3 Stress-Free Tips To Plan Your Dream Vacation

Do you have a dream vacation in your head? Does it constantly pop up when you’re daydreaming at work? If it does, it’s about time you decided to go on it. You’ll need to do a little more than actually make that decision. You’ll also have to plan it.

Knowing how to plan your dream vacation without the stress doesn’t need to be difficult. Instead, it could be simpler than most people expect. With three stress-free holiday planning tips, you’ll be on the plane to your dream holiday in no time.

There shouldn’t be anything stopping you from having the holiday you’ve always dreamt of.

How To Plan Your Dream Vacation: 3 Stress-Free Tips

1. Pick A Destination

One of the largest decisions you’ll need to make for your dream vacation is where you’ll go. You could already have this in mind, but it’s not uncommon to not have a specific location in mind. It’s worth spending a bit of time debating this and comparing options.

Some of the more popular holiday destinations include:

  • Thailand

  • U.S.A.

  • Vietnam

  • Singapore

  • Mexico

With a little time and research, you’ll have no problem finding the perfect destination for your dream vacation. Make sure to keep activities in mind when you’re comparing, so you can keep your trip as enjoyable as possible.

2. Get A Bargain

As appealing as travelling is, nobody wants to spend a significant amount of money on it. It’s worth spending time looking for a bargain on their flights, accommodation, and other holiday-related purchases.

These shouldn’t be too difficult to find, and even Ocean Florida has multiple appealing deals. You can find out more about that Ocean Florida now offer here. By spending time looking around and comparing prices, you could get your dream holiday for a much smaller price.

You could be surprised by how much you’ll end up saving.

3. Have A Trip Style

There are multiple trip styles to choose from, ranging from relaxing pool-side to sightseeing. You’ll need to figure out which style you want for your dream vacation, as it affects countless decisions when you’re planning it.

You’ll need to decide what you’ll actually do when you’re on the trip, with the type of holiday you want dictating much of this. When you’re doing so, ask yourself a few questions, including:

  • How active do you want to be?

  • Are there nearby amenities you’d like to see?

  • What’s the culture like where you’re considering going?

Each of these questions can narrow down where you should go, among multiple other aspects.

How To Plan Your Dream Vacation: Wrapping Up

If you don’t know how to plan your dream vacation, you could think it’ll involve a lot of stress and hassle. That could stop you from actually going on it. It should be much simpler and more straightforward than you could’ve thought.

By picking your destination, having a trip style, and hunting down some bargains, you shouldn’t have a problem planning your dream vacation. You’ve daydreamed about it long enough. It’s time to make it a reality.

Our Care Package From Care Bears

September has been quite the emotional month, what with Noah starting school and all the big changes that coincide with that. He still suffers from separation anxiety, so the goodbyes in the morning are always tough, leaving us both is quite the emotional state. With this in mind, when a huge care package arrived in the mail it was just what we needed.

Our care package had been put together, not just for the kids but for me too, which doesn't happen very often, usually, everything is for the kids. I was so excited to be included for once! We opened our care package together in the afternoon, once Noah was back from school and you should have seen the smiles on our faces! It really brightened our week.

The Care Bears Medium Plush Bedtime Bear (RRP: £15.99) and the Care Bears Cubs 8-inch Plush Funshine Bear (RRP: £7.99) were the first two items the kids wanted to get their mitts on. They are so cute and huggable, who could blame them? Both bears are utterly adorable in their own unique way. 

Bedtime Bear just happens to be my all time favourite Care Bear, the bear that I've loved ever since I was a little girl. You can imagine how happy I was when I discovered him in our box! The medium-sized plush is so cosy to snuggle up to and has made the perfect bedtime companion for Noah, though I've been tempted to pinch him a couple of times. The Funshine Bear is a lot smaller than the medium plush, so cute and dainty, a baby cub after all. She is dressed in PJ's that match her belly badge, making her totally irresistible! Both bears are available from Amazon, ASDA, Tesco and Debenhams.

Ava has taken such a shine to them, constantly taking care of them like they are her babies. With other Care Bears to collect, I think I may have to purchase a couple more for her for Christmas. 

Noah, being the avid collector that he is spotted the pack of Care Bear Squishems right away, and couldn't wait to open them! As you can see, included in the set are 6 different Care Bear figures, with two surprise Care Bears hidden behind the clouds. The figures stand at just 4cm tall so they are quite small, not suitable for children under 3 years of age. They are so squishy and cute, so much so that Noah's not been able to put them down since they arrived last week. He also really enjoys learning the name of each Care Bear, and what the names symbolise. The Care Bears Squishems Figure Pack retails at £14.99 and is available to buy online at Amazon. 

Last, but not least we have the treats that were included in our care box; a Yankee candle, tea, hot chocolate, a mug, Haribo, a face mask and a pair of socks. It only took a matter of seconds for Noah to devour the sweets and I have to admit that I had those cosy socks on in a jiffy! Each treat was so thoughtful and very much appreciated.

- We were sent these products for the purpose of this review, however, all opinions are my own.

Squirrel Play Wooden Xylophone Tap Bench - Giveaway

As huge fans of wooden toys I'm delighted to offer a fantastic giveaway today, in collaboration with Smyths. The Squirrel Play Wooden Xylophone Tap Bench is a fantastic way to introduce your little one to a world of music.
Brightly coloured and loving crafted from wood, this playful instrument features 2 ways for tots to play. Keep the xylophone in the bench and tap the colourful balls with the wooden hammer to send them rolling over the xylophone, notes chiming as they go. For a more traditional jam session, you can take the xylophone from the bench and tap the notes to your heart’s content.
The Squirrel Play Wooden Xylophone Tap Bench is designed to introduce music to toddlers in fun and creative ways. Learning how to work the tap bench gets their gears turning and their fine motor skills going, while making music is great for their inner artist.
Every toy in the range is designed with care and crafted with love. The belief that playing with natural materials helps to keep children in touch with the world around them is central to the design of these beautiful wooden toys. The right toy can spark a world of imagination because no one is more creative than a child at play. The Squirrel Play Wooden Xylophone Tap Bench encourages little ones to be curious and helps to build fine motor skills while inspiring creative play. 

The Squirrel Play Wooden Xylophone Tap Bench is suitable for children of 3 years+ and retails at just £14.99! I think that it would make an excellent Christmas present, just like many toys from the Squirrel Play range! I'm also happy to be able to giveaway one here on the blog. To enter simply use the Gleam form below and don't forget to enter my other blog competitions!

Squirrel Play Wooden Xylophone Tap Bench

Terms & Conditions.         
1. There will be 1 winner who will choose one of the prizes mentioned above.
2. Winners details sent to the PR to arrange the prize. 
3. Competition ends 26/10/18.
4. Incomplete entries with be disqualified.
5. UK entries only

Ways To Keep Cleaning Quick & Easy

A few months ago I couldn't understand why people enjoyed cleaning so much, I thought they were from another planet! For me, cleaning was a chore, something I would dread and force myself to tackle each day. That was until I was "Hinched!"

I hope that most of the people reading this know what I mean when I say that, but for those who don't, let me explain. 
Mrs. Hinch is a lovely lady over on Instagram, who created an account based on her home and decor. She then started to film clips of herself cleaning and well, she went viral! I remember watching one of her stories for the first time, she was only cleaning her shower but I was mesmerised. After following her journey for a few months my outlook on cleaning has totally changed, it's like a switch has been flipped inside of me. My house has never been cleaner and better yet, I now enjoy it! This leads me to the topic at hand, simple ways I keep my house spick and span.

1. Make lists
On Sunday evenings I like to sit down with my notepad and make a list of all the cleaning tasks that I need to do the following week. I create my lists in order of priority and by room, this makes planning the daily cleaning chores quick and easy. For example, on Monday I tend to give the kitchen a deep clean, from oven to hob, through to microwave and dishwasher. Everything is scrubbed top to bottom. Every day I'll tackle a different room, whilst making sure I do my daily tasks too, such as the toilet and kitchen sink. People think that the toilet is the dirtiest place in the home, but you may be shocked to learn that quite often it isn't. The kitchen sink, taps, kitchen counters, chopping boards and even handbags have been known to carry even more bacteria than a toilet bowl so it's very important to keep on top of everything. Even the little tasks that are easy to overlook.

2. Product hauls
Cleaning product hauls are something else that I've been obsessed with lately. I really enjoy finding products I've not tried before, especially when they are a bargain. Discovering a product you've never used before, one which works a treat is so satisfying and keeps me motivated on my cleaning journey. I have so many favourite products; Astonish for surfaces, Harpic for the toilets, Pink Stuff for ovens, Fairy Liquid for microwaves, and anything from Method and Zoflora for everything else!

3. Get the kids involved
Children can easily pick up the habits and traits of their parents, so I'm conscientious when I do anything around Noah and Ava. I want them to have a positive outlook when it comes to cleaning, to adhere to good home hygiene, especially as they get older. For example, Noah has been helping to prepare food with me lately, after showing an interest after watching a cooking with kids YouTube video. I was about to start making a roast dinner one afternoon which ended up being a great opportunity to teach him the importance of hygiene when it comes to handling food. We both wore polythene gloves while handling the chicken, was then careful to remove them and dispose of them. We then washed our hands thoroughly. He asked 101 questions in the process and now knows the dangers of cross-contamination.

Do you have any tips you'd like to share?
- This is a PR collaboration.

44 Cats On Nick Jnr, Freeview & Pop TV

AD - This is a collaborative post.

There are a couple of times in the day where Noah, Ava and I like to snuggle up and enjoy a cartoon or two, in the morning when we are getting ready for the school run and at supper time, before bath, book, and bed. There's only a handful of cartoons or TV shows that they'll agree on and 44 Cats have just been added to their exclusive list.

44 Cats is a cartoon which follows four cats (Milady, Lampo, Pilou and Meatball) who make up a band called the Buffycats. They love to sing and play music but also like to stand up against the neighborhood bullies too. 
The series concentrates on these four cats and each episode has an underlying message of friendship, diversity and helping others.

Meet the Buffycats
Lampo - is the lead singer and guitarist of the Buffycats. He is a tabby cat with a blue lightning symbol over his right eye. Lampo's whiskers act as a compass, guiding him to where he needs to go.
Milady - is the Buffycats' bassist. Her fur turns pink-purple whenever someone tells a lie.
Pilou - is the Buffycats' drummer. She uses her enchanting wide eyes to distract the show's villains.
Meatball - is the Buffycats' keyboard player. He has a big appetite and can sense danger.

We sat down to watch a couple of episodes tonight and the kids were absolutely mesmerised. The songs made them get up and dance and they had their fair share of giggles too. They liked getting to know each of the Buffycats and already have their favourite characters picked out. Noah thinks it's great how they can bust out a tune but also fight crime too - it's the best of both worlds in his eyes

44 Cats episodes are available to watch on Nick Jnr and on Freeview channel, POP TV. Each episode is between 10 to 15 minutes long and your children are guaranteed to have smiles on their faces throughout. Watch a full episode here and see for yourself.

Schleich - Now Available At George At Asda - Review

Schleich is a brand that takes me back to my childhood and one which leaves me with the warm fuzzies. I remember being in awe of their figures every time I visited a museum, as that's where they were commonly stocked, in my area, when I was a child. I probably spent more time admiring all the different Schleich figurines than actually enjoying my time at the museum! I'd make a mental note of all the figures I wanted, but unfortunately, I never got any!

As you can imagine, I was delighted when I heard the news that Schleich is now being stocked at George at Asda, making them easier to buy for families like you and I. I was also very happy to go ahead with a review of some of the figures that are available, and couldn't wait to see if the kids loved them just as much as I did as a child.

We were sent two products for the purpose of this review, the first being the Schleich Farm World Starter Set. Included in this pack are four farmyard animal figures, a cow, a sheep, a donkey, and a cockerel. All four figures are hand paints and incredibly lifelike. They are all made to scale which makes play so realistic. We all have a favourite figure when it comes to this set, mine being the small donkey, Noah's being the cow, whereas Ava loves the sheep. The set retails at £14.97, which I think is a fair price for the quality and attention to detail. Both Noah and Ava have been playing with them none stop since they arrived last week, which is great to see.

Next, we have the Schleich T-Rex and wow, what a showstopper he is! He is quite a large figure, with all the attributes a ferocious T-Rex should have. As always, the attention to detail is out of this world, even down to how he feels to touch. The movable jaw is a nice added touch, meaning that Mr. T-Rex can gobble up all the small farm animals and ROAR! Prior to this, Noah had never shown an interest in dinosaurs, unlike most of his peers. Ever since receiving the Schleich T-Rex it's all he's been talking about, he wants to learn about them all. The T-Rex figuring retails at £15.97, and is suitable for children 3 years and onwards.

Having such realistic figurines is great for imaginative play and for using as a learning resource too. There are more Schleich figures and sets available at George, including the Wildlife, Bayala sets and many more. Noah has already asked for two more dinosaurs for Christmas and I have a feeling that we will have to collect them all.

- We were sent these products for the purpose of this review, however, all opinions are my own.

Hatchimals CollEGGtibles Season 3 - Review

Hatchimals CollEGGtibles are tiny little critters, waiting inside speckled eggs, waiting to be lovingly hatched by children. They are so much fun to hatch and even more fun to collect. Noah loves collectibles and Hatchimals CollEGGtibles are a firm favourite of his, they are so cute though, we can't resist them.

Hatchimals CollEGGtibles season 3 has been just as popular as the previous seasons, introducing us to over 100 new characters to collect! Noah was delighted to receive some more Hatchimals to review, included in the bundle. Included in our review box was; a Hatchimals CollEGGtibles Season 3 1 Pack (RRP £2.99),  a Hatchimals CollEGGtibles Season 3 2 Pack and Nest (RRP £4.99), a Hatchimals CollEGGtibles Season 3 4 Pack and Bonus (RRP £9.99) and the Hatchimals CollEGGtibles Season 3 One Dozen Egg pack (RRP £24.99). What's great about these prices is that there's something for every budget, whether it's for a present or a pocket money treat.

Having reviewed Hatchimal CollEGGtibles a couple of times in the past, Noah wanted to hatch them all differently this time. He asked to open all the packs, put the un-hatched eggs together and then crack them one by one. We did this by hand, by rubbing the heart until it changed colour, then by pulling apart the shell. We also used the Hatchimal CollEGGtibles Hatchery Nursery from a previous review (highly recommended) to hatch a couple too.

There's so much delight to be had when it comes to discovering which critters you'll find inside the eggs, and I think that season 3 adds more excitement because each Hatchimal CollEGGtible has a twin, squad or best friend. 

A new favourite of ours is the limited edition 'fuzzy' called Shimmering Girreo, who is from Shimmering Sands. He looked so cute, curled up in a ball fast asleep. We discovered him in the two pack with the nest, so it was only right for him to rest up inside it.

The One Dozen Egg Carton comes with 10 eggs, 2 hatched CollEGGtibles and a hard plastic egg carton. It's been very popular with Noah and I also think it's great because the egg carton can be reused. It's the perfect place to store some of Noah's CollEGGtibles.

Our Hatchimals CollEGGtibles collection has now grown thanks to SpinmasterIn total, we had 17 eggs to hatch and we didn't find one dupe! Instead, we discovered 4 sets of twins, a couple of best friends and a multitude of limited edition and rare characters! We even found an ultra rare Petal Deeraloo, who is now our all-time favourite! We hope that there'll be a season 4 (and 5, 6, 7 and 8) so that we can continue to enjoy these fantastic collectibles.

- We were sent these products for the purpose of this review, however, all opinions are my own.  

Choosing Noah's Birthday Presents With The New Smyths Catalogue

You know that it's almost the most magical time of the year when the toy shops start releasing their new catalogues. I don't know about you, but for me, they really adds to the excitement of Christmas. Spending hours flicking through them, circling the different toys I wanted that year was right of passage in my childhood and is now a popular tradition that I do with my own children. To be honest though, we do it year round too. It's not just a Christmas thing!

With this in mind, I was delighted with Smyths got in touch, offering to send us their latest catalogue, alongside a Smyths voucher to treat the kids. Bursting with over 300 pages, there's endless inspiration to be had when it comes to gift giving. Whether you need ideas for birthdays, Christmas or perhaps for just a treat, there's something for every child.

Noah was at school and Ava was busy playing with her dolls 
when the catalogue arrived, which gave me an opportunity to flick through it myself. I grabbed myself a cup of tea, sat down and I was able to really look through and discover all the wonderful toys and games which are available. I noticed how everything is set out in a way which makes finding things quick and easy, a plus for both children and adults alike. Looking through also made me feel so nostalgic; cabbage patch kids, lego and Barbie, oh my!

Noah was very excited when he came home from school to find the new Smyths catalogue waiting for him. It didn't take long before he had it on his lap, searching for his favourite toys. It came as no surprise that he headed straight to the Imaginext section, pointing out not one, but two playsets that are new and that he needs for his collection! His words, not mine! He then moved onto the WWE pages and circled the announcer microphone, the zombie wrestling figures, AND the WWE title belt! Ava, on the other hand, she was cooing at the realistic newborn baby dolls, so that's certainly a gift idea for her.

I'm impressed with the new Smyths 
catalogue, not only is it filled to the brim with so many great gift ideas, it's a great tool to gauge what the kids are interested in. You can also make it into a fun craft activity for them by helping them cut out the toys that they'd like, then by sticking them onto pieces of card, creating a visual representation of what they'd like for their birthday or Christmas this year. 

If you'd like a copy of the new Smyths catalogue simply, click here. It's free and will be sent straight to your door. Happy shopping!

- Wrote in collaboration with Smyths.

Noah's Dream Horse with Petplan Equine

Animals, you either love them or you're a little impartial to them. We adore them, often preferring the company of our furry friends to fellow human beings. I suppose it's only natural that our children are following suit, with lots of love and respect for animals. We only have one cat at home, but there are many other pets in the family and Noah and Ava both love visiting farms and rescue centers to visit the different animals.

A few weeks ago I received an email from Petplan Equine, asking if Noah would like to create his very own dream horse. His creation would then be made into a soft toy, making his dream horse a reality! Well, in a cuddly toy sort of way! I couldn't think of a more fitting collaboration and we were both so excited to get started.

Usually, Noah isn't one for sitting down to draw or colour. However, when it came to creating his dream horse, he sat and coloured for a good 15 minutes, something I've never seen him do before! Not for that amount of time anyway.

Once he got started his imagination ran wild, just like the dream horse he envisioned in his mind. I drew the outline of the horse, then he took over, adding stripes using his favourite colours. He used black to colour the hooves, mane, tail, and reign. Then he finished the look with black polka dots and two brightly coloured stars. I was really impressed with how it turned out and I think he was really proud of himself too.

We then sent our finished design over to Petplan for them to work their magic. 
With the soft toy being handmade they did say it could take a while, but we didn't have to wait long at all.

Our dream horse arrived a few weeks later, while Noah was at school. I couldn't resist taking a sneak peek, and I was blown away by how similar it was to his design. It was perfect. When Noah came home from school he was equally impressed. He couldn't believe that they'd included every little detail, from the red and white nostrils to the different coloured ears!

Noah's dream horse, known lovingly as Rascal, now sits proudly on the end of his bed. He often tucks him under his arm when we are reading a bedtime story, they've become such great pals.

Petplan Equine Horse Insurance ethos is to keep the horses of this nation, healthy and happy, along with their owners. They offer fantastic policies whilst providing great customer service. They have helped countless owners get their beloved horses back on to health following illness or injury over the years.
- This post is a collaboration with Petplan Equine, however, all opinions are my own.

Living Arrows #8 - Growing Up Way Too Fast

Last week, I shared a photo of Noah standing in front of our blue front door on the morning of his first day of school. Well, it appears to be Ava's turn for this week's Living Arrows!

Lately, I find myself using my DSLR more and more, taking so many pictures of the kids, a lot being of Ava while Noah's at school. I do the same with Noah, especially when he was a toddler, but I've found myself taking more photo's this time around. I think it's mainly because we aren't having any more children. Every 'first' that Ava has, is a 'last' for us as parents and knowing that makes everything even more bittersweet. I thought that Noah flew through babyhood at the speed of light, but nothing could have prepared me for how fast it goes the second time around. I blinked and Ava went from a 9lb 4oz chunk of love to a fully fledged, sass queen. I don't think it helps that she's so forward with everything that she does (second child syndrome) or the fact that she looks like she's two already! 

Lately, I've found myself trying to soak up every moment of her toddlerhood because before I know it, she'll be off to school just like Noah. Here are a few unedited photos of my little whirlwind of a daughter. People often say that she's been here before. Which is quite an eerie turn of phrase if you ask me!

Living Arrows