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28.7.14

My Wall Stickers | Review

Wall stickers have always intrigued me. I love the idea of them being easy to apply, and easy to remove. After a bad experience with a cheap pack I bought at a local garden centre I have stayed away but when the opportunity came up recently to review some from My Wall Stickers I thought it would be good to give them a second go.

Harry's room has always been unfinished. I had great plans to fill this wall with photos of him and Charles, and other family photos but as it is an outdoor wall it is an absolute nightmare to hang photos and therefore it has been left blank (other than the frame you can see at the top of the photos). 

This was the wall I wanted to focus on and I was open to the idea of either filling it with a quote or with anything Harry is into. 
The site is full of a wide selection to choose from, with wall stickers for children or nurseries, to tiles stickers, personalised stickers and chalkboard stickers (which really appeal to me but I know my boys may then use it as an excuse to chalk anywhere).
It was when looking on the childrens wall stickers section that I spotted the perfect one for Harry's room.

Harry is a big Mickey Mouse fan and before Christmas last year we were able to take him and Charles to Disneyland Paris, which they loved. At that time I happened to find lots of Walt Disney quotes on Pinterest which I absolutely loved, and seeing one of them on the My Wall Stickers site I knew this was the one I had to go for.

With 20 colours to choose from I was stuck and didn't know whether or not to go for black, which I decided would be a bit too harsh for the soft colours we've chosen for Harry's room, and I was really tempted by Sky Blue. I worried it may be too harsh or maybe look a bit cheap but I went for it anyway....and I was glad I did.
The colour is beautiful, and I think the brightness of it is perfect for a child's room and also suits the quote perfectly.

The quote is quite large, 50cm tall x 120cm wide, but works really well on a blank wall in a small bedroom as it creates a beautiful feature. The text is beautiful classic Disney too, which Harry noticed straight away and this, as well as him recognising the word 'Disney' made him excited straight away. 

The wall sticker was super easy to apply and took me around 15-20 minutes to put up. If you make a mistake and get an air bubble on one of the letters it is easy to peel off and reapply. Once the stickers were applied I went over each one carefully again to make sure they were firmly stuck to the wall so they either didn't fall off and weren't easy for one of the boys to pick off. 

The Walt Disney 'If You Can Dream It' wall stickers cost £19.99 which for such a big feature I think is a fantastic price. 
Both boys were amazed at the wall stickers and I am over the moon with them. I really feel like they've made Harry's room complete.


We were sent this wall sticker for the purpose of this review.

27.7.14

Happy Sunday | Week Nineteen

Whether or not you think Sunday is the end of the week, or the beginning of a new one, I thought it would be a nice idea to look back on the week that has just past and to look at the things that have made me happy and made me smile.
I think it can be easy to look back on a hard week and miss out on those things. A week of bad weather for example can really make it seem as though the whole week was a complete fail. But it probably wasn't. We must all smile at least once a day. I know I do, even if I forget it.

Things that made me happy this week:

Like Mother, Like Son

I took a photo of Harry, Charles and Charles' girlfriend outside the school on the last day this week. It wasn't until I looked back at the photos that I noticed that Harry has clearly been paying more attention than I thought when I take my in-the-mirror-selfies.

Teddy Bears Picnic

On Tuesday parents were invited to Charles' school to celebrate their wonderful year. We were treated to a slideshow which was quite emotional to watch, especially as the children called out each childs name as they appeared on the screen and then all sang along to 'Let It Go' at it was played towards the end of the slideshow.
We were then ushered through to the other classroom where the teachers held an Oscars Ceremony. Each child recieved an Oscar. Some were funny like 'Most Likely to Marry Harry Styles' 'Longest Plaits' and others were sweet like 'Most Fantastic Friend' and 'Best Manners'.
Charles won 'Most Likely to Sail Around the World'. They had a little red carpet to walk down and then stood proudly on top of a box to smile for a photo, at which point I also stood and told him to smile as he looked so nervous and took my own photos.
We were then able to stay and join the children for a teddy bears picnic. It was such a fantastic end to a wonderful year.

Iced Espresso

We had to go to Norwich this week for my husband to have his weekly check up at Optical Express following his Laser Eye Surgery. I walked around Norwich with the boys whilst we waited for him to finish and then he treated us to a Starbucks. I went for a Espresso Frappucino which was AMAZING. I knew I wouldn't be able to recreate this at home, and usually make a fantastic (if I do say so myself) Frappucino but you know, on a diet now, so I went for an Iced Espresso instead, which was really quite tasty and refreshing.

Daisy Chain

We popped down to the boat this week briefly just to check a few things over. The bank is covered in daisies which the boys always insist on picking for me. This time I couldn't resist but to try and make a daisy chain. The boys were so impressed with me and although it didn't work as the headband I hoped it would, it was perfect as a necklace.
We are meeting up with some friends soon and we will be making daisy chains and flower crowns which I am super excited about.

End of School Year Beach Time

On Wednesday we headed to the beach straight after school. Armed with lots of bags of toys, towels, a change of clothes, swimwear and a picnic we made our way onto the sand and in no time at all the sandwiches were covered in sand accidently kicked on them and the blanket to sit on was wet due to feet which had been paddling in the sea.
The boys can be nervous of the sea but I've always found the best way to get them to be brave and to get over that initial fear is to force them in. I know, it sounds mean, but it works for us. One minute Harry is saying 'no mummy' and the moment I put his legs in the water and swing him so his legs crash into the waves he is laughing, giggling and screaming for more.
It made me so happy to see them enjoying themselves. I just regret not doing it sooner but....I have a summer to fill so more beach time is definitely on the cards.

What made you happy this week?

Linking up to:
The Ordinary Moments: Mummy Daddy Me
My Week That Was: Make, Do and Push
Magic Moments: The Oliver's Madhouse

26.7.14

My #RealMumsAllBran Challenge Experience

I grew up with All-Bran 'Original' and Bran Flakes always being a regular item in our food cupboard. I would eat them occasionally but never for the help with digestion, but more for the fact that I love the taste of it, particularly the Original if served with milk, apples chopped in and a teeny tiny sprinkling of sugar.
Now as an adult myself I do tend to buy All Bran occasionally, just simply because I like it or if I am taking any kind of medication which can affect digestion and bowels.

I was really quite excited when I saw that All Bran had released 3 new products which I was sent to try out as part of their 'All-Bran 5 Day Challenge'.
Confession: I don't eat breakfast, and at the moment I fast until 12 at which point I will have a light lunch followed by a heavier (but not too heavy) dinner at around 6 or 7 o clock. OR, again I will fast until 12, have a heavier lunch and then at around 6 or 7 o clock I will have a light dinner.

So using the All-Bran products as my lighter option has been perfect.
Everyday I measured out a 45g serving of my chosen cereal and decided to eat them without adding milk. This was for 2 reasons: 1, I am cutting milk down in my diet so only have it when really necessary and 2, I actually think that milk would ruin them as they are really tasty without it.

First up is the All-Bran Chocolate Crunch. I'm not usually a fan of chocolatey cereals but these are delicious.
All-Bran Chocolate Crunch is a light and crunchy multi-grain cereal made with wheat bran, oven baked into delicious clusters with chocolate pieces, so it’s not only good for your digestive health, but tastes great too!
Perfect to be served as a cereal at breakfast (with or without milk) these are also great to eat 'dry' as a healthy snack.

Second is the All-Bran Red Berry Crunch. I have to be perfectly honest. I didn't like this, but it is just a personal thing because I don't really like freeze dried fruit. However, I did at least try some and could see that this would definitely appeal to people who do like freeze dried fruit. In  fact this box will be heading home to my mums house as I know she will love this flavour.
And thirdly is the All-Bran Golden Crunch. This was another hit! As with the Chocolate Crunch I don't feel it is necessary to serve with milk and I liked this as a cereal for lunch or dinner but also as a picky snack.
Golden Crunch is a deliciously light multi-grain cluster, oven-baked to perfection for a golden crunch. Great for your digestive health, fantastic on the taste buds.
Since being on my healthy eating mission I think my digestive system and tolerance for particular foods has changed dramatically so I'm not sure I really noticed much of a change with the 5-Day Challenge.
What I can say though is that I did prefer this cereal to others on the market as they didn't make me feel at all bloated, or uncomfortably full. I also found that after eating each 45g portion, which was served alongside a black coffee and pint of water, I wasn't left feeling hungry or like I needed to grab a second helping.
I also tend to like adding sugar to my cereal but I didn't feel the need to at all with these at all.

My husband has also enjoyed these cereals and we are already on our second boxes of the Chocolate Crunch and Golden Crunch with I purchased in our grocery delivery this week.
I can see All-Bran becoming a regular staple in our kitchen cupboards now, just as it is in my mums.


This post is an entry for the “Real Mums of All-Bran” Linky Challenge, sponsored by Kelloggs

24.7.14

Banana Pancakes | Recipe

Lets get something out in the open right now.
Bananas are evil.
They smell, they have a horrid texture, they smell, they are messy, they smell, the taste funny and they smell. But.....I ate one...and enjoyed it. I feel like I have cheated myself through doing this. How could I?! I adore pancakes and would eat them until I burst. Earlier this year I ate them almost everyday for a week, covered in chocolate and marshmallows and a healthier savoury option although this probably would have been covered in cheese and mayo.

I regularly watch Vivianna Does Make Up on Youtube. If you are not aware of her then go and seek her out immediately. Although predominantly about make up and fashion her weekly Vlogs are my favourite, and this is where I first saw "banana pancakes".
A healthy version of pancakes...how can it be?!
The recipe is super simple but also really quite adaptable so you can make up your two main ingredients and then throw in whatever else you like. I wanted raisins but didn't have any in so opted for desiccated coconut instead.
What you need:
A tiny bit of oil
1 banana
2 eggs
Other bits you may like to add. For example...I added 2 teaspoons of coconut and then included a sliced apple to the side of the bowl once the pancakes were made.
If you feel naughty you can always add some Nutella or (as I used but only as a taste test of course) ice cream sauce.

Simply mash your banana, whisk up your eggs, combine the two together, then either dry fry in a non-stick pan, or add a tiny amount of oil to a pan, and pour as much as you'd like into the pan (depending on the side of the pancake you want!) and flip once it looks like the pancake is done on the bottom side. It does take longer than other pancakes I find and if you flip too soon it will just end up looking like a banana-ery scrambled egg.

Once cooked both sides, serve. And enjoy.

Capturing Colour | Silver

We are now on Week Eight of the Capturing Colour project.

Week Seven | Gold

This week's colour was silver...which was really fun and easier to find than I thought it would be.



23.7.14

101 Things in 1001 Days

Start Date: July 23rd, 2014

End Date: April 19th, 2017

Experience

  1. Go for afternoon tea
  2. Go for a spa day
  3. Go to London with mum
  4. Visit the cinema alone
  5. Eat at a Mexican restaurant
  6. Watch the sunrise
  7. Watch the sunset
  8. Visit Scotland
  9. Have a child-free weekend away
  10. Go on holiday to Somerset
  11. Meet up with/visit 5 blog friends
  12. Watch 10 Tom Hanks films
  13. See an Orang-utan
  14. Do a Segway Experience with mum
  15. Learn how to change a tyre
  16. Visit 5 London Museums
  17. Complete an online course
  18. Visit 5 coffee shops alone
  19. Watch 10 classic films I haven’t watched before
  20. See Blood Brothers on stage
  21. Visit Blickling Hall
  22. Grow Butterflies
  23. Grow Ladybirds
  24. Visit Somerleyton Hall
  25. Watch Banger Racing
  26. Go to a murder mystery event
  27. Make 5 new friends
  28. Hire a bouncy castle for the weekend “just because”
  29. Try Oysters
  30. Take the boys on a road trip
  31. Have our own food festival
  32. Have a coffee and catch up with Sarah
  33. Visit the trout farm
  34. Take the boys to the Panto
  35. See 5 different shows all at different theatres
  36. Go to the cinema with mum
  37. Drive on a motorway
  38. Teach Harry to pedal with stabilisers
  39. Teach Harry to pedal without stabilisers
  40. Teach Charles to pedal without stabilisers
  41. Go in a hot tub
  42. Have a date night down the beach
  43. Do something special with Dale for our 30th
  44. Do something special for our 10 year wedding anniversary
  45. Do something special for Jonathans 40th.
  46. Read 5 books
  47. Watch 10 films in the dvd drawer that are still in the plastic packaging
  48. Watch 3 Men and a Baby followed by 3 Men and a Little Lady
  49. Learn all the words to Elton John’s ‘Step into Christmas’
  50. Learn the words to Vuelve
  51. Go fruit picking

Purchase

  1. Bike
  2. 40mm lens
  3. New laptop
  4. Cath Kidston dress
  5. 3 statement necklaces
  6. Flowers for myself every month for a year
  7. New curtains for 3 bedrooms and the lounge
  8. Harry’s fingerprint in a charm
  9. Photos for Big Nanny

Creative

  1. Learn how to make Sushi
  2. Learn how to create and edit videos
  3. Make a daisy chain and a flower crown
  4. Photograph a day in my life every week for 7 weeks (1 on a Monday, 1 on a Tuesday etc)
  5. Complete a 1 month self portrait project
  6. Photograph a scene from the same position, on the same date, at the same time, every month for a year. (ie/ on the 10th of each month)
  7. Complete a ‘Where I Stand’ project for a whole month
  8. Make 5 different soups
  9. Create and Complete a photography Scavenger hunt
  10. Take a photo at the same time everyday for a month
  11. Use all the fabric in my current collection
  12. Make a skirt for myself
  13. Paint the rabbit hutch
  14. Get a notebook or scrapbook to document this project
  15. Go on 10 photowalks

Organise

  1. Sort photos on laptop
  2. Sort photos on hard-drive
  3. Print photos of Harry for our photowall
  4. Tidy, organise and add to my Pinterest boards
  5. Write a will
  6. Go for a bra fitting
  7. Sort a seating area in the garden
  8. Sort the top of our wardrobe
  9. Sort Jonathan’s shirts and give some to charity

Blog

  1. Sort sponsored posts
  2. Add tags on posts
  3. Be involved in something BIG
  4. Work with a mental health charity
  5. Start and stick to a blog project for a year
  6. Go to 3 conferences
  7. Complete the “50 Things That Can Free Your Mind” questions 

Lifestyle

    92. Lose 1 Stone
    93. Perform 5 Random Acts of Kindness
    94. List 101 things that make me happy
    95. Send 5 cards/letters to people who have influenced me or made a difference to my life
    96. Make a list of 25 things I like about myself
    97.  Make a list of 15 things I don’t like about myself and make a point of working on what I can change or act on and what I just need to accept [amended] List 101 Quotes that inspire me.
   98. Wear dresses for a month
   99. Complete the 30 day shred
  100. Wear my hair down for a month
  101. Go make up free for a week

22.7.14

Celebrating Prince George's First Birthday with Frugi

Since becoming part of the Frugi Family earlier this year I have completely fallen in love with the brand. Their designs are fantastic, especially for boys as they tend to stay away from the usual slogan and character styles you see in supermarkets and instead make funky, cool, and pretty items.
The quality is amazing and I think the prices reflect the design and quality.
We are slowly adding to our collection, and since Charles recieved his fantastic outfit to celebrate Frugi's 10th birthday we have purchased the same dinosaur tshirt but for Harry and also the crab print too.

We are big fans of the Royal family *cough our boys names cough* and we celebrated the birth of Prince George last year with a tea party, so this year we didn't want to miss out on any celebrating at all.
When Frugi chose to send us a limited edition 'Prince George and the Dragon' top for Harry, especially made to celebrate Price George's First Birthday, I was over the moon.
The exclusive t-shirts, of which only 60 have been produced, are made from Frugi’s signature super-soft 100% organic cotton interlock, with a beautifully detailed ‘Prince George and the Dragon’ embroidered applique. The tops are sure to be a hit with parents and children alike; as well as being customarily cute they’re also practical with an envelope neck to make it really easy to pop over little heads! The sixty t-shirts will cover ages 0-3 months to 3 years, and Frugi have some very exciting plans for them.

This month Frugi founders Lucy & Kurt Jewson were lucky enough to meet The Queen at Buckingham Palace in recognition of the company’s recent Queen’s Award for Enterprise...which is such fantastic news and very well deserved.
Rumour has it that there is a Limited Edition tshirt in this box to be handed over to Prince George himself.

‘We’re all so excited to win the Queen’s Award and to be visiting the palace that we knew we would have to do something extra special to celebrate’, commented Lucy Jewson, ‘the t-shirt is just gorgeous, and we really hope that the Queen will like it and pass it on to William and Kate.’
photo credit: Poppy Sheen

Although the t-shirts would be prized by collectors, and could retail at a premium price, Frugi have decided to use some for charity auctions and competition winners. Frugi fans should keep a beady eye on their Facebook page and Twitter, as they are sure to be giving one or two away!

There are 10 bloggers in the Frugi Family, visit Karen and family at Would Like to be a Yummy Mummy to see what they have to say about this tshirt.



21.7.14

This is Motherhood. For Your Real Life.

I'm driving along in my car, down a country lane. I pull over at a layby. Stop the car. Undo my seatbelt and get out.
I'm exhausted but I know this needs to happen, I have threatened it enough, I expected changes which didn't happen, simple and easy changes.
I go round to the other side of the car, open the door, unclick the seatbelt and remove Charles from the car. I stand him, safely, next to the car (obviously not the side near the road) and wait. I wait for him to just.stop.crying. To stop moaning. To calm down.

I planned a lovely evening for the boys. We met a friend and her daughter at the zoo, only for a short time as it closed at 5. They played, we talked although not as much as either of us would have liked, and the children put on a pretend show in the area the bird of prey demonstration is usually held.
We notice the time and say it is time to leave.
Charles breaks down. He cries and cries and screams. I ask a member of staff to confirm what time the zoo closes because Charles doesn't believe me. They say in 5 minutes.
He carries on. I show him the sign outside the main entrance and he read it with me "zoo closes at 5pm". He still cried.

We get into the car and he carries on.  My friend is wonderful and tells me that I'm not the only one that goes through this.
It continues and I realise that a few times I have threatened to pull over and take him out of the car until he stops. I realise I need to stop with the empty threats, and at that point I pull over.
I expect to cry but I feel empty. And this is becoming something that happens all too regularly.
I have to keep reminding myself that this is motherhood. It isn't all about the easy life, the fun times, playing, learning, love and cuddles. It's not the image we long for when we fall pregnant or even dream of one day being a parent.
Fun trips to the park followed by ice cream and feeding the ducks.
Picnics and country walks.
Days down at the beach, splashing in the water, building suncastles, eating chips and burying legs in the sand.
The perfect family dinner, where the company was enjoyed to the full, food is enjoyed and a dessert is rewarded.

Motherhood isn't that dream.
Real motherhood is unpredictable. Full of good days and bad days.
Real motherhood is hard. Your emotions are up and down and one minute you are celebrating a good school report and the next you are frustrated and at boiling point because once again simple instruction has been ignored.
One minute you are praising a fantastic sports day and you feel so so proud and the next you are asking your child the same question 5 times because that's how long he tells you the truth.

Both boys are making life hard. And there are days when I want to walk away. When I question whether or not they love or like me...they certainly don't respect me.

I keep blaming myself. I keep blaming them. I make excuses for myself. I make excuses for them.

Maybe sometimes someone is to blame, maybe sometimes the excuses are justified, and maybe sometimes it's just motherhood, nothing else.
Parenting is full of a wide range of "moments". There are those ones which make you wonder why you ever thought you could be a mum. Those moments when you think you are doing everything wrong, and you don't know how to fix it or if it will ever end .
 
And then there are the ones which make you feel like being a mum is made for you and that you can do anything and deal with anything.

I am learning everyday to expect the unexpected, be it in a good way or a bad way.
Not being or feeling able to cope or control situations doesn't make me a bad mother. You can't prepare for every moment, every phase, every difficult situation that you will face.
You won't always react to things the best way, and will quite often look back and realise that you could have handled certain things differently.

Motherhood is all about learning and to learn you have to go through these horrible, hard moments. Moments that make you doubt yourself, moments you think you can't handle. Moments that break you down. And it might take a while to learn, and you may have to go through these things 2, 3, 4 or 10 times until you work out how best to handle it.

To try and resolve those bad moments I always try to have a nice cuddle with the boys at night. Whether or not it's at bedtime or if I see them when they are asleep, or end up waking them up. I hate to go to sleep without being friends or saying I love you.

This is Motherhood.
For your real life.


20.7.14

Happy Sunday | Week Eighteen

Whether or not you think Sunday is the end of the week, or the beginning of a new one, I thought it would be a nice idea to look back on the week that has just past and to look at the things that have made me happy and made me smile.
I think it can be easy to look back on a hard week and miss out on those things. A week of bad weather for example can really make it seem as though the whole week was a complete fail. But it probably wasn't. We must all smile at least once a day. I know I do, even if I forget it.

Things that made me happy this week:

Different Style

On Sunday we went to a Country Fayre in a town nearish to us. The fayre is held every year at a stately home and I love going. The weather was forecast as rain and storms but it was still hot so I embraced a style I have always envied and went for shorts, a vest and wellies. The shorts are two sizes too big but with a belt were reasonably ok. It actually turned out to be SO hot and I regretted the wellies....and not putting on suncream.

Changes

I hadn't been able to find a before and after photo to show my weight loss and the change in my body shape. So when I tried on this leopard dress to see if it was suitable for our date night I remembered I had posted about it before on Instagram. Seeing the changes made me quite proud...and also surprised me as usually I would look back on photos of me with long hair and want to grow it back, but this made me happy I had it cut short.

Date night

We haven't had a date night in a while and with my husband booked for laser eye surgery on Thursday we wanted to just have a bit of time together to talk about life in general and of course to discuss the surgery too.
We had a wonderful meal and enjoyed a bottle of our favourite Rose Prosecco...which seems to be a tradition for us to purchase when we visit this place.
The view was amazing as we looked over the Norfolk Broads and watched the sun set. We'd finished our meal by 8 o clock so sat in the garden area, by the water (once we managed to find a small spot that didn't have goose poo on it) enjoyed our wine, and a whiskey for him and Baileys for me. It was wonderful.





The Laser <say this in the same style as Dr Evil>

My husband was so so so brave this week and finally took a big step and went for Laser Eye Surgery. We got to shop for some new non-prescription sunglasses for him which was a novelty.
So far things are going great and his eyes seem to be doing well. I'm so proud of him for going through with it, I'm not sure I could!

No33

The day after my husbands eye surgery we had to go to Norwich for him to have a check up. The appointment was at 9 in the morning so we went for some breakfast after. I've always wanted to visit No33 Cafe in Norwich and after finally realising where it is we couldn't walk past and not go in. I had a delicious Salmon Benedict (although it wasn't as good as the one my husband makes) washed down with a big cup of Americano coffee....black with 2 sugars of course.
Hopefully we pop back soon to try some of their cakes which looked amazing!

What made you happy this week?

Linking up to:
The Ordinary Moments: Mummy Daddy Me
My Week That Was: Make, Do and Push
Magic Moments: The Oliver's Madhouse

19.7.14

She Keeps Leaving

I keep seeing hints of this girl, or woman as I suppose she is now classed as. When I look in the mirror, in photos, and in myself.
That Lauren that I quite like. The one who makes me feel confident, a bit safe, happy and...well....just makes me feel like me.

But she keeps leaving. And I don't know when she will be back. Sometimes just for a day, sometimes for a week or more.
It scares me, and it confuses me. Just as I feel things are getting back on track something happens that ruins it all. The reflection, the girl I recognise and like, is gone. Sometimes I can feel her leaving, and I cling on for as long as I can but then, she's gone.
I've lost her again. And I don't know how to get her back.

I almost beg her not to go. Promise to change and all that jazz but it's too late.
I await her return. I hope and pray that it won't be long because the darkness, emptiness and confusion is all getting too much to cope with.

I feel like a broken record. I *am* a broken record.
And maybe that's why she leaves? Because she doesn't like this me. Maybe she feels that this me is too over-powering. Too much to handle. I understand that. I can feel that. But I try. I try my best to keep her close.
To be her as much as I can.
But sometimes it's so tough and it's beyond my control.

I just want to be her again.
But she keeps leaving.

17.7.14

Capturing Colour | Gold


We are now on Week Seven of the Capturing Colour project.


This week's colour is Gold.
 The project has now moved from blogs to Instagram but I love to use it as an excuse to use my DSLR to take photos of the most random of things.

Gold was difficult, until I looked around my house and spotted a lot of gold in everyday things.