Monday, 28 October 2013

Keeping Your Children Safe Online

As a parent of a pre teen girl, there is nothing more worrying than her safety. As much as I worry about her staying safe outside in the big wide world, there are even more reasons to be cautious when she is indoors and online. You hear horror stories everyday about terrible things that happen online from cyber-bullying to grooming, and with using the internet becoming more and more of a necessity for our children, especially with school work how can we ensure we are doing the very best in keeping our children safe online? There are ever increasing opportunities for children to get online now. Through laptops, smart phones, tablets and games consoles. By following these simple steps you can ensure that your children stay safe when online and still enjoy all the wonderful benefits of the “World Wide Web”.

  • Brush Up Your Own Knowledge of the Web - The more you understand about the internet, the easier it will be to inform your children. Make sure you are aware of the different sites your children will be visiting. Get used to browsing different sites including social networking sites. Remember if it’s easy for you to find online it will be easy for them too!

  • Keep The Internet “In Sight” – Whether they are using laptops, tablets or even their smart phones, make sure your children are always using the internet where everyone can see. Never allow them to be locked away in their bedroom or out of sight from anyone.

  • Explain The Dangers That Can Be Found Online – If you feel your children are mature enough to be using the web then they should be mature enough to understand the different dangers inherent to being online and when using social media. Explain the different situations that they could find themselves in and always make sure they know exactly what to do and who to inform if any such situations occur.

  • Use Filtering Software – There are many marvellous software programmes available to purchase and or download which block out adult/harmful/explicit material. Most programmes can be tailored to block our different sites and content according to the parents’ specifications that are set.

  • Always Be Open And Honest – Always be open with your children. If they have questions about the internet and or its dangers, be honest and explain things truthfully. The more open you are with them the more likely they are to be open with you if anything should happen online. Having an honest and open understanding of what they get up to online will ensure they feel comfortable to come to you should they encounter any trouble online.

There are many resources online for children and parents so if you are in need of any advice then do look around online and stay safe.

My Big Night In

The X-factor has recently returned to our screens which for me means one thing.. Christmas is well and truly on the way. With the sub zero temperatures outside, the nights drawing in at 4 o'clock and the return of some great Saturday night TV many of us are ditching the girls night out plans and making do with a night in front of the goggle box. Since becoming a parent I find that I don't necessarily go out as much as some of my friends who don't have children, but surprisingly that doesn't bother me in the slightest. People (without children) always ask me how I cope without going out all the time! Quite easily actually as I can still find happiness and fulfilment without going out every single weekend. It’s so annoying when people assume because you have children and commitments and choose not to spend every free night hitting the town that you are somehow missing out. I love a night out with the girls, granted it doesn't happen very often but its makes it much more enjoyable when we do meet up and go out together.

Now as much as I love a good night out, I love nothing more than my home comforts. Whether it’s getting the girls round for a catch up with some good food and a bottle of fizz or simply vegging out with Aalliyah and catching up with some latest movies. I must admit the latter seems to happen the most regular!  We are always back and forth from Blockbuster, popcorn and DVD's in hand.

I am a huge movie buff so when it comes to choosing between going out on the town and fighting frostbite or staying indoors with the heating on, some good comfort food and the latest movie release I know what I would prefer (Most of the time anyway) .. and it seems I am not alone in this as a whopping 70% of ladies prefer a night in. Nights out can also prove to be very expensive and although there is lots of fun and excitement to be had hitting the latest clubs there is no reason why a night in has to be a sombre event. Here are some top tips to have the best girls night "IN" ever!

  • Have a pamper session - Dig out the towels and indulge in some DIY spa treatments. Manicures, facials, pedicures... Have fun relaxing and socialising while treating each other to some much needed TLC.
  • Play Games - Games are not just for children. Some of the funniest nights I have ever had included playing games. From the bog standard board games to some truth or dare. Let out your adolescent side and have some fun playing games.
  • Movie Marathons - You can't beat a good movie. Weather it’s a chick flick or a good action movie (purely for the eye candy) All bring a movie and have a movie marathon. You could go from watching Harry Potter to Die hard! Just don't forget the munchies!
  • Theme nights - Why not make a theme for the evening. Maybe you could dig out your leg warmers and hair crimpers and have an eighties night. Just don't forget the music!

There are so many ways to have fun without having to leave the house and a night in is most definitely the new night out! What do you like to do to have fun when staying in? I'd love to hear your girls night in essentials. I have a feeling wine is going to be top of most peoples lists.

*This post is in collaboration with Ladbrokes Bingo

** Survey conducted on over 2000 women in UK

Friday, 18 October 2013

My Reasons To Be Cheerful This Week - #R2BC

I haven't joined in with this linky for a while now, just keep forgetting or putting it off. I have decided I have a lot to be happy about this past week and want to share it. That is the beauty of this linky, even if you feel you have had a fairly mundane week, it really makes you reflect on past events and be thankful and happy for things that you wouldn't normally give a second thought to.

The first thing that I am not only happy but "over the moon" about is that I got a job which I start next week. Being out of work and a SAHM for so many years has always made getting back into employment a very daunting prospect and as much as I am nervous about starting I am excited about all the wonderful opportunities which will hopefully be achievable now.

Another thing I am happy with this past week is reaching a very big milestone in my weightloss journey. I have officially said goodbye to 5 stone of weight! Can you believe it? I have to keep pinching myself honestly. I never thought I would lose anything when joining and now look at me. I have had a bad few months with weight watchers so I am happy I seem to be back in the swing of things.

Finally, I got to go to an event last week and meet a bunch of lovely ladies who are all wonderful bloggers. The event was for a company called Tinyme. We enjoyed a luxury meal and it was set in a beautiful hotel, Brownsover Hall. It was fantastic chatting with so many established bloggers and was a privilege to be invited.

Reasons to be Cheerful at Mummy from the Heart
What has made you happy this week?

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Using My Noodle Again

Some of you may know that a couple of months back I decided to enroll on an adult learning course which was being held at my daughters school. It was a functional skills course covering English and Mathematics at level one. The course went well and I passed. It was a shock to the system at first being back in that classroom environment and doing homework but I am fairly confident in my maths and english abilities and found level one to be fairly easy to complete.

Last week I started level two. My oh my what a different kettle of fish level two is. I knew it would be harder and welcome the challenge of upping my game. Level two covers a lot more varied subjects and in greater detail. Even the questions seem to be worded differently to trip you up. But regardless of how challenging this course will become I am determined to stick it out, knuckle down and get a pass. A pass in this level would be the equivalent of a GCSE A*- C. Now thats got to look more appealing on the old CV rather than a big blank space under qualifications.

Aalliyahs school work has got a lot more difficult and is even receiving extra study support in Mathematics as she is on the verge of pushing through to a level 6 which is fantastic! As you can imagine she brings home some pretty mind boggling homework. Just the other day she asked for my help with some fractions questions and I may aswell have been looking at one of those magic eye illusion pictures where you have to try and find the hidden picture. No matter how many times I read and reread the question, nothing stuck. I guess another big reason I chose to go ahead with level two was to build my confidence and knowledge so that I may be able to assist Aalliyah with her studies which is something I would normally shy away from.

My brain is totally fried today! The amount of information I took in has left my brain feeling numb I dont even want to think about numbers for the rest of the day. I want nothing more than to get in a nice hot bath and crawl into my not so comfortable bed until morning. Yes its like sleeping on a cactus and I'd give anything to be drifting off to sleep on a luxury memory foam mattress but I am so drained after this mornings lessons I could sleep on a rock.

*This post is in collaboration with

Speedy Spaghetti Carbonara *Weight Watchers Friendly Recipe*

This is taken from the Weight Watchers 20 minute meals book but this super quick and easy  meal isn't just for the weight watchers, this tasty and satisfying meal can be enjoyed by the whole family.
Propoints per recipe 38 - Propoints per serving 10
Serves 4 - If cooking for less people divide the ingredients as required.

250g Spaghetti or linguine
Bunch of spring onions
150g Button mushrooms
Cooking spray or oil
1 Large garlic clove
1 Large egg
200g Low fat soft cheese
150ml Skimmed milk
15g Grated parmesan cheese - Or another cheese if preferred 
100g Ham
Black pepper
Parsley to garnish.


  1. Put the spaghetti or linguine into the saucepan and cover with plenty of boiling water from the kettle. Cook for 8-10 minutes or until just tender.
  2. Meanwhile, thinly slice the spring onions and mushrooms. Heat the frying pan and spray or add oil. Add the spring onions and mushrooms to the pan with a peeled and halved garlic clove and cook gently for 5 minutes until softened. Then discard the garlic clove (it is only added into the cooking to give flavor to the finished dish)
  3. Beat the soft cheese and egg together in a mixing bowl, then add the skimmed milk and half the cheese. Add the parsley (chopped/dried) and season with black pepper.
  4. Keep 2 tablespoons of the boiling water before draining the pasta into a colander. Return the pasta to the saucepan with the 2 tablespoons of water and stir in the egg mixture. Once mixed add in the mushrooms and onions and gently mix. Finally add in the chopped ham, return to a gentle heat for 5 minutes mixing occasionally.
  5. Serve with the remaining cheese sprinkled on top and some parsley if you wish.

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Lego Ninjago Garmatron Playset Review

I absolutely love Lego! It's something I have grown up enjoying. We didn't have all the wonderful varieties that are available now but there was something magical about having a pile of rubble in front of you and being able to let your imagination run wild and build anything you wanted. I have always bought Aalliyah construction toys and she is a huge fan of the Lego sets in particular. 

Aalliyah loves the sets that you have to build piece by piece. My patience runs out after 5 minutes but she will happily sit there for hours until the last brick is in place. The Lego Ninjago Garmatron playset was a perfect choice for Aalliyah as it had enough pieces to be a challenge and I knew It would keep her entertained for a long time. The Garmatron is just one of many sets available in the Ninjago range. 

The set itself is a 328 piece which sounded like a lot, but it was actually a lot of little bits and bobs which added on so was in fact an easy build. The instructions were very surprisingly easy to follow, I thought they would be confusing but Aalliyah got on with it no problem. They set out each stage really clear with pictures so the children can get on with it themselves . I think its nice if its easy to follow as it give the younger ones the confidence to be able to build with limited input from the adults. This set was great as it came with the mini figures and featured an extra mini vehicle and a hidden prison inside the battle vehicle. I had almost as much fun playing with it as Aalliyah did, especially when we found a cool feature which shot out a bullet! Its sturdy too so can take a fair amount of play without breaking up.

Aalliyah has put an endless amount of Lego sets on her Christmas list this year but with so many to choose from there really is something for everyone. You can find more great action sets from the Ninjago range here.

Aalliyah gives this set a 10 out of 10 and seeing that it kept her quiet and entertained for near on 3 hours? So do I!

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Coping With Loss

Having to deal with the loss of a loved one is one of the most traumatic, emotional and heartbreaking things to happen in your life. Often when we are faced with loss it leaves us feeling alone and vulnerable and it many cases isolating ourselves to the people closest to us. In 1969 a psychiatrist named Elisabeth Kubler Ross came up with her theory on the five stages of grief. Denial, anger, bargaining, depression and finally acceptance. The most important thing to remember is that each and every emotion that you experience while grieving is totally normal no matter how alien it may feel. What's also important to remember is that no two people are the same. Never compare how you are grieving to someone else. Everyone deals with grief and loss in different ways.

For many people grief is like a rollercoaster of emotions with feelings of shock, anger, sadness and in many cases physical symptoms can also manifest from our grief. Many people experience nausea and weight loss while going through the grieving process. It's called a process for a reason, you don't suddenly wake up the next day to find your grief has gone and you are feeling yourself again. It is a long process with many steps to getting to a place of acceptance. 

The number one thing you need when dealing with a loss of any kind is "Support". Don't lose your support network. Accept the support of people around you. Turn to family and close friends and don't isolate yourself. If you have your own faith you follow then use that to give you strength. If you think you would like a wider support network get in touch with local support groups. Contact your GP. There are so many different support outlets around you. Use them. Grief can be a lonely time but that doesn't mean you have to deal with it alone. Find someone you can trust who can take over any legal matters or paperwork. If you don't feel up to doing something, then don't do it. There may be issues to deal with surrounding the funeral arrangements, will disputes, children etc. Don't let arising problems set you back. Entrust your problems with someone and let them help you through it.

There is no set timescale for grief. It is normal to feel numb and empty following a loss and these feelings will take time to go away. They wont suddenly dissapear but gradually over time they will not be as overbearing and you will slowly start to accept your loss and start moving forward.. It doesn't matter how long it takes to come to terms with things what matters most is you take things one step at a time and at your own pace. If you do feel that things are not getting any better after time or your feelings seem to be getting worse then seek help/advice from your local GP.
Remember there are no right or wrong ways to deal with loss but there are many methods of support available to us to ensure we get the help we need through our grief and help us to move forward with our lives.

*This post is in collaboration with Redress Law

In The Blink Of An Eye

Isn't it scary how quickly the years seem to fly by? I know people say it all the time but time really does seem to pass us by so quickly especially when it comes to our children growing up. It seems like only yesterday I was choosing Aalliyah's pushchair and cot bedding and yet Monday I found myself choosing her secondary school! I went to an open evening at a local secondary school that both myself and Aalliyah are eager for her to get in to. It really was an amazing evening touring the school but as I sat there in the auditorium surrounding by hundreds of girls and their parents it suddenly dawned on me, this time next year Aalliyah would be in her secondary school and more than likely helping out on the next presentation evening for prospective pupils. Its not like I am totally unaware of her age, but it just hit me like a bullet. 

I got thinking about all the "firsts" that I would never experience with her again. Her first words, steps, smile. Her first day of school, the first bit of artwork she brought home for me. It is sad to think that I will never get them years back but then as I looked at her watching the presentation with so much excitement in her eyes I started to think of all the new wonderful things we were yet to experience together. Starting secondary school, her first love, her first heartbreak, university, her graduation, passing her driving test and buying her first house. There are so many exciting adventures that lay ahead of her we will have so many "firsts" to still enjoy. Although she needn't think I'm going to be purchasing all these "firsts"! Who knows, maybe when she graduates and makes her "first" million she can actually buy me my "first" mansion. Ok, so not a mansion but there are plenty of beautiful country houses for sale that I wouldn't say no to.

Time really is precious and although its sad to see her leaving those baby years behind it is exciting and wonderful to watch her blossom into a beautiful, intelligent and independent young lady.

*This post in in collaboration with Strutt&Parker

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

The Easiest Daydream

Isn't it amazing how quickly our minds can travel? I mean one minute we could be sat at the bus stop waiting for the number 31 and the next minute we could be sat on a sun lounger in the south of France and what's even more amazing is how elaborate these day dreams can quickly become. They seem to evolve at the speed of light. I found myself in that situation a few days ago at a job interview. Now I should start by telling you this has been my first job interview in quite a few years as I have been a stay at home mum. As you can imagine interviews are few and far between especially with my all too vacant looking C.V.

Anyway, I found myself sitting in the "break room" waiting for the interview process to commence. It was just me and a little lady who was fixing the tea and coffee vending machine. As I watched her work and tried not to listen to the sound of my heart beating like it was coming out of my chest through nerves, I was suddenly in the interview room and half way through the interview. I was like an unstoppable force answering any and all questions put to me. The interview was going swimmingly then suddenly I am walking into the store and being shown to my workstation ready to begin my first day.

Well the first day must have been a success because quick as a flash I am going to the bank ready to take out my first wage! Then I'm buying that beautiful leather sofa I have been wanting since being given a second hand one when I moved in. I am replacing all my old mix match furniture with new matching items, upgrading the the ten year old television set, replacing all the outdated flooring and then buying that gorgeous shaggy rug I had my eye on. (Boy has this wage packet stretched!) But hang on.. Its six months down the line and I'm taking driving lessons. I have been saving hard and I have purchased a nice little run around for when I pass my test. Perfect for ferrying my daughter to and from school. Then I find myself sitting in a travel agents discussing my holiday plans..

Then I feel a tap on my shoulder and a lady asks me if I could follow her into the interview room. Turns out I had only been waiting for a few minutes and yet had managed to day dream the next year of my life away with great ease. Now to be fair, I wasn't interviewing for a job that paid a yearly wage in the millions and I'm certain all my worries would not cease to exist as soon as I was employed but a regular income right now would be the answer to my prayers.

We are only human and as much as we tell ourselves not to get carried away, it's what we do best. When there is something we really want we can spend all our time dreaming of what its like when we actually get it. It is funny how quickly things can change for us in a daydream. If only real life were like that. 

The easiest daydreams are the ones that are achievable but sometimes the most enjoyable daydreams are the most elaborate ones that seem out of reach. You should never stop dreaming (or daydreaming) as the case may be.. Anything is possible ;)

*This post in in collaboration with SCS

Sunday, 6 October 2013

Center Parcs Family Blogger Club - #CPFamilyBreaks.

Center Parcs has always been a place I wanted to visit, In particular their Sherwood Forest village. There is just something magical about that place! With all the activities you are able to do at a Center Parcs resort I know it would make for a perfect holiday for Aalliyah, who likes nothing better than activity and adventure. Which is something I love too! But I fear I may enjoy the spa just a tad more :) Well I need to relax somehow after all the non stop action throughout the day. Bike rides, nature, sports... Fantastic!

We would love to become an official Center Parcs Family Blogger and have made a video showing how we like to have fun as a family. This is our entry into the Tot100 Center Parcs Family Blogger Challenge which you can find out more about by clicking here.

What ways do you like to have fun as a family?

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Gourmet Meals.. From A Microwave?

I love it when I have the chance to go to a nice restaurant and indulge in some top quality dishes. Being able to pick something sumptuous from the high class menu and enjoy every morsel because you know tomorrow you will be back to the bog standard quick meals you are so used to grabbing in between parents evenings, work, hair appointments or what ever else life throws at you. Being on Weight Watchers means that not only am I watching what I eat, but I am also planning my meals for the week ahead. I do try to be adventurous and try new recipes but half the time I just simply do not have enough minutes on the clock to indulge in a recipe that is going to take longer than 30 mins.

Here is a wonderful recipe idea.. Salmon and prawn crumble. Sounds devine doesn't it? I must admit when I heard the name I immediately thought "No, too complicated and time consuming". But what If I told you this gorgeous twist on the standard fish pie could be easily made using a microwave? I am not talking about those 2 minute meals where you pop a few holes in the film and then zap it, I am talking about actually creating a 5 star meal with a microwave and minimal effort.

In this video celebrity chef Jo Pratt shows you how to prepare this fishy delight using a Panasonic combination microwave oven.

With so many delicious meals you are able to cook from scratch in half the time,  what will you make?

*This post is sponsored by Spreaditfast

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Personal Planner Review And **Giveaway**

I must be one of the most forgetful people on the planet! Whether its doctors appointments, peoples names, birthdays even collecting Aalliyah from school!! (It was the last day of term and I forgot about early pick up - Do not judge me lol) So when the opportunity arose to review a wonderful planner from Personal Planner I was eager to get started and hopefully inject some order into my daily life and have a place to note down EVERYTHING in the hope of not forgetting. Its working so far ;)

Personal Planner offers a fantastic service and allow you to personalise so many different features from size, colours, content and even images that you really can make it truly unique. I decided to make a large planner so I could fit everything into it., whether it be related to my personal or blogging life.

When you are on the website, you are guided through a very simple step by step tutorial of how to edit and personalise your planner right down the colour of the elastic binding. I chose to take full advantage of the personalising options and added a front and back image to my planner. You can also choose what content you would like included. So if you travel a lot you can add maps, gym queen? then add a weekly workout table. There are so many different tweaks you can do to make it tailored to suit your lifestyle.

Fancy winning one for yourself? The lovely people at Personal Planner are giving one of my lucky readers the chance to win a planner or notebook of their choice. Just fill in the simple rafflecopter entry below.
Open to UK residents only. Winners details will be passed to company for emailing/delivery of voucher code.

Good Luck! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*Complimentary planner received for purpose of review. All opinions are 100% honest and my own.