Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Cheese Posties review*

A couple of weeks ago I had a real craving for a cheese toastie! I got our toastie maker out and made both Ava and I a cheese toastie. Unfortunately I'm not very exotic with my flavours and always have a simple mature cheddar doused in Lea Perrins, so when I was contacted by Cheese Posties asking if I would like to review their cheese toastie subscription box, how could I say no?!

A cheese toastie subscription box, I hear you ask! What is this madness?! Well it's actually one of the best ideas I've ever come across. You basically sign up via their website and can choose to have your toastie delivered weekly or monthly, select the type of flavours that you would like to receive (only sweet, only savoury or a mixture), and you can also select gluten, nut & meat free options. You can then select your payment plan £3.99 per week, £15.60 every 4 weeks or £30 every 8 weeks. Choose a delivery address and you're good to go.

I think this is such a fab idea for those who have to take their lunch into work. You can have it delivered straight to your work place and all you need is a toaster. The flavours are incredible! You could receive anything from a chocolate cheesecake toastie (Nutella & cream cheese) to pepperoni pizza (mozzarella, marinara sauce & pepperoni).

As a mum I always find lunch so uninspiring and I struggle to come up with fun, exciting meal ideas for Ava. She loves cheese toasties so to receive one of these a week would take the pressure off a little and I'm sure she'd love the surprise.

My toastie arrived on Monday but due to work I didn't actually get around to eating mine until Wednesday. I would definitely recommend eating your toastie as soon as possible as by this time by bread had gone a little stale and was hard to butter, so I just used some of my own.

I received the "Fight in the Farmyard" flavour, which was goats cheese & bacon jam. I'd never thought of putting goats cheese on a toastie, even though it's one of my favourite things and bacon jam?! I couldn't wait to try it.

I love that all of the ingredients to make your toastie all come in separate plastic bags. You also get a card which tells you which flavour you've received.

After slipping my toastie into the bag provided it took approximately 3-4 minutes in the toaster. It was honestly so good! The goats cheese was strong, just how I like it, and the bacon jam gave it a real meaty kick.

I would be thrilled to received a surprise toastie in the post every week! Cheese Posties is such a fun, original concept. You can find out more and see some of their amazing flavours on their website.

What do you think of this idea?

*We were sent a subscription box free of charge in exchange for a review but as usual thoughts are 100% my own.


Disney Princess Royal Boutique Cash Register review*

At the moment Ava is crazy about the Disney Princesses, so you can imagine her excitement when we were sent the new Disney Princess Royal Boutique Cash Register to review.

I couldn't help but admire how pretty it is! It's perfectly princessy in pink and gold, adorned with images of the well known characters. The cash register comes with a working scanner, paper notes, plastic coins and a plastic "credit card". It also comes with two keys which you have to use to unlock the till before it will pop open. The second key is kept as a spare and lives in a compartment underneath the till, something which I though was a great idea. It also takes 3 AAA batteries, which are included.

As well as having all of the usual buttons and fun phrases, I also think that this till could be used as a math's aid. Ava is a little too young for subtractions and multiplications but the till acts as a calculator, something that I've never seen before. Combined with the pretend money this could be used as an educational toy.

After building ourselves a little den, Ava and I spent the afternoon playing cafes and shops which she thoroughly enjoyed. The till has been everywhere with her lately so I think it's safe to say that she approves.

The Disney Princess Royal Boutique Cash Register is the perfect gift for a Disney Princess fan and can be found in Smyths for £24.99.

Does this feature on your child's Christmas list?

*We were sent the Disney Princess Royal Boutique Cash Register free of charge in exchange for an honest review. As usual thoughts are 100% my own.

Life lately- getting ready for Christmas and New Year challenges

We always treat the end of November as a pre-Christmas get together, to not only remember my brother, to share stories and memories but to make the time together fun for Ava. We went to see Father Christmas and did some shopping. As I mentioned in this post, we didn't go to London this year as I just didn't feel comfortable with the idea.

We're then catapulted into December and I always find myself completely exhausted, hence the lack of blog posts lately. Nath works on the post and in the run up to Christmas he is up at 2.30am. I honestly don't know how he does it and for some reason I'm the one who feels completely exhausted. I've almost finished my Christmas shopping, thank god for online retail, and I just need to wrap and send on Christmas cards! I'm only half organised this year. Last weekend was a busy one that saw Ava take part in our town's Christmas parade with my sister-in-law and her first gymnastics competition. She came 4th, I was so proud!

I'm looking forward to January as I'll be starting something new. Back in the Summer I mentioned that I had been offered another job, it was full-time and after weighing up the pros & cons and having a trial period I realised that it wasn't for me and I stayed where I am. I currently work as a Secretary in an Independant School. I've worked there for almost 7 years and at the moment I work part time, the holidays are generous but I still have to work throughout the school holidays (being an Independant School they get an awful lot of school holidays!).

Last Friday must have been my lucky day, I was offered a new job- at work! Another secretarial role that will see me working full time during the week but I'll get all the school holidays off. This will give me some time to also work on my blog which is great. I'm so thrilled to have been offered this opportunity and I can't wait to start my new challenge in January.

Our new home is all decorated for Christmas and I'm starting to feel very festive. I'm going to watch Ava in her first ever pre-school performance on Thursday-she's a cow- and no doubt I'll be blubbing in the corner!

Are you all set for Christmas? What have you been up to lately?

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Ava's Christmas gifts

You'll have to excuse the garish decor above, I got slightly carried away editing my picture. But if you can't add a candy cane frame to an image at Christmas then when can you?!

I thought I would share with you some of the gifts that we have bought for Ava this year. We haven't gone crazy, we're from a big, generous family and Ava will be spoilt rotten. I'm already stressing about where I'm going to store everything!

Isabelle's Dollhouse- Smyths- Now this isn't the exact one the we have bought for Ava, ours was from Mothercare, we bought it a few months ago when it was on sale from £160 to £80! This will be Ava's main gift from us this year and I know she's going to love it. One of her little friends has one and she adores playing with it. We've bought some of the small, toddler Barbie dolls to go inside it. Although it is big enough to fit full size Barbie dolls.

Puppy Surprise- Toys R Us- If your little one likes YouTube you may be familiar with this toy. Also I'm sure that I remember them from the 90's but I may be wrong. Basically Ava saw a Puppy Surprise YouTube video and subsequently, TV adverts and basically became obsessed! It's a soft toy dog that has babies in it's belly. You don't know how many babies or if they'll be boys or girls until you open it. It sounds pretty gruesome but it's basically like a dog shaped kinder egg.

Play Doh Crazy Cuts- Very- Play Doh is another of Ava's great loves. This, again, was seen on an advert and immediately she asked for it.

Hungry Hippos- Smyths- As Ava get's older I'm slowly trying to get her into board games. Last year we bought her Mouse Trap and I think she'll really love Hungry Hippos, I did when I was younger. I think that board games are great for a rainy day and it's something that we can all play together.

Paw Patrol Rescue Training Centre-Toys R Us- Paw Patrol is one of Ava's favourite cartoons at the moment (along with Blaze & The Monster Machines), she'll be thrilled to bits when she opens this and I know my mum has bought her another Paw Patrol playset too.

Sylvanian Families Kangaroo Family-Cuthberts Toys- I personally love Sylvanian Families. I always wanted some when I was younger. I think that they're so sweet and well made. The attention to detail always gets me. I mean how cute is the joey in the pouch?! I do find them quite expensive though and Ava only has a few pieces so far.

Sylvanian Families Cosy Cottage Starter Home-John Lewis- This is actually one of Ava's gifts from my mum & step dad but I thought I'd include it. I think it's great value compared to the more expensive Sylvanian Family items. It does come with a bunny character but Ava will probably move in the kangaroo family. I also know that she's getting the Ice cream van from another family member so her Sylvanian Family collection is well and truly growing.

I have also bought her a stacking box from Great Little Trading Company which I am filling with some Galt goodies, Galt is a craft brand. Ava loves crafts so I have decided to create a "Rainy Day" activity box that I shall be sharing with you when finished.

She also has a Christmas Eve basket that I shall share with you soon, as well as some stocking fillers. including "The Princess & the Frog" on Dvd and some Fashems or Mashems, whatever they're called, YouTube Mamas ,you get me!

What are your little ones getting this year?


Sunday, 29 November 2015

Ollie & Leila kids bean bag chair review*

If you recently read my blog post about Ava's room you'll know that I love children's interiors, be it bedroom furniture or accessories. And although I would say that Ava's room is 95% complete, I'm always looking for little bits and bobs to make it a little more special.

We were recently sent this gorgeous bean bag chair from Ollie & Leila to review. Ollie & Leila specialise in children's interiors and handmade furniture, making everything in Britain. 

Before receiving the chair I was concerned that it might be one of those that you need to stuff yourself with the polystyrene balls, but I needn't have worried. It came ready stuffed and good to go.  

The chair is also nice and supportive, meaning that when your child sits in it there is enough filling in the chair to keep the back straight, and not loose & floppy. This is quite an important factor in my opinion as I would hate to see Ava sat in a chair that gave her bad posture. It says a lot about the quality of the product and the Ollie & Leila bean bag chair definitely ticks those boxes.

There are 3 different designs to choose from: boats, hearts and the one that we chose, roses. The lining is 100% cotton, soft yet hard wearing, perfect for toddlers. Although, unfortunately it states that the chair is dry clean only, a removable, washing machine friendly cover would probably be more practical given the messy nature of toddlers.

I haven't yet decided where the chair is going to live, it's been flitting between her bedroom and the front room but I do like the idea of a little reading nook in her bedroom. It goes nicely with the girly decor in there.

The Ollie & Leila bean bag chair make the perfect addition to a child's bedroom or playroom. They retail at £59 and can be found on their website.

*We were sent the Ollie & Leila bean bag chair free of charge in exchange for an honest review. Thoughts are 100% my own.

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Don't make me feel stupid for being afraid

I don't usually write about the news or any controversial issues on my blog, I like to keep things light, but unfortunately there was no ignoring the terrible news over the weekend and I just had to write about it.

Having lived in France for most of my childhood it's a place that I hold very close to my heart and I was completely devastated to hear about the terrorist attacks. That doesn't mean that I don't care about the rest of the world, as many people are stating on social media that the focus has solely been on France when it's been happening all over, but to be honest I think that this has affected us so much as this is right on our doorstep, and it's scary!

I for one have been constantly checking the news, forever refreshing my browser like a woman possessed, looking for updates & new developments, because well, I'm afraid. I'm afraid that it will start happening here, my home, which in my heart I know that it's bound to, it's pretty much inevitable. But what has shocked me are the attitudes of some people, I've almost felt reluctant to tell people about my fears as it's sometimes met with sneers and is brushed off with a "oh well it's obviously going to happen here, don't let it stop you from living your life." As a mother don't I have a right to be afraid?  To fear for mine & my family's safety and to question the world in which I'm bringing up my daughter in?

I can understand what they're saying and I know to those who potentially have no children and who don't understand, that I sound neurotic but I shouldn't be made to feel stupid or weak because I'm scared. At the end of November we always head to my mum's in Milton Keynes and have a day in London, visiting tourist attractions and ending up at Hyde Park's Winter Wonderland. I've always looked forward to our trip but this year is obviously different. Being a self-confessed country bumpkin,  London makes me nervous at the best of times but I think that this year my anxiety would be through the roof. I've told Nath that I don't want to go but I'm happy to play it by ear for the time being. As much as I don't want my fear to get the better of me and I don't want them to win, I know that I wouldn't be able to enjoy it and would be on edge all day.

I have over a week to change my mind yet but we may be making alternative arrangements.

What are your thoughts?
Let's Talk Mommy

Saturday, 14 November 2015

Birds Eye Stir Your Senses review*

Since becoming a wife and mother I have also become a bit of a foodie. I think it's definitely something that I have taken from my mother who is a brilliant cook & baker.

I usually cook everything from scratch, bar the odd fish finger for Ava, so when I was asked if I would like to try the new Birds Eye "Stir Your Senses" meals, I was intrigued. I don't have anything against frozen foods, I just enjoy cooking, but being a working mum with a busy lifestyle I thought these may come in handy.

The Stir Your Senses meals come in a wide variety of well known, international meals such as Rigatoni all Carbonara, Pappardelle alla Bolognese, Thai Chicken with Basmati Rice, The South Indian Chicken Curry & Paella.

These meals are ridiculously easy, you simply put the contents of the packet into a pan, add a couple of tablespoons of water and stir until you have a delicious, bubbling meal. All in 8 minutes!

I bought 3 different meals so that we could try a variety, we tried the Rigatoni all Carbonara and the Pappardelle alla Bolognese and both did as stated on the packet, in 8 minutes I had fully cooked pasta with a creamy sauce to go with it. Ava and I both preferred the Carbonara which was full of cheese and generous pieces of ham. The bolognese was also good although I think it could have done with a little longer in the pan as the pasta wasn't cooked to my liking, I think I'd added a tablespoon too much of water as the sauce was a little too weak in my opinion but Nath enjoyed it.

We then tried The South Indian Chicken Curry, which I was slightly apprehensive about. I wasn't sure how the frozen rice would fair and thought the chicken might come out a little rubbery. Luckily it was perfect, my sister-in-law was over at the time and she was also impressed with how tasty it was, definitely my favourite out of the three meals. The chicken was tender and the curry itself was packed full of flavours and had a bit of a kick to it. Ava had a little try and did enjoy the taste but it was a little too spicy for her. I think she'd benefit from some cream or yoghurt with it in future . I was very pleasantly surprised with the curry and it would be something I'd buy again.

One thing I will say is that I didn't realise that the meals were single portions, which for £3 is a little expensive if you have to buy more than one. In our case I would probably need to buy 3 packs as Nathan eats quite big portions which would come to £9, far too much for a frozen meal. Maybe Birds Eye could bring out a family sized pack for a cheaper price. This is something that would be handy to have in the freezer on nights when Nath goes out and Ava just has a quick meal and the curry is definitely worth a try.

You can buy Birds Eye's Stir Your Senses meals from Sainsbury's, ASDA, Tesco, Morrisons, Iceland & Waitrose for around £3

*We were sent vouchers for the meals in exchange for an honest review. Thoughts are 100% my own.

Sunday, 8 November 2015

The last Autumn walk

I've said a lot this year how much I love Autumn and now that most of the trees are without leaves we're well on our way to dreaded Winter (although that does mean that Christmas is on it's way, which I love)!

Last weekend Ava and I went on a beautiful Autumnal walk with my dad & his dog Murphy. The weather was so mild & beautiful it was hard to believe that it was the end of October.

We live in Shropshire, which is, in my opinion, a beautiful part of the country. I love being so close to the countryside and we are close to Chester, Manchester, Liverpool & Birmingham and a stones throw away from the beautiful scenery of North Wales. Perfect really!

I don't think I'll ever tire of the beautiful colours of Autumn! And in this part of the country we do have some beautiful views.

Crafting is always something that I plan on doing more of with Ava, because she does love it! Autumn leaves are the perfect craft fodder.

This particular park is lovely as not only is it a gorgeous walk, it has small animals that Ava loves and it is completely free!

I do love the Summer but in this country you really don't know what you're going to get weather wise and it's usually useless. On the other hand I never have too much expectation of Autumn but it always delivers. I think Autumn is my favourite season of all.

Until next year, Autumn, you've been beautiful.


Thursday, 5 November 2015

Ava's room tour & My 1st Years review*

I thought that I would combine a tour of Ava's new bedroom with a review from one of our favourite brands, My 1st Years. Since moving into our new house, 6 months ago, Ava's room has quickly become my favourite room in the house. It's still not complete, I would like her new 3/4 bed to have a headboard and the tie backs for the curtains still need to go up. I'd also love to get her a new blind at some point as her current blind was left by the previous owners and is quite old.

Other than that I'm so happy with how her room has turned out. Before hand it was a tired looking room with plain walls and cold lino flooring. Ava chose the lilac paint and we had cosy, soft beige carpet put down. You may recognise a few things from her nursery tour. Including her Great Little Trading Company bookshelf which I love so much.

Ava had a cotbed until recently and it had become that small and narrow that she was coming into our bed every night, meaning we were all getting a lousy nights' sleep. My dad, who was moving house, asked us if we wanted a three quarter bed that had never been used. I bought a pink valance from Amazon along with this gorgeous Bluezoo bedding from Debenhams and since then she's been sleeping so much better!

Ava does have a playroom but I love the Rosebud range from Early Learning Centre and I think they look so cute in her room.

The bunting is some that we bought and hung up for our wedding reception last year which makes it extra special. The Ellie Goulding lyric print is from Notonthehighstreet and the panda print is from And Smile studio. Both frames are Ikea.

Another small touch that I love is her lightshade, also Ikea. I think it was around £15. The lace effect is so beautiful and it really compliments her room.

Her latest addition is her My 1st Years toy storage bag which is perfect for her girly bedroom. One of the things that I love the most about My 1st Years products is that they are incredibly well made. This storage bag is sturdy, with a beautiful bow pattern on the quilted material and her name embroidered on the front. It holds an awful lot of toys and keeps it's shape, no matter how many toys you squeeze in!

The storage bag retails at £40.00* and can be found on the My 1st Years website.

*We were sent the My 1st Years storage bag free of charge in exchange for a review. As usual thoughts are 100% my own.

Sunday, 1 November 2015

A day at Chester Zoo

I said that it would happen and boy, has this post come back to bite me on the butt! Ava's behaviour over the last few days has been so exhausting, I've been at my wits end! So when my auntie suggested a day out to Chester Zoo I thought that it would be a good excuse to get out of the house, to burn some energy and to hopefully have a day without tantrums.

We last took Ava to Chester Zoo on her 2nd birthday which seems so long ago now! I haven't been since but used to go so much as a child. Chester is only 45mins from us and it brings back so many happy memories.

My cousin desperately wanted to see the Komodo dragons so that was our first stop.

I'm not that keen on the slithery things myself, they look like they could gobble you up in one bite!

Throughout the day we could hear this rumbling sound, no matter where we happened to be in the zoo. We soon realised that it was coming from the lion's enclosure and quickly raced across to see what was making them so grisly.

Unfortunately we didn't get to see the lion in all his roaring glory but hearing the roars reverberating throughout the zoo was quite spine chilling!

After spotting the face panting station Ava was desperate for hers to be done. She waited patently in line whilst I tried to convince her to have her face painted as a tiger, but she wasn't having any of it and decided on a puppy, as usual!

We then moved on to Ava's favourites, the penguins & some of my favourites, the flamingos. The penguins were real showmen and so fast! So I didn't manage to snap a picture of them unfortunately.

It was then ice cream time! They sell ice cream from the Cheshire Ice Cream farm, somewhere we love to visit & the ice cream is amazing! Chocolate for Ava, raspberry ripple for my auntie & cousin & honeycomb for me.

We were lucky that although we went during half term (and did a communal groan when we saw how full the carpark was) it was never overcrowded. This could be due to the fact the Chester Zoo is so vast and there are so many different parts to explore.

There are lots of grassy areas, perfect for children to run around or to sit in the Summer for a picnic (something that I'm planning on doing next year!)

There is so much to do we only covered a very small part of the zoo and unfortunately didn't get to see the islands that are the new home for the tigers, but there's always next time.

One of the hardest parts of the day was trying to tear Ava & my cousin away from one of the many playgrounds!

Before long it was time to get on the monorail and head home.

The zoo closes at 4.30pm during the colder seasons and the day just flew past. As I mentioned earlier we hadn't even managed to see it all!

We weren't offered any tickets to review Chester Zoo, we just had such a lovely day I just thought I'd share it with you, If you're in the area you should definitely check it out.

Have you ever been to Chester Zoo?
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