Monday, 31 January 2011

#QuinnyCasters Assignment 4...

was to take a picture or video of your beautiful baby being a sleeping beauty. It wasn't difficult to get Little E asleep in the Zapp Xtra - in fact she's hardly ever awake in it. What was difficult was my rubbish attempt at video editing! Here's the video of my sleeping beauty - please do not laugh at my first attempt at one of these soppy films!

Tried & Tested: Valentines Drinks - the perfect gifts for the perfect night in!

If you want to treat someone this Valentine's then why not get them a bottle of something special - that way you get to share it with them! Here's a few lovelies that have been Tried & Tested by our panel...

Roche Lacour by Laithwaites Wine

Glorious salmon-pink rosé handcrafted at the historic cellars of Limoux. Celebrated winemaker Laurent Mingaud employs Champagne's méthode traditionnelle to craft his famous Limoux fizz, giving you mouthfuls of tiny bubbles - just like top Champagne.

What our reviewer said...

"I'm a massive fan of Rose wine but I don't often get to taste the fizzy variety. The taste was quite dry and the bubbles felt unusually tiny, making for a lovely drinking experience. This is a great drink to have with a romantic meal - we had it with steak, which was great, but we're no experts. We'd definitely buy this again for a special occasion. Apparently I should be saying that it's beautifully balanced and finishes on a Strawberry note but that means nothing to me! It tastes good, makes me look posh and made me feel tipsy - a winner in my book!

Tails Cocktails

Tails are a perfect way to bring some fun and glamour to Valentine’s Day, whether they’re shaking up a girls’ night in or impressing that special someone. The launch range includes the Espresso Martini, Mai Tai and Cosmopolitan all at 18% ABV.
Note to self - must buy posh cocktail glasses for home!

What our reviewer said:

"I love a good cocktail when I'm out but the last time I tried to pull together a cocktail at home was a nightmare. For that reason alone, I was impressed with the whole concept of Tails (and slighty miffed Id not thought of it myself!) You just buy it off the shelf, add ice in to the Tails packaging and then just shake and pour. All the deliciousness of a cocktail but with out the faffing around (and in my case the mess!) Great fun, no mess - and delicious too. A fab idea for Valentine night."

Camitz Vodka Gift Pack (RRP £19.95)

Camitz + Lindberger, distiller of Camitz Sparkling Vodka, has created a gift pack comprising a 200ml bottle of Camitz Sparkling Vodka (alcohol by volume, 40%), two shot glasses and a Camitz branded Champagne-type stopper. The pack is presented in a striking designer carrier bag.

What our reviewer said...

"I had never even heard of fizzy vodka before.. well... to a certain extent I'm used to Vodka being fizzy because I always drink it with Diet Coke but this is a completely new experience. The bottle has a champagne type cork so it makes it feel quite special. We had a shot (or two) and it was really good. I HATE vodka shots but this I can do - the bubbles make it so much smoother than just a shot a regular vodka. God, does that sound bad, I'm not a shot demon - I promise? This was brilliant. The only downside was that once the cork has popped the fizz disappears after 3 days - it still tastes good but the bubbles are gone. We loved it - great for a celebration - especially if Champagne's not for you."

Demijohn Raspberry Vodka in a Heart Shaped Bottle
(£20.60 for the heart shaped 500ml bottle)

This is certain to win the heart of your loved one. Demijohn’s Raspberry Vodka is made from fresh Scottish Raspberries infused in Scottish Vodka.  ....more For a really impressive drink, make sure you have a bottle of Champagne on ice. Put a dash of our Raspberry Vodka in the flute and pour on the Champagne. It can also be drunk on its own as an aperitif, simply pour over ice, or drunk as digestif after supper.

What our reviewer said:

"I love the whole idea of a deli for drinks. You choose the drink and which type of bottle you'd like to fill. The raspberry vodka was delicious - we tried it on it's own as a chilled shot and also as recommended in champagne. It was great and would make a great romantic drink to share with your loved one this year. A lovely, thoughtful gift idea- much better than flowers - I'm hinting at the other half already."

Sunday, 30 January 2011

The Birthday Party - never again!!

So yesterday we held out first ever 'proper' birthday party for Mister A. By proper I mean not just a family birthday celebration - this one had real live children from Mister A's nursery class. I know, I didn't actually believe it when people were telling me before hand that I was brave! How hard can it be?!

It seems that I was extremely naive in thinking that it would be easier (although A LOT more expensive) to host said party at the local soft play centre. Hmmm perhaps not! Firstly I have to say things are a lot different to the birthday parties I remember from my childhood - I'm pretty sure my mum used to just drop me off and make a run for the door. Apparently, 20 years on, things are slightly different and if you happen to host your party at a soft play centre then the parents have to stay and be responsible for their own child. Because of the lack of a parenting handbook when it comes to such matters I hadn't anticipated this and neither had my wallet when all of these parents became thirsty - never mind trying to remember the drinks order whilst still suffering from baby brain.

However, as all the children ran off to play, I realised that it was probably for the best that all the parents were still there because I had forgotten to apply the name badges to the children as they came in. Yes - I had thought well in advance and these  badges were meant as a way of tracking who was supposed to be with us and who wasn't - a good tip if I had actually remembered to do it!

Once all the children were playing I didn't know what to do with myself. Should I sit and talk to the mums, should I sit with the people that I had actually invited or should I stand and try and ensure that all of the children were okay?

Recently I have become quite shy (which is completely out of character for me) and so I did feel a bit intimated with the table full of parents that sat before me - maybe it's all the time I spend online - it's made me forget what real life is actually like! I ended up mingling for a little while before realising that I hadn't seen Mister A for at least 15 minutes

Panic kicked in - I searched with my eyes-  scanning the two separate play areas but he was nowhere to be seen so I grabbed Chris who decided it was probably best for him to 'go in' and search. Very convenient - I had been watching him stare longingly at the big slide for a good half hour. It was almost as though he had asked Mister A to hide just so that he could go in! Mister A was found almost immediately (very suspicious), he was firing canon balls at the other children (pic above).

After just over an hour (but what felt like 5) we were called through to the party area for the food. The children ate happily, red faced from all the running around and after the cake it was soon time to go home.


It was THE most manic 2 hours of my life so far, I felt like a complete mad woman and it wore me out completely. I never realised how much it takes to get through a day like that, I say day because that's how long felt like! No one warned me how much planning has to go in to such small things as party bags either - and don't even ask about invite lists...

When I asked who he wanted to invite, Mister A reeled off an entire list of girls, he must be the Hugh Heffner of the nursery! After days spent trying to find out which boys he wanted to go I eventually had to ask the nursery for a list - otherwise yesterday would have been all pink and girly! 

Anyway it all went to plan - except for a couple of bumped heads and an over excited little boy that couldn't sleep despite running round for 2 hours chasing his friends.

A great day but at this moment in time I'm thinking that perhaps next year we'll just have a quiet little soiree in the comfort of our own home.

Happy 4th Birthday to my wonderful Son.

How to Handle Sibling Rivalry & Encourage Great Bonding

A post for...

When we found out we were having Little E, Mister A, was almost 3 years old and we were quite worried that he would become jealous of the new arrival - after all he had, had our full attention for all of that time. We decided to wait until after our 12 week scan to make sure that everything was ok before telling him that mummy had a baby in her tummy - we then had 6 months to allow him to get used to the idea of having a baby in the house. If anything I think this helped him develop the great bond that they have today and even now he is showing no signs of jealousy. It can be a big worry for any expectant 'second time mummies' that there may be issues so I've pulled together my top tips to avoid sibling rivalry....

Read more

Thursday, 27 January 2011

Happy 4th Birthday Mister A - A Picture Tribute!

27th January 2007 - A new born Mister A
A few hours old with a worn out Mummy!
Still at the hospital


Big Brother
With Ben 10!


Wednesday, 26 January 2011

I've Been Analysed by a Grapholigist - Eeek!

The lovely Lord Dodo recently asked me to submit a doodle for National Doodle Day and If I did it then it would be analyst by a graphologist. If you're wondering what a graphologist is then the dictionary says that graphology is the study of handwriting, esp to analyse the writer's character.

I love stuff like that so whilst I was on the phone I let a doodle 'come out' and this is what I was left with....

My Doodle!
Interesting I know - I don't know why I drew the things I did but I have always drawn trees for as long as I can remember. So, do you want to know what this says about me? Here goes...

The whole construction is over–shadowed by the tree. This girl likes her influence to be felt and while she is reasonably sociable, she can be sharp tempered. She likes to be kept busy to help offset thinking/recalling an incident from the recent past that she won’t or can’t forget. There is a need to get away from it all that can sometimes get the better of her but there is so much going on she cannot or will not try to find the time.

Sadly this is all true! lol I couldn't believe it - Chris now says this is proof that I have a bad temper!


If you think it looks like fun then get involved! National Doodle Day is about having fun while raising funds to help people whose lives are affected by epilepsy. Since the very first National Doodle Day in 2004, over £200,000 has been raised!

Since 2004, National Doodle Day has supported the work of two charities, Epilepsy Action and the Neurofibromatosis Association. As from the 22 December 2010 the two charities amicably agreed to end this partnership. National Doodle Day is now solely owned by Epilepsy Action. All money raised by National Doodle Day now supports the work of Epilepsy Action only.

National Doodle Day has teamed up with the Dodo Pad. Doodlers have the opportunity to enter the National Doodle Day Competition with some fantastic prizes up for grabs as well as the chance of your doodle being featured in a future edition of the Dodo Pad diary and/or the Acad-Pad diary.

Dodo Pad diaries offer a brilliant solution to all of life’s dates and deadlines. The original Dodo Pad was created to aid organisation in the form of a spiral bound, lie flat, almost impossible to lose (due to the nature of its annually altering, brightly coloured cover) desk diary. It now comes in several more formats to suit all tastes; as a wall pad calendar, a mini pocket diary, loose-leaf and as Filofax-compatible inserts.

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Review: Silentnight Egyptian Cotton Premium Pillows (only £11.00 for a pair!)

I've been a bit grump of late and it has been suggested that this might be due to lack of sleep. Having a 5 month baby and an early rising (almost) 4 year old means that I don't have a lot of time to lie around in bed catching Zzzz's so when I do put my head on the pillow I need to get to sleep straight away. This is maybe why over the years I have developed a bit of a pillow obsession.

To be honest it's less of a pillow obsession, more of a 'buy lots to find the perfect one' obsession. I've always struggled to find a comfy one and I  have been known to spend quite a lot of money on all different varieties - memory foam, feather, synthetic, goose down. You name it, I've tried it - so when I was contacted by Silentnight beds and offered a pack of 2 Egyptian Cotton Premium Pillows, I immediately accepted (and Chris was happy too because usually I just buy one pillow for myself!) I know - how mean am I?

The pillows arrived and I immediately swapped my old pillow for the nice new one - selfishly leaving the other safely tucked away. It felt really nice, soft but supportive. Sometimes pillows can be 'too stuffed' and can leave you with a stiff neck in the morning but this one left me feeling, well... normal. No aching neck - just a great night's sleep.

After a couple of days I had completely forgotten that I had only added one of the pillows to the bed and when I went to bed a little later than Chris one night my pillow had been stolen and he was happily snoring away on it. I was fuming! I had to scramble around in the dark to find the other pillow that I'd stashed.

We were both woken up to a small child jumping on the bed the next morning but after a good nights sleep we weren't as grumpy as usual. A month on we're still enjoying our pillows but our mattress now needs updating due to constant early morning bouncing . I'm hoping to go look at some news beds this weekend but Chris says we should just buy a new mattress - I WILL get my own way!

Anyway - back to the pillows - you're probably thinking that they're expensive right? Well they're not and at only £11.00 for the pair I would highly recommend that you go out and treat yourself. Not only that but they are also Non-Allergenic and washable with a 100% Cotton cover. What more could you ask for? Go on - spoil yourself - you deserve it ; )

A Few Days Off

Those of you that are subscribed may have noticed that I have took some time out this week. To be honest, I just didn't feel like blogging - I have some things going on and there is of course my imminent return to work that some of you will be aware of.

I decided that as I only have 2 weeks left of my maternity leave that I didn't want to spend most of that at the laptop. As it happens I am having slight withdrawal symptoms and I'm back here purely to stop the shaking!

So what have I been up to this week? Well, on Friday I headed to Kellogg's HQ to find out everything there is to know about cereal (there's a blog post to follow all about the day - and some interesting facts) and of course I got to meet some new faces.

Snap, Crackle & Blog!

On Friday evening I went to get my hair cut and coloured as well as having an Indian head massage very relaxing - I can highly recommend that!

I spent Saturday just relaxing at home with the family and then on Sunday, thanks to my wonderful parents, I went for a hot lava stone massage and a manicure and pedicure in the very fancy Urban Calm in Liverpool's Metquarter.

My beautiful nails ; )

Then yesterday I went for a delicious lunch at the Olive Press in Manchester with Sally, Lindy, Kate, Ruth and Cathy where we talked about things that can't be discussed on a mummy blog!

So my few days off have been extremely relaxing and lots of fun and I'm back now so you can stop worrying.

Tried & Tested: Great Toys for Babies...

Little E is now 5 months old - she's just at that stage where she can almost sit up and she loves to be entertained. Lucky for us we have been fortunate enough to receive some great to toys for her to play with and review so we thought we'd share the results...

Infantino Jungle Buddies Explore & Store Travel Gym

Super-soft travel activity gym with bold animal patterns and hanging toys to stimulate baby’s senses and keep them entertained. Suitable from birth.

What did we think?

Little E loves to lie on her back and watch hit her hand against the arch to watch the animals wobble. She can't actually reach the animals to play with them as they are just a touch to high so we sometimes add additional toys on to the arch that she can reach. This is a great travel toy - it folds in to a plastic carry case and we tend to leave it in the car boot when it's not in use so that wherever we might end up Little E always has something to play with.

Lindam Bounce About Plus Door Bouncer 
( £23.95)Designed to give children the freedom and independence to stand upright whilst being fully supported, they provide a new sensation and perspective of the world for babies. Suitable for babies old enough to support their head, until they can walk.

What did we think?

Little E loves this. It took a bit of getting used to at first and she wasn't quite sure what to make of it, but once she figured out that she was in control she was bouncing away. I think she enjoyed being upright and not being held by someone. She didn't even get fed up or bored like she does with other toys and of course Mister A thought it was hilarious so then he wanted a go. Try explaining to a 3 year old that his sister can have fun with something but he can't! A great buy, a good price and it can be handed down as your family grows.

Blossom Farm Deluxe Sit Me Up Cosy

As well as being a clever two-in-one supportive play nest and prop to help your growing baby sit up, this deluxe sit-me-up has a removable play arch and tummy-time pillow to give your baby even more options to learn, move, play and develop. Use one cushion or stack the two cushions together for greater upright support for older babies.

What did we think?

This is a great play toy that will last from birth and beyond. When your baby is young it can be used as shown in the picture - with the 'flower shaped mat' nestled in the inflatable ring (which is actually in two separate parts.) As your baby gets older you can lay your baby on the mat with the mini pillow for some tummy time and then when your baby is old enough to start trying to sit you stack the to parts of the inflatable ring on top of each other as a support. Great baby toy and although quite costly it will last.

Thursday, 20 January 2011

A Trial At The Nursery

I can't believe it. 5 months have passed already. This morning was spent at the nursery filling out forms. Little E has had her induction and, as expected, she wasn't in the slightest bit bothered. I on the other hand felt all teary eyed at the thought of actually entering the building with her, never mind having to leave her there on her own! Today I stayed with her but on Monday she'll do 2 hours by herself... must remember those tissues!

It's so horrible and completely different than when I was going back to work after Mister A. I think, with your first, it's such a life changing experience that you almost want to go back to work to get a little bit of normality back in your life. I know that must sound really bad but last time round I was completely ready, I needed a break from the constant nappy changing and breast-feeding, this time however- things are different.

I'm used to having Mister A at home with me during the week. I'm used to seeing my little boy growing up in his own home rather than at Grandma's or at the nursery. The nappy changing and feeding of Little E doesn't bother me because we're at home as a family and we're having fun... I'm not home alone with no-one to talk to like I was before. I can't put it off, I know that for sure, but I'm not ready mentally to leave my children. Help! *Runs off to cry*

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Mister A never fails to make me laugh...

This is how I found Mister A after leaving him for 5 minutes to do some colouring. Apparently Handy Manny does it!! I'm speechless. Thanks Playhouse Disney!

Monday, 17 January 2011

7 Random Things About Me...

Well, I've just been tagged with this lovely award by one of my favourite bloggers Slummy Single Mummy who I actually met at the Gurgle Awards last year. I've never been tagged before... or called stylish for that matter but I shall graciously accept this tiny picture (even though it was only a fluke that I appeared in her Twitter feed) and follow the instructions from her post.

So... I've acknowledged the wonderful lady who gave me the award, now I have to pay her a compliment. Hmmm... I'm not good with compliments... she's pretty and she makes me snort with laughter quite regularly. *Tick*

Now have to tell you seven interesting things about myself.

OK... well thanks for that... erm... I'm not sure about interesting but random I can goes...

1) Sometimes I don't pay attention when I get dressed in the morning and I often go out wearing my clothes inside out. The most spectacular 'boob' of this nature saw me wear a dress inside out to work. This was pointed out to me after approximately 3 hours of sniggering behind my back - thanks for that work 'friends'!

2) Whenever I accidently make a nobby of myself by wearing my clothes inside out I always win something. FACT.

3) I once jumped out of an aeroplane at 10,000ft strapped to a 60 year old podgy bloke that looked a bit like Anthony Worrall-Thompson.

4) A psychic predicted the conception and birth of Little E in October 2009 stating that I would be pregnant by Christmas. I was. He also predicted the birth of my third and final child in 2011. Eeeeek!  *Runs off to check contraception is in place*

5) I once had my picture of a parrot featured in the gallery of Tony Hart's Hartbeat. I know - beat that!

6) I used to be obsessed with the TV show Most Haunted (my mums fault) and when I went to see Most Haunted Live! in Blackpool in 2004, I was the audience member that went on a vigil with Yvette Fielding to Ripley's Believe It Or Not Museum. Derek Acorah got 'taken over' by the spirit of a shrunken head in front of my very eyes.

and finally...

7) I feature on the Most Haunted Live! 8 DVD - there's a full interview with me about my experience combined with lots of green night vision shots of my pretty face. *Holds head in shame but thinks 'hey.. I don't care if you're laughing at me - you're not on a DVD in HMV are you?'*

So there you go, 7 random facts about me. Now all I have to do is tag 15 (yes 15!!!) other bloggers. Thanks Jo... I'm sure I'll be very popular after this!

Here goes, the lucky people randomly selected from my reader are...

1. A Mothers Ramblings, 2. Regards Rainbow, 3. Adventures of An English Mum, 4. Domestic Godd-esque, 5. And Then There Were 3, 6. Yummy Mummy Flabby Tummy, 7. Typecast, 8. The Five Fs Blog, 9. Mummy of 3 Diaries 10. Baby Budgeting, 11. Me And My Shadow, 12. Mummy Loves, 13. Mummy's Little Monkey, 14. notSupermum, 15. Oh the GLAMOUR!

Please find yourself officially tagged...(oh.. and don't hurt me).. blame Jo.

: )


The problem of Mister A asking for a dog like his friend has been solved! Last week Mister A and Little E were sent a soft toy each from IKEA.

Mister A was sent this lovely doggy which he has named Boxer...

GOSIG Bulldog £7.14

FABLER GRODA Comfort Blanket £3.05
...and Little E was sent this 'Freddy the Frog' comfort blanket which she's been sucking and nibbling on since it arrived! I'm sure Freddy will bear the brunt of this tooth when it eventually arrives and Mister A is happy that he now has his 'pet' dog!

The IKEA range is a favourite of ours as the toys are always soft and huggable and are suitable from birth as well as being great value.

IKEA have also just launched a new Facebook app called Toy Stories. It let's your children create their own book with illustrations! One of the characters is Mister A's doggy - Boxer - and we've been creating a book based on his birthday. It's great fun so make sure you take a look.

A bit from IKEA...

IKEA believe all children should have the opportunity to find and love their favourite toys. IKEA have developed a range of soft toys that will not only treat your little ones but will also provide a special companion. Toys help children to use their imaginations through creative play and also play a key role in helping children develop their emotions.

At IKEA one of our goals is to make the world play a little bit more. So we brought together parents, children and experts to produce the world’s largest study on play called the Playreport. We spoke to 8,000 parents and 3,000 children aged 7-12 from over 25 countries.

At IKEA we believe that play is the basis for how children learn, develop and become who they are. We wanted to research the state of play around the world. The research showed a lot of interesting results such as:

73% of children think it’s more fun to play with their parents than watch TV

89% of parents agree that play is to encourage their child’s imagination

Only 9% of children think play has to involve toys

Play is important as it allows creativity and imagination to flourish. It helps children work out relationships through social interaction. It allows children to understand what is happening in the world and explore new things.

As part of this we produced a Facebook page called ‘make the world play more’ to help parents exchange thoughts around play and development.


As well as the Facebook app, IKEA have also luanched a competition called Your Fridge Door – where you can upload a photo of your child’s artwork and each week a winner will be chosen and they will win a MALA art set. What are you waiting for? Go enter!

Saturday, 15 January 2011

UK 'One Day, One Deal' Sites

Over the past few months I've started signing up to lots of 'one day, one deal' sites. I'm always buying gifts on here (months in advance) as well as buying pamper vouchers too. There's some great bargains to be had so I thought I'd share the sites with you...

Here for a Day is one of the newest daily deal sites and there have been some amazing branded items on there so far.

Today's deal...

iPod Shuffle £24.00 plus P&P £4


has become a familiar name in our household over the past few months. In fact on Friday I'm having my hair done courtesy of a Groupon voucher and a massage, manicure and pedicure next week. It's great for us mums who need to be pampered on a budget. There are local deals based on your nearest city and National deals too. Once purchased you just print off your voucher and call to book your discount 'experience'.

An example of one of today's deals...


Boffer always has quite a different mix of product with great savings on RRP. They usually offer a warranty too so you don't have the worry that you might have with similar sites and there's usually a Twitter comp to win whatever is on offer for the day. Look out for their periodically 'Crap Sacks' - essentially a lucky bag filled with a selection of goodies at a fab price. (Postage £2.99)

Todays deal...

Body Fat Scales £12.99

Ministry of Deals is one of the first deal sites I discovered. It's great for buying random gift items. Delivery is free and the service is great.

One of today's deals...

Bargain Box £10.00


Grab It Now claims to be a one deal a day site although they have loads of things on sale. It's not one of my favourite deal sites but thought I'd share anyway.

Today's deal...

Winter Shoe Ice Grippers £12.32 (Free Delivery)