Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Our 2013

 Unfortunately due to my card reader breaking before Christmas I haven't been able to share some of the Christmas pictures that I took which has been incredibly frustrating. I ordered a replacement but it hasn't arrived yet, typical! So I thought I'd do a review of 2013 instead.

What a year 2013 has been. It seems to have gone by in the blink of an eye but when I look back on photographs, especially ones of Ava, I can't believe how much has happened.

Here is what we got up to in 2013.


Ava: I can't believe that the first images in the collage are from the start of the year! She has changed so much. In March we'll be celebrating her 2nd birthday which I'm already starting to think about. Ava started crawling last December and walking in May, she now understands pretty much everything that is said to her and has a whole vocabulary of words. She comes out with new ones all the time. Ava really suffered with her teeth in 2013 but most of them are now through. We were also lucky that she only suffered with a few coughs and colds all year, I'm keeping my fingers crossed that she never suffers with anything too serious. She's such a ray of sunshine and I'm so proud to be her mummy. I'm so excited to see her grow in 2014.


Where we've been: Sometimes I think we never do anything and I actually didn't think I'd have much to write under this title, how wrong I was. We actually get about an awful lot! From nights away with Nathan to the Wedding fair with my mum and friends in London last February. We've had days out at Blue Planet Aquarium, feeding the ducks, numerous days out at our local Countryside Experience Farmyard, we've been to Chester Races a couple of times, our annual agricultural show, our local library, Cheshire Ice Cream Farm, a woodland walk, the beach, trips to my mum and step-dad's house, a holiday to Tenerife and last but not least our annual trip to London! Phew! I'm so glad I did this, as it's reminded me of so many wonderful days out I've had with my family. 


What Ava has worn: If you are a regular reader you'll know that I love to dress Ava and share some of my favourite outfits with you. Over the year there has been numerous "haul" posts and it's something I plan on keeping up next year. My favourite shops for Ava are Zara, Next and Primark. I've also picked some lovely bits from supermarkets. Zara is my favourite place for fashionable items, Next for comfy, good quality items but I've been seriously impressed with the items I've had from Primark. There are some lovely clothes in there for tiny prices and although the quality is not of Next standard, it's still pretty good. I'm looking forward to sharing some more outfit posts with you in the new year.



Things we've reviewed: I've said this before but when I started my blog I had no idea that you could be offered the chance to review fantastic products. I started my blog because of my love of writing and it is the main focus of my blog. All of the review opportunities that have come my way have just been the cherry on the cake and I am grateful for every one of them.

So there is our 2013 in a nutshell, I'm so excited for 2014! I hope that it will be as good as this year. And if you've got this far, thank you very much! I still can't believe how far my little corner of the internet has come, here are some things that I am most looking forward to in 2014.
  • My wedding in August
  • My hen do in Barcelona in June
  • Our honeymoon in Crete
  • Watching Ava grow
  • The summer! I need some sunshine.
  • Some more exciting family days out.
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Sunday, 15 December 2013

21 months


Excuse the crappy photo I had to bribe her with chocolate to sit still!

This time last year Ava was 9 months old and had just started to crawl. This year she is a toddler full of love and mischief. You definitely know you're own mind now my girl, if you don't want to do something you won't and you've perfected the art of the sulk and pout! On the other hand you love nothing more than smothering me and daddy with lots of hugs and kisses. You love to get us both into a group hug which is so sweet.

We had our first "parent's evening" at your nursery earlier this week and we were so proud to know that you are meeting all of your milestones and more. One of the things we were told is that you are very aware of other people's feelings which is lovely. You made me laugh earlier when I tried to put a ribbon on your doll's head but screamed until I quickly gave her back and you said "baby" and gave her kisses as if I'd traumatised her! You funny thing.

You have a bit of a cold at the moment, as have I and I'm just praying it doesn't develop into something else. I really don't want you to be ill again on Christmas day, it broke my heart to see you so poorly last year.

Your speech is improving every day and we have little conversations together now. You are so funny and fearless, you held a python at a party on Saturday much to everyone's amazement! You bring us so much jot. I'm so lucky to be your mummy! xxx
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Friday, 13 December 2013

Our pre-wedding shoot

You may remember that when I posted my wedding update a few weeks ago I said that the rest of the pictures from our pre-wedding shoot would be coming soon.

Well here are some of my favourites, I'm so excited to share these with you!






Ava had to get in on the action!








I'm thrilled with them and this has made me even more excited for our wedding in August. I know the pictures will be amazing. A huge thank you to the wonderful Phil, if you'd like to check out some more of his work see his website or Facebook page.
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Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Love your Liver Campaign

During the festive season we all enjoy a drink or two, I know I do! But I've always been aware of the effects it can have on my body.

For the past three years the  British Liver Trust have been putting forward their Love Your Liver campaign, setting up pop up liver heath clinics nationwide. Offering free health advice, the chance to undergo a non invasive fibroscan liver test and to sample some Eisberg alcohol-free mulled wine.



They are also encouraging people to take part in the three step challenge:
-Take two or three days off alcohol per week
-Get regular exercise
-Reduce the intake of sugary and fatty foods

I thought I would give it a go as part of my fitness journey, I was also kindly sent a bottle of Eisberg alcohol-free rosé wine to try whilst taking on the challenge.

The first step wasn't hard for me as we don't tend to drink in the house, however on nights where I feel that a really need a drink I think the Eisberg alcohol-free wine would be a great substitute for a regular bottle of rosé. I was slightly dubious at first I must admit but after trying it I'm a convert. It  smells like wine and tastes like wine but without the acrid after taste that you often get. Definitely a winner in my book.



I've also started to go to the gym a lot more often this week and have been three times since Sunday. I'm strangely enjoying it and have been trying new exercises.

I'm also working on the third step, when checking my results from the online liver checker it did say that I should reduce my intake of sugary treats as I do tend to sneak the odd biscuit in during the evening but we're quite well behaved in our house and it's rare that we have a takeaway or processed foods. I tend to make everything from scratch.

If you would like more information on the Love Your Liver Roadshow or the three step challenge you can visit their website here.

*We were sent a bottle of Eisberg alcohol-free wine free of charge for purpose of review but as usual thoughts are 100% my own
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Monday, 9 December 2013

Keeping fit as a mum

After having a Ava my body changed completely, I had the dreaded mum tum, have gone up a dress size and just felt completely flabby all over.

Now that I'm on a fitness journey it can be hard trying to work my fitness schedule of eating right and exercising around being a mum so here are some of my tips.


Try and walk as much as you can: This is something I had to do all of the time as we only had one car which Nath used most of the time. In my spare time I would have to get the pushchair out and walk everywhere with Ava. It definitely helped me and I was gentle exercise to get me back into the swing of things. I have to admit since getting my own car this is something I'm useless at now. To walk more is definitely going to be one of my New Years resolutions.

Exercise at home: Nath and I work around each other when we want to go to the gym or if we want to go together we get a family member to have Ava for an hour or so. This is relatively easy for us, due to Nath's work pattern he can be pretty flexible, but if you struggle to find the time to go the gym get a work out dvd to do in your front room. There are some great ones on the market, Jillian Michaels 30 Day Shred is a great one and if you're feeling brave Insanity is also a good one.

Invest in a juicer This is something that Nath and I are investing in come January. They generally aren't cheap but if you look around you can get some good deals. I'm actually really excited to get this. I'm constantly bloated at the moment and am the worlds worst for eating fruit. In January I'm hoping to go on a juice detox.

Plan your meals This is something we do every week. Not only does it save money it makes me plan healthy meals that Ava can enjoy too.

Follow fitness social media accounts for some inspiration.

Here are some of my favourites:

 Blogs:
Fit Sugar
The Skinny Confidential
Lydia Elise Millen

Twitter:
LDN Muscle

Youtube:
Carly Rowena

Instagram:
Censkii

If you have any tips or any social media accounts you think I'd like please let me know.

Remember you can also follow me on Bloglovin'


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Sunday, 8 December 2013

Toddler steps

Some days I look at Ava and think, "wow, you have grown so much!" Yesterday was one of those days.
I was pottering around in the kitchen while she was eating her lunch of soup and bread & butter. She'd dip her bread ever so carefully into the soup and ate it so well with the spoon. She looked so grown up!

When I was pregnant I had an app on my phone that would tell me at what stage of my pregnancy I was at and how developed my baby was. I loved this app so much and would check it religiously, it would fascinate me and leave me day dreaming about my little baby. Then when Ava was born I would read the Bounty books every month to see if she was meeting her milestones and would sometimes skip ahead to see what she would be doing next month. I anticipated each stage, the first roll, first smile, first laugh and first step.



Now that she is almost two we have other stages to consider, potty training, moving her into a toddler bed, moving from bottles and beakers to cups and mugs... I'm still trying to figure out how I'm going to do all of these things because there are no books for me to follow anymore and to be honest I feel a little lost!

We're going to slowly introduce potty training after Christmas but I know that Nath is reluctant  for  Ava to go into a toddler bed. She is just so little and he said that he doesn't want her to grow up too fast. I suppose there is no real hurry for this as she has not yet out grown her cot.

Do you have any advice about any of the above? At what age did you or do you plan to introduce these toddler steps?

Remember that you can also follow me on Bloglovin'
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Wednesday, 4 December 2013

My fitness journey

Ok so if you've been following my blog for a while you'll know that this had been said before. I made promises that I didn't keep, sorry guys!

A year ago I promised myself that I would get fit. Before going on holiday I was good, I went to the gym 3 times a week, ate well and felt so much better for it but since then I've fallen off the wagon and put the pounds back on!

Source


Now lets get things straight, I know I'm not fat. I'm not doing this because I want to lose weight, but I do need to tone up. I've always been petite and I'm very lucky in that respect. However my lifestyle isn't healthy. I have a terrible sweet tooth and snack like it's going out of fashion. I also suffer with IBS which leaves me feeling sluggish and bloated. I should follow a gluten free diet as pasta and bread are no-go areas for me but I don't... Also I'm awful for keeping myself hydrated and often forget to drink, until I have a headache. As you'll probably know I'm getting married next August and have my hen do in Barcelona next June followed by a honeymoon in Crete. I want to get in shape for this and will be following a bikini guide alongside a healthy eating plan.

Source


I've already taken some pictures of how my body is now that I will be sharing once I (hopefully) see some changes, lets just say the pictures have motivated me even more!

I've already put some changes in place but I'm aware that it will be hard over the Christmas period. I've started following "fitness" accounts on Instagram and have been reading some fitness blogs for some gymspiration.

Source


I'm dreading January already but I'm so determined. I have a goal that I want to achieve, my problem areas are my stomach, thighs and my butt. I'm going to be sharing my progress with you guys and will also share some exercise and recipe tips.

I hope you enjoy this slightly different series.

Remember that you can also follow me on Bloglovin'
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Sunday, 1 December 2013

Cardooo review *

If you've been following my blog for a while you'll know that I love to read and have started to introduce Ava to some of my favourite children's books. As a child I could lose myself in Beatrix Potter tales, Enid Blyton stories and Harry Potter books.

So I find it incredibly shocking that the UK has one of the worst literacy and numeracy levels in the developed world and 8.5 million adults in our country have the literacy and numeracy levels of a 10 year old, which is why when I was contacted by the people at Cardooo, I was behind them 100%. I find it so sad that children are picking up books less and less.



The people at Cardooo have created wonderful greetings cards that contain puzzles, games and short stories which are proving a big hit with children.

As they are short but fun and colourful they are keeping children engaged and are helping with their literacy and numeracy skills. We were kindly sent one of their cards and received the short story "Three Little Pigs". It is cleverly put together and you also receive the envelope for it to be posted in. The pictures are lovely and colourful and it definitely kept Ava entertained.



I think these are a fantastic idea, what child wouldn't love to receive one of these in the post?! The cards start from £3.50 which I think is a fantastic price, I have paid more for a standard, boring greetings card! You can see their full range here, they have a card for every occasion and have just bought out a short story Christmas range. I can guarantee these cards will put a smile on someone's face!


*We were sent the Cardooo card free of charge as part of this review but as usual thoughts are 100% my own

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Friday, 29 November 2013

A day out in London

As self-confessed country bumpkins we get a bit excited over the prospect of a day out in London!

For the past three years we've been going to Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park, it gets us into the festive spirit and we get to spend a lovely day together. It's one of my favourite days of the year.

As we stay with my mum at this time of year, London is only half an hour away so we make a day of it. We plan our day out beforehand and always try to do something different, although Hamleys always makes an appearance. We left Milton Keynes at 10.20am and once in London headed straight to Hamleys. Ava's eyes lit up as soon as we got inside and it was lovely watching her rush around the shop, interacting with everything.



We bought her a few stocking fillers and a "My First Baby Annabel" which we are hiding away for Christmas, we also stopped off at the Disney Store where I picked up another couple of bits.

We'd decided to spend part of our day in Covent Garden which was all dressed up for Christmas.



I love Covent Garden, it's full of cute little shops and lovely restaurants. We were recommended Bills Restaurant and it certainly didn't disappoint! It was cute & quirky and the food was delicious.



I had the macaroni & cheese with leek and mushroom, Nathan had ribs with sweet potato fries. Ava was asleep throughout our meal so didn't get to sample the delights of Bills. It's definitely somewhere I'd visit again!


We then made our way to Winter Wonderland which as usual, didn't disappoint. It's free to enter and you have bars, rides and little market stalls selling things from Christmas decorations to German sausage.




It seemed a lot bigger this year and as Ava was a lot older we got to take her on some rides which she loved! I'd recommend going at around 4.30 we left at 6.30 and it was starting to get busy. Nathan spotted the steins and had to have one. I had a hot apple cider which was lovely.


There were only a few rides for little ones but Ava loved the teacups and had to go on twice.





There is so much to see and do, you could spend a lot of time (and money) there! It's such a magical place and I would recommend it to anyone. I'm already looking forward to next years trip!




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Wednesday, 27 November 2013

2 Years






Today marks the anniversary of my brother's death. 

He was 21, full of life and full of fun.

He was taken far too early and I miss him every day. 

I find it hard to talk about how I feel,

 possibly because part of me still doesn't want to believe it. 

I also want to say how wonderful my mum has been through all of the heartbreak. 

She is such an inspiration to me. She's an amazing lady. 

My biggest regret is that Lloyd never got to meet Ava.

 I was 6 months pregnant when he died and I know he would have just adored her. 

So today I am thinking of the good times I had with him.

But also the huge void he has left behind. 

Below is a lovely poem that was shared with my mum on Facebook. 

I don't know who the author is unfortunately but I think it's just lovely.




As i sit in Heaven, And watch you every day

I try and let you know with signs, i never went away.

I hear you when your laughing & watch you when you sleep,

I even place my arms around you to calm you as you weep
.
I see you wish the days away, begging to have me home


So i try to send you signs, so you know your not alone.

Don't feel guilty that you have a life, that was denied to me,

Heaven is truly beautiful just you wait and see!

So live your life, laugh again, enjoy yourself, be free

Then i'll know with every breath you take,

You'll be taking one for me



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Monday, 25 November 2013

Ultimate European Family Roadtrip

Holidays are something we all enjoy and look forward to throughout the year. But if you’re bored of staying in expensive resorts or hunting for new and interesting places to stay, then why not consider planning a road trip instead?
The French Riviera attracts a range of tourists every year – especially those who like to flash their cash. But one little known fact about this popular area of France is that it’s a great place to start a road trip around France, Switzerland and Italy.


Planning
All holidays require a certain amount of planning but road trips even more so. For one thing, you need to plan your itinerary and where you’re going to stay along the way. It’s worth not being over-ambitious with your itinerary and only doing manageable distances ensuring that you still have plenty of time to take in the sights along the way.



Bring puzzles and games for the kids. A trip around Europe is an excellent family holiday and a great way for you to spend time together. To avoid the kids getting bored in the back of the car, make sure you pick up some entertaining printable puzzle games before you set off. There are also a great range of apps available to keep them entertained en route.
It’s also a good idea to budget seeing as fuel is going to cost you a fair amount but you should also account for food and drink as well as emergency funds (in case you get lost).



Take a GPS with you just in case. While you should consider your road trip an adventure, no one wants to waste vast amounts of time being lost.

The Route
This circular route will take you on mountainous roads through the French Rhone-Alps, the crystal clear lakes of Switzerland and Lake Como in Italy. The lap around Alps will provide you with some of those most gorgeous views in Europe and offers a diverse range of roads to travel.



For a smoother, faster journey, it might be worth opting for the AutoRoute heading out of the French Riviera to quickly get on your way. Alternatively, there are a range of other, more scenic routes to take through mountain villages. The first destination is the French town of Embrun – home to two national parks as well as a range of impressive mountain passes.



You’ll then continue you north to find yourself gazing out onto the stunning landscapes of Samoens, close to the French/Swiss border. You’ll then cross the border into Geneva, Switzerland where you’ll need to decide on where your holiday will take you next.
More active holidaymakers might like to visit Interlaken, whereas the more laidback holiday maker might like to take in the sites at the beautiful city of Lucerne.
Italy is the next destination where you’ll head, going south across the border to the stunning Lake Como, where you’ll admire the multimillion-dollar villas that run alongside the lake. Lake Como is the perfect place to take a relaxing break and indulge in the fine Italian cuisine before heading on to Turin – a much larger more cosmopolitan city.
In Italy tolls are levied on the majority of motorways. Payment is made either in cash or via debit/credit cards from Visa, Eurocard and MasterCard.

“Only one in four petrol stations are open 24 hours a day on Sundays and public holidays. On roads in built-up areas, parking is only allowed on the right-hand side if there is two-way traffic. On one-way streets, you can park on either side providing a space of at least 10ft is left”, says Mike Callaghan a Head of Argus Car Hire.

Once you’re done seeing the famous landmarks such as the Shroud of Turin, you’re on your way back to the French Riviera.

*PR collaboration
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Sunday, 24 November 2013

Ordinary Moments #2


Excuse the grainy photo, it's an iphone "selfie".

When Ava was born I remember wistfully daydreaming about the days where Ava would come up to me, give me cuddles and kisses and call me "mummy".

She'll be two in March and a couple of months ago started calling me mummy, after her being able to say "daddy" for a while I was thrilled and my heart swelled with pride. Even now my heart melts when she calls me mummy. It's such a special word. The above photo was taken last night and was swiftly posted to Instagram and Facebook. We were both in our onesies about to go on a roadtrip to my mums. We're here for a week as on Wednesday it will be two years since my brother died.

Ava grabbed me round the neck and kept saying "aww", she's so loving and I'm so glad I managed to capture such a special moment although the quality is useless. It's a photo that makes me smile and I know I'll treasure it forever.

I'm linking up with Mummy Daddy Me for the Ordinary Moments.

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Friday, 22 November 2013

Wedding Update

As it has been quite a while I thought I'd fill you in on my wedding preparations. For those of you who don't know I'm getting married on 22nd August next year. You can see more of my wedding posts here.

The dress

After a search that took longer than anticipated I have found "the one". After my Maid of Honor and I travelled to my mums in Milton Keynes, visited two bridal shops and a dressmakers and still hadn't found my perfect dress I felt a little deflated, I found two dresses that I liked but I didn't love them. I wanted to find the dress that I couldn't wait to put on, one that I felt beautiful in and one that had my mum in tears (sorry mum). After searching online whilst on the phone to my mum one night we came across a selection of stunning dresses that were right up my street. There was a stockist in Chester so we made an appointment for October, my mum came up from Milton Keynes and along with my auntie and Maid of Honor we went hunting for the elusive dress. After trying on several pretty-but-not-it dresses we found it. As soon as I tried it on I knew. My mum & auntie cried so I knew it was a winner. We're putting the deposit down next week and I already can't wait to try it on again.


Celebrating with a champagne breakfast in The Grosvenor after finding my wedding dress.


Suits

You'll know from this post that I've had a firm idea of how I want the men to look for a while. They went suit hunting and we've decided on the colours. Nath has found a lovely suit from Ted Baker but we are still looking for our ushers suits. I'm waiting for the S/S range to come out as the colours will be lighter and perfect for a Summer wedding.

Bridesmaid dresses

I had a completely different idea of what I wanted my girls to wear. I'd seen a beautiful Ted Baker dress in a duck egg blue but when we went shopping my Maid of Honor tried on a gorgeous fitted dress in pink which was perfect. My two bridesmaids still need to try one on so it's not a definite yet.

Image via Pintrest

Theme

The theme is still rustic and my colour palette is pink & grey. I have an idea how I want everything to look and have been pinning like mad. We're going to my mum tomorrow for a week so I might put a mood board together. In the New Year I'll be visiting charity shops to try and find some knick-knacks to dress the room. I really want to transform the room but I'm so worried I won't be able to do it. I really need to get my thinking cap on. We still need to come up with some ideas for our stationary. It's times like these I wish I were more creative.

Music

We're having a live band followed by a DJ later on. We're still on the hunt for the perfect band. We've found a few that we like but they are SO expensive. Although I'm a big believer in you get what you pay for and I want a great band that will really get our guests up and dancing. It's quite a tricky one but again it's something I'll be looking for into when I'm at my mums next week.

Hen/Stag parties

Next June Nathan will be jetting off to Marbella with some of his guy friends and a week later I shall be jetting off to Barcelona with 14 of my closest girls. I'm so excited. I've never been to Barcelona but I've heard it's stunning and I can't wait to take it all in. We're going for 3 nights and have some fab activities in store. I'll also be having a night out in Chester with the mums, aunties, cousins and friends nearer the time which will be fun!

Image via Pintrest

Honeymoon

Another thing that has been sorted, we obviously have our priorities right! Next September Nath and I will be off to a Sentatori hotel in Crete. I've been to Crete before and am so excited to go back, it's such a beautiful place. We have our own plunge pool on our balcony too which will be a real luxury. Ava will be spending some time with both her grandparents. I do feel guilty about leaving her but we won't have another honeymoon. Although it will be nice to spend some quality time with Nath I know we're both going to miss her like mad!

I'll leave you with a couple of sneak peeks from our pre-wedding shoot with our fab wedding photographer Phil, you can see more of his brilliant work here. More of these to come soon.




Do you have any wedding tips? I'd love to hear them.

Remember that you can also follow me on Bloglovin'
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