Sunday 31 December 2017

About my Year: 2017

I don't usually do tag posts but Cassie from Lily's Little Learners tagged me in a questionnaire all about the past year. I thought it looked fun and a lovely way to look back on the past twelve months.

1. What did you do for your birthday this year? 
My birthday was on a Thursday this year and Chris had to work so it was a pretty regular day! I picked C up from preschool and went to my parents house where my mum and sister were (dad had work!) where I got presents and we ordered a pizza takeaway! Nothing too exciting but nice all the same.

2. Whats the biggest thing to happen to you this year? 

As awful as this sounds, I don't think anything huge has happened to me! My partner did learn to drive though so it's been great having a family car. Seeing him drive has made me eager to learn myself so hopefully by this time next year, I'll have my own licence. 

3. What was the biggest thing to happen for your child/children this year? 
C started big school! He is loving it but we do have some struggles. He's received his statement of special educational needs too. As for E, I've applied for her nursery place! 

4. Could you pick a favourite week of the year? 
Chris took a week off during the summer and we did as much as we could pack in. As we had a car, we were able to travel further afield and my favourite day of that week was when we visited the beach. We had to bribe C out of the water! 

5. Do you have a favourite photograph of yourself from 2017? 

This photo from back in March of myself and my two children. Although it was only taken nine months ago, both children look so little in it! I feel like they've grown so much. 

As for me, I'm lovely my, then new, glasses and my Panic! At The Disco 'Miss Jackson' lyric tee. 

6. What was your best day out? 
Aside from the beach day that I mentioned above; myself, Chris, C and E visited Cavehill with Chris's mum, his three brothers, sister and our niece. It was so lovely to have a day out with the entire family as we don't get to do it very often. 

7. What is the best film you have seen this year? 
It has to be the Beauty and the Beast remake! It was one of my favourite animations and Emma Watson was the perfect Belle. Is it weird that I have a crush on Luke Evans as Garston?! 

8. Is there anything you wish didn't happen this year? 
Nothing at all. Nothing bad happened at all in my life. Even if I did have a rough patch, I'd never want to change anything. I'm definitely a believer of "everything happens for a reason." 

9. What would you like to achieve or improve for 2018? 
My organisational skills. Every year, I buy a planner, use it for a week or so then never look at it again. Everything seems to snowball with deadlines and I worry I'm missing appointments so I definitely need some organisation in my life.

10. How will you be celebrating/did you celebrate New Years Eve?
I will have a glass of wine in hand and be eating baked camembert with crusty bread. 

Happy New Year!

Friday 15 December 2017

Christmas Gift Ideas for Men

Buying for men is my least favourite thing to do at Christmas time. I'm not a man, so don't know what men like and if I ask my other half what he wants for Christmas he'll say, "Nothing, I don't need anything." Cue internal scream.

I've got a few little gift ideas that might help if you are struggling to buy for the man in your life too.

Moustache Wax

My partner is quite proud of his facial hair and I've noticed that quite a lot of men these days choose to wear a beard or moustache. This moustache wax is a gorgeous mix of lime, basil and sweet orange and it's perfect for getting their moustache looking fab.

You can purchase this from Handmade Soap Co for €9.95.

Body Wash set

Christmas isn't Christmas without some smellies! Stray away from the Lynx sets that no one really likes receiving and opt for a more exciting set like this Ocean Escape one from Fatface. You get a body wash and body spray for £8.00.

Fatface also do some lovely checked shirts and accessories like Christmas themed socks so they are definitely worth checking out if you've overlooked them!

Valet or keepsake box

My partner will come home from work and empty his pockets onto the arm of the sofa and it really winds me up. These little boxes are great for keeping their bits and bobs in and they are beautiful.

Each box is lovingly handmade and finished with five coats of 100% Tung oil then clear beeswax polish. They are made from Wych elm wood with a gorgeous red leather interior.

You can purchase these from artNM on etsy for £195.

Bluebeards Revenge Cut-throat Razor Kit
If your man isn't one for facial hair, this set is great! I love the packaging which has a little bit of humour and states that it's for real men. The set includes a shaving cream, post-shave Balm, doubloon bristle shaving brush and a cut-throat replaceable blade razor.

You can purchase this from Bluebeards Revenge for £34.99.

Zippo Hand Warmer and Hip Flask
It's been so cold this year already that we've already had snow so there's no perfect time than now to gift a hand warmer and boy, would it be appreciated! It has a gorgeous stainless steel finish and stays warm for up to 12 hours. It's reusable with Zippo lighter fluid too.

You can purchase this from Zippo for £21.99.

If they want to keep warm another way, a hip flask is another great gift for a classy man. It also has a stainless steel finish and holds 3 fl ozs.

You can purchase this from Zippo for £13.78.

Great for any coffee lover! It's an easy way to make good tasting coffee at home from ground whole beans.

Again, it's stainless steel and comes with a plunger to filter the ground coffee from your drink. It holds up to six cups too!

You can purchase this from VonShef for £18.99.

Encona Carolina Reaper Chilli Sauce
Does your man like a bit of spice? Why not test him with this chilli sauce?

The Carolina reaper chilli is the hottest in the world and even matches weapons-grade pepper spray! It's more 25 times hotter than a piri piri chilli too.

Maybe they'd be brave enough to give it a go with some leftover turkey this Christmas?

You can purchase this from Tesco for £1.49.

Harry Potter Playing Cards
How cool are these?! The cards come in an embossed gold tin featuring the Hogwarts crest and each suit is inspired by the houses; Ravenclaw, Hufflepuff, Slytherin and Griffyndor. The perfect gift for any Harry Potter fan!

You can get these from Find Me A Gift for £7.99.

(This post contains items that I have received for inclusion in this guide.)

Monday 4 December 2017

Christmas Gift Ideas for Women

We are very close to Christmas now and I always struggle with buying Christmas presents. I want to buy the perfect thing for the recipient and ensure that they love it. I've put together some lovely ideas that you might not have thought of buying but would make lovely gifts.

Personalised Wine Glass
GiftsOnline4U is the place to go if you are buying a gift. They have a huge selection of items for men, women and the home and they specialise in bespoke items, personalised to you. You can search items by occasion or who the recipient is and you can find everything from engraved pocket watches and torches to personalised cheeseboards and wine gifts.

I wanted to showcase a personalised wine glass in my gift guide this year because it's definitely something that I would like to receive and I'm sure I'm not the only one. I am partial to a glass of wine - or two! - at the weekend so the idea of one personalised to me is lovely.

You can choose to have whatever you like engraved into it (up to 40 characters across two lines) so it makes an extra special gift for a lovely lady in your life. It's so well made and the engraving is beautiful. It arrives packaged in a dark coloured box which makes it easy to wrap! GiftsOnline4U even include a little packet of sweets with your order - such a lovely touch.

You can purchase this wine glass from GiftsOnline4U for £19.99.

Personalised Mug
If the person you're buying for isn't a wine drinker, how about a personalised mug? I absolutely love this one and the addition of stars is adorable. You can get any name and drink printed and it's become my new favourite mug to use - I do love a double choc mocha!

You can purchase this mug from MSMugs for £14.50.

These designer hairbrushes are like none I've seen before. The bristles are totally natural and work through your hair beautifully. You can get lots of different designs - some personalised too - but I love a bit of leopard print so I adore this one.

They are available in handbag sized at £20 and large at £30 from Rock and Ruddle.


The way to a woman's heart is through sweet treats - at least it is in my case! I absolutely love Walkers Shortbread and it doesn't feel like Christmas without having some in the house.

Walkers have some lovely Christmas themes boxes this year. The gingerbread men and tree shapes are so cute but I'm mostly excited about the Spiced Orange and Cranberry mince pies. I'm not usually a fan of mince pies but these flavours are divine!

You can find these at all good food retailers.

Chip mug
The Beauty and the Beast obsessed is still strong and you can guarantee that you will always see some sort of merchandise in any shop that you go into.

This Chip mug is so cute! It's ceramic, great quality and the detailing is fantastic. Chip has always been my favourite so it brings a little nostalgia.

You can purchase this from Find Me A Gift for £12.99.

(This post contains items that I have received for inclusion in my gift guide.)

Friday 1 December 2017

Christmas Gift Ideas for Children

Happy December! 
Christmas is sneaking up on us so quickly and now that it's the first of December, I've suddenly realised how unprepared I am. I still have about 40% of my presents to buy and all of my Christmas food. Better get a move on! 

I've put together a little list of some things that I think would make lovely gifts for children this year. If you're like me and are struggling to think of what to get - look no further! 

Itty Bittys

Seriously, how cute are these little guys?! As you've probably noticed they are Star Wars and Disney characters but they've been made over for Christmas! They are so cuddly and perfect for stocking fillers. There are a huge range of other characters to choose from if Star Wars and Mickey and Minnie aren't your style. 

You can get them from Hallmark for £6.00 each. 

CAT Machine Maker Junior Operator

This set is great for little ones aged 3+ who love to build. Each tub contains all the pieces that you need to create your favourite CAT machine as well as a chunky screwdriver so your child can feel like they're really at work. 

You can choose from either an Excavator, Dump Truck, Bulldozer, Service Truck or Wheel Loader. 

These are available to buy from Hamleys, Morrisons, The Range, Toymaster and Smyths at a price of £11.99.

Ultimate Spider-Man Rumble to the Rescue

Any child who is obsessed with superheroes will be blown away by this. Spider-Man sits upon his quad bike and, as the name suggests, it really does rumble!

It drives along making realistic engine and horn sounds. It's sure to keep your child playing for hours. 

This retails at £24.99 and is available from Smyths

Aquabeads Disney Princess Playset

If you haven't heard of Aquabeads, they are so much fun. Each set comes with a bead palette, 1000 beads in 15 different colours, a water spray bottle and a peeler. You simply follow the designs, spray with water, leave to dry and peel off.  You then have a pretty princess! 

We love spending family time doing Aquabeads together - it's not just fun for the kids. 

You can purchase this from Argos for £21.99.

BIC Kids Kid Coulter Rainbow Case

I always encourage my kids to express themselves creatively so I always make sure I gift some sort of writing (or drawing) medium. 

Having two children aged 5 and under, I stress over lost lids 95% of the time. This BIC set is the answer to my worries as this innovative case keeps the pens and lids all in one - genius! 

You can find these at all good retailers at a price of £2.99 which makes them a perfect stocking filler. 

Sylvanian Families Baby Sleigh Ride Set

Every time I see a Sylvanian Families set, I "aww" over its cuteness but they've outdone themselves with this adorable Christmas themed set. 

The set comes with Milo the Toy Poodle baby dressed as a reindeer, Henry the Milk Rabbit baby dressed as Santa, Santa's sleigh, two presents, teddy bear toy, Christmas tree, toy Sky Ride adventure, Santa's sack. 

You can purchase this from Amazon for £22.46 (price correct at time of publication). 

Jumbo Games Disney Guess The Film

I love a good game at Christmas time and this one is so easy that even my three year old can join in. 

You get a stand and insert the image stills (the game comes with 100!) into the back of the stand. Each player rolls the dice which lands on a colour. The stand has coloured doors, you open your colour and you get a tiny glimpse of the still. You then get to guess what Disney movie it's from! 

As a family, we absolutely love our Disney movies so this is the perfect game for us. You can buy this from all good retailers, priced around £15.00.

Woofy Whoops

This is one of the top games this Christmas and it's really not hard to see why. You simply download the free Woofy Whoops app onto your phone and set Woofy up on the fire hydrant. 

Once you've filled Woofy with water, you can clip your phone into the hydrant with the app set up. You need to spin him and whoever he lands on has to pet him however many times he barks (this is also displayed on your phone). Pet him at the wrong time and he will pee all over you! The app even records your reaction in slow motion, adding to the fun! 

Woofy Whoops is available to buy from Smyths for £19.99.

University Games Glowing 3D Planets

I don't know about anyone else, but my son always tells me that he's going to be an astronaut when he's older. I've even caught him searching on YouTube Kids "How do I become an astronaut?" Adorable.

This set from University Games is perfect for any budding astronaut. It includes eight planets, Pluto, 25 feet of clear nylon string and adhesive putty. You charge each planet up by exposing them to the light then when you switch your light off, they glow! 

You can purchase these from Amazon for £19.95.

5 Second Rule Jr

This is a slight twist on the family game, 5 Second Rule, except it has been adapted so that younger children can play too. You get a game board, timer, game tokens and 200 cards (400 questions). 

You pick a card and have five seconds to answer. It might seem easy, but can you do it under pressure? 

You can purchase this game from Smyths at a price of £12.99.

University Games Paddington Colour On

The new Paddington movie was released in cinemas last month, as well as his appearance in a Christmas television advert. There's no escaping the lovable bear! 

This contains 3 metres of colouring and fun activities. The paper is rolled up so you can pull it as far as you like then it can be easily rolled back up using the dial when you're finished. Perfect for keeping little ones entertained! 

You can buy this from John Lewis for £7.99.

University Games Paddington Spot the Difference

This fun little game promotes some friendly competition. It contains 80 spot the difference challenges and two markers with eraser tips. 

Who can find the five or ten differences first and spot the pot of marmalade? 

This can be purchased from Amazon for £7.99.

LOL Surprise Tots

These little dolls are top of my daughter's Christmas list this year and she will not stop talking about them. 

Each little ball has seven layers of surprise with each layer revealing a new mystery. These tots can be fed and bathed and for an additional water surprise, she might cry, spit, tinkle or change colour. There are 45 to collect. 

You can purchase these from Argos, Toys R Us, Smyths and The Entertainer for £9.99 each. 

Lalaloopsy Jewel's Glitter Makeover

This Christmas, you can get creative with Jewel Sparkles. You can glitterise, streak or style her hair the same way that she does in the Lalaloopsy Netflix series. 

The box contains a Jewel doll, glitteriser, chalk colour streaker, a brush and clips so you can style her hair over and over again. The possibilities are endless! 

You can buy Jewel from Toys R Us, Smyths and The Entertainer for £34.99.


These sets are amazing. They contain square and triangular pieces which magnetically connect so you can create whatever 3D shape you want. It engages mathematical and scientific thought and deductive reasoning, making learning fun! 

The Wow set comes with instructions on how to make vehicles of different shapes and sizes and the Carnival set will show explain how to build rides that you'd find at a carnival. They are so good for brain training. 

The Wow set retails at £29.99 and the Carnival set is £49.99. Both can be purchased from Smyths

Hope you've got some good ideas and happy shopping! 

(This post contains items that I have been gifted for inclusion in this gift guide. ) 

Wednesday 29 November 2017

Christmas Gift Ideas for Babies

Both of my children are September babies so were around three months old on their first Christmases.  It was really hard to buy for them as they still seemed far too little for most toys and I much preferred practical items than an abundance of toys that they probably wouldn't be able to play with for months.

I've put together a few ideas that I think parents of young babies would appreciate. I love making up hampers so they'd be great together, gifted as a hamper of goodies.

SnuzPouch Baby Sleeping Bag

I loved using baby sleeping bags with E when she was tiny but this gorgeous SnuzPouch is a whole other level. I love the monochrome print and it's 2.5 tog meaning it's great to use all year round. The 0-6 month size has a zip on the front meaning that you can open and change your baby's nappy without having to remove your baby from the sleeping bag, making life easier!

You can purchase it from Kiddies Kingdom for £36.95.

tommee tippee Night time Orthodontic Soothers
These are the types of soothers that both of my children used. I really liked the shape of the teat and I think they'd make a lovely inclusion in a baby hamper for Christmas. The designs on the front are super cute. Dummies need to be changed a lot and it's always handy to have some around.

You can purchase these from Home Bargains for £1.99.

tommee tippee Decorated Cherry Soothers
tommee tippee also do cherry shaped soothers if your baby prefers a bigger teat.

These are also available to buy for £1.99 from Home Bargains.

tommee tippee Moda Sippee Cup
These little cups are great for little ones who are just starting to drink independently and I'm sure you can see every parent's favourite words on the front - non spill! I love the sweet little design on the front too.

Nuby Toddler Training Cutlery
I absolutely love these and actually own a little pink and purple set for my daughter E. They are great for moving on from plastic cutlery to real "grown up" ones.

Nuby IcyPal Teether
Nuby were always my go-to for teether for both C and E. This is gel filled and great to relieve pain from all teeth.

These can be found at Home Bargains at a price of £1.99.

Nuby Chewbies Teether
This Nuby teether is a little bit smaller and made of silicone. The textures mean that it massages gums, reducing pain.

It's currently priced at £1.99 at Home Bargains.

Teeny Tiny Tots Baby Food Freezer Cubes
I loved making my own baby food and even had a little baby food blender. It made weaning such an exciting time and I loved seeing the children's faces when they tried a new flavour. These freezer pots are perfect for storing your premade purées in separate portions so you can defrost them when needed.

These pots are £1.99 at Home Bargains.

Personalised Dressing Gown

I am such a sucker for anything personalised, my own children won't be forgetting their names in a hurry! My1stYears have beautiful personalised dressing gowns which I think would be so lovely for Christmas Eve. They are fantastic quality and so cosy.

They retail at £27.99.

(This post contains items that I have been sent to include in the gift guide.) 
Tuesday 28 November 2017

Choosing Lanzarote for a Family Holiday at Christmas

My parents are the type of people who do not like cold and dreary weather. We live in Northern Ireland so 95% of our year is cold and dreary. They used to take myself and my sister on family holidays a lot, either just in the summer or both in summer and over Christmas to avoid the freezing temperatures of a Northern Irish winter.

I know a lot of people might not like the idea of going away over Christmas time, especially if you have children, but as a child who holidayed over Christmas, it is wonderful. One place that I especially loved was Lanzarote. I visited as an adult, aged 19, with my parents and my then 9 year old sister so we did a lot of family friendly activities whilst we were there.

We stayed in Costa Teguise and obviously you can't expect the weather to be as warm as it would be during the middle of summer, but we had days where it was 21 or 22 degrees - so much better than being at home and you could definitely tan yourself. I came home with sunburn! It is quite a breezy place too, depending on where you stay but I loved that it wasn't so hot that you couldn't handle it.

Whilst being away over Christmas, you still want to feel like it's Christmas. At the time of staying, my sister still believed in Santa so my parents had told her that Santa would leave a few small things in our apartment but because Santa knew where she lived, the rest would be left at home. Children accept stuff like that and it's totally believable. You don't lose the magic of Christmas. In the main lobby of our accommodation, they had a Christmas tree and other decorations and on the streets they had Christmas lights on the lampposts, just like at home. Lots of shops and restaurants were also decorated so it was easy to still feel festive.

I love going away and seeing the sights but my favourite thing is trying local cuisine. It's so easy to find little cafés and restaurants that only do local dishes with not a cheeseburger or chicken curry in sight, but Christmas Day is different. Of course you want a big turkey dinner, even in 22 degree heat, and we stumbled upon a little Irish bar that served Christmas Dinner - hooray!

There is a multitude of things to do as a family such as visiting the local aquarium or Sunday markets to visiting the Aquapark Water Park. It's a lovely place to go to do the touristy thing but also not miss out on the magic of Christmas Day. Who doesn't want to spend Christmas evening watching the sun go down on the beach?

Have you ever holidayed abroad over Christmas?
(This is a sponsored post in collaboration with Holiday Gems.)