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29.12.13

Back to Me.

One thing I always loved about this space of mine on the Internet was the fact that I could write about whatever I wanted (well within reason of course).
I'd say I haven't ever been controversial or offensive, and instead have been open and honest. Even if to some it felt like I was over-sharing and was breaking down the "private life"/"Internet life" barrier and being too open about things personal to me. These being my posts about anxiety, birth trauma, relationships, therapy, and such like.

It's so gimmicky but I really want to have a "New Year New Start" approach to my blog, although more making it what it used to be.
I was proud of those posts. Even if to some I was oversharing. If I was saying things I shouldn't openly share with people who don't know me properly.
Those posts made me feel better, they were my therapy and if people don't like them then they simply don't have to read them. Right?

Having a little break over Christmas made me realise what I want to write about. I've been exploring the things I like to read, and also just thinking about what I want to come back and write.

2014 is going to be my year of thinking about myself, about what I deserve and about what I want. I'm no longer going to be influenced by others, or to worry about what others think.
Well ok, I will always worry about that kind of thing, it's in my nature, but I will no longer let it affect something I hold so dearly to my heart and that I love.

Here's to a happy 2014!



28.12.13

Year of Change Book Club #YOCBookClub

As we're now coming to the end of 2013 and make our way to the beginning of 2014 I imagine that a lot of us are planning the changes we will make and that the new year will bring.
Looking back on 2013 one of my highlights was going to Britmums Live, especially because I made some amazing friends. One of which is Kirsty from My Two Mums. Kirsty has been such a supportive friend and a big influence on me in encouraging me to think positively and to believe in myself.

I still have a lot of things I need to focus on in my life and with my anxiety and general positive thinking and confidence but I feel I made progress in believing in myself a tiny bit.
After recently realising that we share a fondness for Chicken Soup for the Soul books Kirsty came up with a fantastic idea of a book club for 2014.
Every month we are going to focus on a different self help book. We're going to look at different styles of self help books, we'll be revisiting ones we've already read, reading ones we've started before but didn't get round to finishing, and reading some we have been recommended.
We're opening this Book Club up so others can be part of it too. It seems a lot of people suffer from anxiety and confidence issues, and focusing on positivity and happiness and we're hoping that the book club will help others as well as ourselves.
We don't claim to be experts, or believe that these books will fix you or us, but we do believe in giving things a try and exploring the different options out there.

The book club is called the Year Of Change Book Club, using the hashtag #YOCBookClub on Twitter and Instagram.
As I said previously each month we will choose a different book and we will discuss the book on the Facebook page (search Year of Change Book Club and request to join). We'll have regular discussions which you are free to join in with whenever you like but we would encourage everyone to join in at the end of the month to summarise their thoughts and feelings.
Of course we would love for those joining in to also blog about their experience with each book.
There is no pressure at all with those joining in finishing the book in a month. We know how busy people can be with work, blogging, parenting, and general real life so if you only get a quarter or half of the way through a book we still want you to be involved in the discussions and blog posts.

We are currently organising a list of books we will be looking at. All books will be easily sourced from bookshops, Amazon or local charity shops (if you are lucky) or of course your local library.
Our first book will be Dale Carnegies "How to Win Friends and Influence People".
The best price we have found so far is the Kindle version on Amazon which is £4.31.
The first book club will start on January 1st. 
http://images.contentreserve.com/ImageType-100/0211-1/%7B84FDEA86-2E03-4EC5-B3ED-B966A8C3025D%7DImg100.jpg

Ways to connect with us

Year of change, book club.

20.12.13

Prestige Flowers | Review

I remember going out for dinner with one of my husbands work friends and his wife. She turned round and said "If my husband bought me flowers I would know he had done something wrong. Men only get flowers when they are guilty".
And there started 5 years of me convincing my husband that this is not the opinion of all women.
I am a romantic and I love receiving flowers. For my birthday, for anniversaries or just because. And I always like having a bouquet around at Christmas.
I'm quite fussy when it comes to flowers and don't tend to like reds and roses, instead opting for purples, blues, oranges and pinks. My favourite flowers are Lillie's so any bouquets featuring those are a sure hit with me.
I was given the opportunity to review a luxury bouquet from Prestige Flowers and after a whole afternoon of being stuck between two of the designs on offer I went for the Winter Delight bouquet.
The flowers were delivered last Thursday (the 12th) along with a small box of chocolates and a small teddy bear. The items were delivered via Royal Mail which I really liked as I knew roughly when they would come and didn't have to wait around all day.
I love that despite the fact the flowers are not being the "traditional" Christmas colours of red and green and instead are different shades of beautiful purples they do not look out of place on a Christmas table display.

I'm always dubious about how long flowers will last and a week on these are still full of life and the Lillie's have just opened and smell AMAZING!

These bouquets cost around £39.50 and as it's so fresh and full and with such a variety of flowers, I feel you really do get your moneys worth.

A little bit about Prestige Flowers:
You have up until 4pm to be able to order flowers for next day delivery, and same day delivery is also an option.
They are able to deliver flowers anywhere in the UK.

Would we order from Prestige Flowers? Definitely. Looking at the website we love the different varieties of bouquets and gift available, and for every event or celebration.


14.12.13

Some Things I Love #23 {A Disneyland Special}

Having just been on a fab 3 night break at Disneyland Paris it would be rude to not have this weeks Some Things post almost dedicated to our holiday.

The map and schedule of the main Disneyland Park and the Studios were basically stuck to my hand the majority of the three days we were there.

Everything at Disney. The parade, the snow, the fireworks and lightshow at the castle, the characters, the boys meeting the characters, the boys faces throughout the whole 3 days.

 We were soooo lucky that it didn't rain once and although it was cold and frosty it wasn't too awful and unbearable. I did dig out my thick grey coat to wear though which helped.

Well of course Disney songs, Disney songs and Disney songs. This is one of my favourites, they made it Christmassy for the parade this year although we can't find that version online anywhere.
I put this on the computer the day after we came back and the boys immediately started dancing shouting "Disneyland!! Disneyland!!" and I cried when I heard it. I now just need to learn the words.

The magic of Disney of course.

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13.12.13

Win a £50 Experience Days Voucher

Christmas is now LESS than TWO WEEKS away. Have you got all your presents? Still struggling for your husband, dad, brother, mum, sister, uncle?
Maybe this could help. I have got a £50 Experience days Voucher to give away.
There are lots of Experiences available to choose from including:
Skydiving
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Spa Days
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Hot Air Balloon Ride
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Entry is simple. All you need to do is fill in the Rafflecopter form below.
Please make sure you fill the form in correctly for your entry/entries to be valid.

Terms and Conditions:
Any invalid entries will not be counted.
The competition closes on December 19th, you must be available to send over your address to me by 10am on Friday the 20th to be able to recieve the voucher before Christmas.
You must leave your Twitter ID or email address below so I know how to contact you.
The prize will be sent out to the winner by Experience Days.
There will only be one winner.
UK entries only.



a Rafflecopter giveaway

A Magic Break and Some Perspective

Having just got back from a 4 night stay away with my husband and the boys I've realised that a lot of things I always considered important actually aren't as important as I always thought.

We spent a night in London, which was wonderful. We got to our room at 3.45ish and rather than going into London we just stayed in the room the rest of the afternoon, ordering a bottle of wine, juice for the boys, room service food and watching Cbeebies then You've Been Framed. The boys had a bath and then we all settled down for cuddles and sleep.

The following day we made our way to the Eurostar, managing to drop a passport onto the track as we boarded and almost loosing tickets and my husbands phone in the process, and we headed to France for a 3 night break at Disneyland Paris.

I took my DSLR and planned to take lots of photos, even packing a spare SD card feeling sure I would fill them both. But I didn't.
There were moments that I wanted to take photos, but I didn't, simply because it would have meant letting go of Harry's hand for a minute or two, not so much worrying that he would run off but that I would miss out on that contact for a minute or two, because in no time at all he won't want to hold my hand. Or missing out on a reaction from the boys at something, or missing out on something they've said.
I got a little stressed when the parade came along on the first day and we were stuck sat on the pavement and I had Harry on my lap. I wondered how I would get the perfect photo of the parade and of the characters and then I thought....who cares?! The most important thing was to sit and enjoy the parade, to show Harry and Charles the characters we had been discussing for so long. Watching their reactions as everyone walked past, taking in the magic, the music, the atmosphere, and choosing which of the characters I would rather dress up as if I had to work there.
I took photos of the parade, of course most are not in focus and are blurry but when looking through them when we returned home I didn't care.
I felt a little disappointed of course, but then remembered why I didn't get these perfect shots.
Because it wasn't about that. It was about being with my family. Enjoying my family and our time together. The photos will help to share with the boys in years to come but I feel I would prefer to say "look at these, they aren't perfect because we were having a cuddle and we were dancing along to the music" rather than "look at these, you both had to sit with daddy so I could get these photos for you". The memory of the snuggles and the sways are a lot more important.
I realised that whenever I go somewhere I don't always take photos just for us. I take photos of what I think other people might want to see, on here or on Facebook but I didn't do that this time.
I had plans to video the firework show at the Disney Castle and although I took photos of the Castle all glittery before the show started I then put my camera away, collected Harry out of the hired pushchair and held him tight as we watched and shouted "Wow" and pointed out all of the characters and colours that we saw.
I didn't want to video the castle just to show people on Facebook, there are plenty of videos on Youtube for that.

When we got home I felt glad that I put my camera down a lot more. I took the important photos of us with characters and little things I don't want to forget. I looked over my photos when we got back and realised that they aren't all perfect. My settings are out on most, a lot are out of focus but to me, they are fab and I don't need to impress anyone else.
Why are they fab to me? Because they are proof I had an amazing few days with the most important people in my life.

I placed a select few photos on Facebook and realised something else, which is why not all of the photos I took went on there. This isn't a new realisation, more of a reminder I suppose that social media has almost completely wiped out simple, general conversations. 
People just want to see photos. Back in the day (yep, I'm old) it was all about conversation. Telling people about what you got up to, what your favourite ride was, what your childs favourite ride was, what the weather was like, how long you spent in each park. People wanted to hear about your experience, and now it seems it's as simple as piecing together a story from photos, and it really makes me sad, and it's part of what makes me want to shut things away, to somehow force questions and make a conversation happen.

Not only was it nice to just spend that quality time with my family and to switch off from the pressure I had put on myself when it comes to sharing our lives, it was also nice to get some perspective and to understand what is important and to realise what I expect from people in my life. To realise how much of myself and my family I want to freely give away and how much I want to be wanted from us and requested from us.



7 Perils of Being Santa Claus

Whenever we talk about Santa and him visiting on Christmas Eve we cover the most important thing of all...how will he get into our house? We don't have a chimney so will he get in through the door, if so, how? Do we leave a key? Will he have a key anyway?
Where will we leave his Whisky and mince pie? Will we need to leave a light on?

I was shown this great infographic which covers all of the other things we should consider when Santa visits this year, plus some interesting (and surprising) figures from a survey looking at health and safety at Christmas.

http://www.first4lawyers.com/the-seven-perils-of-being-santa-infographic/

This infographic is in association with First4Lawyers

9.12.13

Motivational Monday #21

Another Walt Disney quote this week. I love this, so simple, straight to the point and so true.
I'd imagine we're not the only people to have had problems with families and sometimes it can all get too much. The term "blood is thicker than water" becomes false.
You wonder who you can trust and who is really there for you. But I've realised this year that it doesn't matter what other people do to me, or say to me, don't do or don't say. The most important thing for me is to work on MY family.
The unit of four I am partly in charge of.
They are the ones I need to use my energy on, put my time into and those are the ones I need to worry about.
The ones who will be there no matter what, who will love me no matter what, and will always care for me and love me.

It doesn't matter how close or how far away they are. The fact they are there is what is important and is all that matters.

7.12.13

Some Things I Love #22

The new re-launched super exciting I Heart Snapping website. I'm so excited for my three friends Hayley, Katie and Lucy and am very proud of them. I'm also proud to be a contributor to the site too and am honored to be part of it.
My husband attaching the Christmas tree to the roof of our car. It's the first time we've put one on the top of it and the drive home was a little nerve-racking as we kept looking in the rear view mirror to see if we had left a tree behind but we made it home in one piece and now I can watch the blue sparkly lights on it instead.
I was a rebel and wore a leopard print dress last weekend. I bought it just before Britmums Live, when I felt quite confident about myself but didn't get round to wearing it, especially as my husband informed me that he didn't actually like animal print much. 
But at the weekend I decided to try it on and to wear a chunky cardigan with it to make it a little more casual and comfortable. 

On Tuesday I drove to my mums and was listening to Radio 2 as I am obsessed with it again. I was OVER.THE.MOON when Simply Red came on. I lurve them so much.

As much as I can get annoyed when the boys won't sleep I do like late night conversations and jokes and cuddles when they wake up.
Harry made me jump on Tuesday. His bedroom is opposite the bathroom and as I walked out I looked at the floor in his room as I saw a heap of something in the shadows and hoped it wasn't him. It was a toy dinosaur but as my eyes scanned up I saw him staring at me as he looked round from his bed. It was quite scary and he made me jump, which he found hilarious.
I went in and we talked for ages, and laughed as I sat on his floor as he said "bye" and tried to walk around me trying to leave the room. As I replied "No bye" he would burst out laughing.

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6.12.13

Instajunction | Review

Four months ago I finally got myself an Android phone. The first thing I set up, the most important thing of all, was Instagram. I'd seen other peoples photos for a while and desperately wanted to be able to share mine too.
I love the camera on my phone and love Instagram, which may be noticeable by those who follow me.

I was offered the chance to review Instajunction and their products.

 About Instajunction
We like Instagram. And we like taking photos and sharing them with friends, and we like to print stuff. Not just boring stuff you can buy on the high street, but fun and exciting things that you want to carry around and show off to people all day long.
So we brought together all these things we like and know into Instajunction, the greatest place to do something a bit more exiting with all those great looking pictures you've got squirrelled away on Instagram and Facebook? Quite simply, we put your Instagram, Facebook or uploaded pictures on a range of exciting and different products that you won’t find anywhere else – from sticker books to coasters, Polaroid style cards to wall vinyls. Fantastic quality, speedy delivery anywhere in the world and all at sensible prices.

I chose the Polaroid Style Cards. These seem to be quite trendy again at the moment and I really wanted to see how they came out. I really like the effect of them, I like the many things that can be done with them.
I considered making Polaroid bunting which I've seen made by others but have instead decided to use them as notes to put in Christmas Cards of people we don't see often. We think one of these is a lovely little keepsake to add to the inside of a card.

Although I love the product and the service is fab with fast delivery the price is, in my opinion, quite expensive. I think £9.99 is a lot for 10 cards so I would only get these again for a special occasion and would make sure I used photos that were special and of better quality, or a bigger quantity as the price seems a little more reasonable with the more you order.
Pack of 10 £9.99
Pack of 25 £19.99
Pack of 50 £24.99
Pack of 100 £29.99



































































I would recommend these, and would buy again because I think these are great products, and the service is fantastic.
 

I was given a voucher to use on the Instajunction site for the purpose of this review.

Do's and Don'ts when Decorating a Childs Room

When it came to decorating and furnishing the boys bedrooms I found it really exciting. I loved creating a space for them both to grow in, that will be practical and comfortable and most importantly a space that they will love.

We've now decorated each bedroom twice and I we are now at the point where we are happy with what we have created, as our the boys. We have a list of 6 'Do's' and 'Don't' when it comes to decorating your child's bedroom.

DON'T stick to one set theme. We did this first time round and soon realised that 1-children grow out of things quickly and 2-you can't predict what you're children will be into.
We changed a Safari themed room and an underwater themed room into two neutral rooms. The walls are painted in calming colours and we can chop and change the accessories according to what the boys like.
A truck duvet cover wouldn't have gone so well in an underwater themed room.

DO buy a multi-functional bed. As your child gets older they will want friends to stay over, and if like us you have family staying over and feel bad about sticking them on the sofa for the night, then something like truckle beds for girls and boys are great to give that added sleeping space when needed.

DO go for a statement wall. Have three walls in a simple colour such as white, cream or a pale 'hint of'colour will leave you one wall to have fun with. You could decide to wallpaper that wall, or simply use a bright colour which you can always paint over if and when you wanted to.

DON'T go for cream or pale carpets. I don't need to explain the many reasons why.

DO think carefully about the furniture you are going for. You want to make sure you invest in something that is great quality, that be be long lasting and that has plenty of storage. We have learnt that researching is key to getting it right when it comes to furniture whether you are looking for simple storage or funky children's bedroom furniture online.

And lastly, DO ask for their input. At 2 years old Harry is able to give us an idea of what he likes and doesn't like and it's important for us that he has a room he likes as well as a room we feel is appropriate for him and for the house. They can do simple jobs such as choosing the colour of the statement wall, their bed, or maybe something simple like the bedding.

PR Collaboration

4.12.13

Popchips: The Perfect Snack

I have odd eating habits. I'm naughty and tend to skip breakfast, or will have it late once I've taken Charles to school and got back home, sorted myself out, had a coffee, sorted Harry out, by which time its 10.30 anyway.

Recently Popchips carried out a survey to reveal the UK snacking habits.
The survey revealed that the average worker is reaching for the snack cupboard at least twice a day to keep them going. ‘snackered’ workers are tucking into a pick-me-up at 11.30am – and again by 3pm. Over three quarters of Brits agree a snack helps to boost energy levels.
The survey of 2,000 british office workers, commissioned by popchips, found that while 72 per cent of office workers start the day full of energy, it rapidly disappears as the day progresses with many grabbing their first snack at 11.30am. by mid-afternoon respondents admitted suffer another energy slump causing them to reach for a second snack at around 2.55pm.

Top Tips for avoiding the snackered slump:

1. be prepared. have snacks ready for when energy slumps hit.
2. check the small print. looks for snacks that won’t blow your daily calorie intake. at less than 100 calories a pack popchips are an ideal snackered treat!
3. get moving. keep your snacks away from your desk so you go for a walk to pick them up. a quick break from the computer can do wonders!
4. snack tasty. keep healthy yummy snacks accessible. if you deny yourself your favourite snacks, you’ll just need up craving for them and over-doing it. try popcorn, a small packet of nuts and raisins, popchips, olives, a handful of almonds or frozen tubes of fromage-frais.

Popchips are a perfect snacktime treat. I have tried all of the flavours and can honestly say there isn't one that I don't like.
Created in California and now popping in the UK, popchips are a naturally delicious line of popped potato chips. never fried. never baked. popchips are popped with heat and pressure for a snack so crispy and delicious you won’t even notice it’s healthier. The thing I love most about popchips is how strong the flavour is and that the texture isn't too harsh like some crisps. You also don't get that greasy feeling left on your fingers after eating either.

Perfect at 11 o clock and/or 3pm.
I was sent some popchips for the purpose of this post.

Coffee Bean Table Top Tree and Candles

Last year I made my first Styrofoam table top using felt. It was so easy to make, in fact I made two, and I definitely wanted to make more. But the felt was too easy and I wanted something a little different and more challenging and one night decided to try coffee beans.
I didn't know if the coffee beans would actually stiI firsck as they are quite heavy and can be an odd shape but they did! And it looks really effective.

All you need 
Styrofoam cone
Some strong pva glue
Paint
Coffee beans
Glitter.

Firstly I painted the cone so it had a base colour which would show through the gaps. Little fail on my behalf, don't use silver spray paint, it will melt the styrofoam, but thankfully I managed to save it before it completely ruined.
Once that it dry you simply stick your coffee beans around the cone. It does take a while and can be fiddly but it's really quite theraputic and is perfect to do when you have a spare hour or so. I covered half and then returned to the cone the following day to do the other half.
Then you are done, but if you want to go one step further you can add glitter to the coffee beans. I used a glittery nail varnish and selected certain coffee beans at random and it turned the cone from an Autumn decoration to a winter one.

Although the cone is effective and looks pretty, I wanted to have it displayed with something else. Something matching. So I grabbed a plain white pillar candle we have had for ages and glued three rows of coffee beans, simple yet fiddly but again, so effective.
To make a nice set I also added one row to two smaller pillar candles and have set them up on a red festive platter, surrounded by white tinsel and blue lights.

This is the first time I've ever really made a table display and I absolutely love it.

See my previous Christmas Craft Tutorial. When Autumn Met Christmas
http://realhousewifeofsuffolk.blogspot.co.uk/2013/11/pinecones-when-autumn-met-christmas.html