Sunday 29 January 2017

Being Adventurous and Escaping this January

When 2016 came to an end, Chris and I had one thought of something that we wanted to do in the New Year: go on adventures with our children and see more of our beautiful country. We live in Northern Ireland and it is a wealth of beautiful scenery and lots of things for families to do. We are lucky enough that we can travel easily to Republic of Ireland too and take in the sights there.

We decided that this month we would write little "to visit" list and hopefully tick one of those off each Sunday when we have a family day. We currently want to do the Gruffalo Trail, visit Dublin Zoo, the Tayto Park, see the boats at Bangor Marina and much more. One downside of January is that we are pretty skint after Christmas, some January birthdays and after a routine eye test, I need stronger glasses which means I've had to fork out a small fortune for new ones. We don't drive either so going on these adventures means paying for the bus or train to get there so they are sort of on the back burner until we get settled into February. I'm sure we aren't the only family feeling the pinch so here's how we are being adventurous without even leaving our living room.

Adventure movies! I love a movie that I can get completely lost in and feel like I've been transported to another dimension. Here are my top movies for escaping this year:

1) The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies
If you aren't family with the whole LOTR/Hobbit franchise, where have you been?! In this final instalment, Thorin Oakenshield and the Dwarves of Erebor have reclaimed the wealth of their homeland, but now face the consequences of having unleashed the terrifying Dragon Smaug upon Lake-Town. Sauron, the Dark Lord, has sent forth legions of Orcs to attack the lonely mountain and Bilbo Baggins ends up fighting for his life as five great armies go to war.
2) Inception
Dom Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) is the best there is at extraction; stealing valuable secrets inside the subconsciour during the mind's vulnerable dream state. His skill has made him a coveted player in industrial espionage but has also made him a fugitive and cost him dearly. Now he may get a second chance if he can do the impossible: inception, planting an idea rather than stealing one. If they succeed, Cobb and his team could pull off the perfect crime. But no planning or expertise can prepare them for a dangerous enemy who seems to predict their every move.
3) Gravity
Dr Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) is an engineer on her first shuttle mission with veteran astronaut Matt Kowalski (George Clooney). On a seemingly routine spacewalk, disaster strikes. The shuttle is destroyed, leaving Stone and Kowalski completely alone, thethered to nothing but each other and spiralling out into the darkness. As fear turns to panic, every gulp of air eats away at what little oxygen that is left.

4) Pacific Rim
When legions of monstrous alien creatures, known as Kaiju, started rising from the sea, a deadly war began. To combat them, humans devised massive robots called Jaegers as weapons. Controlled simultaneously by two pilots, even the Jaegers proved nearly defenseless against the Kaiju. Now on the verge of defeat, mankind must turn to a washed-up former pilot and an untested trainee teamed in a seemingly obsolete Jaeger.
5) Jupiter Ascending
Jupiter Jones was born under a night sky with signs predicting that she was destined for great things. Now grown, Jupiter dreams of the stars but wakes up to the cold reality of a job cleaning toilets and an endless run of bad breaks. Only when Caine, a genetically engineered ex-military hunter, arrives on Earth to track her down does Jupiter begin to glimpse the fate that has been waiting for her all along. 
6) 300: Rise of an Empire 
In this new chapter of the 300 saga, Greek general Themistokles is pitted against massive invading Persian forces who are ruled by the god-king Xerxes and led by Artemisia, the vengeful commanders of their navy. Knowing his only hope of defeating the Persian armadais to unite Greece. Themistokles leads the charge that will change the course of the war.

Are there a few of these movies that you haven't seen before but like the sound of? You can buy them here.

Happy watching!

(We received a bundle of DVDs for inclusion in this post.)

Friday 27 January 2017

How Reading Helps Young Children Learn

When I was a child, my parents read to me from a young age. As I grew older I developed a love for reading books myself and although I don't get as much time to read now that I have children of my own, it's still one of my favourite ways to relax. I always knew that when I did have children, I'd introduce books early in their lives. I read to them both since they were days old and I still do so every night, four and a half years later. As braggy as this may be, both my four and two year olds speak well and have an amazing range of vocabulary which I truly believe is down to reading. My four year old son can even recite his favourite books from memory.

Bright Horizons nursery, a day care in Twickenham, have put together a really fun infographic which is packed tips for reading to children in baby, toddler and pre-school stages. It even includes some book titles to try out.

What age were your children when you introduced them to books?

(This is a sponsored post.)

#MPBTurns4 - Win a pair of Girls' Huntleys Shoes

Before E was born, I was solely a "boy mother" and buying outfits and matching shoes was so easy. Even now, C only owns three pairs and they match everything. Since having a daughter, I noticed just how many pairs, and colours of, shoes and boots that she needs to go nicely with all her different outfits.

British brand Huntleys stock the most beautiful girls clothes, bows and shoes at really afforable prices. I am obsessed with buying clothes and accessories for E and I think she needs to own everything that they sell. I'm not too sure that Chris would agree with me though!

As part of my blog birthday celebrations, Huntleys are giving my readers the chance to win a pair of Girls Sparkle Leather Buckle Shoes in either Pink, Elsa Blue or Silver. They are available in child sizes 2-9 and even come with a matching hair bow.

To be in with a chance of winning, just enter via the Rafflecopter widget below. Good luck! 

  • One winner will win one pair of Girls Sparkle Leather Buckle shoes in a colour and size of their choice
  • The giveaway will run from January 27th until February 10th
  • Open to entrants aged 18+
  • UK residents only
  • One entry per person
  • No automated entries

  a Rafflecopter giveaway
Thursday 26 January 2017

#MPBTurns4 - Win a £100 Mainline Menswear gift voucher!

At the end of last year in the run up to Christmas, you may have read my gift guide post on Mainline Menswear where I wrote about some great present ideas from the site. If you missed it and aren't familiar with the company, they are the place to shop for designer brands specifically for men. They stock 85 different brands from Lacoste to Ralph Lauren, catering to all budgets and offering trends to suit every man.

My partner Chris owns the Ted Baker wallet set above from Mainline Menswear.

As part of my #MPBTurns4 blog birthday celebrations, Mainline Menswear have very generously offered my readers the chance to win a £100 voucher to spend online. All you have to do is fill in the Rafflecopter widget below. Good luck!


  • One winner will win a £100 voucher code for the Mainline Menswear website which will be emailed to them directly
  • The giveaway will run from January 26th until February 9th
  • Open to entrants aged 18+
  • UK residents only
  • One entry per person
  • No automated entries
  a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday 25 January 2017

#MPBTurns4 - Win a Pair of Blade and Rose Leggings & Socks

If you follow me on Instagram, you'll know that I have a bit of an obsession with buying (and posting photos of!) my children's clothing. There is just something therapeutic about it. Everything looks so cute and sweet and I'd much rather buy clothing for them than new items for myself - no matter how much I need them!

Blade & Rose, if you haven't heard of them before, are an iconic British clothing brand for children. I was only really aware of their leggings with the super cool patterns on the bum but they do so much more such as hoodies, hats, bibs and socks. As part of their Autumn/Winter range you can find the most adorable Car, Tractor and Flamingo sets, although I have to admit that the Superhero range is definitely my favourite. Sizes go from 0-6 months right up to 3-4 years.

Blade & Rose have very kindly offered up a pair of their Rainbow leggings plus matching socks as part of my #MPBTurns4 giveaway celebrations. Perfect for any little boy or girl! Just enter via the Rafflecopter widget below. Good luck!

  • One winner will win a pair of Rainbow Blade & Rose leggings and matching socks in a size of their choice
  • The giveaway will run from January 25th until February 8th
  • Open to entrants aged 18+
  • UK residents only
  • One entry per person
  • No automated entries

  a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday 24 January 2017

Use These Stop Smoking Tips For Success This Year

For this New Year, did you make a resolution to quit smoking or even switch to ecigs? It shouldn't be a surprise considering 50% of people make that their New Year's resolution! There are countless people who desperately try to quit during the month of January, however, it takes more than simple resolve to quit. 

It is estimated that about 7 million people make a resolution every new year, and the top of the list is to quit smoking.

If you are looking for the ultimate way to succeed, you need to take your main goal and break it into smaller bite size chunks. Each time you reach a small goal, you need to reward yourself. One of the ways to stick to your goals is by keeping a daily journal, talking to your friends, and focusing on the benefits you will gain.

Here are some of the best tips to keep your resolutions this year!

1) Make One Solid Resolution: You are going to have a much higher chance of reaching your main goal if you channel all of your energy into changing one thing in your life.

2) Do Not Wait Until New Year's Eve For A Change: If you want the greatest chance of success, you will want to think about what you want and need to change in your life.

3) Look Ahead And Not Back: You may feel like you should take a second shot at resolutions you might not have succeeded at.

4) Be The Lone Wolf: Do not feel the need to choose what everyone else is. Decide what you want out of life and choose that as an aspect of your life you want to change.

5) Step By Step: Look at your goal as a series of small steps that will lead to a greater change. Create a time table of meeting these small goals.

6) Make It Concrete: Let your family and friends know what you are out to achieve and let them help you. The added support will helo you through the tough times.

7) Motivation Is Key: Create a checklist of how achieving your goal is going to change your life.

8) Reward Yourself: When you reach one of your smaller goals, take some time and reward yourself to keep yourself motivated and focused on the bigger picture.

9) Put It In Writing: Many people find that when something is in writing it makes it more real. Consider creating a journal or computer spreadsheet, where you place your goals, milestones, and achievements.

10) Change Is Hard: It is important to understand that changing habits is hard and you will be tempted back to old habits. Treat these failures as a small setback and get right back on the horse!

Why Should You Quit Smoking?

There are millions of people across the globe who are suffering medical problems due to smoking. Smoking causes harm to the entire body and slowly destroys the body and every aspect of living. It has the ability to cause strokes, heart disease, lung disease, osteoporosis, and cataracts.

Smoking has become the number one cause of preventable deaths. In the UK alone, cigarette smoking and second-hand smoke cause an estimated 200,000 premature deaths. Out of these premature deaths:

40% are due to cancer. In fact, smoking leads to many forms of cancer including that of the lungs, larynx, mouth, esophagus, kidney, throat, pancreas, bladder, cervix, and acute myeloid leukemia.

35% of all these deaths are due from heart disease and strokes, while the remaining 25% are caused from lung disease. This includes bronchitis, emphysema, and asthma.

Did you make quitting smoking one of your resolutons this year? How are you doing?

(This is a collaborative post.) 
Monday 23 January 2017

Teaching Young Children about the Importance of Road Safety

Ever since C was able to understand us, we have spoken to him about staying safe near the road. Once we ditched the buggy, we used a toddler harness and reins. I know a lot of people see them as treating little ones like dogs but we don't drive and walk everywhere so I would be terrified that he would run off and something would happen.

He would get so excited to push the button at the pelican crossing, wait for the red man to "go downstairs and change to green" then cross safely. He knows that even though the green man has appeared, he stills needs to look both ways in case any cars are still driving. 

Now that he's four, he is much more independent so (mostly when we are near our house) I let him walk on ahead a little bit if we aren't near a busy road. He automatically stops at the edge of every pavement and waits for myself and his daddy to catch up. When next to him, we reinforce the "stop, look and listen" rule but to be honest, I think it's something that we need to work on as he does it a little half-heartedly so I'm not sure he's really taking his surroundings in. Luckily, he does always wait so we can teach him more about the importance.

Accident Advice Helpline have recently created a really fun online game to help teach children about road safety. I've been showing it to C and letting him have a little play around with it. The game follows a little boy who is on a journey and meets a few different road related obstacles and you have to answer the question that is related. There are eight in total and each is a multiple choice question. You even get a little certificate at the end - tons of fun!

How early did you/will you start talking to your children about road safety? 

(This is a collaborative post.) 
Friday 20 January 2017

#MPBTurns4 - Hallmark Itty Bittys Giveaway

If you have been on my blog this month, you'll have noticed me writing about how Mum of a Premature Baby turns four years old this month - crazy! To celebrate, I have a fantastic giveaway courtesy of Hallmark where three winners can win two Itty Bittys of their choice!

If you haven't heard of Itty Bittys, where have you been?! They are super cute little mini plush toys which are released under numerous collections such as Star Wars, Marvel, Peanuts, Snoopy, Wizard Of Oz, DC Comics, Scooby Doo and more.

We actually own three of them ourselves; Wonder Woman, Batman and Superman, and my superhero obsessed children absolutely adore them. I think they are great too so I'll definitely be wanting to add more to our collection. C will no doubt want the entire Marvel range.

Want to win some for yourself? Just enter via the Rafflecopter below. Good luck! 

  • Three winners will win two Itty Bittys of their choice, subject to availability 
  • The giveaway will run from January 20th until February 3rd
  • Open to entrants aged 18+
  • UK residents only
  • One entry per person
  • No automated entries
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday 17 January 2017

A New Year, A New You (+ giveaway)

I admit, I love watching TV. I'm a bit stuck in my ways though and if given the option, I'd choose a TV series over a movie. I think sometimes that movies feel too long and I like little half hour/hour long episodes to watch. Even if I've seen the series a million times (I'm looking at you 'How I Met Your Mother', 'Friends' and 'Gavin & Stacey'!), I'd still go for one of those rather than branching out and watching something - TV or movie - that I've never seen before.

This year, I want to change that. My boyfriend Chris is always in shock at how little movies I have actually seen, especially classics. I'm going to make it my resolution to watch more movies that probably wouldn't be my first choice and to do this, I'm opting for movies that will make me laugh. I feel that comedies would be the easiest way to ease into them - they're just like one long sitcom episode! Here's what I'll be watching, in case any of you want to too:

Yes Man
 I do like Jim Carrey as an actor and I love the positivity of this movie. Carrey stars as a man who is stuck in his ways and attends a self-help seminar to unleash the power of saying yes to things. I definitely think that I need to start doing that myself!
Due Date
A high-strung father-to-be (Robert Downey Jr.) is forced to hitch a ride with an aspiring actor (Zack Galifianakis) to make it to his child's birth on time. I am familar with Galifianakis due to the Hangover movies - which I love - and he is my favourite actor in them so I'm sure I'll enjoy this one too.
Doc Hollywood
Eek, I've never actually heard of this movie - how awful is that?! It was released a year before I was born so I'll use that as an excuse. A young doctor (played by Michael J. Fox) is offered a job as a plastic surgeon in Beverly Hills. On the way there, he causes an accident and is sentenced to community service at the local hospital. Locals become attached to him and he falls for someone there.
Two Weeks Notice
This is probably one of those movies that everyone has seen but nope, I have to admit that I haven't! I'm not a huge Hugh Grant fan but I'll give it a go. Environmental lawyer Lucy (Sandra Bullock) goes to work for billionaire George Wade (Grant). He becomes dependent on her, asking her advice at all hours for frivilous matters so she hands in her two weeks notice.
Horrible Bosses 
Three friends (Jason Bateman, Charlie Day and Jason Sudeikis) are all workers who despise their oppressive employers. They can't quit so they come up with a plan to get rid of them for good. Unfortunately, they aren't the cleverest...

I can't wait to get watching! If any of these movies sound great to you and you'd like to give them a watch, you can purchase them here:

Alternatively, I'm giving away this bundle of movies over on Twitter! Just give me a follow and retweet the competition post. 


Thursday 12 January 2017

Save Money On The First Year With A Baby: 9 Top Tips

While a newborn is a source of joy for many parents, it can be financially stressing as well. Some of the expenses that come with a baby range from baby food, nappies and clothing. This makes parenthood relatively expensive. An average two-parent family can spend more than £250,000 from when a child is born until he/she reaches 18 years of age.

While raising children may be expensive, it all depends on with the kind of upbringing or lifestyle you choose to live. Just because a report says you can spend £250,000 for the 18 years for one child doesn’t mean you necessarily have to. Instead of doing what other (most) parents do, you can choose to take an entirely different route to save money in the process. Here are a few ways in which you can make/save money on the first year with an infant.

1. Do not upgrade your space: Many first-time parents choose to upgrade from say a one bedroomed out to a larger house (say two bedroomed house) just before the baby arrives. While this may seem like the way forward, it isn’t necessary. Young children take up very little space hence do not need the extra room. In addition to this, 30% of all your household expenses will be on the baby’s well-being.  Why spend more money for an extra room you do not need while you can save it for later?

2. Buy less baby stuff: The number of baby-related products has been on the rise over the recent past. Although most of these gadgets may seem fancy and necessary, you may not need them at all. Buying less stuff, and just what the baby needs can save you a fortune in the long run. Before you can spend any money on a new gadget, think about it carefully before dropping any cash on it.

3. Shop for multi-purpose items: Do not be moved into buying a Pack ‘n Play or a crib, or a bouncy seat and swing either. If you have to, go for the Pack ‘n Play instead of all the other three. The Pack ‘n Play can be used as a bed at home and while traveling as well.

4. Consider used items:  We get it, you need your newborn to have new and fancy clothes.  While this may be a good move, it would be wise to shop for secondhand clothes and even toys that are in a good state. You will be surprised at how much you get to save for excellent quality items that were used maybe once or twice.

You can even buy larger items on Facebook selling sites or eBay at a much lower price. Bouncers, swings, and high chairs can come in handy especially for your child. You however need to be wise and smart when shopping for second-hand items. Learn to wash or disinfect these items before giving them to your baby.

5. Buy things as you need them: It can be hard to tell what your baby will need once he/she gets older. To avoid buying something he/she may not need/like, just wait until you get there.  A good example of such items is a swaddle. Some babies actually hate being swaddled while others love it. Using a swaddling blanket at first to see whether the child likes it or not would be a nice approach.

6. Cloth Nappies: Although it may seem a little gross and old-fashioned, cloth nappies can come in handy especially when trying to save some money.  You, however, should be prepared to do some serious laundry with these. As a parent, you should get used to yucky situations hence never feel embarrassed about using baby nappies. If possible, consider going for reusable nappies as these will save you so much more.

7. Learn to prepare your baby’s food:  Baby food is unbelievably easy to make. As a matter of fact, some of the easiest foods to make include steamed vegetable puree. The other interesting thing about preparing baby food is that there’s no special formula for it. You only need a blender or a steamer to help make the food smooth enough for the baby. The only thing you need is some creativity and your hands.

8. Try Free Samples: With so many baby products out there, its very easy to get free samples from some of the biggest UK baby brands like Pampers, sites like WOW FreeStuff& Freebies is a very good site to get lots of freebies.

9. Seek out discount codes: I am a sucker for a discount code and I'll always do a web search to find any current ones for the retailer that I'm purchasing from. If I can save a bit of money, why not?! Dealsdaddy is the answer to my prayers as they compile discount codes from many stores all over the Internet and right now they even have a discount code for £10 off a £50 spend on full priced toys at Mothercare (SAVE10 in case you're wondering!).

Did you do any of these money saving tips with your own children?
(This is a collaborative post.)