Wednesday, 27 November 2019

Fame The Musical Tour at The New Theatre Peterborough *Review*

{Gifted Tickets} Recently revamped and refreshed The New Theatre in Peterborough (formerly Broadway) has welcomed 80's phenomenon musical Fame to the stage. Performing over 6 nights and running until Saturday 30th November this well loved musical has seen seven West End runs and numerous tours and still remains one of the best loved musicals. This 30th anniversary Selladoor Production hosts a stellar cast including the stunning Jorgie Porter (Hollyoaks, Dancing on Ice) as Iris who quite frankly shows she is a brilliant dancer and performer and Keith Jack (Any Dream Will Do, Joseph) who really is rather good. Not forgetting that there is an amazing supporting cast who dance and sing their way enthusiastically and beautifully through a toe tapping, as well as emotional music score. The energy is from the start, high  octane and this is kept up through the whole show. 


For someone who has seen Fame both in the West End and on tour (many, many years ago) I was reminded why I love the show. The story line is one that is comparable to today showing the highs and lows of many young people and their personal battles and demons that are brought together as a unit while trying to reach the top of their game through their love of performing arts. The well known song Fame features of course, with a lively finale but the other lesser known songs are just as wonderful. It's a show that will continue to live forever and will be one to be enjoyed for many years to come. 

For the theatre, this is my first visit to The New Theatre and I was impressed. The foyer is welcoming and the theatre itself feels intimate, but the seats and leg room are very welcome, much more comfortable and spacious than any other theatre I have been too and I have been to many! The bar prices are reasonable and I very much enjoyed my themed Fame cocktail 'The Leg Warmer'. The staff are welcoming, friendly and chatty. We parked nearby at Brooke Street car park which is about a 5 minute walk from the theatre itself. Overall a very enjoyable night and I look forward to seeing what else is going to be on at this theatre which I feel is going to do very well!


* Please note we were kindly gifted tickets for the show, I was not asked to share my opinions but have decided to write up a review based on my thoughts, all views are my own.

Tuesday, 26 November 2019

Create that Safe Family Garden Space.

{Collaborative} As a parent, you want your child to get outside and enjoy the garden. Playing in the garden can be an excellent way for them to get some exercise and blow off some steam. The garden can also be a tool you employ to teach the children about plants, flowers, and nature. However, you will want all this to be done safely and securely.




Here are some ideas to create a great garden space for all the family.

Safety
The key here is that if you feel it is safe, they will be safe. Mother knows best, as the old adage goes. First, you probably want grass as this provides a softer landing when the children fall over. You will want to make sure all the entrances and exits to the world beyond are covered up. It is a must to install a gate with a lock and key to that side entrance, for example, so you can keep the children where you can see them. Any holes in fences must be fixed, and gaps in hedgerows filled in. That way, you can keep an eye on your little cherubs through the window without worrying that they will escape. Also, it is not a good idea to have a water feature with very young children about, so if you are desperate for a pond, you’re going to have to wait a few years before that dream can be realised. Another thing to consider is removing any heavy objects that could fall over and hurt your children like stone flower pots.

Keep it clean
Ensure that you rake the leaves up to discourage any possible pests that may be inclined to lurk beneath them. Fallen foliage can also attract insects like wasps, so it is best to keep things clean and tidy. Also, keep the grass neatly mown as longer grass can also attract other forms of wildlife. Have a shed under lock and key to keep any pesticides and garden tools out of the way. So, ensure you take care of your garden.

Peaceful environment
Do you live near a busy street? Perhaps you can hear people saying all sorts of things in the world beyond. If you are able to, it may be an idea to think about some natural soundproofing. The taxus baccata is a great example, it is a beautiful evergreen hedge and can reduce noise pollution. You may also want to think about a garden pegoda which can be covered with creeping plants, so you can keep the eyes of nosey neighbours off of your children while at play if that is something that you are worried about.

Play area
You will want this to be visible to you from the kitchen window, perhaps. But, think about having a sandpit, but make sure you cover this up when not in use to avoid cats getting in. Also, getting a climbing frame with a slide is great for the kids. Always ensure any bolts are covered to avoid any accidents. Also, a trampoline is a great way to get them to use up all the excess energy.


Thursday, 21 November 2019

Christmas Gifts for Kids that you can Enjoy too!

{Collaboration} It’s beginning to feel a lot like Christmas! Some people have their trees up, the festive ads are in, full swing and the shops are bursting with fantastic gifts! But if you’re a little behind on your shopping, you might want to get a move on.

Choosing gifts for kids can be difficult. They might have a lot on their lists, but deep down you know that they’ll lose interest in most gifts quickly. So why not change your approach and buy gifts that you can enjoy too? There are some great ideas for gifts that will bring you closer together and help you spend quality time as a family.

Take a look at some Christmas gift ideas that both you and your child will love.


Image Credit: Unsplash under Creative Commons

Start a hobby together

Being able to enjoy a hobby with your child is a wonderful way to spend time together. From starting something like photography together to making models or crafts, there are some gifts you can buy your child that will make an ideal hobby for you too. A dolls house is a classic example of this, and it can be special buying dolls house accessories and other items together and working on your dream home. Hobby gifts are excellent for keeping your child interested for months to come, and will give you an excellent way to spend time together.

Book a trip

It’s easy to buy material things for Christmas, but a host of new toys can take up space in your home and leaves your kids with much more than they need. Using your Christmas budget to book a trip can make a fantastic gift, especially if you go somewhere incredible like Disneyland! A getaway with the family will bring plenty of fun and excitement, with some memories you’ll be able to cherish forever. If Disneyland is a bit out of your budget, why not look at some stays closer to home? Bluestone makes a fantastic weekend away that the whole family can enjoy.

Games are always a classic choice

Between mobile phones and computer games, it can be easy to forget about classic family games. A games night with the family is the perfect excuse to put the technology away and simply enjoy having fun together. Take a look at some great board games for families that will be a great gift for your kids to open on Christmas day, and provide lots of fun for the family. If you loved spending quality time playing Monopoly or Cluedo as a kid, why not bring the same fun and memories to your family?

Christmas shopping can be tough, but it doesn’t have to be! Instead of focusing on quantity this year, spend more time thinking of gifts that offer something different. Spending time together as a family is precious, so finding gifts that will help you do that can be the perfect way to enjoy Christmas together.

Wednesday, 20 November 2019

What's Knocking your Confidence?

{Collaborative} Ah, confidence. It’s oh so important for our happiness and overall well-being, yet also so elusive. We can feel on top of the world some days, and then, during others, feel like we’re on the lowest rung of the ladder. While it’s important to do things that’ll push your confidence in the right direction, it’s always worth keeping an eye on the things in your life that might have a negative impact. Below, we take a look at four things that have been known to decrease a person’s confidence level.



Your Job

We all need to work to make a living; that’s just the way the world is, we're afraid. While you’ll always be grateful for the paycheck, there are aspects of our jobs that can have a negative impact on our confidence. If you don’t like your job or you’re not proud to tell people what you do, then you’ll be hitting your confidence virtually every day. The secret about work is that it should be enjoyable and fulfilling. Rightly or wrongly, we tie so much of our identity to what we do for a living. If you’re not finding any positive meaning in your work, then look at changing your job, or setting up a side-project that will allow you to express yourself fully.

Receiving Criticism

Some people seem to be born with natural confidence; it just seems to be in their inner being. But for most people, their confidence is conditional, and it can be easily knocked. Nobody likes to receive criticism or to be mocked, but some people hear things constructively, others last out, and others take things to heart. It’s worthwhile building up that fortress of confidence so that you withstand the harsh words of other people. Remember, it’s just their opinion, it doesn’t mean anything -- and it nearly always says more about them than it does about you.

Appearance Matters

Everyone can relate to the confidence that they feel when they step out of their home, knowing that they look fantastic. But similarly, we can all relate to the dip in confidence when we just don’t look our best. If that feeling goes on too long, then we’ll need to do something to get our confidence up. Fortunately, there are always things that we can do! If you don’t like your hair, visit a hairdresser, and get it professionally styled. If you don’t like your smile, then work with a dentist to get one that you do. There are shops for clothes, gyms for the physique. You can always do things!

Comparing Yourself to Others

Perhaps the biggest cause of low-confidence is comparing ourselves to others. We take other people’s highlights, and compare them to our lowlights. But here’s the thing: virtually everyone does this! So that should tell you that it’s probably just your mind playing tricks on you. Just focus on yourself, not other people, and you’ll see that your confidence and happiness both shoot up. Comparison really is the thief of joy.

Friday, 15 November 2019

Coffee Recipe's you'll Never Find in Starbucks!

{Collaboration} Coffee is one of the world’s favourite flavours, and yet most of the time we drink it in the same old-fashioned way. There’s not a tremendous amount of experimentation going on, especially by leading coffee chains.

Fortunately, there are lots of people out there working away feverishly on coffee recipes, trying to come up with new ideas to excite the taste buds.

Here are some coffee recipes you’ll never find in your favourite coffee shop.

Hazelnut Latte Cake




Lattes are moreish, decadent coffee drinks made of milk and a shot of espresso or two.
Hazelnut latte cakes are cakes that take the spirit of a latte and make them so much better.

A typical hazelnut latte cake is the ultimate coffee cake. Not only does it pair nicely with coffee, but it contains a fair amount of the stuff too.

The cake is made of layers of alternating chocolate and hazelnut sponge topped off with a beautiful hazelnut frosting. Some pros like to add chopped, roasted hazelnuts to the top for a little extra flavour. There is a recipe for this cake online at https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/.

Turkish Sour Coffee



If you’ve never tried Turkish sour coffee, you need to give it a go, especially in the run-up to the festive season.

Turkish sour coffees are simple to make and include coffee, cloves, cinnamon, rum, cardamom, egg whites, lemon juice and lemon peel.

As you might guess from that ingredient list, these drinks tend to be a little on the sour side, but that shouldn’t put you off. It’s refreshing and provides a welcome change from the usual sickly sweet drinks you tend to encounter around Christmas time.

Mocha Milkshake

Do you sometimes wish you could have a good old-fashioned milkshake with a coffee twist? Well, with a mocha milkshake, you can.

First, source some coffee granules. Sites like https://twochimpscoffee.com/single-origin-coffee-beans/ provide more details on how to find beans that taste great.

Next, grab your favourite milk or plant-based alternative and some ice cream. Finally, get your favourite chocolate and then mix it all up in a high-powered blender. The result is a creamy, chocolate-infused, coffee-based milkshake that tastes divine.

Chocolate Coffee Bomb Cake

The cakes that you can get in most coffee shops tend to lack theatre. There’s a good reason for this: keeping things fresh on a shelf all day is challenging to do. Coffee shops play it safe. It’s unlikely that you’ll ever find a chocolate-coffee bomb in the store.

That doesn’t mean that you can’t make one though.

Chocolate coffee bomb cake is unique and delicious. The outside is made of regular chocolate-coffee sponge, but the inside is a warm, thick goo of chocolatey goodness.

Making these cakes requires an expert touch as well as the right ingredients, but if you pull it off, you can bring your love of coffee to your desserts. There’s no need to fall back on tiramisu.

So there you have it: coffee recipes that you won’t find in Starbucks any time soon.

Monday, 11 November 2019

Luvabella Newborn *Review*

{Ad/Gifted}  My daughter just adores playing with dollies, babies and anything that she can take care of, cuddle, pretend play! Elarna was absolutely delighted to receive a Luvabella Newborn interactive toy (RRP £39.99), you may remember last year that Luvabella was one of THE top toys to have for Christmas and I think this newborn version may be at the top of some wish lists this year also!


So what does Luvabella newborn promise to be? The sweetest, most interactive baby doll you will ever see, she has natural facial expressions, realistic baby noises and movements you will fall in love her. Feed her, comfort her, soothe and cuddle her. Newborn Luvabella will communicate her needs with you so hers  can be seen to. She coo's, gurgles, giggles and so very realistic. I tell you what she reminds me of....the sim manakins that we used to train with when I was doing my nurse training! 


On first impressions Elarna was delighted, Luvabella was swiftly introduced to Elarna's room, she found her a toy cot, a pram and took great care of making sure Luvabella was comfortable in her room, so cute! I find her a bit creepy, she is really quite realistic and the way she moves is crazy is it so life like! 


What did we love about Newborn Luvabella?

- She is so realistic, the technology used to make her mouth move and the facial expressions is pretty cool. 

- Ideal for role play, introducing responsibility, encouraging a caring and mature behaviour with children.

- A good price for the level of what the doll does, the accessories included also enhance the playability too

- It is a toy that will be played with over and over, my daughter just loves her and is at an ideal of of 4 1/2 to really make the most of the toy.

- There is a volume button on the back and an off switch which is also an added bonus!


Anything we weren't so keen on?

- There was very little we weren't keen on to be honest, I always wish that they came with a change of clothes so that they can outfits changed but it isn't a massive issue. I guess the only thing I would say from an adult point of view is that if you're creeped out by dolls in any way shape or form this perhaps isn't the toy to bring in to the house!



I think the Luvabella Newborn is going to be top on the Christmas wish list of many children this year, it is definitely going to be a toy of choice for some children, especially if they are like my Elarna! She just loves her. I will leave you with a few more images of her playing with her and even sleeping with her! Adorable.












* Please note we were kindly sent Luvabella in exchange for review, all thoughts and opinions are our own.

Clever Tricks that Turn your Garden into a Creature Magnet.

{Partenered} With agriculture destroying so much of the countryside, it’s often up to city dwellers to do their bit to provide a habitat for wildlife. Gardens are, in many ways, a bastion of tranquillity for creatures, away from all the herbicides, pesticides, and traps. How you manage yours can make a big difference to the level of wildlife in your local area.

In this post, we’re going to take a look at what you can do to attract wildlife to your garden and make it an oasis.

Put Some Holes In The Garden Fence


The primary purpose of your garden fence is to mark out your property so that there is no confusion among the neighbours. However, you don’t need to put it on lockdown, plugging every single hole. Leaving the odd hole here and there is extremely helpful for creatures, especially hedgehogs. During the night, they’re free to move around looking for food and don’t have to confine themselves to one particular area.

Make Your Own Compost

There’s no reason to throw out your old vegetable clippings or leaves. By throwing them on the compost heap, you give them a chance to break down into soil that you can then use to supercharge the growth of plant species in your garden.

Compost is also a valuable habitat all by itself. Worms, slugs, beetles and even snakes all love it. Just be careful you only throw out raw vegetable clippings. Anything else will attract rats.

Add A Pond

Water is essential for all life on Earth, so it should come as no surprise that adding a pond to your garden can help make it infinitely more hospitable.




Ponds don’t have to be large or expensive - they just need to be accessible. Make sure that yours has a shallow gradient so that newts, frogs and voles can hop in and out. If possible, connect the pond to a stream so that the water circulates regularly and remains fresh.

Start A Meadow

A wildflower meadow can be a beautiful addition to your garden, as well as a haven for animals.

The great thing about meadows is that they’re incredibly easy to create. You just let your grass grow. Before long, seeds will arrive, populate the grass and send up new shoots. If you follow the right management practices, you’ll have dozens of different species of flower popping up, providing ideal conditions for insects, butterflies and some birds.

Buy A Squirrel-Proof Bird Box

Birds have a high metabolic rate. They need it. Their small size means that they lose heat rapidly in the winter.

Bird boxes and feeders are a great solution. They contain fat-rich seed mixes that provide the fuel that the birds need to stay warm. Without them, they might struggle to make it through the winter.

Unfortunately, squirrels are fond of these foods too, so make sure you buy bird feeders which offer specific anti-squirrel tampering. They can perfectly well live on all the acorns they bury in the ground.

Take A More Relaxed Approach To Weeds

Dandelions, buttercups, and nettles weren’t always seen as weeds. In fact, some of these species were once prized as a source of food. (Dandelion and burdock, anyone? )

What’s more, so-called weeds are also crucial for attracting wildlife. They provide a source of both food and shelter - something that is in short supply on a regular lawn.

Weeds also have a habit of flowering, whatever the weather. Thus they provide a reliable year-round source of food if times get leaner.

Create An Insect Habitat

Insects might not be the most exciting creatures to visit your garden, but they’re among the most impactful. Insects provide your garden with a host of critical behind-the-scenes services that help to make it a more livable place for other wildlife.

Making an insect shelter is easy. Often just a pile of twigs and leaves will do the trick. Just be warned: spiders might decide to move in!

Add Climbing Plants To Your Walls



Climbing plants are essential in the garden for numerous reasons. Not only do they make all your walls look attractive, but they can also provide a source of pollen to other plants.

Ivy, for instance, is a particularly important climber and found practically everywhere in the world. It’s pollen and flowers complement other species in your garden while, at the same time, providing necessary shelter from the weather.

Would you like your garden to be more friendly to nature? If so, then try out some of the ideas we’ve discussed here.

Why Mums Need to Prioritise their Sleep!

Picture courtesy of Pixabay License

{Ad} Hey mums, when did you last get a good night's sleep?

If you can't remember the last time, then you need to turn things around. Cut out your screen time before you go to bed. Meditate or journal before bedtime to rest your mind. And try those natural remedies that will soothe you into a sleep state, such as a cup of Chamomile tea, a glass of warm milk, or a quick infusion of CBD oil. You see, as a mum, there are some very good reasons why you should attempt to get a better night's sleep, as you can read below.


#1: You will be a less grumpy mum

The fewer hours of sleep you receive, the more tired you will be when you wake. And the more tired you are? The more susceptible to grumpiness and impatience you will be. Your kids will feel the brunt of this, especially when you are faced with getting them ready for the morning school run. And you will feel the brunt of this when you later feel guilty for acting in ways that caused your children upset for little or no reason. So, give your children a break, and be that calm and tolerant mum you always wanted to be by getting more hours of sleep a night.

#2: You will get more done in the day

A good night's sleep will give you the energy to cope with and accomplish the many activities you have to take part in during the day. So, the school run will no longer become a source of stress to you. You will be less likely to give up on your household chores. You will be more productive at work. And you might have the energy to finally catch up on your reading list when the children are in bed. In short, you will become Wonder Woman and all thanks to that good night's sleep you had!

#3: Your children will learn from your good example

Of course, your children could be the reason why you don't sleep well anyway, especially if they are prone to the occasional excuse as to why they shouldn't hit the pillow. Read these bedtime tips if so, as you might finally have the opportunity to get some shut-eye when your kids do the same. However, know too that your nightly habits could be to blame for your children's lack of sleep. If they know you stay up long after what might be considered normal for bedtime, they might be tempted to follow suit. So, they might try to squeeze more screen time in secret, especially if they know you are doing the same. And they might pester you while you're up and about, in fear that they are missing out on something. So, get into good habits by prioritising sleep over your smartphone and TV, as your children might then learn to do the same.


So, if you have been feeling tired and grumpy recently, and if your energy levels have been flagging, try to get into better bedtime habits. You will feel better if you do, and your children will benefit from the good night's sleep you had to!

Take care, and thanks for reading.

Tuesday, 5 November 2019

Revamping Wall Space with Desenio *Review*

{Ad/Collaboration} Whenever I am looking to revamp a room or a wall space I always consider adding some unique art work or pictures into the room. It can make such a difference to a wall and a room, there are a couple of places in our house recently that have been crying out for something on them and I knew just the place to head to online for inspiration. Desenio is your one stop shop for fantastic, affordable wall art, I cannot begin to tell you how much choice there is available and I always struggle to choose! The rooms that I have chosen art work for were Alfie and Elarna's room and our hallway. The kids rooms needed something more mature and the hallway needed a little lift. I did manage to make a selection and I am showcasing these below! You must let me know what you think. 

First up, I chose this gorgeous and minimalist Hakuna Matata print, Alfie is a huge fan of The Lion King and all animals in general and I loved this one. 


Also for Alfie's room he chose these two lions and a giraffe, I love the side profile lion, so cool. I was impressed with his choices and they look fantastic on the wall, the green paint needed something to make it pop and these are wonderful choices. Alfie loves them, he was so pleased to have something animal related taking pride on his wall.  


 For Elarna's room we of course went Flamingo themed to go with her wallpaper and I loved this rainbow print, they both look fantastic against her glittery, candyfloss pink paint. They look like they were always meant to be in her room, we both just love them so much.


The final print I chose was one of a larger size of this city scene, I just loved the image, I find myself walking by it and thinking about the girl in it, is she happy or sad? What is she thinking about? Also about how much I love her shoes! It is a great image to have in our hallway, it adds a bit of a focal piece in a minimal way.


What I love about Desenio is the huge amount of choice that is available. There is literally something for everyone, it would be my first choice to go for any art work that I need, also they have a huge amount of frames available to accompany your choice of print. Delivery is fast, efficient and the items are securely packed and you can track the item once dispatched so you know when it is going to arrive. I cannot recommend Desenio highly enough and I am very excited to be able to offer my readers a discount code so you can treat yourself to some lovely art work too. Please see below for further details. 

“My code “HELENG” gives 25% off prints* on all Desenio sites until midnight 8th of November (UK time). Follow @desenio for more inspiration!
*Except for frames and handpicked/personalised prints".
 

Friday, 1 November 2019

Scruff a Luvs Families! *Review*

{Gifted} We were recently sent the new Scruff a Luvs Families (RRP £29.99) to test out, after the success of the Blossom Buddies Scruff a Luvs which Elarna loved she was delighted to receive another to add to the family. 

If you're not sure who or what the Scruff a Luvs are all about have a read of my previous review otherwise, in a nutshell the Scruff a Luvs are abandoned and lost looking for her babies. 


The box is a blind box so you don't know who you're going to find....is it a dog? Is it a cat? How many babies?Are they boys or girls.....? Warm their hearts to find out their gender. Who knows until you get them out of the box! Elarna loved her Scruff a Luv previously so she couldn't wait to discover the family she would receive.


Within the brightly coloured box are several hidden numbered areas that the child can undo and discover the little accessories that accompany the Scruff a Luv, these range from coloured bottles to feed your family, a comb, little items of clothes, a collar with tag and birth certificates. So cute!  


We loved the little hidden element, it's a really nice touch and children these type of things at the moment don't they! It's a surprise touch and personally I feel it enhances this type of toy. Also within the box is the Scruff a Luv, now don't alarmed when you first see the rolled up, matted ball as it looks a bit odd! The thing you have to do is give this scruffy, rolled up thing a good wash, add some soap and water to make it extra fun! Elarna loves this bit! You can actually put the toy in the washing machine if you want to speed up the process, however I think it's alot more fun for the child to get involved and give it wash!


As you begin to wash and clean the toy it will unroll and reveal the family it has been hiding, we received gorgeous little triplets!! The Scruff a Luv we revealed as you can see if a sort of pinky/lilac colour with glittery ears - very sweet!


Make sure while washing that the soapy suds are washed thoroughly out of the Scruff a Luv, it's advisable to get an adult to help with this bit and the drying. You can either leave it to air dry but if your children are like mine they cannot possibly wait for this so using a hair dryer on a low heat helps speed up the process!


Once washed and dried the Scruff a Luv does look a bit scruffy still, no matter how much we try and brush it never seems to look a bit scruffy but to be honest Elarna doesn't seem to mind she just thinks it's adorable, lots of 'ohhs' and 'ahhs' from her!



What did we like?

- A lovely addition to the Scruff a Luvs family, the hidden and blind elements are great! The accessories are nice and enhance the playability of the item.

- They are really cute, especially the little babies!

- Being able to wash and dry the Sruff a Luv is lovely, Elarna took full responsibility and the role very seriously! 

- Would make a lovely gift, I think it's a great way of introducing children to role play and pretending to take care of an animal and the responsibility of looking after them.

- The Scruff a Luv and her babies are great companions to keep close by





Anything we weren't so keen on?

- The price of £29.99 is steep for what it is, I think it should be priced lower for sure. 

- The Scruff a Luv can look bedraggled once dried, we haven't been able to make them look any better than in the photos but that doesn't matter too much.

- I would say that this is not a toy or cuddly toy that Elarna has constantly returned to, it gave her lots of pleasure at the time but after a few days it was in her toy box.









Aimed at age 36 months to 8 years which is a huge age range! I would say the ideal age range would be between 3 - 5 years to enjoy the Scruff a Luvs. Overall, we like this toy, the added accessories are great and that added a special touch to the product. Available from leading retailers and would perhaps make a lovely Christmas gift!




*Please note we were kindly sent the item in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.