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.)

Thursday 23 November 2017

Gordons Chemists Black Friday Deals #GordonsBlackFridayBash

Last night, I attended the Gordons Chemists Black Friday Bash in their Cornmarket store in Belfast to hear all about the deals that they would have live for Black Friday. I absolutely love a good blogging event, prosecco and nibbles is always a winning formula plus, as a generally nosey person, I like knowing all the bargains before everyone else! It's lovely seeing my blogging friends for a natter too.

Deborah 'Super Busy Mum', Hannah 'Hi Baby Blog' & myself

I always think that a good gift for Christmas is something fragrance or beauty related so places like Gordons are always my first stop anyway. I'm sure I'm not the only one who thinks that way so I'm sure you'll be just as blown away by these deals as I was.

  • Philips Aquatouch Shaver £109.99 NOW £39.99
  • Babyliss Curling Wand Pro £24.99 NOW £17.99
  • Tresemme Diffuser Dryer £23.49 NOW £16.99
  • Babyliss Battery Beard Trimmer £10.99 NOW £9.99
  • Babyliss Clipper Set £50.00 NOW £19.99
  • Slim Sonic Toothbrush £19.95 NOW £4.99
  • Emjoi Micro Pedi Nano Pink £29.95 NOW £9.99
  • Tresemme Ceramic Styler £60.00 NOW £19.99
  • Real Technics Prep & Prime Set £19.99 NOW £6.99
  • Hand Warmers £5.99 NOW £3.99
  • Ecotools Anniversary Set £19.99 NOW £7.99
  • Profusion Trendsetter Brows £13.50 NOW £7.99
  • Profusion Trendsetter Face £13.50 NOW £7.99
  • Profusion Trendsetter Contour £13.50 NOW £7.99
  • Profusion Face Sculpt Collection £10.00 NOW £6.99
  • B Bold Smart Mousse Set £19.90 NOW £9.99
  • Nivea Men Prepared Bag £30.00 NOW £12.00
  • Lynx & Dove Duo Sets 2 for £6.00

  • Calum Best 2 Piece Sets £19.99 NOW £9.99
  • Britney Fantasy Private Show 100ml £40.00 NOW £14.99
  • CK Free EDT 100ml £52.00 NOW £19.99
  • DKNY Men EDT 100ml £60.00 NOW £18.00
  • DKNY Women 100ml £60.00 NOW £18.00
  • Hugo Deep Red EDP 90ml £58.00 NOW £24.00

How amazing are those savings?! If you're in the midst of or just starting Christmas shopping, get down to Gordons Chemists or shop online until Saturday to pick up these fantastic offers. Gordons will also be having weekly fragrance deals with huge savings to be got there too so make sure you keep an eye out for those so you can treat your loved one - or yourself! - to a new scent.

A massive thank you to Gordons Chemists/Ciara for putting on a fabulous event an inviting me along!

(I received a goody bag for attending the event.) 
Friday 17 November 2017

What prematurity means to me this World Prematurity Day

No matter how ready you are to have a baby, nothing can prepare you for a premature baby. My own son was born at 33 weeks.

Today, November 17th, is World Prematurity Day, and Pampers is raising money and awareness for Bliss, the premature baby charity, by joining in on the charity’s social media campaign and asking parents like myself what prematurity is to them.

When I think about prematurity, I think about being thrust into a whole new world, in two senses. The physical sense – constantly at hospital with your little one, learning medical jargon until it’s like a second language and being surrounded by the beeping of machines. The mental sense – feeling
helpless, a constant state of anxiety and worry and, the biggest one for me, loneliness.

With 60,000 premature births each year in the UK every year, that’s one in 11, I’m obviously not the first person to have a premature baby, but at that time it felt like I was. No one I knew had experienced the birth of a premature baby before so I had no one to talk to, to reassure me, to tell me that it was all going to be okay.

I spent a lot of time on online birth forums but I didn’t want to clog the threads with our day to day updates and while I appreciated reading other people’s experiences and knockbacks with prematurity, some of it could be quite upsetting for me to read at that time. Luckily for us, C went from strength to strength and thanks to advances in medical science more and more premature
babies are surviving. 

Earlier this year, you may remember me writing about Pampers developing a
smaller, preemie nappy for babies weighing less than 1.8lb (800g) and I wrote about them wanting to donate around 3 million of these nappies to neonatal units across the UK.

So far, 59 of the 206 neonatal units have accepted this donation, meaning that an estimated 18,285 babies are benefiting from these free preemie nappies. From that last campaign earlier this year, Pampers has raised awareness of the struggles that premature babies and their families go through,
as well as thousands of pounds to support them. This World Prematurity Day, Pampers is continuing this partnership with Bliss. For every social media post shared using the hashtag #PrematurityIs and tagging @Pampers_UK on Twitter, they will donate £1 to the charity.

They have also developed super cute milestone cards in partnership with Bliss which I wish were available when C was born – I’m a sucker for a milestone card photo! When we got to bring C home from hospital, I found myself waiting for C to hit new milestones such as finally fitting in newborn sized clothing or going up a nappy size. I remember using the smallest Pampers nappy available five years ago with C and it still being too big. We had to bend and fold them down so that they didn’t knock against his wires or cause discomfort to his little hips. These limited edition milestone cards will be distributed to neonatal units across the UK for free by Pampers and Bliss.

I can’t wait to read about your experiences of what #PrematurityIs. I’m sure I can relate!

(This is a paid collaborative post with Pampers.) 
Wednesday 8 November 2017

Our Love for Gardening in the UK

A love of gardening is one thing that many Brits have in common. In fact, the Horticultural Trades Association reported that over two-thirds of British adults visit a garden centre every year. In 2016, the UK Houzz Landscaping Trends Survey also revealed that 59% of homeowners prioritised outdoor living as the biggest influence in their overall outdoor project design.
Gardening as a hobby appears to be becoming more popular too. We have teamed up with Suttons, advocates of growing your own produce, to take a closer look:

A rising interest

It appears as though the UK as a nation is enjoying spending more time in the garden. Research revealed that the market value of home and garden products has grown by 4,548.1 euros since 2014. Similarly, Wickes has seen a 30% increase in year-on-year sales of garden lighting, which suggests that more people are spending time in the garden even when the sun goes down and perhaps in the colder months too.
One reason for the rise in keen gardeners has been suggested to be the increase in disposable income in households. In 2016, research concluded that 27 million people in Britain were partaking in gardening. More young people are considering a career in the industry too — a sharp increase has been noticed in the amount of 16 to 18 year olds who are looking to complete horticulture courses at college.
There have been concerns in the past surrounding peoples interest in gardening. It was reported that many people were paving over their front gardens with gravel for ease of maintenance or parking purposes. With the rise of urban living, it has also been reported that many people will be living without any access to a garden in the near future. However, trends have adapted and there has been a rise in the purchase of shrubbery as people try to make the most of their limited space.
It has been found that gardening is being enjoyed more indoors now too — through gardening programmes. One in four Brits claimed that they used gardening TV shows as inspiration for their own gardens. A garden transformation show called Love Your Garden, hosted by Alan Titchmarsh, saw its viewing figures hit 4 million this summer. Similarly, 3.14 million tuned in to watch the RHS Chelsea Flower Show in May, which is coverage of a 5-day long garden show of innovative gardeners and their designs.

Search volumes

It appears as though Google is being consulted on gardening advice more too. When looking at the search volume of ‘grow your own’, peaks were noticed around May. This is possibly down to the beginning of the bank holidays and the rise in temperatures. On average, 50,000 more searches were made around the term in 2017 than in 2014.
Less people were searching for this term around the month of December. However, an increase in searches was still picked up (30,000 between 2014 and 2017). This could be down to the rise in ‘DIY’ kits that have seeds, tools and soil in that they can be given as a gift and used to grow your own vegetables in the garden.
More people are looking for the location of their closest garden centre too. In April 2015, there were around 230,000 searches made around the term ‘garden centres near me’ and in 2017, this figure had risen to around 700,000.
Other terms that people have been searching for are ‘gardening ideas’, which saw its search volume increase by around 130,000 between 2015 and 2017, and the search volume of ‘gardening programmes’, which increased by around 350,000 in the same period.
As our love for the hobby increases, it is expected that we’ll find new ways to accommodate for the loss of green spaces. If you’re not already part of the hype, get in the garden or visit your local garden centre to see what it’s all about!

This is a sponsored post.

Tuesday 7 November 2017

Dancing Paddington - Review & Giveaway

I think everyone is familiar with Paddington Bear. After first appearing in a book called 'A Bear Called Paddington' in 1958, he captured the hearts of many and went on to appear in more books, television series and movies. Almost 60 years later, he's still well loved and this Friday 10th November, the new Paddington Movie will be released in cinemas.

Rainbow Designs have a lovely range of Paddington products, with one of them being Dancing Paddington. Although my children only really know Paddington from the first movie, they were so excited to play with their new toy.

Dancing Paddington is super soft and cuddly but he's much more than just a cuddly toy. He stands at 35cm tall and has buttons on each of hands which you can press to either make him dance and play music or say phrases, such as "Marmalade sandwiches are my favourite." He will stand on his own and dance upright and C and E have loved having a boogie next to him.

He is wearing a calypso shirt which is reversible and can be switched for him to wear his traditional blue coat. The children tend to make him wear his calypso shirt when he's going on holiday and his coat when he's home! His red hat can be removed too but I've kept it attached so far because I just know that my two little ones will lose it and meltdowns will ensue.

I loved watching my Paddington VHS tapes as a child, and having this toy around has brought back that feeling of nostalgia and I love that my children are falling in love with him too. He is suitable for children aged 3+ and requires 3 AA batteries which are included.

Dancing Paddington is available to buy from Smyths at a price of £29.99.

Want to win one for your little one for Christmas? Just enter via the Gleam widget below. Don't forget to read the T&C's beforehand!

  • The giveaway will run from 7th November until 19th November 
  • One winner will win one Dancing Paddington 
  • Open to entrants aged 18+
  • UK residents only 
  • One entry per person
  • No automated entries

Dancing Paddington

(We received this item for the purpose of this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own.)

Wednesday 1 November 2017

What I Won - October 2017

Hello and welcome to a new month!

If you're new here, I love entering competitions! Ever since I started, I've been sharing my wins on my blog so I can hopefully encourage people to join in on this hobby. It's amazing and I know people can be sceptical but they do get won!

Here's what I won last month:

1) Milk Make Up Blur Stick (RRP £48.00) from London Loves Beauty
I'm not massively into make up but I do like discovering new foundation. I'd never heard of the Milk brand before so I'm really excited to give it a try.

2) Nuby Superhero Sunday prize (RRP £10.00) from Nuby
Nuby have been running some Superhero Sunday giveaways on their social media channels lately. I won this cape and mask along with a new straw cup and a box of Cadbury Miniature Heroes - so lovely!

3) Three months supply of Bepanthen and a £50 Jojo Maman Bebe voucher
This win came exactly at the right time as our little nephew was born at the beginning of the month so I included the Bepanthen in the gift.  I used the voucher to buy C and E some gorgeous matching reindeer pyjamas for Christmas.

4) Shoes and scarf (RRP £40.94) from Purse Angels
I am a sucker for leopard print so I was chuffed to win this. I don't have a photograph but it's a dark grey leopard print fashion scarf and leopard rollable shoes - perfect for a night out when your feet start to hurt on the way home!

5) Karl Lagerfeld backpack (RRP £49.00) from Melijoe
How bloody adorable is this bag?! It's a little too big for E at the moment but I'll definitely put it away for her.

6) Cosy home kit (RRP £90.00) from Energystore Ltd
This was a local win on Facebook and it's such a lovely treat for myself and Chris.

7) Bobble hat (RRP £19.99) from Urban Shore
I LOVE this hat. It's so soft and comfy and perfect for the colder weather.

8) How Animals Build book (RRP £15.00) from Toppsta
C is so inquisitive so this is such a brilliant book for him. It's full of illustrations and flaps to lift to teach you all about where animals live and how they build their homes.

9) Rapunzel braid from Sunshine Parties
This braid is absolutely AMAZING. E adores her Disney Princesses so she was delighted with this. It's all handmade with flowers added to the knitted braid.

10) My Little Pony Twilight Sparkle (RRP £140.00) from My Family Loop
A little while ago, My Family Loop ran a few Twitter parties over four consecutive Mondays with My Little Pony prizes to win. They all happened over school run time so I tried my best to join in and managed to win the big prize on the first week! E loves My Little Pony and this toy is incredible!

11) Cut and blow dry (RRP £25.00) from Blow Dry Bar
I am long overdue a hair cut so this is a lovely treat for me! I just need to find some child-free time to go now...

12) This Works pillow spray (RRP £26.00) from This Works
I have heard about this spray before but I am a bit sceptical. I don't think I'd pay that price just to try it but now I've won it, I'm happy to give it a go and see if it actually works!

13) Kindle (RRP £59.99) from Office Monster
Before I had children, I LOVED to read. It fell by the wayside a little bit in recent years but now my two are a little older, I have more time to read. I am so excited to get using this!

14) Box of jelly beans (RRP £25.00) from Healthy Little Numbers
Healthy Little Numbers do a freebie Friday giveaway every week ending at 4pm that day. I was lucky enough to win a box of jelly beans - Chris's favourite! It is an added bonus that they're healthy too!

15)  Bottle of Aquaint and candy hamper (RRP £11.00) from Aquaint
I loved using Acquaint for cleaning down E's highchair when she was little and it comes in so handy. Who doesn't love some sweeties too?!

16) NARS Orgasm blush (RRP £48.00) from Latest In Beauty
This is a win from Instagram where you just had to follow, like the image and leave a comment. I was delighted to win as I know my sister will love it!

17) PJ Masks pyjamas (RRP £9.99) from The Pyjama Factory
Ever since PJ Masks first started, both my children instantly loved it. C is so excited with these pj's that I won on Facebook and now doubt E will steal them when she's bigger and C has outgrown them.

18) Build It! STEM engineering book (RRP £8.00) from Independent School Parent
This book is amazing! It's filled with loads of ideas for budding engineers to try. I think C is a little too young at the moment but I know he'll love it when he's a bit more able to do them.

19) Marvel Avengers chair (RRP £30) from Woodstyle Flooring NI
This was another local win on Facebook! C is obsessed with Avengers and his bedsheets are exactly the same print. It couldn't be more perfect!

20) £25 from That's Life!
That's s Life magazine always do shout outs for little tidbits to add into their magazine and they compensate you for your story. They were looking for funny things your children have said and C's wit bagged him £25!

21) Naked Noodles (RRP £3.60) from Naked Noodle
I do love a food win! I've actually tried these noodles before and liked them so it's a nice little one.

22) Elf cosmetics bundle (RRP £54.00) from beautybyedenjaije
I am SO excited to give these a go, especially the hubble mask. I definitely need to take better care of my skin so I'm excited to see if they work wonders.

23) Name train (RRP £16.00) from Babyblooms
I was absolutely delighted to win this little wooden name train as we've just welcomed a little nephew into the family! It will make a gorgeous gift.

So, in October 2017 I won 23 prizes worth a total of £814.51!

I always like to do a comparison to past years so...
October 2016 - 11 prizes worth £324.92
October 2015 - 22 prizes worth £450.20
October 2014 - 10 prizes worth £471.00

Definitely my best October yet!

Did you win anything nice this month?