Mummy & Me - August

How has it been a month already? How are we at the end of August?! Time flies by even quicker when you have a child, it's crazy! We've had a nice August on a whole. The weather has been very hit and miss but we've been out and about lots. We love our family days out. 

Well anyway here are my favourite two photo's from August. I love the above photo because I think it's very natural but the second one, hurray! I have finally got a smile from him! 

Nicola... Life Through My Eyes

What to Look for in a Washing Machine

You need a washing machine. You probably expect that all washing machines are quite straightforward. However, contemporary washing machines, developed with cutting-edge technology, feature a whole host of functions and settings that can truly change your life. When selecting a washing machine, it’s important to know and understand what you should look for, and to choose a high quality, reliable machine that will last you for many years.

1. Front or top loader?

One of the key, fundamental questions you need to think about is whether a front loader washing machine or a top loader, is most appropriate given the space you have available and your overall needs. Today, many people opt for front loader machines because they are less costly to run in the long-term, are usually better suited to smaller spaces, generally have the benefits of being more water and energy efficient, are more gentle on clothes, and often have a more comprehensive range of settings.

2. Quality

Regardless of whether you prefer a front or top loader, seek out the best quality washing machine from a manufacturer with plenty of experience. Companies like ASKO have in-depth information on their website that lays out relevant things such as experience, commitment to the environment and product updates. Click here for more information.

3. Energy efficiency

Look at the energy star label, which should be shown on all washing machines. This label should show capacity, kw water consumption and noise emission measurements. If purchasing a model that went on the market from December 2013 onwards, the machine should have an A+ energy rating.

4. Features that parallel your needs

Naturally, the more features a washing machine has, the more you can expect to pay. However, there are many washing machine functions that can make your life so much easier, while effectively protecting and caring for your clothes. You can expect to find settings related to the fibre of the clothes, water temperature and spin rate on most washing machines. Consider whether features including fast, hand and baby wash cycles, half wash, heavy duty, minimum iron and child locks will be useful to you.

5. Delay timer

One of the best washing machine features that is useful to so many households is the delay timer. With energy being so expensively priced, this feature is ideal for ensuring that you run your washing machine in a cheap or off-peak electricity tariff period and/or to be timed with your return home. This will help you to minimise the amount of time that wet clothes are left sitting inside the machine.

It definitely pays to consider and evaluate the features and benefits of different washing machines before deciding on the model that best suits the needs of your household. It’s nevertheless important to choose a machine produced by a credible and high quality manufacturer, as buying a washing machine is an investment and your asset should serve you well for as long as possible.
What other features do you think should appear on this list? Leave your answers in the comments section below.

Project 365 - Week 35 - 35/52

23rd August - 29th August / Week 35

Sunday we visited Bowland Wild Boar park and we had never been before. It's a great day out for the family as it has something for all ages. There's a park, lots of animals to see, tractor rides, wildlife trails and much more. When we arrived it was absolutely beautiful weather and just as we set off to come home a storm hit. We were so lucky to have a day of sun and miss the rain. 

Monday was a rather lazy day. We played outside and went for a walk but we spent most of the day cleaning and playing. Noah likes to help too as you can see from this photo.

Tuesday, playgroup day! Noah's Nanna (my Mum) came to visit for the afternoon and she came with us too. We had lunch together and a right good gossip! 

How much fun are wooden toys? They are my favourite! 

I left Noah to play in his bedroom for ten minutes while I grabbed a quick shower and the messy pup was trashing his room. I'm sure they have more fun messing up than actually playing with toys ha ha.

Friday we visited Noah's Great Grandparents house and his Uncle, Auntie and cousin arrived too. Safe to say that Noah had a blast because he loves being surrounded by his family.

Saturday we decided to drive over to Blackpool for the day. We left Lancashire and the rain behind and drove in to sunshine! We walked a long the beach, had a donkey ride, went on rides, had fish and chips and visited the sea life centre too. Such a fantastic day! 

What have you been up to this week?

Orchard Toys - Farmyard Puzzle - Review & Competition

As a Mummy and a blogger there are many brands that I absolutely adore and actively support on social media and Orchard Toys are one of them. We have been working along side them for a while now and are lucky enough to be one of their official testers. 

Orchard Toys specialise in educational toys, puzzles and books which aren't just great aids for learning but are super fun too. They release new products often and we recently received one of their newest puzzles to review.

Farmyard Heads & Tails is a puzzle which is recommend from 18 months. It is a great starter puzzle to introduce to your toddler when you feel they are ready. It's a fun matching game which becomes more and more entertaining as your little one develop their confidence and ability. 

Farmyard Heads & Tails is an easy to understand and quick to learn activity and one that Noah has thoroughly enjoyed. He still needs a lot of help and encouragement when it comes to making a match but puzzles aren't his strong suit just yet. 

There are 12 character cards in total (24 pieces) which is great because it keeps Noah interested which is usually not an easy task considering his short attention span! There are plenty of animals, machinery and even a farmer! Noah's favourite card to find is the tractor and once he spots it he squeals in delight and shouts "Trak tra!" (Which is his new word - he's tractor mad!)

At £7.50 it's a steal because Orchard Toys are products that last. Not only are they great quality and well made but they also last years because each activity grows with your child. I know that Noah will be having fun with this puzzle for years. 

Orchard Toys have been kind enough to offer you guys the chance to win one for yourself. All you need to do to enter is use the Rafflecopter form below, good luck! 

1. 1 prize.
2. Prize supplied directly from the PR.
3. Competition ends 27/9/15
4. Incomplete entries with be disqualified.
5. UK entries only.

Making time for Romance

Nick and I have been together for 7 years now. It feels a lifetime ago when we were socialising via social media and arranging to meet formally for the first time. We had mutual friends in common and knew about one another but had never spoken face to face.

I still remember that first night we met up. We were both nervous so had a drink together and spoke until the early hours. We just hit it off and were inseparable from the get go. As soppy and cliché as it sounds I knew he was the one there and then. I was right of course, fast forward 7 years and we have a child, are engaged and a have a home together.  

One of our favourite things to do in the evening is reminisce about those early days. The days when butterflies fill your tummy and your heart beats ten to the dozen when you are around them. We like to talk about the dates that we went on together, the romantic gesture's we've bestowed on one another, those special moments together. We absolutely love being parents and our son is our entire world but we do miss having that one on one time and those spontaneous and romantic date nights. Romance is so important not only for our current relationship and future relationship but for our family too. I want our son to see that his parents don't just love him but they love another too. 

It's so easy to forget about couple time when you are parents but with August being Romance Awareness month we've really been trying to make that time for one another. We have been setting aside time for one another for at least a couple of hours a week. Whether it be a romantic walk with another or even sitting down and watching a film together once the little one is in bed. It's so important to make that time for one another, to remember that you aren't just Mummy and Daddy but you are still a couple too. 

Making time for romance isn't just vital for your relationship to bloom but it's also good practice for the future. It's needed for the mind, body and soul, or at least I think so. Have you ever thought about having a love reading from TheCircle? I think it's something we would like to experience.

Do you make time for romance? 

- Collaborative post. 

An Expanding Home for an Expanding Family

Last year was a big year for us as a family and if you read the blog you will already know why. We worked very hard and were fortunate enough to climb out of the renting rut and jump straight onto the property ladder. After renting for 6 years we had finally bought our first home.  

We viewed a few dozen properties before we realised we had found the one that was right for us. Unfortunately the house that we fell in love with wasn't a new build or a house that was in good condition it was one that needed a lot of work and this had it's pro's and con's. 

The downside was that we couldn't just move in straight away and had to move in with relatives. Then we had months and months of renovating ahead of us. Once you ticked one job off the list another three had appeared and at times it felt like we weren't getting anywhere fast. The renovation of course was tiring, stressful and very expensive too. 

The positive side of having to start from scratch is that our home is exactly how we envisioned and wanted it to be. Every single aspect has been chosen by us. From the colour of the carpet in each room through to the colour of the grout on our bathroom tiles. Everything has been hand picked and this makes our home very personal to us. 

12 long and gruelling months later and the renovation has been completed. Once we had moved in that sense of accomplishment was overwhelming and it felt like a weight had been lifted. It still doesn't feel real that we have our very own home but we do.

That being said we are now drawing up plans for renovation phase two where we will be expanding into the attic and installing a home security system. Our home is going to turn in to a building site once again because we are building into the attic! The thought of a hole in our roof is a very frightening prospect but every expanding family needs a home that can expand too. 

Have you renovated an attic? Do you have any tips for us?

Project 365 - Week 34 - 34/52

16th August - 22nd August / Week 34

It's been a week of milestones for Noah this week! If you continue to read you will find out why! Sunday night Noah starting sleeping full time with his own duvet and pillow. He's taken to it really well considering how much he loves his sleeping bags.

With Monday came another milestone as Noah finally walked on sand. Don't get me wrong, it's not his first time on sand but he usually physically recoils from it, even with shoes on! I managed to persuade him to come and play on the sand and that it was nothing to worry about. He finally got it and he must of played on this park a good half hour. He was so proud of himself as I was too! 

Tuesday, playgroup day! I will be sad when this afternoon session ends in a couple of weeks as it's been ideal for us. I cannot recommend playgroups enough for building up your child's confidence and social skills. Noah used to suffer with extremely bad stranger anxiety and taking him to group just once a week has helped him overcome it.

Wednesday we had beautiful weather and Noah and I made the most of it by playing outside in the front garden. He insisted on bringing half a dozen toys outside and we rescued a bee from his water table. Love days like this.

Thursday Noah and I baked a cake together, for the first time. I've not attempted to do this with Noah before because he's not in to anything messy and usually doesn't have the attention span. He's one of those kids that just wants to be dashing around, keeping busy. Lately I have noticed a change in him and he is starting to enjoy arts, crafts and baking and this makes me very happy indeed!

Friday was another day of firsts. We started the afternoon with his first trip to the dentist which went very well. He sat on my lap, opened his mouth and let the dentist take a look at his teeth without any fuss whatsoever. The dental nurse then handed him some Thomas stickers which just made his day! He started shouting "choo chooooo!" and had a smile from ear to ear. We then took him to KFC for the first time as a treat. He then had his hair shaved for the first time....

Yes, here is Noah showing off his newly shaven head. He looks so different and I'm not sure I like it but it had to be done as it was so unruly and manageable. I am hoping that by cutting it it will encourage his hair to either grow back into proper curls or grow back straight. Only time will tell! 

What have you been up to this week?

How To Choose A Big Bed For Your Little One

As with all other aspects of parenting, deciding when to move your child up into a big bed is no easy choice. It depends on so many factors - how safe they feel in the cot, how much they move, and how big they are getting. That said, every family has different structures and different needs. Even then, it can be difficult to know where to start and what to look out for when choosing a toddler bed. If you’re planning ahead or just curious, here’s a quick guide to making the transition from cot to bed.

When To Upgrade
Supernanny UK’s parenting experts advise that the normal age range for moving up to a bed is anywhere between 11/2 years to 31/2 years. This is hugely dependent simply on your child’s physical and emotional development - a toddler who is getting too big for their cot should definitely have an upgrade to a toddler bed. Likewise, any tykes who make persistent escape attempts from their cots should be moved into a bed where they have some more wiggle room.

Toddler Beds vs. Twin Beds
A contested topic among parents is whether to skip the toddler bed altogether and move a toddler from a crib straight to a twin bed, and there are advantages and disadvantages of each. Purchasing a twin bed (or a single in the UK) is one big investment done and dusted to last until your child moves out. However, toddler beds are designed with active small sleepers in mind, and so are built to be close to the floor to minimise accidents if anyone falls, and also feature adjustable or partial rails on the sides like a cot, so children learn to stay in the confines of their bed.

Features to Look Out For
If you do choose to buy a toddler bed between cradle and big bed, there are a range of safety and comfort features to look out for. Durable, approved materials like good timber are an absolute must for a child’s bed, able to withstand the weight not only of a sleeping child but an adult reading a bedtime story too! A toddler bed which can be extended to a single bed that grows along with your child, and you may be able to convert it to a bunk or midsleeper later on. Finally, to minimise damage to a growing spine, be sure to invest in a good quality mattress not unlike a standard bed mattress - it may be helpful to go to a store with your child to have a lie down and test some.

Organix Goodies - Competition

I've always been a big fan of Organix. Ever since our weaning journey began all those months ago Organix was always a brand we reached for and still do to this day.

In case you don't know, Organix and Organix Goodies create delicious foods and snacks using only the best organic ingredients to help inspire a lifelong love of good foods. 

They produce food for all different ages and stages from 4-6m* through to 12m plus. From fruit puree's through to gingerbread men, they really push the boundaries when it comes to baby food and snacks. 

At every stage of our weaning journey there has been something from their diverse range that Noah has thoroughly loved. At the beginning of our journey he gobbled up their fruit pots and then when he was moving on to different textures he would have a bowl of their scrummy muesli for his breakfast. 

Now at 21 months Noah is still enjoying snacks and nibbles from their Goodies range. There is so much to choose from and his favourites are the banana and date bars and the mini oaty bites. I like stocking up on their range because I know come snack time that Noah will be eating something healthy and organic. 

Organix recently sent Noah some of their new products to try which he absolutely loved, as per usual. Not only that but they have also supplied a prize for you guys too! How would you like to win an Organix Goodies hamper worth £20? All you need to do is enter via Rafflecopter below. Good luck! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway


1. 1 prize of £20 worth of Organix Goodies.
2. Prize supplied directly from the PR.
3. Competition ends 14/9/15
4. Incomplete entries with be disqualified.
5. UK entries only.

Finding the Perfect Family Car: Top Tips

Finding the perfect family car is a difficult challenge; especially if you’re still in love with your current car. Sadly, no matter how great your convertible looks in the summer months, it’s simply not practical if you’re after something for the whole family. Particularly one with a small child. In this post, we look at the top tips for selecting the perfect family car as well as some pitfalls to avoid.

Rear Legroom Is Key
When you’re buying a car for a family, rear legroom is certainly a key consideration. Even if you have a small baby, you’ll still need it for two reasons. Number one, your child won’t be that small for long, and secondly, you’ll use the space when you’re getting them in and out of the car. If you don’t have large back doors (a five door car is also essential) and plenty of legroom, getting your child in and out of the car can be hugely problematic.

By picking a car with plenty of legroom and large, wide doors, you make the experience of going on trips with your little one as simple as possible. Plus, if you keep the car for a lengthy period of time, you’ll always have space, even when you’re transporting 3 or 4 adults.

The Boot is More Important Than Ever
Just use the boot to store your de-icer, scraper and spare windscreen washer? You won’t when your child arrives, and you’ll need your boot as a fully functioning space. At the very least, it’s likely to be the semi-permanent home of a pram, and for longer trips you’re also likely to have overnight bags and other baby necessities.

With a child on the backseat, it’s also not like you can just throw your shopping on the backseat next to them, so your boot will have to hold a buggy and the weekly shop. All in all, the bigger boot you can get, the better.

A Car That’s Built to Last
Finally, ensuring you’re buying a car that is built to last. Admittedly, this can be particularly problematic and hard to plan for if you’re buying second hand, but if you’re buying new then you should opt for a car with an extended warranty, in case the worse should happen. Some span for as long as seven years now. If you do have to buy used, then ensure that you at least get breakdown cover. This way, if you breakdown at the side of a road with a screaming infant, you’re certain help isn’t far away.

So there we have it, three key considerations when selecting your new family car. Consider these key rules closely and you can’t go far wrong.

Project 365 - Week 33 - 33/52

9th August - 15th August / Week 33

Something tells me that cutting the dummy might be a bit tricky, argh. Sunday was a disaster day for us. My Mum took Noah for the afternoon for us as we had leak and not one but two blockages in our plumbing. Thankfully we managed to fix it but it wasn't pleasant! 

Look at this bear I won for Noah. Isn't he the cutest!? He's from a company over on facebook called Ted's and Threads! You must check them out! 

Tuesday was a very busy day! We had playgroup, visited family, went for a walk and went shopping too. Here is a photo of Noah on his Grandad's motorbike! Brrrrrrm!

I've been fortunate with Noah for a long while because he's never really been much of a climber. This is a good thing because he is so clumsy! Climbing and clumsiness do not mix! Here is Noah after he trashed the living room!

I picked up some magic paint books this week as Noah is finally enjoying arts and crafts. It didn't take long for that water to be all over the floor but other than that he did pretty good! Looking forward to doing more crafts with him now that he is older and enjoying it more.

Friday was Uncle Jamie's birthday so we all went out for a family meal together. Noah was a little overwhelmed at first because there were so many people but he soon warmed up and was the life and soul of the party. He was singing, dancing, laughing. He had a blast and a late night too! 

Saturday is my favourite day of the week and we always go out and do something just the three of us. Today we just went to Towneley Hall and Park which is just a ten minute walk from our house. It's a historical building with gorgeous landscaping and has a museum too. It's great to have it on our doorstep.

What have you been up to this week?

Blackpool's Top 5 Hidden Gem's

Growing up in the Lancashire I'm very accustomed to the outdoors, I'm all about the countryside and the seaside. Some of my fondest childhood memories are of my family and I running a long the beach at the seaside, rescuing strayed starfish and collecting shells. So when I was contacted by Travelodge a few weeks ago about putting a piece together all about Blackpool I excitedly obliged. 

We visit Blackpool often. It's lovely to visit when the sun is shining and it's always best to make a day of it because there's so much to see. I thought I would put together a list of my 5 favourite places to visit.

Blackpool Zoo
Obviously this isn't a hidden gem but it's my favourite place to visit when in Blackpool so I just had to mention it. We took Noah when he was 6 months old and although he was rather young he seemed to enjoy it and we had a great day out too.

Stanley Park
If you would prefer a quieter afternoon then Stanley Park is certainly worth a visit. The landscaping is beautiful and it's full to the brim of historical buildings too. 

Yorkshire Fisheries
Don't let the name put you off this is a traditional fish and chip restaurant in Blackpool and my favourite one at that. What would a trip to the seaside be without fish and chips? 

Ripley's Believe It Or Not
One of the quirkier places to stop at is Ripley's and I can't recommend it enough. It's so strange, interesting, entertaining and you are guaranteed to walk out of the building armed with a new fact or two! 

Coral Island
This is my favourite arcade as it's pirate themed and is fantastic for kids. Once you've played on the 2p machines and been on a ride or two you have to sit in and eat in the restaurant, it's fab! 

Have you ever been to Blackpool? What are your hidden gems? 

What your kitchen says about your family

It’s often said that the kitchen is the heart of the home and you might find that this room sits firmly at the centre of your family life. But what does your kitchen really say about you? Do its sparkling surfaces suggest you’re Wonder Woman or does the clutter and mess give away the fact that you’re time-strapped or super-stressed? To give you an idea of what this room says about your household, it’s worth asking yourself the following questions.

Everything has its place or organised chaos?
Cast your eyes across your kitchen. Do you see clear and clean work surfaces and neatly stacked shelves? If so, the chances are your family likes to keep things organised and sticks to the principle of a place for everything and everything in its place. Alternatively, perhaps you see stacks of dishes in your sink and debris scattered across your countertops. If you fall into the latter category, your family may be more laissez faire when it comes to keeping things ordered. Bear in mind though, there are simple ways to take the hassle out of maintaining a clutter-free kitchen. For example, by investing in extra storage you should find it easier to keep your countertops clear. There are plenty of storage solutions to choose from and for inspiration, you can check out the units offered by suppliers like Solid Wood Kitchen Cabinets.

Enthusiastic cooks or convenience food addicts?
Your kitchen can also reveal a lot about your family’s dining habits. If this room is filled with the latest culinary gadgets, your shelves are overflowing with herbs and spices and your fridge is filled with fresh ingredients, you must enjoy cooking up a storm at the stove. On the other hand, if the microwave takes centre stage and your freezer is rammed with ready meals, you’re more likely to be a lover of convenience foods.

Style experts or slapdash?
Then there’s your décor to consider. Is this space styled to perfection with a trendy colour scheme, feature walls and coordinated appliances? Or how about feature pieces from Click on Furniture? If so, you probably have a penchant for interior design and enjoy showcasing your style credentials with perfectly turned out rooms throughout your home. Alternatively, perhaps your kitchen is a hotchpotch of mismatched furnishings and your décor is a little out of date, in which case perhaps you’re less concerned with looks in your property.

If you’re not happy about the message your kitchen is sending out, now could be the time to make a change. By tweaking this room, you could showcase your family in a different light and you might also make day to day life that little bit better.

The Worst Driver I Know

I was recently asked to write an article about the worst driver that I know. I didn't have to think long before I decided who that was because that person is me! 

It's rather embarrassing to admit that but I think I'm just one of those people who just isn't supposed to drive. I think I'm supposed to be the back seat driver who sit's there criticising my partners driving, in jest of course!There are many reasons why I think I'm the worst driver that I know and one of the main reasons is that I panic. On occasion I have felt panic for no reason and have felt the need to just stop. When this happens I've had to pull over and let my partner drive or just take a minute. I think it's to do with anxiety and not feeling confident in myself.

Another big factor is that I suffer with a case of road rage! Even sitting in the passenger seat I have been known to have a case of the red. There is just something about bad, reckless or careless drivers that just really gets to me. Especially now I have a child. I just think they should take a page out of my book and realise that driving probably isn't for them.

On other occasions I find myself being easily distracted, especially when my son is in the car. They say that women can multi task but I openly admit that I can't when I'm in the car with my child. 

And last but not least on a lighter note is that I'm a singer! When I'm behind the wheel and my jam comes on you know that I will be wailing away! So it's not bad enough that I'm a terrible driver and my partner is gripping onto his seat but he also has his fingers in his ears too! 

But in all seriousness I need to work on my confidence and my driving and I am hoping to retake lessons soon and will be looking into different insurance policies too.

Are you a good driver? Do you have any tips of advice you would like to share?

-This is a PR collaboration.

Project 365 - Week 32 - 32/52

2nd August - 8th August / Week 32

Sunday we went shopping and visited family then played in the garden for a while. I love this photo of Noah about to kiss his Dada. 

Monday we skipped playgroup and opted for a lie in instead as I followed lazy Noah's lead. We spent the afternoon doing arts and crafts and went out for a walk.  

Tuesday afternoon is now playgroup time as the sessions have changed while it's the 6 week holidays. Noah absolutely loves it there and it's really made him come out of his shell.

Noah loves his books and here he is mimicking the bear from the story. How cute is that?

Noah had his head stuck in a good book, rather literally! 

Friday was a bit of a cleaning / sorting kind of day. A rather boring and ordinary one. Here is a photo of Noah's downstairs books which I must organise about 5 times a day!

Saturday we had a fab family day out. We visited a farm, fed pigs, went on a real tractor ride and went out for tea. The weather was absolutely glorious so we enjoyed some ice cream too! Love days like this, making memories.

What have you been up to this week?