travel essential for the kids in summer is shades for the back windows, they just help keep the sun out of the car and out of their faces. In the winter an essential is blankets, we love the Snuggle Bundle form Trunki. Both my kids love to be warm and cosy.
 
My next travel essential is a little boring but a must. It's always important to make sure the car is running smoothly and everything is ok. We also check the tyres and get the air pumped up or replace them if needed. You can use some great online places such as Tyre Shopper and National Autocare to get what you need at great prices. Having a car can get very expensive but it's always better to be safe.
 
We also take a travel cot for Parker if we need one and a blow up ready to go bed for Paige along with their favourite teddy to make bedtimes a little easier.
 
My last travel essential is snacks. It always nice to have a few different snacks for the journal. We are all massive snack people. I am currently loving cashews, yummy but still healthy.
 
I'd love to know yours or your childrens travel essentials.
 
Nicola Xx

Friday, 21 August 2015

Bluestone Wales - Review


In May, yes its taken me forever to write this. we visited Bluestone in Wales. We had such a lovely time and hope to go again soon.

Check in -

To check into bluestone you use a drive through process. You can pre register your details online to make check in quicker. We did try this but I'm not sure it worked, I entered details and clicked submit but it took me back to the main screen. I didn't do it again just in case so I left it. Maybe a confirmation message would help people know if it worked or not.



When we got to bluestone the check in was still really easy. You queue up and then drive to a window. The lady took our booking number and our car registration. We then got handed some information and our keys. The lovely lady also explained where to go to find our lodge. Bluestone operates a one way system. But we found it super easy to find our lodge and there are plenty of signs. We found out then that we were pretty far away from everything but we need not have worried.

Accommodation-


Our lodge was gorgeous. We stayed in a Skomer lodge. The first impressions of the lodge was that it was clean with lovely facilities, there was a few spiders in our room though. The cleaner actually left us a little note which was thoughtful. We had 3 bedrooms and 3 bathrooms, all bathrooms had a shower and one downstairs had a bath too. The kitchen and bathrooms were lovely. They had everything you might need. There was also a little welcome pack in the kitchen with a tiny bottle of washing up liquid (bring your own), bin liners, two dish washer tablets. A toilet roll was provided in each bathroom. The lodge was lovely and big. The bedrooms were gorgeous and we felt right at home. The bedding and beds were comfy, Mark found the mattress a little hard. The curtains made the rooms dark enough for the children to sleep. It was quite windy during the night when we stayed and it was very loud at night but it didn't stop any of us sleeping after a busy day. We turned the heating on at the wall but didn't realise that the radiators needed to be turned on too. I found it quite cold in the lodge but no one else did. There is a travel cot provided in each lodge. Ours was a Mothercare one. We had trouble putting it up but eventually managed. The furniture inside the lodge was gorgeous, I wanted to take it home, I didn't though, don't worry. There was plenty of room to store clothes and toiletries but there wasn't many hangers in the wardrobe. The living room was lovely, enough sofas for everyone to sit and a tv. A rug would make it feel a bit more homely but it was perfectly acceptable.  There was also a little snuggle area. There were two beanbags, a tv with dvd player. It is perfect for kids and Paige loved it. We used to snuggle up there and watch a dvd (you need to take your own) before bedtime.
All the lodges have little grass areas around them. This makes them feel very spacious and not overlooked at all.

 
  
 


 
 

 
There are five different zones in Bluestone. We stayed in Knights Rest. This is basically one of the furtherest away from the blue lagoon, adventure centre and main car park. Saying that it is still only a 10 minute walk away, it is all uphill though. We didn't hire a golf buggy as we thought that £80 was overpriced but we found that we didn't really need one. Parker was in his stroller and Paige managed ok. Prams are easy enough to push around. There is gravel that is a bit of a pain but no problem. There is also a free bus (white mini van) that goes around the site every half an hour. We used this and it was lovely. The driver was very helpful and was lovely to chat to. He would also pull up and ask us if we wanted a lift even when we weren't at a stop which was lovely of him. There was construction on site when we visited due to more lodges being built. Bluestone did let us know via a polite phone call a couple of days previous. It was obviously noticeable but not over loud. It didn't effect our trip. The men working on site were super lovely and would even joke around with us.
Food-

During our stay we ate out a couple of times. Who wants to cook every night anyway?! Not us. We ate at the Farmhouse grill and The Woodland Café. We really wanted to eat at Camp Smokey but just didn't get a chance.

Farmhouse grill 
We found it very easy to get a table, we arrived around 5pm. There were colouring sheets and crayons for the children. A high chair was also provided for Parker. Our waitress was lovey and friendly. We ordered at 17:18 and the food arrived at 17:33. While waiting for food we noticed a smashed salt pot in the corner by our table. but everywhere else was clean. Our food arrived and looked yummy. Me and Mark ordered burgers. Mark liked his but I couldn't eat any of mine. I didn't like the burger at all. The chips were ok but I think frozen, homemade ones would of being better. The kids shared chicken strips and chips. It was good and they loved it. We ordered dessert and it arrived 4 minutes later. I had a gorgeous chocolate brownie and we also tried the sundaes which were very yummy too. The portions sizes were good, the food was good, the staff were very helpful and the service was good. The tables were clean and apart from the smashed salt pot we were really happy. For 4 adults and 1 child (because we only got one kids meal) it cost us £72 which was thought was very reasonable. That included 3 desserts too. Overall 7/10.





 
Woodland Cafe 
We arrived as soon as it opened and ordered straight away at 12:00. The food arrived 10 minutes later. Me and Mark took Paige with us. I had a baguette, Mark had a jacket potato and Paige had sausage and chips. Altogether it cost £17, which was ok. The service was quick, the food was good. It was ok for lunch.





 

The Village - 
The village is in the middle of Bluestone. It is a lovely area with shops, an arcade and the tree house, amongst other things. We used the village shop to stock up on items we forgot to bring and for a meal or two. Everything is slightly more expensive than what you would pay at a normal supermarket but it was very reasonable. The bakery was super yummy too. The buns and pies were really nice.



Things to do -
There is so much to do at Bluestone that if you didn't want to travel anywhere else then you wouldn't have to. There is the adventure centre, blue lagoon, the lake, all the gorgeous walks and woods. Our favourite had to be the blue lagoon. It is free for guests and is amazing. There are lovely family changing rooms, lockers and shower/toilet facilities. There are slides which were fun. A little children's area, which were ok but not the best. Paige really wanted a go on a slide but she is obviously too small so a little children's slide might be a good addition. The wave machine was a big hit with us all as was the lazy river, Paige and Parker both loved it. The adventure centre is also great. Some things have an additional charge, but most things are free. There's a soft play area, it was good and Paige enjoyed it but it was a little run down. There was a bouncy castle which me and kids enjoyed a lot. There was crazy golf where I kicked Mark's butt(he says he let me!). There was more arcade type games, a lot were broken and didn't work which is a shame. The lake is a lovely area to walk around. All the outside areas are very well looked after. There are loads of bunnies and wildlife which we all really enjoyed, Paige loved seeing the bunnies from our lodge. It was defiantly a huge plus for us.



We found the treehouse area a little limited for Paige. There wasn't a huge amount of things her to do. She was still a little small to fully enjoy the tree house and the small toddler area wasn't great. There was only one swing and it was always quite busy. She did enjoy the slide and the little train. The circus room was a big hit with both children and is a great little room to get them have fun. There's also some comfy sofa's for parents to relax.



We didn't book any extra activities as I read reviews before we went. A lot said they were a bit expensive for what they were and after seeing the prices I agree. For a children's sensory hour it was £7. I think a price of £4 would be better and we would of tried it out. There were free children's activities too though like the kids hour in the village tent.






Things to do outside Bluestone -
There are plenty of things to do outside Bluestone if you fancy venturing out. We went to Folly Farm and Tenby beach. Folly Farm was lovely but we thought it was a little overpriced for Paige as she couldn't even go on all the rides and things. But the animals were great and there was a lot to do. Tenby beach was gorgeous, such a lovely little place. W enjoyed our day at both places and would recommend both.

Overall -
All the staff were really lovely. We phoned reception up a couple of times to ask questions and they were always so polite and helpful. I will add that one day while we were swimming in the Blue Lagoon we left out stroller in the buggy park. We went to collect the buggy and it was gone. We thought someone had taken it by mistake but it turned out that the staff had moved it without us knowing. Maybe a more clear area where buggies can and can't go would be helpful or lockers to store them in. Once we raised the issue it was sorted and staff brought our buggy to us but it did stress me out quite a lot.

We'd defiantly recommend Bluestone to another family. It was lovely and there's a lot to do. You wont be bored.

Nicola Xx

*Disclaimer - We were given a free stay in exchange for this review but all views and opinions are my own*
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