Thursday, 31 October 2013

A Spooky visit to the farm

Okay so I've completely contradicted myself, after saying in this post that I wasn't going to buy Ava a costume this year I've not only bought her a costume but a pumpkin too. Which daddy carved free hand! I was very impressed after ruining the first one. Oops! She had to unexpectedly go to nursery today and I couldn't have her missing out.

Yesterday my friend Gemma asked us if we would like to go along to our local countryside experience (which Ava and I visited this Summer) and dress the girls up. So that is what we did. Since our day out to Cheshire Ice Cream Farm all Ava has been on about is the animals so it was great to be able to say "Yes, we're going to see the animals today" rather than "it's close today" or "they're sleeping". She was so excited!

Her costume was £10 from Sainsburys and the tights were separate. I added some leggings and socks underneath as I didn't want her to get too cold.

Her little friends Ava, Poppy & Darcie also dressed up. They had a lovely time looking at the animals, having a tractor ride, playing on the bouncy castle and eating chocolate. Ava was shattered by the end and fell asleep in the car but I think she had a good time.

Blurry but I quite like this one

We're so lucky to have such a lovely place close to home. I'm thinking about holding Ava's 2nd birthday there in March so watch this space.

Hope you've all had a fun filled Halloween!

Sunday, 27 October 2013

Baby Bakes- Chocolate & Ginger Halloween Biscuits

When the days get colder and the nights get longer I'm all about one thing- Christmas. I'm so excited for it this year and I would happily pass up Halloween & Bonfire night.

I didn't get Ava a costume this year as we're not going to any parties and she is too young for trick or treating, and quite frankly I think it's a waste of money. When she is older yes but just not yet.

Although I didn't want her to miss out altogether, I bought her a little witches hat and broom and some Halloween cookie cutters from Sainsburys which all cost me £4, hardly breaking the bank!

I'm quite proud of this biscuit recipe as it's completely my own. Having never baked biscuits before and after Googling for 5mins, realising there were just TOO many different recipes out there I decided to wing it and you know what, they're pretty nice and super easy! My little witch and I had fun making these in our cauldron.

You will need:

100g butter
50g soft brown sugar
175g plain flour
1 egg
2 Tbsp golden syrup
1 Tbsp cocoa powder
1 Tbsp ground ginger
1 Tsp cinnamon

-Preheat your oven to 170C and grease 2 large baking trays.

-Mix your butter, flour and cocoa powder in a bowl. I used an electric hand whisk (obviously adults only for that part)

-Next add your sugar, golden syrup, ginger and cinnamon and whisk again.

-Add your egg and whisk. You should end up with a sticky ball of dough.

-Flour your surface and your rolling pin and roll out your dough. The thickness of the biscuits is up to you but don't make them too thin or they will be difficult to transfer to the trays.

-We obviously used Halloween biscuit cutters but you can use any. Use a knife to help you unstick the biscuits and transfer to the baking trays.

-I baked my biscuits for 15mins as I don't like them too crunchy, these were still slightly soft and crumbly. Leave in for longer depending on how you like your biscuits.

-Leave to cool and decorate.

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Cheshire Ice Cream Farm

It had been a while since Ava and I had our last Mummy & Daughter day out and as I had a few days off work I thought it would be the perfect time for us to do something together. I searched Google for some inspiration and after finding the Cheshire Ice Cream Farm I knew I needed to look no further.

With delights such as an ice-cream parlour, farmyard animals and a soft play area, it's stuff toddler dreams are made of. After noticing that it was free admission I was sold and scribbled down directions. Now I'll be honest and say that I'm the sort of person who mixes up my left with my right so I didn't have high hopes of finding the place but I needn't have worried. It was well sign posted and we arrived a lot sooner than I had anticipated.

As soon as we arrived we headed straight to the Country Kitchen Cafe for some lunch. The sandwiches were freshly prepared and well priced, first little tick in my book. There was so much food on offer, hot and cold, but as we wanted to leave room for ice-cream we had a quick bite and headed to the soft play area. Again, it was free for toddlers with a separate enclosed area which is always a plus for me. Ava loved it in there.

Next for the best part, the award winning ice cream. There were so many flavours I was spoilt for choice, in the end I picked a trusty mint choc chip and Ava had strawberries and cream in a teddy cone. I debated on pigging out and going for two flavours in a double cone but the scoops were very generous and I was already having difficulty holding onto Ava by myself. Next time I'm taking back up and will definitely be having a double cone. I've already got my eye on the fudge flavour!

Ava liked her ice cream but always prefers to eat the cone...

Unfortunately as we were enjoying our ice creams near a wooden play area Ava trod in some dog muck. There are few things I find more disgusting than people not cleaning up after their dogs, especially near a children's play park. Luckily some of the workers were walking by, they apologised and someone came to clean it up right away. It was such a shame but it didn't spoil our day as we carried on exploring.

We then went to see the animals which Ava was funny about, she found them fascinating but cried if I tried to put her down. We had to go back to see them three times.

There is something there for all ages, a small outdoor playground for under 3's, an outdoor playground for older children, mini golf and some quad bikes that Ava and I had a go on, for £1 for 2 laps it would have been rude not to.

We explored the gift and farm shops which didn't cost an arm and a leg much to my pleasant surprise. We had such a lovely day out and it didn't cost the earth which is the main thing. It's a fantastic family run business, something which I am always happy to support. They even cater for childrens parties, so if you're local why not give it a try.

I'd definitely recommend a visit. Ava is still crying about wanting to see the animals so I know we'll be heading back. Next time I want to visit The Artisan Room, where they show you how the ice cream is made, and maybe take home a tub or two...

For more information head to their website.

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Friday, 25 October 2013

The Best Soup Ever

When it's cold and blustery outside there is nothing quite like a nice hot bowl of soup and a crusty roll to warm up your cockles! I love soup and have recently discovered the best soup ever, it really is and I'm not blowing my own trumpet when I say this as it's not my recipe (it's the wonderful Lorraine Pascale's and it can be found in her Fast, Fresh & Easy cookbook).

This recipe couldn't be easier, you need 5 ingredients. FIVE!

1 Leek
1 Potato
1 Stilton 
1 Broccoli Head
900ml of good quality chicken stock 

Chop off both ends of the leek (discarding most of the green part), remove the first layer, rinse it and roughly chop it.

Add a drizzle of oil to a large saucepan with a lid and chuck in your leek. Leave on a medium heat for 10 minutes until soft. Stirring occasionally so that it doesn't burn.

In the meantime boil the kettle and prepare your stock, then peel your potato and chop into small squares.

Once your leek is soft, add your stock followed by the potatoes. Pop the lid on and bring to the boil, once it's boiled remove the lid and reduce the heat. Leave to simmer for another 10 mins.

Whilst it's bubbling away chop your broccoli head, stalks and all. Once your potato is soft, pop your broccoli into the saucepan and leave to bubble for a further 5mins.

Once your broccoli has softened, remove the saucepan from the heat and with a hand blender mix the soup ensuring that all of the lumps have gone.

When you have a smooth consistency, crumble in your Stilton, blend until smooth again and there you have it!

What this soup lacks in looks in certainly makes up for in flavour let me tell you.


Thursday, 24 October 2013

A New Bedtime Buddy

Lately bedtime has been a bit of a battle in our house, Ava used to be wonderful at self-settling but now it's a mixture of stress and tears, from both Ava and myself!

However a couple of days ago we received something that could help our new bedtime routine.

Meet Ava's new bedtime buddy, the Pabobo Lumilove Savanoo night light. Isn't it the cutest night light you've ever seen?! There are four different designs, Giraffe, Monkey, Lion and Hippo.

These clever night lights are suitable from 10 months, have articulated arms and legs and are designed for little hands to play with. They last up to 8 hours on a single change and the innovative LED light system ensures that it doesn't heat up, so they are safe to keep in your little ones bed.

Our favourite feature is the colourful light, it gently changes to rainbow colours or with one tap you can keep it on a single colour. Our friendly giraffe has been spending his evenings in Ava's bedroom although at the moment she prefers to play with it. I'm sure we'll use it for it's actual purpose as she grows. I had a night light as a child so I know how comforting a little light can be.

The Pabobo Lumilove Savanoo night light retails at £25. Ava absolutely loves hers and I would recommend it to anyone. It is the cleverest design I've seen, not to mention the sweetest.

For more information you can head to their website.

*We were sent the Pabobo Lumilove Savanoo night light free of charge as part of a review. All thought are 100% my own.

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Autumn activities

Now that the weather is changing I'm constantly on the hunt for different things to do with Ava. She is at the age where she needs to be stimulated and she loves getting out and exploring.

I thought I'd share with you guys  a few activities that we like to do together:


Ava has loved swimming from an early age and will be having lessons when she is old enough. I think learning to swim is so important. Nath and I are both members at our local leisure centre so we can take Ava swimming for free which is fab!

Soft Play 

We have a large soft play area in our town and Ava loves it there, although I have to run around after her as it's very big and you get bigger children in there. My favourite time in take her is on a Wednesday morning during term time, we practically have the place to ourselves.

The Library

I've mentioned our library before. It's lovely, there's a huge children's area and the books are like new. As the weather is getting wetter we tend to hole up in the library and read. Today we took home 7 books!

Autumn Walks

A few weeks ago my dad and I took Ava on an Autumn walk, something I'm keen to do again. I want to collect some conkers with her but the weather has been non-stop rain lately! Hopefully I'll get to do it soon.


Ava has recently discovered Play-Doh and colouring which she loves. I'm going to attempt some Christmas crafts this year so we'll see how we get on.


If you saw one of my recent posts you'll know that I have started baking with Ava and have started a fun series, Baby Bakes. It's a great way to introduce your little one to textures and flavours.

What do you like to get up to with your little one?

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Monday, 21 October 2013

Wrappz review

Last week a parcel arrived that really put a smile on my face- my new phone case from Wrappz!

I've been searching for the perfect cover for my iphone but none have caught my eye so when Wrappz contacted me to ask if I would like to review one of their phone cases or skins (removable adhesive cover) I jumped at the chance and instantly hopped onto their website which is quick and easy to navigate. I knew instantly which photograph I was going to use, my favourite photo of Ava from the Summer. It puts a smile on my face when I look at it.

My new phone case arrived within a couple of days and I was seriously impressed! And I mean seriously, even Nathan loved it and got case envy! The quality is brilliant, the case is solid with a shiny finish and it fits my phone perfectly. I have had so many compliments about it and so many people have asked me where I got it from! Priced at £18.97 I think it's a good price for such a fab product. It would make a lovely Christmas present for someone!

What's more you can customise just about any gadget, Ipod, Ipad, laptop, kindle! Even games consoles. They have a wide range of pre-made designs to choose from if you don't want to upload a picture. You can even choose a fancy faux-leather option if you have an Iphone 5 or Samsung Galaxy.

So if you're looking for a personal gift for someone this Christmas that is guaranteed to put a smile on their face definitely give them a try, you won't regret it!.

I also have a little gift for you guys. If you head over to the Wrappz website you can design your own skin for free! Simply enter freeskin in the voucher code box on the payment page and all you have to do is pay for postage (£2.50). If you get yourself a skin I'd love you to show me via my Facebook, Twitter or Instagram page.

*I was sent the Wrappz phone case as part of a review. As ever thoughts are 100% my own.

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Friday, 18 October 2013

Baby Bakes- Banana and Chocolate Chip Loaf

One of my earliest memories is of me, my mum & brother baking cheese twists in our old kitchen. It always puts a smile on my face and I've always vowed to bake with my own children. Now that Ava is old enough I thought that I would share some recipes that we have enjoyed making together. Not only is it fun but she experimenting with different flavours and textures which I think is important.

So here's is the first recipe in a series of Baby Bakes.

You will need:

100g softened butter
225g self-raising flour
100g soft brown sugar
100g chocolate chips
2 eggs
2 tbsps honey or golden syrup
3 bananas.

Enthusiastic toddler optional.

Preheat your oven at 180 C/ gas mark 4.

Rub the butter and flour together with your fingers so they become "breadcrumbs"

Add the sugar and give it a stir

Add the eggs and honey, stir them in.

In a separate bowl mash the bananas together with a fork. Add them to the mixture and stir in the chocolate chips.

Grease proof a loaf tin or, like us, use a paper case to line your tin. Pour in the mixture, level it out and pop in the oven for 1 hour.

To test if it is ready stick a skewer into the middle of the cake, if it comes out clean you're good to go.

There you have it, a super easy, toddler friendly recipe.

Let me know if you decide to make any of the recipes in the Baby Bakes series by tweeting me a picture or tagging me on Instagram. I'd love you to join in.

Girls night in

I'm sure it's safe to say that I'm not the only one who loves a good natter and a drink with my girlfriends. But now that the nights are getting colder and darker, the thought of putting on a dress, heels and dolling myself up fills me with dread.

However the thought of having some of my best friends round, in our pjs, mixing cocktails (or drinking tea), eating nibbles and playing party games sounds like a much more appealing prospect. Also from a mummy point of view it would save me looking for a babysitter (providing that they kept the noise down)!

A survey by Ladbrokes Bingo recently discovered that 70% of women much prefer a night in than a night out. Although a night out is seen as the most exciting choice (getting ready being my personal favourite part), they are expensive and sometimes don't live up to expectations, long queues, paying to get in EVERYWHERE and my personal low point- the weather! Nothing worse than rain ruining your perfect 'do or fake tan!

I'm actually heading out with my girlfriends for a rare night out tomorrow but the work that goes into in is just phenomenal. I've spent more time finding a new outfit and planning how we are going to get there and back than anything else. It's so time consuming and expensive. And although I know we'll have a good time, as we always do, it's almost too much hassle to bother!

Now that the cold weather is here to stay I think that next time we fancy a night out I'm going to gather up the girlies, some chocolate and X Factor and have a cheap & cheerful girls night in. No men or heels allowed!

*In association with Ladbrokes Bingo

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

19 months

The months seem to be flying towards your second birthday! As strange as it sounds I love dressing you at the moment with Zara still being my favourite shop.

I've started to bake with you and tomorrow we're attempting some muffins (stay tuned to see how that goes). We have so much fun playing now as you're using your imagination a lot more.

We're having some issues with bedtime again, you used to be so good and would go up at 7.30 but now it's a bit of a battle. Especially since you understand so much and can say no! You're still pushing the boundaries at the moment and seeing what you can get away with which is pretty exhausting but it's all part and parcel of motherhood.

You've started to say mummy, much to my delight. You never really said "mama" but have been saying "daddy" so clearly for a while now and I must say I felt a bit left out. I love it when you come in and shout "mummy". It's so cute!

I think we're going to be attempting potty training soon which I must say I'm quite nervous about! If anyone has any tips I would love to hear them!

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Thursday, 10 October 2013

Prezzybox Review

We were recently sent an item to review from Prezzybox, Prezzybox is a gift website that offers quirky gifts for any gender, age or occasion.

I picked the Soldier Egg Cup & Toast Cutter which is priced at £6.95. It arrived within a couple of days and as soon as I saw it I fell in love with it, it's just so cute!

The egg cup comes with a detachable "hat" which you can pop back onto your egg to keep it warm while you prepare your toast. I was worried that the toast cutter wouldn't live up my expectations and not cut the toast properly but I needn't have worried, it made three perfect little soldiers. You can also use the little spoon that's attached.

Ava took a real liking to the soldier!

All in all I really love this product and the service provided by Prezzybox was fast and reliable. This would make a fab stocking filler or Secret Santa gift. It's cute and gimmicky but I also found it really useful. It also makes meal times fun and Ava really enjoyed using it. She got stuck in dipping her toast into the egg and ate most of it much to my delight.

I highly recommend Prezzybox if you are looking for something a little different and fun.

Sunday, 6 October 2013

What's in my handbag- The Mummy Edition

Since starting my blog almost a whole year ago (time flies) the one post I've seen pop up a lot on various blogs is the "What's in my handbag" tag. Now being the nosey person that I am I very much enjoy these posts and am always in awe of their immaculate, luxurious and cool content.

I thought I'd share with you the contents of my handbag. Be warned, it's neither immaculate, luxurious or cool! In fact as a self-confessed disorganised person it's pretty much a shambles!

My handbag isn't old but I've already lost the little locket feature from the front. I still use it all the time as it's a nice strong handbag and it goes with pretty much anything. It's from Miss Selfridge.

I've literally emptied the contents of my handbag onto the bed. It's an extremely roomy handbag that holds a lot of rubbish!

As you can see.

For a reason unknown I seem to have 5 lipsticks in my handbag, a Wow toy, a pack of tissues, a used tissue, a pack of (opened) milky bar buttons (giant ones), an organiser (ironic), a used bib, a leaflet from a bridal store, my purse and my iphone.

I can't honestly say that this is all down to me being a mother, I've always been messy (ask Nath), but the bib and Wow toy are obvious new additions.

MAC-Russian Red/ Rimmel- Kate 101/Rimmel- Coral Queen/ L'Oreal Color Riche Serum- Freshly Candy/MAC- Milan Mode

I'm not the sort of person who re-applies makeup during the day so I have no idea how these have found themselves into my bag. For this very reason lipsticks last me yonks! The packaging on Rimmel Coral Queen is falling apart and Ava has poked her finger into the L'Oreal lipstick. I love the colours though so I don't want to throw them out. The Wow man was given to us as a sample figurine. It's great to give to Ava when she starts getting bored and cranky.

A distraction tactic for Ava or a snack for me on a bad day! I always keep something in my bag to munch on. It's great that Ava now eats these things as I can pinch some too!

My iphone, otherwise know as the extension to my hand. I'm a bit useless for leaving it lying around in the house but I'm addicted to Instagram at the moment and am always snapping away and uploading pictures. I upgraded to IOS7 last night and although I wasn't going to I'm so glad I did. I love it! My purse is a plain Primark number. I think a new one will be on my Christmas list this year. Maybe a cute Ted Baker one?

I won this Personal Planner a couple of months ago over on Kerry's blog. I love it and I carry it around with me with the good intention of being more organised. I started well but have recently fallen off the waggon. I know that it will be super handy as our wedding draws closer though!

I'm about as stumped as you with this one, I have no idea why I have a dirty bib in my handbag. I may have taken it with me when I took Ava out for breakfast on Wednesday...? It actually came in very handy yesterday when I needed to remove some lipstick.

Not painting a very good picture of myself here am I? Now we have a pack of tissues and a used tissue. Although in my defence I always think that if you can re-use the tissue after one blow there's no point wasting that just me? Moving on...I always keep a pack of tissues or wet wipes in my bag due to a poop related incident involving Ava when she was only a few months old. I was out on a walk, she was wearing a short romper suit, poop happened and I had no wipes. It was traumatic.

Yesterday I went to this bridal shop in Chester with my mum, auntie & friend Trudy and I found The One. I'm SO excited. It was perfect and exactly what I was looking for. I knew as soon as I walked into the changing rooms that I would find it. It was quite an emotional moment when I tried it on. It really was love!

So there you have it. The very underwhelming contents of my handbag! I would like to add that I have now binned the tissue and put the bib in the wash! 

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