Thursday 31 December 2015

Our Christmas!

Wow Christmas, it comes and it goes within a flash! You spend so long organising, planning and preparing and before you know it you're lying in a food coma on the sofa still drinking...... (not me, honest). Ahhh we did have such an ace day, after a bad few day leading up to it (a long story) I really did have a fab day.  Christmas eve was spent tidying and getting Alfie excited and then a meal out with my father in law and his wife which was great but it then put us a little bit behind with getting things wrapped and the kids to bed! Once we were home Alfie was super excited for Santa to visit and loved putting everything on his plate (he was very insistent on Santa having port!).

Once we had put both kids to bed I then wrapped the remaining pressies while hubby slaved away (his words) in the kitchen, we snuck into Alfie's room to pop a couple of gifts from Santa under his mini tree and hang a stocking on the door. I was knackered and had a reasonably early night and fell into a deep sleep. It was around 2am and something woke me but I wasn't sure what, I then thought I saw Alfie on the landing but must have fallen back to sleep, I then woke again and got out of bed this time, I then stood outside Alfie's door sure that I could hear him but all I could hear was hubby still up wrapping gifts....or that's what I thought! When Adi came to be he told me that Alfie had come out of his room because the 'wind' had woken him and luckily Adi managed to get him back to bed before he came downstairs! 

After that incident we had a good sleep and I woke at 7am and noone else in the house was awake! I lay in bed for a while until finally I could hear Alfie singing Christmas songs, bless him! I went to his room and showed him what Santa had left, he was so excited!! It was fantastic to see him so happy, he really understand the concept this year and it was easy to feed of his excitement! Gorgeous. As we were chatting to Alfie and asking whether we should go downstairs and see if Santa had been Alfie then informed us (in a very matter of fact way) that Santa, in fact had been as there were crumbs on the plate and a mess on the fireplace. We were both a little baffled by this as neither of us, after probing a bit more it transpired that apparently he had already been downstairs and checked, Mummy and daddy were asleep, it was still dark and then he took himself back to bed and to sleep.......ha!! We were scarily clueless.

Once downstairs Alfie was probably the most excited I have ever seen him. 'Santa's been, santa's been!' We were due to have my parents & Adi's mum and aunt over for the afternoon and we did warn them that we weren't going to be able to wait for them to open presents. There was no controlling Alfie he was opening things so quickly and then started on mine and Adi's! It was really quite funny to watch. Everything he opened was met with a squeal of delight, he was so pleased with everything but a little overwhelmed. After the initial excitement of openiing everything and then wanting to play with them after an hour he took himself of to the living room and asked to watch the tablet for a bit. It was clear he needed some chill time so I left him to it for a bit, sorted Elarna out with a nap and had a shower!

Elarna wasn't remotely fussed at only 8 months old! What she did enjoy was trying to steal Alfie's toys, almost creating a 3rd world war! Ultimatley though she just wanted to play with all the empty boxes and wasn't really intersted in the few toys that we had bought her. I certainly learnt with her that buying masses of things (as I did when Alfie was her age) is a pointless thing to do and you're best to save your money and spend on the child that understands!

It was so lovely to have the morning to ourselves, I really enjoyed it and will definitely do it like this in the future. My husband loves to cook and host on Christmas so the rest of the day was spen eating, drinking and entertaining the kids. It was fab. It was a great Christmas spent in our new home, it's always a bit scary hoping that everything turns out ok with an oven you're not used to but lunch was amazing and I can't quite believe it's over for another year!

I love looking at what other people were treated to for Christmas so thought I would share a piccie of my fab gifts. Hubby treated me to some fab gifts, a lovely Ted Baker bag, some Joules wellies (if anyone is interested there is an awesome *Joules sale happening right now!), perfume, the obligatory pj's and Lush products and some Bare Minerals make up amongst other things. My parents also treated me to some fab Elemis stuff, perfume, pj's and a couple of other bits and pieces. So generous!

The day came to an end and it was just myself and Adi left. However as you can see by this picture some people just can't handle the pace and I was the last one standing! So here is to the next Christmas! Hope you all had a good one! 

*PR Collaboration

Thursday 24 December 2015

Merry Christmas!!

The presents are wrapped, the Prosecco is chilling, the turkey is picked up and the mince pies are nearly all gone........all that remains to be done is spend the day with the kids getting excited and cracking open a bottle of mulled wine later. I am excited to spend Christmas in our new house and Elarna to have her first Christmas. The year has flown by, I have to return back to work soon, a new job, scary times but hopefully exciting. I am taking a few days off blogging and will be back very soon! I'm really looking forward to the festivities and I hope everyone has a wonderful Christmas!! 


Tuesday 22 December 2015

Matching Style with Industry.

When it comes to style and industrial excellence, there are few nations that do it as well as Italy. Let’s be honest from their cars; Ferrari, Alfa Romeo and Lamborghini to their fashion houses, Gucci, Prada, D&G and many many more, it’s hard to not be interested in how they manage to get the most from their designers and then produce such high quality products to go with it. (After all, who hasn’t seen something from Italy and thought they wouldn’t pay the extra money!)

This phenomena is also true when it comes to home interiors. Did you know that nearly 80% of the soft furnishings market in Europe comes from the north of Italy alone?! Staggering.

RefinCermiche, home interior experts and an Italian company have some thoughts as to why this is the case.

Pride in style
“Italians are fussy” said one marketing representative for the firm. It’s all about making sure that the appearance that your home has, reflects how you want to be seen. In Italy, you want to be known as a beautiful Fellini film rather than a Hitchcock thriller!

What’s unknown to many is that Italian design students will be actively learning style, function and design principles from the age of 12.

“The Italian education system is very different to many other nations when it comes to selecting your field of study and how this then applies to your next 7 - 12 formative years. It’s not uncommon for many design students to be actively attending design classes around the country, whilst also participating in apprenticeship schemes in major firms so that they get a clear career ladder into the area.”

“What is also interesting is that because design requires the technical foundations as well as the graphical ones, you get many great engineers that have come from design schools, but with the principles of design firmly placed in any technical product they have then gone on to create.”

Sourcing of materials
For many Italian firms, from food to bicycles, cars to porcelain it comes down to one key area, where are they sourcing the materials from and how will this affect both the design and manufacturing excellence that they are looking for.

Whether the material is local or shipped in from another destination, the key to the secret behind Italy’s design and manufacturing success is because they are keen to understand how the raw material works for the end product.

Italians will spend hours in training understanding raw materials and how they will impact on design and overall look and finish to ensure that you get a well thought out end product.

Finally, how it’s made!

Companies like Refin Ceramiche, are no different to many other major brands such as Ferrari or even Pinarello. The pride in how the final piece looks and feels is going to come down to industry design, raw materials and then, how it’s ultimately manufactured.

Italian manufacturing has carved an industry in the high end specification machinery for a multitude of jobs and the applications in a variety of business areas.

For companies like Refin who require precise engineering to get the look and feel that the product deserves, then Italy holds the key to the manufacturing process like no other.

What it all boils down to is the level of detail that firms like Refin go to, to get the look that they want. Design, style and industry are brought together from an early age in Italy to bring you iconic brands and the small independents to the forefront of your mind. That’s how Italy just likes to do things.

* Collaborative post.

Monday 21 December 2015

Fostering - An Amazing Thing

52, 050 Children are in foster care...........

Bam. That is some number isn't it. I don't know about you but when I read that I'm kind of shocked. I never knew the number was so high. I'm also amazed at the job that foster parents/carers do. Myself & my husband discussed the possibility of fostering a child perhaps over Christmas 2016, I think it would be such an amazing and admirable thing to do. I would love to be able to offer the opportunity of a family Christmas to children that perhaps aren't as fortunate as others. 

To be able to offer a home environment and some stability to children that haven't, at this point of time got would be an extremely rewarding thing to do. I love the thought os being able to share the family structure and love that we have and welcome some others into our household. Have read of the infographic below........ 32% of fostered children are under 5, such a high figure. Alfie is 3 1/2, I can't imagine how difficult it must be for a child of his age to overcome and adapt to new surroundings, new families and so many new experiences' at such a young age. That being said being a foster family is such an incredible thing to do and we would certainly like to consider doing it at some point in the future.  

Please do have a read of the information below featured on this poster, I think when you see statistics in black and white it can really make you read on and take the facts in. 

Foster Care Facts and Statistics 2015 Infographic

* Collaborative post.

Keeping Warm in Winter.

It can be difficult to keep warm during the winter months, sometimes even with the log burner on the rest of the house can still be a tad chilly. I'm going to share some tips to ensure you try and stay warm in colder months. 

1. Layer up!! I usually wear a few layers (such a strappy top, then a cardi or jumper) so it's easier to take a layer off if I become too warm. 

2. Make sure all the window vents are closed. When we moved into our new house it was absolutely freezing and it was only when we discovered that the vents were all open and that was why it was drafty. So check all the vents and close them to ensure maximum warmth in the house. 

3. Shut doors when you are in a room.....and when you go outside! Sounds simple but leaving doors open can really mean the difference between a warm and cold room so shut those doors behind you.

Best Electric Radiators

4. Use draft excluder's along the underside of doors, this can make a huge difference to unwanted drafts through the bottom of a front door.

5. Candles. I think using candles in a room makes it so cosy, it might be a bit mind over matter but I feel it makes it warmer when you are sitting and winding down. 

6. Snuggle up on the sofa, not only romantic but keep each other warm!

7. Keep nice throws on the sofa and bed, we have a few strewn around the house so if it does feel a little chilly you can wrap up all snuggly in a blanket or throw. 

8. Invest in a cat or dog......a little more extravagant but I remember when my Labrador used to snuggle up next to me he used to keep me ever so warm!

These are my tips to keep warm and snuggly in the colder months, what are yours?

* Collaborative Post.

A Healthier You?

Image result for quitting smoking

With January fast approaching people will be thinking about lifestyle changes and new years resolutions. I can't believe that come 2016 I will have been a non-smoker for several years now. It was such a massive achievement in my life and I can't tell you how much healthier I have felt for it. I am always amazed by the statistics that surround smoking and smoking related illnesses. Did you know that every year approximately 100,000 people die from smoking related causes........unbelievable! I remember when I used to smoke and caught a cold or had a cough just how much longer an illness would hang around, often it would linger for months! After a few years of quitting I definitely notice a difference in being a bit more healthier and feeling happier. 

Bizarrely it took my Dad having a huge heart attack (caused by both stress and smoking) for me to quit. I often look back on this and wish that I had quit before my Dad fell poorly, it's amazing what shocks you into quitting or stopping doing something that you know is bad for you. One of the other reasons that I wanted to stop smoking was the astronomical amount of money that I was spending on a weekly basis, what I could have bought with the money that I spent on cigarette's I don't really want to think about if I'm honest..... thousands and thousands of pound up in smoke, literally. 

When I quit it was quite an instant decision. I went out and smoked my last cigarette and that was pretty much it. I did relapse a couple of times but I knew within that week that I wouldn't be a smoker by the end of that particular week. It did take a whole load of determination more than anything, I tried patches but they just didn't seem to work for me so pure stubbornness and determination resulted me in being a non-smoker. I am no way saying it was easy, I still maintain to this day it was one of THE hardest things that I have ever done but it really was worth it, I feel much happier, healthier and definitely have a better quality of life and I hope it will have extended my life by a few years. 

I probably could have written so much more and raved about how pleased I am to be a non-smoker but I don't want to do that because I truly believe that if you want to  stop smoking you will when the time is right and you have to do it for yourself and no one else otherwise you might not succeed. It really is worth the determination though if you are planning or stopping smoking.

If you are thinking about quitting or want to start the new year off with a healthier you head on over to benenden for lots of tips and ideas about where to start and how to achieve them.  

*Collaborative post. 

Saturday 19 December 2015

Weekend Style #18

This is my last weekend style post before Christmas and I think you'll agree these outfits are fab! It dawned on me a couple of weeks ago that Elarna has no dungaree's, couldn't quite believe it really as she has everything else going so whilst out shopping with my Mum we had to buy her a pair and this gorgeous minty pair jumped into my hands before I could even think about choosing it! Then while I had hold of these the other dress I am featuring took my eye and I had to get them to. Grandma treated Elarna which was lovely, she really does have some gorgeous clothes (even if I do say so myself!). This post wouldn't be right without a token festive outfit too with one of the photos that I took to go on a Christmas card.....this one makes me howl (it didn't quite go according to plan).

I absolutely love this set so much, John Lewis had so much gorgeous stuff in I could have spent a fortune. This truly is such a pretty set and practical at the same time. 

Baby Rabbit Dungaree Set - John Lewis (RRP £16.00)

The next outfits are our festive pics for this week, awwww just look at them....picture perfect.....or not, ha! Getting them to post together is not something I will be recreating in a hurry! 

Alfie is wearing navy blue reindeer t-shirt - Next (sold out)

Jeans - Possibly M&S

Elarna wears santa set (dress & tights) - M&S (this season, can't remember cost)

The final dress is one I am totally in love with!! The minty colour is a nice change from pink.

Animal Cord Dress - John Lewis  (RRP £16.00)

Cardi - Next (last season)

This Mama Life


Friday 18 December 2015

Our Week!

This week has been pretty busy as you can see from the amount of photos. Typical that the household (bar hubby) have been knocked for six with a crummy illness. Not going to bang on about that it you fancy a read of my moans please do click here. My birthday weekend started on Friday with a (snuffly) trip to the spa with one of my bestests, even though I was feeling grim as, it was a great day full of chatter, treatments and champers......what more could I have wanted! I woke up Saturday feeling pretty miserable but pulled myself together and took Alfie for his rugby session, we then headed over the Nene Valley Railway to meet our friends and their boys and go on the Santa Special. We had a great time, it was a lovely way to spend a few hours and the boys were in their element on the train!Saturday night came and I dosed myself up and we headed out for dinner with our other besties, it was a gorgeous meal and lots of lovely chat but I was glad to get in my bed when we got home.

Sunday I spent the day at my parents with the kids while my husband got on with a few bits and pieces, during the day Elarna got poorly bless her! As you can see it was a very tiring afternoon for Grandad & his Grandaughter! 

Monday came which is my 'jobs around the house day' while Alfie is in nursery (still feeling horrendously ill I may add!). Tuesday comes around and Alfie is then whacked with the nasty illness and renders him to the sofa most of the day, poor love. Wednesday and Thursday are filled with some Christmas shopping and preparations, Alfie is a little better so is happy to pop to Toys R Us and spend some vouchers......funny that! The rest of Thursday is spent cleaning the house ready for guests over the weekend and more present wrapping!

I can't believe another week is drawing to a close, time is going so quickly and I'm having to start to get my head back into the work frame of mind as that seems to be creeping up on me . This time next week will be Christmas Eve and I'm anticipating a very excited boy on my hands, I'm really looking forward to Christmas this year and seeing his face on the morning now he is so much more aware. 

So this is my week, how has yours been?

Binky Linky

The Reading Residence

Wednesday 16 December 2015

Best and Worst Linky #31

Beautiful Things

Run, Jump, Scrap!

Hi everyone and a huge welcome to the best and worst linky run by my lovely friend Sarah who blogs over at Run Jump Scrap and co-hosted by myself. If you're new to the linky we're delighted for you to join in, please do have a read of the rules. If you're a regular then thanks as always for the support. Sarah and I split the commenting now, it is working well doing it like that. You should have received a comment from one of us so if you are missing one please do drop us a tweet or email. We've had some great posts over the last few weeks!

This is the linky where you can tell us about the best or worst things that have happened in the last week or even the last year, this could in the form of a blog post, a photo or even a video. It can be an old post or a new post, we don't mind we just want you to share it with us. We want you to share your babies firsts, the crappy day at work you've had or a makeup disaster basically the good, the bad or the downright ugly! We want to share your excitement and tears, highs and lows no matter what it is.

Each week we will both choose our favourite posts from the week before and feature you on the next weeks Best and Worst, we will also feature you on our Twitter feed. 

This is the last Best and Worst until after Christmas, both Sarah & I are taking a well earned break and will be back with the next linky on Wednesday 6th January! Can I just take this opportunity to say thanks so much for the support with the linky over the last few months, it's gone from strength to strength and we love it. Each week we get some many wonderful posts and they are so varied it's great to read so many diverse posts. 

Because it's nearly Christmas we have picked 2 favourite posts each this week! The 1st post I am featuring this week comes from the lovely Laura who writes Life with Baby Kicks, this is an open letter to her 2nd child, ahhhh it had me in tears! My 2nd featured post is from Nigel who blogs at DIY Daddy, I really enjoyed reading this post about buying teachers Christmas presents, I won't say anymore as it's worth a read to get you thinking!

Sarah's favourite's come from the great Mum in Brum, this is a fab post about all of those 'oh sh*t' moments in parenthood. The 2nd of Sarah's featured posts is from a new linker squirmy popple (amazing blog name!), this is a hilarious post about things that you perhaps shouldn't buy for a newborn!! Please do go and have a read.

  • The linky will open at 6.30am on a Wednesday and close at 23.55pm on a Friday
  • You can link up one or two posts each week
  • Please comment on the 2 posts before yours and have a nosey at the host's too. We've noticed that some people have just been link dropping and not commenting on the 2 in front, please do return the favour so everyone gets some comments and linky love, thankyou. We continue to see that some people aren't commenting which we are monitoring.
  • ***Please add the badge to the bottom of your page so everyone knows where you have linked up***
  • Tweet your hosts @helsy_1983 and @RunJumpScrap once linked up so we can retweet you. When tweeting and commenting use the hashtag #bestandworst so everyone knows where you have come from
Best of Worst


When Illness Strikes.

Last week I wrote a post about why it sucks to have a birthday in December. I realised that I missed out a very fundamental point in this post. Illness. I can't believe that I failed to mention that another huge, crappy reason as why having a December birthday most definitely sucks is illness. I can't tell you how many times over the years I have been poorly before/during/after my birthday and in the run up to Christmas and this last few days have been no exception. Not only that but I have been incredibly kind and spread my manky germs throughout the household infecting the (poor, poor) children.

I could feel illness coming over me on Thursday night, that horrible 'I'm getting sicky and I'm going to feel like a sack of sh*te* feeling, roll on around 9pm and I'm then shaking uncontrollably and freezing, it was nasty. I couldn't get warm.......our bedroom seems to be freezing at the best of times but I just could not get warm, I ended up dosing myself up and taking myself to bed. At this point I was quite upset as I was supposed to be going to the spa on Friday with one of my bestests and I was genuinely worried I was going to have to pull out. As it happened I did go and had a lovely time but my god I really didn't feel good at all. So typical really, that the weekend just gone was jam packed with exciting things, we had rugby to take Alfie to on Saturday morning, then the Santa special train and then a meal out in the evening. I forced myself to drink a couple of glasses of wine, get into the festive spirit and have a good time but in all honestly I probably should have been keeping warm and resting in bed (obviously fat chance of that happening with 2 kids to look after!). Sunday came and it was Elarna that came down with the same illness, poor little thing, it really is horrible to see a baby poorly and know that they don't really understand why they suddenly can't breathe properly and can't make as much noise as normal. Luckily with some Calpol and TLC she wasn't too bad, more snotty than anything but babies can be quite resilient and seem to bounce back relatively quickly. 

My poorly little man

Poor Alfie is not so lucky though. Monday we thought he was ok, he went to nursery and seemed to have a fantastic day, yesterday not so good. My poor little lad has been knocked for 6, I really haven't seen him quite so ill for a very long time. He had clearly caught what I have (fever, sore throat, nasty cough, headache etc) I struggled to get him to drink, he didn't want anything to eat and had 2 mega sleeps during the day which is so unusual for him, this is a little boy that doesn't sit still during the day so to see him with sunken eyes and no energy is just heartbreaking. After managing to get some medicine down him he did perk up slightly and I'm keeping my fingers tightly crossed that he recovers in the next couple of days so we can watch him in his nursery carol service on Friday (coincidentally we missed last years performance through illness too!). 

Feeling pretty pathetic!

It's been such a nasty few days that I have had very little motivation to write, wrap presents, clean the house or pretty much do anything at all other than feel sorry for myself and be very pathetic. My best friend told me that I have 'Princess flu', I think she's right and clearly so much worse than 'man flu'!!! I'm hoping and praying that I am slowly coming out of it now, I still don't feel 100% but alot more functional than I have been, I just hope that Alfie feels alot better soon and that my husband doesn't catch it because at the end of the day I have no idea who would cook the Christmas lunch if he isn't up to it, ha!! 

Anyway I think that's enough of me being absolutely pathetic, normal business will resume soon, but in the meantime I am taking the opportunity to wind down a bit ready for Christmas and hopefully the germs will stay away.

Anyone else poorly at the moment?

Best of Worst

Tuesday 15 December 2015

12 Days of Christmas with euroffice

You can't beat a festive competition and over at euroffice they have a great '12 days of Christmas' competition going on as we speak! Being the one stop supplier of all things stationary and arts and crafts euroffice currently have an advent running which features a festive daily, DIY challenge that is achievable from your own home, not only that but there are exciting prizes up for grabs too.

On the 1st day there was a post on how to design an advent calendar using just envelopes! A very simple idea but an extremely effective idea and a fun take on the traditional advent calendar. 

The 2nd day of advent brought a lovely idea of how to make some lovely parcel tags and brilliantly these are designed using an interactive, digital DIY sticker generator.....brilliant!

On the 3rd day it was all about 'tidy office, tidy mind', I love this......I definitely believe in a good de-clutter before Christmas to enter the new year in a fresh and tidy manner. 

The 4th day focused on personalisation of Christmas cards and designing your own, such a lovely idea, I love receiving personalised items it really is very thoughtful.

December 5th was how to create some chalkboard labels, I love these labels, they would look awesome on a gift, a really nice idea!

On the 6th day it was all about some simple life hacks that can make your life easier when it comes to wrapping up gifts. Very handy, check out the white paper, tape & crayon idea.....brilliant!

December 7th brought us how to create some cool thankyou cards with a fun and unique idea using some notepads.

The 8th day has to be one of my favourite days, love these enviro friendly ideas, especially the reindeer's made of out of loo roll holders, really fun idea. 

On the 9th day were some lovely DIY decorations to have a go at, great to do with the kids. 

The 10th day was about whiteboards, yup you read that right. This post was about how to make a whiteboard look fabulous and maintain what it's designed for.

On the 11th day there were some ideas to decorate a desk. It can always be difficult to make a desk look festive but these great ideas will help you along with that.

Finally, the 12th was about decorating your office chair.....actually brilliant, they look great!

I am definitely going to give some of these ideas a go, if anything it will keep us all occupied in the run up to the big day! Have you got any other festive ideas?

*Collaborative post.