Wednesday, 31 December 2014

What 2014 had in store for me and looking forward to a fab 2015. Family holidays, turning 18, special wedding anniversary, lots of blogging and much more!

Wow, 2014 was a good year. Sat here now I couldn't think of much that we had done but going through some photos certainly showed me what a great year we have had and here's hoping 2015 is the same.

Afternoon Tea, a wedding, my Dad's 60th birthday and much more. 

2014 saw my sister get married, my cousin get married, my Dad turning 60 years old, Thing 4 starting school, hen do's, birthdays, another NFL match day, day trips to London, a trip to the Harry Potter studio tours, Afternoon Tea's, competition wins and my fabulous weight loss journey.

Just a few more glimpses into 2014. My weight loss certificates, Thing 2 and Thing 5's birthday cake, Myleene on our video chat and much more.

In 2015 our eldest will turn 18, how did that happen?! We also have a big family holiday in the planning. We haven't had a holiday for a couple of years and when we do go it's always to Center Parcs so the thought of taking the Things on holiday any further than anywhere inside of the UK fills me with dread!

The OH and I also have our tenth wedding anniversary to look forward to. Where did that time go too. I mean, I know where it's gone I just don't want to admit that time is flying and I'm getting old!

I hope to pack A LOT more into 2015 and make it bigger and better than last year. That's not to say that life might through obstacles in our path along the way but we take the rough with the smooth and take each day as it comes. I hope to keep my blog going strong and to try and pack more into 2015 with that too. 2014 saw me do lots of lovely reviews for various companies as well as going to some lovely events with companies such as Bugaboo, Huggies and Nickelodeon as well as the premiere of Nativity 3 back in November. I have really enjoyed it and hope to do more.

2014 also saw a few competition wins for me too and I will continue to do some more in the New Year. Wins included a Mountain Buggy Nano, a GoPro Hero 3 camera, some Palladium boots, some cinema tickets, Aldi vouchers, a Christmas cake and more.

Another highlight of the year was my video chat with Myleene Klass about her Baby K clothing range at Mothercare, Something I never thought I would be doing this time last year. This video chat can be found on Youtube and I may have screenshot the moment she replied to my tweet calling me an inspiration (thanks Myleene!)

Even more fab times from 2014

All in all it's been a good year. Thank you to everyone who has been by my side this year, all of the new friends I have made and hope I to continue to make. Also a big up to the bestie who listens to me moan, makes me laugh, is there every Tuesday when we desperately need a night out. Who is a cinema buddy, a Wagamamas buddy and puts up with me too!. 

Love to you all and see you in 2015. 

Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Cropping yourself out of a selfie?! So it's not a selfie any more??? Boooo to never getting a decent picture of myself. :-(

Yes, at a family party the other night I tried to take a selfie. My cousin was visiting for her Dads 50th birthday and it was the first time we had been together for years. So my Mum had her camera at the ready and started gathering family members up for the compulsory family photos.

I hate having my photo taken so I was grumbling away like I do. Stood waiting for my Nan to make her way over from her seat to have her picture taken with her grandchildren I thought I would take the opportunity to grab a quick group selfie! Having never tried a group selfie before you're left with wondering whether your arm is long enough to get everyone in the picture! Plus, I don't even do selfies??!! I hate my face, I never look right and I ruin a picture.

Ellen Degeneres had the help of Bradley Cooper when she got everyone together in her Oscars selfie, where was Bradley Cooper when I needed him?! Instead I did the best I could to stretch out, get everyone in the picture and take the snap at the same time. My Mum offered to take the picture for me, not quite getting the idea of a selfie there are we Mum!!

Anyway, I took the shot quickly as my Mum was hovering with her camera, trying to get everyone in position. Then I looked at the shot and OMG, my eyes looked like they had a huge argument and hadn't spoken in months. If I look at the camera (phone) it's a bad picture so I have to look away, do you know how hard it is to snap a picture when you aren't even looking at what you're taking?! Impossible I tell you. So here is my selfie, or non selfie, or group selfie without myself! Whatever I call it, it's not got me in it.

 In the first picture I was on the right of the pic, honest. In the second picture you can see my arm!!

Next time I won't bother, what's the use of a selfie or group selfie without your'selfie' in it?!

I'm up for taking pictures of myself and cutting my head out of it! After my weight loss over the past year I do like seeing pictures of myself and am often found taking pictures of various new outfits I have bought etc.... but I would just like one decent photo where I can look at the camera and say Yes, I know that's going to look ok.

The usual picture of myself, a rarity that I hadn't chopped my head off. Plus the one and only group selfie that I took over the Summer. It made the cut because you can hardly see my face! 

This is a selfie, but I preferred to look at some random object out of the picture rather than at you all, what was the point! Excuse the Santa hat!

Monday, 29 December 2014

Our review of the Cybex Pallas 2-Fix Group 1/2/3 car seat. Suitable for children 9-36 kg, age approx. 9 months to up to 12 years.

Over the past couple of months we have been trying out the Cybex Pallas 2-Fix car seat.

Suitable for children approx. 9 months up to 12 years, 9-36 kg. As a 2 in 1 car seat it can be used for almost 11 years and WHICH? rated its safety performance in accidents as excellent throughout the entire lifespan and gave its side-impact protection its top marks of 5 stars.

We were able to try the seat with three of our children in both the Group 1 setting as well as the Group 2/3 setting. Thing 5 (aged 2 years and 4 months) used it as a Group 1 car seat with the adjustable safety cushion in place. This acts like an inflatable airbag and in a collision protects against neck injuries without being restrictive. At first it was a struggle to get him to use it with the safety cushion as he wasn't used to having a car seat with this type of safety fixings. Had it been a purchase we had made when he first moved on to a Group 1 seat he would be used to it.

Our 2 year 4 month old using the Cybex Pallas 2-Fix in Group 1 with the safety cushion, removed the cushion in picture 2 just to show it in use without the safety cushion although this can be used up to age 3 years. 

The Pallas 2-Fix was very easy to fit in the car with its Isofix points. We have a Ford Galaxy and the 3 middle seats in the car have the Isofix points to fit the Pallas 2-Fix into but not the back 2 seats. It took only seconds to fit and adjust into place ready for use. It was also very easy to adjust the headrest height between uses for the different height of the children. The head rest also has a 3 position recline which guarantees optimal protection in a side impact. This technology also shifts the balance point of a child head slightly back and prevents it from falling forward when a child is asleep.

When in use as a Group 2/3 car seat the safety cushion is no longer needed and it's used with the three point harness in the car. We used it as a Group 2/3 car seat for both Thing 3 and Thing 4 (aged 8 years and aged 5 years). Both were very comfortable and the easily adjustable back rest meant we could make sure the headrest was at the right position for both comfort and safety.

Our 5 year old using the Cybex Pallas 2-Fix. Looking very comfy and safe. It was so easy to use and adjust to fit. 

It also has a recline function which is easy to use with one hand from the front of the seat which makes a journey for a sleeping child even more comfortable.

This is a great car seat. it was very easy to fit in the car and to use. It is a very chunky car seat and not something I would want to buy if I was looking to move it between cars often but for use in one car and leaving it in situ it's perfect. The Isofix is always a plus point for me as I like how secure it feels once in the car. The safety cushion feature is also very good. It took a little getting used to for Thing 5 but as I said if we had been using since he was ready to use a Group 1 car seat he would be used to it by now.

The fabrics are lovely and soft and comfortable and even better that they are machine washable at 30 degrees. Car seat covers always need a wash every now and again!

This is a chunky, durable and solid car seat and it's great that it covers Groups 1,2 and 3 too.

Available in six different colourways. More details at

Sunday, 28 December 2014

My Slimming World journey begins again this week. Finally getting back on track to reach my new target and lose that little bit of festive excess too!!! Who's joining me???

Christmas time seems to be a time of excess, overindulging and enjoying ourselves. Why not?! The plentiful supply of gorgeous festive food that the supermarkets have on offer is all too much to resist and with all of the parties, get togethers and merriment it's so easy to eat all of the tempting goodies on offer.

Just a few of my festive indulgences from the past few weeks!

On the run up to the festive period it's so easy to say 'Yes I will be good', 'No I won't eat more than I actually need to', 'I will skip on dessert, honest'!

In the week before Christmas I had already eaten plenty of chocolate from various tubs that we had in the house and I remarked to the OH that I needed to stop already. 'You've done so well this year, I wouldn't worry' he said. At that moment I realised that a few chocolates wasn't going to suddenly make me balloon into my Size 16 former self. A couple of weeks of Christmas indulgence wasn't going to tip me completely off of my Slimming World journey and with a few weeks of careful meal planning afterwards it should be easy to get back on track.

We've all enjoyed Christmas. The season has past us by so quickly but left behind a small reminder on the scales of what a good time we had. Which is why it's important to jump straight back on the Slimming World journey.

My journey started last year in January 2014 and by May 2014 I had reached my 1.5 stone target. Not feeling completely satisfied I readjusted my target to lose another 0.5 a stone, 2 stones in total. I have yet to reach this goal! I became complacent about my achievement so far and thinking that I could eat more than what my healthy eating plan allowed. I maintained my weight on and around my original 1.5 stone target but never regained momentum to hit my new target.

My journey from January 2014 to May 2014

I am really pleased with the progress that I made in my first year with Slimming World, at first I was kicking myself for not being able to achieve my new target but I was reminded by so many people to look at how far I had come and to not dwell on the extra few pounds target that I had set myself. I will get there eventually. Also, as I keep saying to everyone, if I can do it then anyone can. I never ate properly, I ate crisps, chocolates and cake and didn't care what my diet consisted of or that I wasn't eating proper meals at the right time. The Slimming World healthy eating plan is so easy to follow and get to grips with and I am so glad I started when I did.

January 2015 is my time! I've enjoyed the past 6 months, I've enjoyed the new me. I've enjoyed Christmas and now I'm jumping back in my Slimming World car and taking the fast lane to my new target.

It might not be plain sailing, our journeys are always different. Some people can take a direct route and achieve their targets very quickly, others take the scenic route which takes a bit more time but reach the same goal eventually just at a more relaxed pace. Whichever route you take just remember that you are all there to achieve your own target in your own time but all of your Slimming World friends are there to support you on your journey for any little bumps in the road you may encounter.

So now is the time, now is my time to reach the new target I set myself. I've also banned myself from using a gift card that I received as a Christmas present until I reach, or at least get near to my new target. Before I would never really have been bothered about clothes shopping but I now really enjoy it so I'm really wanting to go out and use my gift card, I am hoping that will give me a bit more of an incentive to get my butt in gear!!!

For now, I'm counting down the days until all of the chocolate is eaten that is hanging around the house and tempting me into eating it.

Christmas excess! Our Christmas Eve dinner being delivered. Soooooo naughty!

Friday, 26 December 2014

Christmas is over. I'm up for ditching the tree already and leaping into 2015 head first!

Christmas Day was fab. The children got very spoilt and got most things they asked for. Thing 3 is now attached to her new Kindle. Thing 2 is obsessed with her new phone and Thing 1 is walking around the house in his new football boots!

We had our first Christmas at home and it was lovely. I cooked and it did get eaten, with lots of leftovers too. As well as a huge amount of chocolate getting consumed also! It was relaxed, the children stayed in their pyjamas for most of the day and they could stay at home and play with their new toys rather than rushing out of the door to other peoples houses. We could run on our own time, the children could go off and spend time in their rooms if they wanted to, most of the day was spent together though which was lovely.

Our first Christmas dinner at home

However, already, the aftermath of Christmas is getting to me. The front room was a mess earlier so I tidied as best as I could and this evening it's a mess again. The poor Christmas tree only just made it to Christmas Day but it's now almost bald and I just want to get it out of the door! We have empty boxes piled up with nowhere for them to go as the recycling bin is overflowing and lots of toys that need to find their way into various childrens bedrooms.

Before and After picture of the front room this morning. It's a mess again already though. :-(

I'm counting down the days to 2015, this year has been good don't get me wrong. I had a fantastic success with Slimming world and lost 1.5 stone in 4 months and have maintained that ever since. That has to be the highlight of my 2014!.

 Next year I am on a mission to downsize the food shopping budget, stop spending money on eating out or takeaways and try to save some pennies. I want to be more aware of what we are spending on and do we really need what we are buying.  Let's hope I can make it happen. We all need to be more sensible with spending and so I'm going to be the mean mummy that says No a lot more. Then we can hopefully look forward to doing things together as a family that we have saved towards and will appreciate more.

A start on budgetting! A Boxing Day trip to Asda produced a shop worth £119 for £10.85.

Over the next few days whilst I still have the OH home from work on his festive break I am going to tackle the messy house and hopefully get him to tackle the downstairs bathroom, an unfinished task from the 2013 house extension!!! I can't wait for the second bath and toilet to be in use, no more queues!!

So, thank you 2014 for being awesome but come on 2015, I'm up for a challenge.

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Merry Christmas from us all! What a fab Christmas Eve. Bowling, pizza, Christmas cake and family time.

Our Christmas photos from our Harrods visits, 2007 through to 2013

It's Christmas Eve. We have had a fab day today. Bowling with the family then back to Nanny and Grandad's house for pizza and a slice of Christmas cake courtesy of my brother. We watched 'Santa' fly overhead too! It's lovely to get everyone together. The children had a lovely time, they are all excited waiting for Santa to arrive so it's good to get out for the day and keep them busy. Eight adults and ten children made for a fab Christmas Eve. I think we had enough pizza??!!

Mum Of Five recreating the Home Alone pizza scene! 'Who ate all the cheese pizza'??!

Watching 'Santa' fly overhead! 

The children are in new pyjamas, they've put out a mince pie and a drink for Santa and a carrot for Rudolph. We are watching festive films on the TV and they are going to bed very soon.

Enjoying a slice of Christmas cake made by Uncle Dave. Thing 5 gave it a big thumbs up.

We would like to say Merry Christmas to everyone and sending warm wishes from us all.

P.S; Pappy Staying Sane spotted some mistletoe growing in the tree outside their house, a team effort from the men failed to reach it and get some from the tree! Sorry men of the family, better luck next year! 

Hoping for a Christmas kiss! 

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

School is almost over! We've visited Santa and been to Christmas performances. Wrapping stress, worrying that you've forgotten something and the hunt is still on for a turkey!

Our festive Christmas sign

I've neglected December completely when it comes to blogging. It's been so hectic that time has flown by and we are now only 7 sleeps away from awaiting the big mans arrival. I had so many blog posts that I intended to write and now I seem to have lost over half of  December already! I've watched three Christmas performances, Thing 4 was a lovely star in their nativity play, Thing 3 was a speaker for their Christmas performance and we also watched Thing 3 at her Brownies Christmas 'Frozen' Party. I've visited Santa, bought the last of the presents and ordered most of the Christmas food shopping.

Thing 3 ready for her Christmas 'Frozen' Party at Brownies. They learnt the sign language to Let It Go and performed it for the parents, they were all very good. 

The school term ends in just a day and a half and I'm in a panic thinking I've forgotten something. I wanted everything done before the children break up from school. There can be nothing worse than dragging the kiddies around the shops on the last few days before Christmas. So this week I have been finishing off last minute presents, ordering food to be delivered whilst attending Christmas plays, getting my hair cut, wrapping presents and trying to tidy the house. That last one is so not happening! 

Thing 5 feeling festive in the Disney Cafe, Harrods

Last week myself and Thing 5 visited Santa at Harrods with some friends. It was a lovely day, nice to see the big fella even if the kiddies weren't so keen! The children got a drawstring bag with a chocolate coin and a book inside and the photographs are always good. Thing 5 particularly liked the snowball throwing area whilst we queued to see Santa.

Thing 5 having a go at throwing snowballs at the snowmen and our Harrods Christmas photo, Thing 5 wasn't too keen on Santa!

 One day I will head up to London by myself and actually look around Harrods without the children in tow. I've yet to have a proper look around in all of the different departments and see what lovely things there are to buy. Particularly in the children's clothing department!

Since then it has just been a whirlwind of present buying, present wrapping, deliveries arriving, crossing off items on lists, making new lists etc.... I'm sure I've forgotten someones present or something important. Oh yes, the turkey! We still haven't purchased our festive feast. We need to head out and see what we can find, either that or try and find a Macdonalds open in Christmas Day?!

For now the kiddies are getting very excited. Excited that school is almost out and that we are into single figures on the countdown to Christmas. We have Christmas Eve bowling booked with family followed by a good old family dinner to pass the time on the exciting day when they are waiting for Santa and it all gets a bit too much!

I'm off to wrap some more presents, and tick off more things off of lists!

Monday, 8 December 2014

Advent is well under way, our Elf on the Shelf has arrived, Christmas lights are up on the house, the tree has arrived. I am so not ready for this!!

It's already December the 8th. This week is the start of a fairly busy couple of weeks. We have Christmas plays, Christmas disco's/parties, presents still to buy, Christmas dinner shopping lists to prepare and I have done no wrapping whatsoever. Oh and I've booked in 2 coffee dates with friends too, we all need a catch up and a Costa Coffee once in a while!

Thing 5 is feeling festive

This weekend we went to get the Christmas tree. It's always fun to begin with and buy the time you've picked up and cast your eye over the 10,000th tree to see if it's 'the one', you're kinda bored! So I think it took us about half an hour to choose the tree. We usually opt for a Nordman Fir non drop tree. Inevitably non drop doesn't mean that no needles will drop off the tree and we always find that by Christmas Day it is looking slightly sorry for itself no matter how much we look after it. After we had chosen the tree and had it netted we headed for the express checkout which meant we walked past the more traditional looking Christmas trees. The ones that do drop needles, but then our Nordman Fir always does anyway. It's the kind of tree we always used to have as I was growing up but the OH wondered why we hadn't looked at these in previous years. He picked up a couple and it didn't take him long to find the perfect specimen, and he was happy that they were £18 cheaper than the other trees! Let's hope it lasts until the big day!

Thing 4 choosing the perfect tree and hitching a ride back to the car!

Every year we claim that we will go for a smaller tree than last year. In the big open space of the garden centre the trees never look overly huge, but then they wouldn't. So we pick one, get it home and then you realise it takes up half the living room and you need to cut a hole in the ceiling because it's too tall! The children love it, it has been well decorated by them and Thing 5 likes to watch the lights flash on it. With all of the other decorations up too it's all looking rather festive.

It's all feeling very festive now

Our Elf on the Shelf arrived on the 1st of December and I'm really not into the whole spirit of Elf on the Shelf this year. If it wasn't for Thing 3 waiting her her arrival she would probably still be in the box. I've not moved her each night, she's not been up to her usual mischief and, to be honest, no one has taken a blind bit of notice of her anyway!

Holly the Elf arrived, wearing her new skirt and boots too. 

Anyway, I am so not ready for Christmas yet, so it's a good job it's still 16 sleeps away! I still have present shopping to finish. I have lists of food shopping to do, party food to get, a Christmas friends party evening to host, plays to watch, a pub quiz Christmas dinner to attend and the children finish school a week on Friday, arghhhh! I so need to be done before that deadline.

For now, I will continue to slowly rock in the corner, which probably isn't helping with progress on anything!

Lights on some nearby houses, Thing 5 loves the Christmas lights this year and we have to keep going out to have a look at them.