Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

I've been a little AWOL across my blog and social media and for good reason - I switched off and dedicated all my time to my family. We've also had a very busy few weeks with numerous grotto visits, a Christmas adventure, a trip to Butlins and many, many family parties and get-togethers. I've decided to end this year with a little roundup photo post of what we've been upto and to ultimately wish you all a Happy New Year! All the best for 2020!

Updating Our Home For 2020

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If you know me or follow the blog, you will already know that five years ago we were fortunate enough to get our foot on the property ladder - buying our first family home. After the initial purchase, we spent years renovating the house, literally, from top to bottom - most rooms were stripped back to brick. It was certainly a labour of love and something which took a lot longer than anticipated. Once all the DIY was out the way it was then time to focus on the interiors and that is when the fun truly began.

Fast forward five years, 2020 is here and with the new year and a new decade comes a lot of changes in our house, both big and small - and our first change is right around the corner with an interior revamp. Out with the old, and in with the new - this is what I've been waiting for. I have my heart set on a couple of decor and furniture pieces that will really spark some joy into my life and my home - I cannot wait to get started and show you what I've been looking at.

First on my list is the Melo 2 sofa from BoConcept Scotland - can you believe this two-seater has a reclining and sleeping function too? This makes it an ideal option for when family comes to visit or for when the kids want to have a sleepover downstairs. The chic grey colour is classic, ageless, and I think the Opart plaid throw with a couple of scatter cushions would make it pop even more. It's number one on my list for good reason - I adore it.

The Philadephia coffee table is another piece that I have my heart set on - just look at it! It's practical and aesthetically pleasing with its almost geometric shapes and contrasting dimensions. It would look perfect in the same room as the Melo 2 sofa and I can just picture it in my living room right now.

Do you have any home interior ideas up your sleeve for the new year? Could you imagine these pieces in your home? Perhaps you have any interior tips you would like to share with me?

Christmas Gift Ideas For Grown Ups

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With Christmas just a matter of weeks I thought it was about time that I posted my last, but certainly not least, gift guide of the year - this one aimed at the grown-ups! Catch up on my previous gift guides here; for kids, stocking fillers for kids, and festive food and drink.

1. Gifts from Baylis & Harding - prices from £2.00
I don't know about you but I love receiving bath sets and candles at Christmas - they always make smile. I recently received this huge box of Baylis & Harding products, from a couple of their lines; Beauticology, Beauticology Unicorn, Fuzzy Duck and more. I was really impressed with the range of products available; candles, hand wash, hand cream, bath bombs, bubble bath, soaps, and so on. There's really something for everyone in the family. My personal favourites are the Unicorn Rainbow Fizzers and Fuzzy Duck bubble bath which is in a Christmas pudding shaped bottle. See the full range on their website, or order today at Amazon.

2. Willow & Finn Candles - from £8.00 each
I don't know many people who don't enjoy a nice candle and a brand I've recently discovered is Willow & Finn who specialise in hand-poured, soy wax candles - all of which have unique scents made with pure essential oils and luxury fine fragrance oils – with a nod to creating scents that both boost the mood or ignite a memory. They are also doing their part for the enivornment in making their candles resusable, and refillable - send the empties back to them and you receive a discount on your next order. Prices start at £8.00 for the travel-sized candles and £22 for the full size.

3. Womens Mule Slippers - £29.50
Slippers are another item on my Christmas checklist and you can't go wrong with a pair from Pretty You London. These slip-on mule slippers don't just look pretty, they are extremely comfortable too with their extra thick underfoot padding. They look amazing with the colourful pom pom detailing against the grey faux fur. They are described as long-lasting and I can see why - the quality is next to none.

4. Klean Kanteen Bottle - £29.95
Perfect for those who enjoy a warm, or cold drink on the go and who want to do their part for the environment. The Klean Kanteen Reflect bottle holds 27oz of liquid, is lightweight and is made of three materials; sustainably harvested bamboo, stainless steel, and food-grade silicone. It features no paint or plastic - it's very on-brand with the message they want to promote - to change the way people drink.

5. Aveeno Mum & Baby Giftset - £20.00
Sometimes, as parents you forget to take care of your own skin - focusing everything on the children and this set is great for ticking two boxes, in one. The gift set contains a moisturising lotion for the parent, a hair and body wash and moisturising lotion for baby - as well as a soft teddy bear comforter. 

6. Dr. Paw Paw Hello Gorgeous Christmas Gift Set - £9.99
A great stocking filler for beauty lovers this Dr. Paw Paw Hello Gorgeous gift set contains three of their classic 10ml balms including favourites such as; original, peach pink and ultimate red balm. Only a little bit of the balm is needed at any given time, so each bottle lasts absolutely ages.

7. Rosalique 3 in 1 Anti Redness Miracle Formula - £30.00
Rosalique 3 In 1 Anti-Redness Miracle Formula SPF50 is a bio-scientific product for sensitive and inflamed skin. Suitable for all skin types, it's scientifically formulated with 5 active ingredients and it treats, conceals and protects redness-prone and sensitive skin. It's free from parabens, paraffin, perfume and is Cruelty-Free.

8. Helly Hensen Business Beanie - £20.00
Trendy, yet practical this beanie from Helly Hensen is ideal for cold weekdays when you need to dress for work, look smart, all while keeping your head warm. It's made from 50% Polyester & 50% Wool, features soft PrimaLoft yard, is double-layered, and is finished with a classic and subtle logo design.

9. Nextbase Dash Cam - £69.99
An ideal gift for those on the road; a Nextbase dash cam. Nextbase is the UK’s leading dash cam manufacturer and for good reason too. They offer a wide range of affordable and easy to use dashcams with HD quality video recording. There's a dash cam to suit every budget and they are a great gift suggestion for those hard to buy for friends, ones that like to drive of course! With 1080p HD recording and an improved lens, this model, the 222 offers full HD for everyone. You simply install the power cable directly into the mount which allows the Dash Cam to be wireless - you are then good to go! 

10. men-ü Travel Kit - £34.95
This travel kit from men-u is perfect for those who like to travel, whether it's for work or play. Within the bag, you'll find shampoo, shower gel, shaving cream, hair product, and a skin refresher set. The Daily Refresh Shampoo gently cleanses and refreshes, adding moisture to the hair whilst the Citrus & Mint Shower Gel includes moisturisers to help the skin from drying & a fresh fragrance to give you a lift. The skin refresher set is the ultimate, ultra-concentrate toolkit for healthy skin. A good shave with men-ü Shave Crème is not just about a smooth surface without nicks or irritation but it is the start of healthy skin providing exfoliation a woman can only dream of! Finish the look with Liquifflex – great flexi-hold and suitable for all hair types and styles. Practically weightless and thickens the hair, so great for extra body and volume. Completed with a lightweight Stripes toiletry bag which includes a separate internal compartment for your razor or toothbrush.

11. Buy A Gift Smartbox - £49.99
Make the smart choice this Christmas with a Smartbox from Buy a Gift - this £49.99 gift card allows the lucky recipient to choose their own experience, with the choice of thousands of relaxing, exciting and indulgent gift experiences at locations throughout the UK. Choose an experience for yourself, for some well deserved alone time - or opt for something to enjoy with a friend. Adrenaline-fuelled adventures on offer include scuba diving, zorbing, indoor skydiving and ziplining, while the more relaxing options include spa days, pampering treatments and chocolate/wine tasting events. With this much to choose from there really is something for everyone.

12. Wicked Gummy Co. Vitamins - from £19.99
I don't know about you but I like to take my vitamins daily and it becomes so much more exciting when they are in gummy form. Wicked Gummy Co. Vitamins have just launched a range of five Vegan Society registered nutritional gummies; a probiotic, a sleep aid, multivitamin, vitamin d, and hair, skin, and nails. The gummies have also won a 2019 Best Of Health award in the Vegan Supplement Category after launching just three months ago. 

13. Lyle And Scott Core Backpack Black - £35.00
Sometimes you can't beat practicality when it comes to gift-giving - sometimes you need to opt for a product someone needs. The Lyle And Scott Vintage Core Backpack has two adjustable padded shoulder straps with a woven handle on top and zip fastening to the main compartment which has two pouch compartments inside. An additional zipped compartment is on the front with the signature Lyle And Scott Eagle logo stud in yellow and black. I have wrapped this up for Nick for Christma (shhh) and I know he's going to be delighted when he opens it - a functional, practical, yet stylish item that we are probably going to use every time we venture out. You can purchase it online at Mainline Menswear.

14. Philip Kingsley Supplements - from £30.00
Did you know that Philip Kingsley has a range of supplements and multivitamins? I didn't until a few weeks ago and after receiving samples I happen to think they'd make a great gift. Their range consists of three types of supplements; Root Complex, Tricho Complex, and Biotin Boost - designed to maximise the strength of the hair and growth, can also help ward off illness, not to mention also bolster your nails too. 

15. Mermaid Gin - £45.00
Gin is all the rage at the moment and I'm totally on board with it. I love discovering new favourites and an impressive bottle is one way to catch my eye. Mermaid Gin has done just that, the bottle is gorgeous - the contents? Even more so. It’s a smooth yet complex blend that features the freshness of organic lemon zest, the peppery notes in grains of paradise and a hint of sea air from fragrant rock samphire. The latter, foraged from the Isle of Wight’s cliffs, is known locally as ‘Mermaid’s Kiss’, hence the gin’s name! It's certainly a must-have for gin lovers.

16. The John Frieda Detox & Repair Range - from £5.99
Last, but certainly not least we have the John Frieda Detox & Repair range which is specifically formulated to remove impurities from the hair’s surface, to create a clean slate for the active conditioning ingredients to get to work, enabling it to condition more deeply and effectively. Nourishing avocado oil and antioxidant-rich green tea restore hair moisture and softness, leaving you with instantly healthier, shinier hair. The products include; Detox & Repair Shampoo, Detox & Repair Conditioner, Detox & Repair Masque, and Detox & Repair Care and Protect Spray - all of which are available at Boots.

Which of these items do you like the sound of the most?

A Delivery From Orchard Toys - Just In Time For Christmas - Review

AD - We were sent these products for the purpose of this review, however, all opinions are my own. The post also contains Amazon affiliate links, where I can receive a small commission at no cost to you. 

I've been a fan of Orchard Toys for years now, going back to when I was a child, playing the ever so popular Shopping List game. Fast forward 20 or so years and I now play that game, and more with my own children. In fact, I reviewed a couple of games back when Noah was a tot. The only difference is they don't just have the one game, they have countless - especially after this huge Orchard Toys delivery a few weeks ago.

Included in the bundle;
What a Performance - £16.95
Giant Road - £14.95
Number Street - £10.50
Knights and Dragons - £8.00
Rainbow Unicorns - £8.25
Giraffes in Scarves - £8.00
Match and Spell - £8.25
Farmyard Heads & Tails - £8.00 
Mummy & Baby - £7.00
Little Bus Lotto - £5.00
Llamas in Pyjamas - £5.00

Giant Road was the box that Ava wanted to open first and I was quite excited by it as we'd never played this one before. It's a giant jigsaw puzzle, with 20 pieces that can be swapped and interchanged - this is great as children are able to create their very own road shape. We really enjoyed piecing it together and Ava insisted on getting the toy cars out to run all the way around her newly built road. It's suitable for children from 3 years of age, however, Noah enjoys to build and play with it just as much as Ava. Orchard Toys also sell a Junction Pack which is great for extending and making bigger roads.

Another game that piqued her attention was Mummy & Baby, which again is another puzzle. Suitable for children from 18 months, it features 6 2-piece mummy and baby animal jigsaws; a whale, bear, elephant, giraffe, tiger, and penguin - 6 puzzles in 1. The chunky pieces are ideal for little hands, making them a great first jigsaw puzzle. I also like how it features many different animals, not just one rolling theme. Ava adores animals so the puzzles encouraged discussion and helped develop her knowledge - she now knows that the whale is a whale and not a dolphin!

Rainbow Unicorns and Knights and Dragons are two new and notable games. Rainbow Unicorns is suitable for children from 3 years of age and is a adorable, colour matching game. It features ever so popular unicorn characters and is designed to help develop colour, matching and memory skills. Knights and Dragons, on the other hand, is suitable for children a little older, from 4 years old. It's described as a fun twist on the heads and tails game - again, designed to develop colour, matching and memory skills.

Ava is at a brilliant age now where she understands simple games - which is great because she can now join in with family game time. Giraffes in Scarves, although aimed at children from 4 years of age is quickly becoming a favourite of hers - we often play it together as it can be played by up to 6 players. You simply roll the dice, pick up a card and build your giraffe! The colour you roll, the colour of the card you choose (the number of scarves on each card differs) and the player with the most scarves on their giraffe wins! The game develops colour matching and counting skills, as well as memory and observation skills too.

I could spend all day writing about and recommending Orchard Toys. Their educational games, jigsaws, colouring books make the perfect Christmas gifts for children - ones which can be enjoyed all year round, for years to come. Learning Made Fun is the heart of all Orchard Toys products and there's games, jigsaws, puzzles for different learning areas, all themed, and so much fun! There is no better way to learn than through play.

Which of these games do you like the sound of the most?

How Does Black Box Car Insurance Work?

- This is a collaborative post.

Anyone who has ever got insurance will tell you it’s complicated and they aren’t wrong. However, the good news is car insurance while not exactly simple is often easier than many people expect. Car insurance has many variables but there are always going to be a few things that will almost always happen. For example, if you are a younger driver then you can expect your insurance costs to generally be higher. On average people 25 and younger will have higher premiums which brings us to the subject of this blog black box car insurance.

Black box might already be a term you are familiar with and it likely gives you a basic idea of how this variant of car insurance works. But let’s take a more in-depth look at black car insurance, shall we? This type of insurance uses a black box to record and monitor your driving habits, this information is then used to set your insurance premiums.

A black box is a piece of telematics equipment that can be used to carefully monitor many different things. When it comes to car insurance the black box will record things like speed, the distance traveled, braking, cornering and even how much time you have spent on the road during daylight and night hours.

So, telematics equipment is very useful and is very popular when it comes to car insurance. Black box insurance might be the term most people are familiar with but there are actually three main types of car insurance that fall under the telematic label. Let’s take a closer look at all three, shall we?

Black Box Insurance
Black box insurance is the most popular type and arguably the most successful when it comes to getting accurate readings. The black box device used in this form of insurance is very small often the size of a smartphone and can be safely installed into all kinds of vehicles.

Plug and Drive
The plug and drive system follows very similar principles to typical black box insurance. However, instead of using a black box device a plug and drive device is used instead. This device uses GPS technology and will be plugged into your car’s charging port or in some cases the cigarette lighter.

The final telematics insurance system worth knowing about is also the most modern. This uses a smartphone app that tracks your driving. While you won’t need to install a device or even plug one in there is some debate over how accurate the readings are and how practical this method is. Black box insurance (and it’s variants) is most often used for younger and inexperienced drivers. However, it is also being adopted as a way for insurers to take on more high-risk clients. A high-risk client can vary but it will most often be a driver who has suffered a motoring conviction in the past. Using black box insurance in these cases allows insurers to protect themselves and for drivers to prove that they are safe on the road. Once you get into the late 20’s early 30’s the number of people using black box insurance drops dramatically.

The Black Box Set-Up
If you are considering a black box insurance policy of any kind then the advice laid out below will help explain how the process works. Once the policy is agreed a third-party will install the black box in your vehicle. A qualified mechanic or specialist installer will often do this. You will also usually need to show certain identification and documentation before the black box can be installed. This can vary but as a minimum, you should have your driving license and documents verifying you have passed your test, your car’s logbook or a V5C.

As mentioned previously the modern black box devices are typically very small and they will also usually be installed in a very discreet location that isn’t easily viewable. By their very design black box insurance policies are variable they might be quite expensive at first but quickly become much cheaper. It all depends on how you drive! If you drive safely your insurer will offer you lower premiums but if you don’t then they could rise. How and when an insurer will raise or lower your premiums will also vary some policies/ insurers work on a month to month model while some work on a yearly pattern.

So, that is a basic outline of how black box insurance works. It is a very popular insurance method for young drivers and does have some real benefits. So, if you are young and a new driver it is definitely worth considering.

My Sunday Photo - 49/52

Organix Mini Flapjack Bites - Review & Giveaway

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I've said it once, I'll say it again - we adore Organix. I've worked with them numerous times over the years and I'm a loyal customer too, adding their snacks onto our shopping list every week. As a parent, I couldn't approve of their foods more and I'm always delighted when the kids opt for something from Organix, over an unhealthy snack. Organix continuously adding new and exciting products to their already extensive range, keeping things fresh and exciting. The newest product to their range are the Mini Flapjack Bites - Ava couldn't wait to try them.

The new Organix Mini Flapjack Bites are available in two different flavours; oat and raisin and oat and banana. Each box contains 4 individual bags, making them ideal for eating on the go, as well as at home. In accordance with the Public Health England guidelines on snacks, each bag contains less than 100kcals.

At home

As always, they carry the No Junk Promise and are made with only organic ingredients and absolutely nothing artificial. They are loaded with wholegrain oats and juicy raisins - a tasty snack for my kids' when they are on the go and having an adventure.

Ava was so intrigued by the bitesize flapjack bites and tried one as soon as I opened the bag. She got through the bag fast, which means that they got her seal of approval. Noah really enjoyed them too and he's 6. I'd go as far as saying they are their new favourite and we will certainly be buying them again once they've eaten them all. As a parent I think Organix is the best thing since sliced bread - their foods are tasty, exciting and a healthier alternative to others on the market. I'll always recommend them to a friend.

On the go

Organix Mini Flapjack Bites are suitable for children from 12 months of age, are suitable for vegetarians and vegans. They cost £2.49 per box and you can purchase them at Morrisons, Ocado, and Sainsbury's.

How would you like to win a box of each flavour? I have 2 lots to giveaway here on the blog and more across my social media channels. To enter here, simply use the Gleam form below and don't forget to enter my other competitions!

2 boxes of Organix Mini Flapjack Bites
Terms & Conditions.         
1. There will be 2 winners who will win the prize mentioned above.
2. Winners details will be shared with the PR to arrange delivery of the prize. 
3. Competition ends 31/12/19.
4. Incomplete entries with be disqualified.
5. UK entries only. 18 years old to enter.