Monday, 8 December 2014

Fitness And Fun With The Virgin Active Crew

It's no secret that Aalliyah is an active girl. Whether she is skateboarding, playing football or simply running around like a maniac, she is never happier than when she is working up a sweat. So when we received an invitation from Virgin Active to trial a new fitness class aimed at kids, she very literally jumped at the chance.  Virgin Active have worked alongside SAQ International to develop an exciting new fitness class aimed at children ranging from 8-15 years old. It's a fresh, new approach to children's fitness which is not like your normal mundane fitness classes. Instead it incorporates exciting challenges which proved to be a huge hit with all the kids involved. 



The kids were really put through their paces right from the initial warm up. They took part in some great team challenges involving balls and sand bags, focusing on their throwing , catching and teamwork abilities. Then they moved onto individual challenges and some animal antics with Nathan Helberg from Zuu chimps. Aalliyah loved the animal movements like the gorilla and the frog and found these the most strenuous. Another thing she seemed to really enjoy were the reaction challenges using the fit lights. She was rather good at these actually and has some lightening fast reflexes. What was also great to witness is how the team members were so involved with the children and kept them motivated throughout the class. The kids were seriously sweating by the end of it but were enjoying themselves so much I am sure they could have easily carried on.




All in all our experience with the Virgin Active Crew was amazing. Not only did Aalliyah have a wonderful time getting active and socializing with other kids her age, but it was amazing to meet and speak to some of the people behind the Virgin Active Crew and to really hear first hand how beneficial these programmes could be. Not only do they improve core fitness and ability but they are proven to improve a child's academic performance and even improve a child's handwriting literally within weeks of starting a class. After seeing first hand how much Aalliyah enjoyed the class, It really is something I would be interested in following on with. 




Do you or you children attend any fitness classes? How do you find them? Why not give Virgin Active Crew a go?

Disclosure: I am a member of the Netmums Blogging Network, a unique community of parent bloggers from around the UK who have been handpicked by the Netmums team to review products and brands on their behalf. I may have been paid expenses, and have been supplied with a product sample for this review, but retain all editorial control. All my Netmums Reviews will display the Netmums logo within the post.


This is a Netmum's sponsored review.To find out more click the button:

Monday, 24 November 2014

Almost Thirty

For the best part of this year, whenever someone has asked me my age my response has always been "I'll be turning 30 in December" or "Nearly 30" Never have I answered with my actually age of 29. For someone who has been dreading turning 30 all year, I am ever so quick to put myself into that age bracket before I have even hit it. Having spent lots of time in a state of "pre-thirty" devastation I have come to the conclusion that although my age is ever increasing and out of my control, this is not the case with my life. I still have control over it so why on earth is an age bracket going to make a difference to that. So instead of focusing on all the things I will have not achieved before reaching this milestone age I am focusing all my positive energy into all of the wonderful things i "am" going to achieve in the next stage of my life. They say that life begins at 40 but for me I reckon its 30. This is going to be my decade. I can feel it. Work, study, learning to drive, new friends and experiences are all part of my achievements I am aiming for in my thirties. 

Now don't get me wrong.. I am not getting out the slippers and knitting needles just yet. I am still a young, vibrant thing and have every intention of raving on well into the next decade and beyond. I may well relive some of my "twenties youth" while I still can, maybe grab some Basement Jaxx tickets and throw down some shapes at the concert?, go on a "twenties only" weekend? or even hit the local foam party at the weekend? Ok maybe not the foam party, I didn't even enjoy this when I was 16! 

Did any of you dread turning 30? Or did you like me go over things you wish you had done before hitting a certain age? One thing's for sure. I am going to embrace my birthday and welcome it with open arms. I plan to celebrate with all the people I love. Here's to the next decade!


*This post was written in Collaboration with 02

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Weight Watchers Fajita Stir And Season Pots *Review*

As most of you know I am a current "Weight Watcher" and I am always looking for simple but tasty meals ideas and was really keen to try the new Weight Watchers stir and season pots. I absolutely love fajitas. A meal where you can bung it a bit of what ever you fancy is right up my street and you can add or take away ingredients as you wish. I do tend to stick to the basics with my fajitas though and use the standard chicken, onions and peppers.


On first inspection I did think the pots seemed rather small and given that I was making enough for both myself and Aalliyah did fear that they would be no where near enough. I couldn't have been more wrong. The sauce seems to coat everything evenly and spread so far that it could have easily stretched out on another few servings. I also didn't feel the need to add any extra sauce to my fajitas as it was quite a wet seasoning.


At just 1 pro point per pot these are the perfect addition to give your fajitas an amazing flavour. Simply pop on in when frying your chicken and you're good to go. Minimal effort and maximum taste. I will definitely be buying these again. Not only do they taste amazing but they are also fantastic value for money at only £1.50 for four pots. 10/10 for us :)




Friday, 31 October 2014

The End Of An Era

I guess I should start of this post with a huge... "HAPPY HALLOWEEN"!!

What do you have planned tonight? Trick or treating? A party? Scary movie night? Or do you just see Halloween as another Friday night? This Halloween really is the end of an era for me. It is the first year where I will not be partaking in the traditional night of getting Aalliyah all dressed up and taking her out trick or treating. It was always such an exciting night for her. I used to love watching the excitement on her face all day building up to Halloween night, much like the excitement of Christmas eve! I would paint her face in some "undead and bloody" fashion and we would venture outside. It didn't matter that it was freezing, dark and sometimes raining . She would go door to door braving all the elements filling up her goody bag. More often than not her cousin would come along and they always had a tradition of going home emptying all their loot and setting up there own swap shop. Two little business people exchanging sweets and chocolate like stocks and bonds.

Aalliyah is 12 in February and while there are many kids that still go trick or treating her age (and older in some cases) its clear she is now just too old for the whole trick or treating experience. I find it really sad as it is just another reminder that she is inevitably growing up. Having said that I cannot be sad for too long, as she is growing up into a wonderful young lady and her unselfish nature meant tonight she wanted nothing more than to stay home and give out sweeties to all the children that will come knocking. She was as excited to do this than she had been to go out trick or treating herself in previous years and it was so lovely to see. Unfortunately I am working and wont be back until later on this evening so will be unable to enjoy this with here, so she is off down her nans tonight for "operation trick or treater's." 

What are you doing tonight? What ever it is I hope you have a wonderful time and above all else have fun and be safe!





Have a wonderful Halloween.

Thursday, 23 October 2014

I'm Lonely.. Don't Judge Me

Loneliness affects everyone of us at some point in our lives. It has no interest in our gender, age, race.. It just hits us. It can affect us in many different ways, from lack of friendships in primary school right through to later in life, when you are faced with things like divorce and loss. Sometimes you are at your loneliest even when you are surrounded by family and friends. It's not just about being physically alone. It's a state of mind, a feeling of isolation. Feeling lonely its not something that I would openly admit before now. People that know me would paint a very different picture. I'm not what you would perceive as your "typical" lonely person. I work in a customer facing environment so I am always upbeat and chatting. Despite perceptions of your "typical" lonely person, I have great friends and family and generally do have a great life. It's not perfect does anyone really have the perfect life? But still I'm lonely..

I will be turning 30 in a few months and this has certainly made me reevaluate things in my life. Don't get me wrong, If I could go back and change things I probably wouldn't. I have a wonderful daughter and even though plans didn't work out as I had hoped I am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason and my past has made me who I am today and everything that has happened has led me up to where I am meant to be. I settled down very early on in life. I was both married and a mother at the age of 18. My relationship has since broken down and I have been a single mum for the best part of 6 years now. Although we both knew it was over and that there would be no chance of reconciliation, neither of us seemed to officially end the relationship and I seemed to spend the past few years in limbo. I can't help but wonder where I would be now if I had ended the relationship there and then and not wasted so many years doing nothing and not moving forward. Would I be married? Maybe have another child? I know its never to late for these things but with an 11 year old daughter I do sometimes feel like I have missed my chance.

Anyway, I seem to be derailing from the subject a bit but I wanted to make you aware of what has led me to this point in my life. I would say its only in the past few years I have made the most changes in my life. I started working after being out of work for far too long that I care to mention, I have lost a significant amount of weight (around 5 stone so far - Whoop) and finally feel like I can leave my past relationship and move forward. So why do I feel more lonely than I ever have before? It's so easy for people to pre judge me and assume I "need" a man and should just get myself out there. I am aware that a relationship is not going to just fall into my lap but being single for so long and having that one singular serious relationship behind you hardly gives you the boost you need to put yourself out there again. Then there are the others that assume I just need a quick fix. A fling to "sort me out". Now granted being single for so long means that my love life seems none existent theses past few years but it is not the be all and end all. A quickie really will not "sort me out". It is not that much of a "magic wand" 

Wouldn't it be great if there was a quick fix for loneliness? It's something that has been with me for so long it seems to be the only emotion I feel at times. Its so hard to watch other people celebrating such wonderful things like children and engagements. I know that sitting on the sidelines and watching everyone else live their lives is going to do nothing to improve mine and the only person who can get me out of this lonely funk.. is me! Lonely isn't who I am its just what I feel (at times) It doesn't define me or make me any less of a wonderful person. If something is broke, then you fix it and I am confident that things will change for the better for me.



Do you experience loneliness at times? What things have left you feeling isolated or alone? There are plenty of support networks out there. Talking your feelings through with someone can make all the difference..

Friday, 17 October 2014

The Ideal Home Show At Christmas



This November Event City, Manchester plays host to The Ideal Home Show at Christmas. Running from the 14th - 16th November it is the ultimate shopping experience. With over 300 exhibitors its the perfect place to find everything on your Christmas list and has the added bonus of being all under one roof. Christmas shopping is a nightmare at the best of times so what better way to take the stress out of it by taking one day out and crossing all them gifts off of your list in one shopping trip.

Weather you are looking for decorations for you home, the ultimate Christmas dinner with all the trimmings or the latest tablet, with the huge amount of exhibitors spanning over 7 different sections , you are sure to find something for everyone.

The different sections covered at the show are

Interiors and home accessories
Food and drink
Home improvements and outdoor living
Fashion and beauty
Technology and gadgets
Gifts
Decorations

You will be spoilt for choice at the variety on offer and will find everything needed to make your Christmas magical this year. Plus with the creative demonstrations from making bunting to floral creations you really will have a hands on shopping experience. You may even be one of the lucky few chosen to get up and get creative with Mr Laurence Llewelyn- Bowen himself! What ever you get up to on the day, I guarantee you will have such an amazing day, you will want to return year after year. So don't miss out on this amazing event, book your tickets now.



Fancy getting your hands on some free tickets? I have a pair of tickets to giveaway to one lucky person. Enter using the simple rafflecopter form below and good luck.










a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, 8 September 2014

Laser Hair Removal With sk:n


Have you ever thought about having laser hair removal? I'd consider myself to be rather lucky in the "hair" department as It weirdly seems to take weeks to grow back after shaving. I used to wonder what was wrong with me and my lethargic hair growth but now I don't give it a second thought. If I can shave my legs and not notice any regrowth until the following week then that's A-Ok with me!

For most people though getting rid of unwanted hair is a frequent task and one that seems more and more of a chore. One that is costly of both money and time. There are all kinds of cosmetic on the market but when it comes down to it, whatever you use, chances are that you will be going through the whole process again in a day or two, which is why laser hair removal is rapidly becoming a firm favorite when it comes to hair removal.

Laser hair removal is a safe and effective way to remove unwanted hair and it is virtually painless. It works by using a laser beam at the root of hair with stunts the growth process. This process can be done over any area of the body. The most common areas for unwanted hair growth being places like the the bikini area, under arms and the legs. Unfortunately for some people it becomes even more of a problem when unwanted hair tends to be in more visible places such as the face and neck. 




For the last 20 years sk:in and their dedicated team of staff a doctors have helped over a million people achieve fantastic results. The whole process is simple and they are with you every step of the way from your initial consultation right through to aftercare to ensure maximum results for your hair removal. They are also very competitively priced compared to other leading specialist clinics which is another reason they are quickly becoming the preferred choice when it comes to dermatology treatments. 

**This post was written in collaboration with Tamar.com LTD



Groundhog Day

Do you ever have them days where it seems as if you are just reliving a previous day? I'm not talking about a case of deja vu , I'm talking about those days you wake up and just know what the day will bring ? Like you are doing a previous day all over again? Well that's what Saturday was like for me. Not because of some spooky time warp or some cosmic, divine intervention, but just simply because it was a day that I had done so many times before.

You see Saturday is weigh in day for me. Although I should probably use the past tense for that sentence. It "was" weigh in day for me. But given the fact that I seem to have dropped off of the weight watchers wagon all together , Saturdays seemed to just become Saturdays again. So this weekend saw me returning to my meeting. It was my day one all over again.. My fresh start day. Most people only seem to have one "day 1" all over again. I seem to have had far too many that I care to remember. I must seem like the queen of excuses just lately as this year there has been something happening in my life to test me at each and every single turn. The minute I feel like I am overcoming one hurdle, another one is waiting for me around the corner, much more bigger and difficult to handle than the last. But everyone has difficult times right? Everyone experiences heart aches and hardships in their lives so why do I constantly use any stress in my life as an excuse to over indulge and forget about my weight watchers journey all together?

For far too long now I have been intent on beating myself up and dwelling on the fact that I am the same weight that I was last year. So what?! I'm not back where I started, I haven't put all that weight back on and I haven't given up and quit weight watchers all together. No one judged me when I went to my first meeting and tipped the scales at almost 20 stone so why on earth should I believe that people are going to judge me for losing weight more slowly than others or achieving a lesser result every week. I have done amazing (tooting my own horn here) to lose 5 stone so far. Recent holidays have swerved that more to the 4 stone mark now but who cares? I seem to have well and truly woken up and smelt the coffee. It doesn't matter how long it takes me to get to my destination. What matters most Is that I don't stop my journey.

So this is me.. Starting again and getting back into that place I love. Where I felt happy because it 't truly didn't feel like dieting. This is me getting back into that healthier lifestyle and making wonderfully filling and healthy meals again as opposed to grabbing a quick snack. This is me realizing again that nothing tastes as good as losing weight feels.



So Saturday may well have been my groundhog day but I am in the right mindset now that it is not going to repeat itself anytime soon. Here is to a wonderful week of smart food choices, tracking and enjoying weight watchers once more...

Monday, 14 July 2014

Every Witch Way - A Nickelodeon Hit Show Coming To The UK

A spellbinding smash hit show from Nickelodeon makes its UK premier tonight. Every Witch Way follows 14 year old Emma Alonso, an ordinary girl with extra-ordinary powers, whose life is turned upside down when she moves to a new school and soon discovers that she's a witch. The series follows Emma on her journey through high school and all the trials and tribulations along the way including her friendships, crushes and frenemies! Such as Maddie Van Pelt, the queen bee at Iridium High whose family is also harboring a magical secret.




We had the wonderful opportunity to attend a preview screening and premier event in London in May and aswell as watching the first couple of episodes before anyone else, Aalliyah and her BFF got to experience some VIP treatement at the pre screening party.



They got to kick back and relax while getting some fab pamper treatments such as hair chalking and temporary tattoos. When they were all glammed up they then had the opportunity to take to their very own red carpet and take part in a mini photoshoot. Aalliyah had a blast and really did feel like a celebrity for the day and we are both keen to tune in and see what happens next. 



What would a premier event be without a goody bag right? The lovely guys over at Nickelodeon are giving 5 lucky readders the chance to win a super goody bag packed with some fantastic Nickelodeon merchandise such as a notepad and pen, Spongebob and Patrick plushes, a Nickelodeon cap, cup and keyring and lets not forget an awesome "Every Witch Way" tote bag. All you have to do is enter via the simple rafflecopter form below and good luck.



Be sure to tune in to Nickelodeon tonight at 5.30pm GMT and catch the premier of Every Witch Way. We are sure you'll love it so much you wont want to miss a single episode. Why not Sky+ it so you don't have to!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Going Back To Blackpool

This August will see us returning to Blackpool for a second year running. We went on a short 2 night break last August and enjoyed ourselves so much we decided to return. We will be staying a little longer this time and enjoying a 4 day midweek break at the end of August. Last year the weather was glorious on everyday of our trip so lets hope this year will be the same.

With so many different attractions to visit in Blackpool, you really are spoiled for choice on how to spend your day and its no wonder we were so eager to return. We enjoyed many of the popular activities when we were there such as the piers, the arcades and of course the world famous Pleasure Beach. This year we are hoping to visit Blackpool Zoo as well as rent some bicycles and go cycling along the seafront. I think we will have to get up super early this time as every morning we went to check the bike hire racks they were already gone! Talk about early birds.


Another attraction we are keen to visit is Blackpool Tower. We had tickets last year which I accidentally left at home and seen as half of the tower was closed off when we got there due to high winds we thought we would wait until next time. I am really looking forward to this in particular. I am not great with heights but I am keen to push aside my fears and make it to the top.

There are so many other wonderful things to do in Blackpool and it seems no matter how long you stay, you will always need just a few extra days. Aside from all the great, fun things to do there are also plenty of wonderful places to eat. Most are family friendly and welcome children. One of are favorite places to chow down on some great grub is Captain Jacks. Its one of the most chilled out, cool restaurant I've been to and the food is delicious. If you find yourself in Blackpool then it is well worth a visit.



Where are you planning on going in the summer holidays? I haven't got much time off work over the school holidays, so for us it will be plenty of day trips. Would love some inspiration from you guys on what to do and where to go.

Thursday, 12 June 2014

Mr Nutcase Personalized Phone Case - Review And Discount Code

I absolutely love my photos, whether they are hanging on my wall, in an album or just simply stored on my computer, so it was no surprise that I was eager to get a custom phone case 

I own an iPhone so a case is a must to ensure it stays protected and having never had any really nice covers I was excited to be able to design one myself, a unique phone cover that meant something to me. The only problem I had was deciding which photo I wanted to use. I had so many wonderful ones to choose from. Luckily for me, there were so many different design templates that I wasn't constricted to choosing just one photograph. The process was really simple and easy to understand. It was literally a few clicks and it was done. What was even more wonderful is I received my phone case the very next day. Talk about speedy service!


As you can see I had trouble deciding on a photograph so decided to include each and every one of my favorites on there. I love it. It represents the biggest love of my life which is my daughter and the relationship we have.



Overall I was really happy with the whole process from start to the finished product and wouldn't hesitate to order another from Mr Nutcase. Fancy ordering one for yourself? Why not head over and start creating. Use discount code Thanku10 and receive 10% off.

*Voucher code for one free custom case received for the purpose of this review. All opinions are 100% honest and my own.

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

My Love Of The Dark Side And What I'm Watching

It's no secret that I have a huge love of TV and film and subsequently a serious addiction to Sky+ . I do tend to be late to the party when it comes to TV shows though. I will suddenly get enthralled into a fantastic series which more than likely aired 3 years ago and when I post how great the show is and how I am enjoying it, people must think "Tell me something I don't know!"

When it comes to TV I do love anything crime/psychological/thriller related whether it be fictional or real. I have recently started watching Dexter (see I told you I was late) and I am totally hooked. I am currently on series 3 and have no intentions of slowing down, cramming in an episode when ever I can. Another show I am enjoying at the moment is Hannibal. I absolutely loved the first series so was ridiculously excited when I knew series two was coming. If you enjoy those dark crime series then this is definitely worth watching but be warned it's not for the feint of heart. As you can probably guess from the title there are a lot of gruesome crime scenes and cannibalism depicted in the show.



Another show I love is The Following. I was totally gripped by series one and series two hasn't disappointed either. My Sky planner literally reads like a who's who of serial killers. I have many other great must watch programmes on series link too such as I killed my BFF, True Detective, Snapped: Women who kill, Evil Up Close and Crime Stories.

I'm not just a lover of the dark side and do enjoy a wide genre of TV and film. I am excited about the new channel which has recently launched , ITV encore. I do love the ITV dramas that there have been in the past. Some amazing ones like Broadchurch, Ice Cream Girls and Mrs Biggs so I am looking forward to being able to catch up with these again. When I am not working (and supposed to be doing housework or some other chore) I tend to catch up on my TV viewing and my evenings are mostly spent catching up on shows that I have missed throughout the week. With so much available on Sky I rarely watch anything when its actually aired and nearly all of it has been Sky+'d. Some days I go into work needing match sticks for my eyes. Not from an amazing night out with my friends but from a marathon of "The Walking dead" the night before. It's a wonder I haven't had a work accident yet due to my "Sky planner induced fatigue" (I did Google it, but sadly its not a real condition)



What do you enjoy watching? I am always looking out for good TV shows and or movies to watch weather old or new and would love some recommendation from fellow goggle box lovers.

*This post was written in collaboration with Leo Claims

The Gallery - Detail

Ok, So this is not necessarily a new photograph, but it's one that I love so decided to share. I just love the rippled effect that the waves had on the sand. It felt like soft cobblestone underneath.


I am linking this post up with "The Gallery" whose theme this week is "Detail"

Sticky Fingers Photo Gallery

Monday, 9 June 2014

Internet Dating - 1 Week In - Match.com Review

It has been a little over a week now since I joined up to Match.com and I am now finding myself making an "actual" effort to log on and get searching rather than just joining up and expecting a miracle to land in my inbox. It took a while to get to grips with the site, but it is fairly simple to navigate and the layout is clean and fresh. It was a little overwhelming at first as you suddenly seem to accumulate a ridiculous amount of notifications the minute you are subscribed and I was left thinking "What the hell are all these?!" But on closer inspection you can see the notifications are simply profile views, winks and direct messages. Much like Facebook they come up in red to notify you of some activity on your account and then from there you can see what's been happening. 

Like I say, I have only been on for about a week so I haven't really spoke to many people. I have exchanged a few short emails but nothing else. I have recently added the Match.com app onto my iPhone so I am able to check my account on the go and I really love the great "Shuffle" feature which presents you with snapshots of potential suitors and you can click if you are interested in finding out more/getting in contact with them and it will notify them of this which is great for acting as an icebreaker as if they "like" you too you are a "match" and its much easier to start a conversation with someone who is mutually interested.

I am committed to putting in some extra effort and I am going to reach out and be a bit more confident when it comes to sending messages. I am more than happy to respond to them but never seem confident enough to send the first one. So my aim for the next week is to take some time to have a browse and interact with a few people. I am so rusty when it comes to conversing with new people so it is all great practice in the name of finding someone new :)

Catch up soon....

Friday, 23 May 2014

Getting Back In The Game.

I honestly cannot remember the last time I went on an actual "date". In a nutshell I have spent the best part of the last 7 years as a single parent and after finally coming to some sort of conclusion with a past (non existent) relationship I feel comfortable at the prospect of putting myself out there, enjoying life and perhaps meeting somebody new. The relationship was over years ago, but for some reason I stopped myself from moving on. I wasn't happy being single and yet did nothing to rectify the situation and the longer I left it the easier it became to just be satisfied on my own. I started thinking that maybe this was it for me, that "single" would be the box I ticked for the foreseeable future. That thought scared me more than anything. After all, why did I not deserve to meet my soul mate and live "happily ever after"?

I have gone through many changes over the past year or so, the biggest being a physical change and I have so far lost over 5 stone. Its not just my shape that has changed though, my whole outlook on things seems to have shifted. I feel a lot happier in myself and I am a lot more willing to get out there and start living life as apposed to watching everyone else live theirs and doing nothing to make "me" happy.

So with that in mind, I thought I would be bold and brave and join up to a dating site. It's easy enough to talk about making changes and getting out there but actually doing it is a whole different ball game. I know there's lots of bad press surrounding dating sites and the whole "online dating" scene but there are also many success stories and you get nothing from not trying right? So the lovely people over at Match.com have offered me a months free trial to "test the waters" and see how I get on. I have never been good at selling myself and I am looking at the registration page now and It is as blank as my mind! I guess I just have to be honest and get the "real me" into words and on the screen. I am slightly dubious and really nervous about joining a dating site but I am going into it with an open mind.

Could this be the start of something new? Lets see...


Do you have any dating stories? Did you meet your true love online? Of do you have a dating disaster? I would love to hear from you.



Wednesday, 14 May 2014

The Great Outdoors

There are many things that both myself and Aalliyah love to do, but our most favorite past time has to be enjoying the great outdoors. Whether its a trip to the park, a nature reserve, a stroll through the woods or even walking to my weekly Weight Watchers meeting! (Don't worry, we do pass some beautiful scenery, even a river and some horses too!) 

There is just something magnificent about being outside. Its healing, it's therapeutic, it's the perfect way to let off steam after a hard day at work and the guaranteed way tire out the kids and let them go wild when they are bursting with energy (Which lets face it is pretty much 24/7) But my all time favorite thing about the great outdoors?..

It doesn't cost a thing! All you need is your imagination and you can let that take you to far away lands when you are outdoors. Lets face it, there are not many things in life that are free anymore, but this is something that will always be available to us. So get out there and enjoy it! There are literally thousands of beautiful places around, so get the family, get your shoes on and go explore!

We recently visited a local park called Salcey Forest. It was wonderful. There were tree top walks, nature trails, adventure playgrounds plenty of beautiful picnicking areas. We had so much fun being outdoors. Whatever the weather we always make sure we have a fun filled day. Planet earth is our playground and come rain or shine we will always find new wonderful places to explore.







This is my entry to the Center Parcs and Tots100 May challenge and if I am chosen I would like to visit Sherwood Forest.

Where will your outdoor adventures take you?





Thursday, 8 May 2014

Minecraft Paper Craft Review

Aalliyah loves pretty much anything "Minecraft" so it was no surprise that she squealed with delight at getting a paper craft set for Christmas. Like many other things we realized that she was yet to open her set so we decided to give it a bash and I must say I was so surprised at how much fun it was not only playing with the completed pieces but building them too.

The Minecraft paper craft set is really simple to put together and since there is no cutting or gluing required it can be done with little or not adult supervision. It is simply a case of folding and slotting together. Some of the bits can be a bit fiddly but once you get the hang of it it gets easier.

Now those of you that are familiar with Minecraft will know that you have many different blocks and materials, the most common being things like grass, dirt, oak wood, cobblestone etc. Then you have your highly sought after things like diamond and redstone. The paper craft sets are just like the game in every way. You even have characters and monsters from the game that you can build also. There are a few different packs to choose from. The main large pack has pretty much everything you need to get you going and there are other smaller packs which are more specified such as a "Utility pack" or a "Hostile Mob" pack. Gotta love those hissing creepers and those groaning zombies right?





We had so much fun with these sets and because they are blocks they are very easy to store. Aalliyah gets them out on a regular basis and as she also has the Minecraft figures she has a whale of a time building her world and playing. There are still a few sets that she hasn't got yet, but I am sure it is not going to be long before she asks for them too. I love it when she plays with her paper craft sets as it gets her off of the iPod or the Xbox and gets her imaginative juices flowing. These sets provide endless hours of fun and imaginative play and I highly recommend them to Minecraft lovers everywhere.



Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Spicy Quorn Chicken Jambalaya

This is a gorgeous Cajun style recipe. Perfect for when you fancy something a bit spicy and it's so quick and simple to make. I make this regularly and whats great about this recipe is you can choose to add or take out what ever you like, such as substituting the quorn for chicken, or adding in some different vegetables. Plus for all you fellow Weight Watchers out there, this recipe serves 4 and is 10pp a serving.

Ingredients:

250G Brown Rice (You can choose white if you prefer)
1 Large red onion
3 Sweet bite peppers (I like to use one of each colour)
Button Mushrooms - Chopped (As many as you would like)
Cherry Tomatoes Halved (As many as you would like)
Frylight Oil Spray (Or regular oil)
2 Teaspoons of Cajun Seasoning or Paprika
1/2 Teaspoon of Chilli Powder More if you like it hot!)
500g Quorn Chicken Style pieces
Fresh ground black pepper

Method:

Start by preparing your rice. Depending on the type of rice you are cooking , methods and times will vary.

Once your rice is on. Gently heat your frying pan adding some sprays of your oil. Add in the chopped mushrooms, onion and peppers. (Chopped small - No big bites)
about 4 minutes then add in your quorn chicken pieces. Next add in your spices (I also like to add a few chilli flakes at this point) and continue to stir fry together until the quorn cooks through, is coated and starts to brown. Be careful not to let the food stick. The coating will get slightly sticky, make sure you constantly toss/stir to prevent sticking. Now chuck in your halved tomatoes for the last few seconds or stir frying.


Next you want to add in your cooked rice and give the mixture a really good mix, making sure you are scraping all the spice residue from the pan and getting the rice nice and coated. Season with some ground pepper and add one more dash of Cajun seasoning to the mix. Give it a gentle stir fry for a few minutes and serve immediately.




Wednesday, 12 March 2014

How Do You Measure Up?

OK, So today I did something I have never done. I went and got a professional bra measuring/fitting service. Its shocking that this is something I have never done before, given the fact that I have lost so much weight since last year and was quite obviously wearing the wrong sized bras. It has always been guess work when it came to choosing a bra. I would guess the cup size and just judge it by eye so decided that now was the time to get a "proper" measuring. After doing a bit of research online it seemed that BHS and Debenhams seemed to be the best judging by the reviews. After visiting BHS and being told there was no "fitter" available for 3 hours! (pointless) I decided to give M&S a go. I didn't have to wait to be seen and the lady that dealt with me was really good. There was no embarrassment or awkwardness at all.

I was measured around the under bust area to be given my back size and then informed that they no longer measure your cups as its just not accurate so basically it simply came down to someone else judging my size by eye and a lot of trial and error, trying on different bras. Yes the lady was very helpful, but it seemed she was more like a personal shopper and I could have quite as easy managed to get a good fitting bra myself by trying lots of different sizes on. (Because that's all I actually did!)

It was nice to get some advice but it all proved to be somewhat pointless as I was told that I could go into Debenhams after for a fitting and be given a completely different size as much like a dress or pair of jeans each size comes up different dependent on the shop/brand its from. So basically I had stood in a dressing room for half an hour trying on bras, found out my size which unless I purchased a bra from M&S actually wouldn't be my size elsewhere. Which did in fact ring true as I purchased 2 bras elsewhere which were both a cup size bigger.

I was also given some fairly drab and dreary things to try on which made me feel quite ancient. I'm 29 for gods sake!! But was being offered some very elderly woman looking, lacy, camel coloured horrors that were in this woman's opinion, their "Best Sellers" .. Why should I wear the bra that looks like it belongs on a 90 year old just because I have a large bust? Needless to say the bra I purchased afterwards was "SHOCKING PINK!"

I am glad I went and got measured finally but I can't say I got much out of it. Have you been measured? Do you find you differ from shop to shop? 


Thursday, 27 February 2014

In Her "Print Worthy" Words

As most of you who follow me on Facebook or Twitter will know, I regularly post boastful updates regarding Aalliyahs academic achievements. Being that this is her final year in primary school , she is currently working really hard ahead of her SATs. Now obviously being her mum I have an overly bias opinion when it comes to Aalliyahs work but to say that I am pleased with her current level of work is an understatement. I am absolutely thrilled with how far she has come and when I read her homework or listen to her reading at night I am astounded and blown away by what I see and hear. It never gets tiring to hear how well she is excelling in her school work and I will continue to encourage her as best I can as I truly believe she has an amazing academic future ahead of her.

One subject which she is excelling in is English, which comes to no surprise as this is by far one of her favorite subjects. In particular her writing. Aalliyah has always been a bookworm and can always be found either reading or writing a story. She is regularly writing wonderful pieces at school and literally soaks up vocabulary like a sponge. A thesaurus is her favorite tool and she is forever researching new words and definitions. 

The class were assigned the task of coming up with a short story. The stories will then be published as a collection into a book. I had read a few sentances here and there as she was doing her planning, but finally got to see the finished draft that she brought home yesterday and I was amazed.  So amazed in fact that I felt inspired to share it with you all. 

So here goes...

Immersed in the baffling history of the ancient vase, Zachery sat down to have a well deserved rest. Just then pandemonium broke. The noisy phone rang and Zachery answered it. It was work. Zachery was an archaeologist, which meant that he was given historical objects to observe. However this particular assignment seemed especially intriguing.

Trudging moodily the slush on the cobblestone path, which was to be cautiously trod upon, Zachery thought about the historical wonders that awaited his observation. As he unlocked the door to the lab he spotted a locket with a note that read "Zach, this locket was uncovered in Pompeii: we suspect that it was involved with the volcano. Good luck, Sam" Zachery then set out for home to examine the mysterious locket with a cheesy grin of utter excitement on his face.

Gathering mountains of dust, it sat there. Still as a snowman. Slowly rotting. The complex engravings and patterns embellished this already gorgeous locket. Finally Zach uncovered his magnifying glass and began to examine the historical masterpiece. Now utterly immersed, he surveyed his back-story sheet and discovered that the design originated in Rome, which was where the incident of Pompeii happened. WOW , He thought to himself, as he read the previous owner was in fact a roman emperors daughter! He had to learn more...

Abruptly, while Zach was in the middle of a deep slumber, the phone rang. (again) The young archaeologist sleepily answered the phone. All that could be heard- Silence ."Pranksters", Zach laughed to himself. "What do they think, I was born yesterday"? Just then hunger struck and he strolled into the kitchen for a quick midnight snack... BOOM!

The fridge had exploded! Now crouching on the floor Zach squinted into the distance, which was easy as he had 20/20 vision. What was that? He spotted a light in the distance. It was a ghost! Oh no. It had come for the locket. Zachery knew this because of the extravagant purple toga that hung around her body. She was also wearing a leaf crown interwoven with minuscule strips of twine. "Who are you"? Zach stuttered. "Please leave me alone!" However the ghost was in no debating mood. "GIVE ME MY LOCKET" The ghost screamed. Oh no, where had he placed the locket? Probably burrowed deep inside the pigsty he tried so desperately to keep clean. Zachery panicked , frantically scouring his apartment, which was only four rooms. The archaeologist kept glancing behind him only to find that the ghost was getting angrier and angrier! WHERE WAS THE LOCKET? Oh no the ghostly figures eyes were as red as a fiery pit of lava. She had lost her patience..

"ENOUGH"! the awoken dead bellowed, "YOUR TIME IS UP" She impaled Zachs shoulder with the golden scepter she held with pride, "AAAARRGHHH" Zach wailed in utter pain and fear. He lifted his weary arm to his shoulder only to find that it was wet-Wet with blood. Bright red, precious blood. All of a sudden felt a surge through his veins. Blood unhurriedly trickled down his sweat coated arms and onto the oak wood floor: Now this was seriously becoming a problem.

At this point he found himself crouching on the floor and begging for mercy."Please spare me" he howled. She cackled, "Very well. Any other day you would be gutted and your insides fed to the gods! the ghost threatened. The vulnerable victim gulped. The ghost let out a sickening smile.

"THE POWER OF THE TIME LOCKET SHALL BE BROUGHT UPON YOU!"The ghostly monarch warned."YOU SHALL RELIVE THESE CRUEL MOMENTS OVER AND OVER AGAIN; RIGHT BACK FROM WHEN I RANG YOU!"

That was her Zach realized. Immediately he backed away."Please don't put me in a time loop!" Zach pleaded. "I'll find it I swear" However it was too late and before he knew it, he found himself lying on his sofa, among all the rubbish and dirt.

Abruptly while Zach was in the middle of a deep slumber, the phone rang (again). RING RING! The young archaeologist got up and moodily answered the Samsung house phone. All that could be heard- Silence...


I am really impressed with her short story and look forward to seeing the finished thing in print. I could easily see some thrilling novels in her future ;)




What do you think? She would love to hear your thoughts as much as I would.

I am linking this post up with the Prose for thought linky over at Verily,Victoria Vocalises #Prose4T


Prose for Thought

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

10 Tips To Reduce Waste When Cleaning Your House

It doesn’t matter what season it is, spring cleaning can bring out the best in your home and make you feel a lot better about yourself. The only problem is, once you’ve finished, you can be left with piles of stuff to get rid of. It’s up to you what you do with your rubbish, but here are ten tips for reducing waste. If you’re lucky, you could pocket some extra cash for rainy days or for dealing with rising gas or electricity prices.


1. First sort out anything metal, which you can either sell to a scrapyard, or arrange for a local scrap dealer to collect it from you free of charge.

2. Sort any remaining waste into boxes. Fill the first box with things to sell, the second with things to swap or give away, the third with things to recycle, and the fourth with things to throw out.

3. With any luck, your biggest box will be filled with items to be sold. Just because you’ve dieted out of your favourite clothes doesn’t mean they’re necessarily destined for the bin. Spend a few minutes setting up an account on an auction site like eBay and prepare to be pleasantly surprised at how much money your unwanted clothing can earn.

4. If you find yourself with unwanted or unused electrical items, DVDs, phones and suchlike, you might like to try a buy-back schemes. Simply go online, register your items and then post them off in return for a cheque or online payment.

5. Many large towns and cities have shops that buy and sell used goods and this can be a quick and convenient way to clear your clutter and fill your purse at the same time. Make sure everything is clean and in good working order first. If you have the original boxes and instructions, make sure you include those too as they will make a better impression.

6. Your second box will be full of items that still have some life in them, but that aren’t really in saleable condition, such as toys that aren’t played with any more. These are perfect for a swap-shop session with your friends and neighbours. This can be a particularly helpful way to dispose of outgrown school uniforms and equipment in an environmentally friendly way.

7. If you don’t have time for swapping, then there are many outlets for donations. Schools will often take uniform and equipment in good condition to sell on or loan to people on low incomes.

8. Alternatively, you can donate to a wide variety of charities without leaving your home. Many charities deliver collection bags. Simply fill the bag with your unwanted items and leave outside your door on the designated collection day.

9. Watch out for recycling points. Many local convenience stores and larger supermarkets have recycling points where you can donate clothing and shoes. They may not be in excellent condition, but charities can still sell them on for recycling and raise money.

10. When you reach the third box, this should be items that you can recycle. So watch out for things like cardboard, plastic milk containers, glass jars and bottles and recycle them in your appropriate bin. Most recycling bins are full of air, so squash plastic bottles and flatten boxes before recycling.

After following these ten tips, you should be left with hardly anything that can’t be sold, swapped, donated or recycled. So, you can put the little that’s left into the refuse bin with a clear conscience.


Thursday, 23 January 2014

Finding The Time

Like a lot of mums and dads out there I struggle to keep the balance of working and being a parent. As a mum who has recently returned to work I find that my days just seem to pass by like a speeding bullet. Now granted I have only returned to work on a part time basis and have a huge respect to those that work full time and still find time to get everything else done, but it still feels like mission impossible to cram everything that needs doing into a normal working day.


Normally I work all day on a Sunday and Aalliyah usually goes round to my mums or sometimes my sisters for the day. On the weekdays that I work its only usually a 4/5 hour shift so she will go to school then go to after school club until 6 oclock. I always finish at 6 so she would normally get picked up and stay round my mums for half an hour or so until I come home. Although these are the days I work the shortest hours and I have school and school club, these are the days I hate the most. 

The mornings starts like any other. I get up, sort out breakfast, make Aalliyahs school lunch and then make sure she gets off to school OK and on time. We live on the same street as the school so most mornings she likes to assert her independence by walking alone. By the time I have had a quick tidy round the flat and got ready for work, I barely have time for a coffee before having to run for the bus. Then its straight to pick Aalliyah up after work and by the time I get home Its literally only enough time for dinner before its her bed time. I absolutely love my days off as I am not so rushed and get time to spend with Aalliyah even if its just a few hours play time before bed.

Have you ever seen that movie "Click"? The one with the universal remote control? How great would that be? Not so much to fast forward anything. I think life goes by far too quick without the need to help it along its way but it would certainly be great to stop the clock sometimes and have as much extra time as we needed to get things done or to simply savor our most precious memories. Well sadly no such thing has been invented yet, but hey you never know what the future holds right?

However the super smart people at Hive have come up with a fantastic new device that lets you monitor, control and alter your heating from your smart phone or computer. Meaning you can control your heating at the touch of the button where ever you are. Now this may not give you endless more hours to enjoy in the day but it certainly saves time and hassle by allowing you to preset your temperature schedules,adjust levels or set up helpful alerts when your temperature drops below a certain amount. Is there any better feeling after a long day than coming home to a nicely warmed house? I normally have to switch my heating on when I get home and it takes ages to warm up.



The only other thing I like to come home to more is a cooked meal ready and waiting. Thankfully something has already been invented to help with that.... A slow cooker! My godsend when working late!

If you fancy learning more about Hive Active Heating and how it can make a difference in your home then click here to head on over to their site. 

*This post was written in collaboration with Hive Active Heating 

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Top Tips For Choosing A Personal Injury Solicitor

Making a personal injury claim can be a stressful, time consuming and sometimes very expensive process. The number of people making personal injury claims is constantly growing and with so many different companies offering all sorts of promises and guarantees how can you be sure who to turn to? If you are in the unfortunate position that you feel it is necessary to file a claim then you need to make sure you choose a personal injury solicitor that will be best able to represent you. Following these simple tips will ensure you are able to make an informed decision on who's best to take on your case.


Firstly you need to assess your situation/injury. What happened? Did you have an accident at work? Slip or fall in the street? Or was it a motoring accident? By assessing what type of accident you have had this will steer you in the right direction when it comes to choosing a specific company/solicitor over another. 

Don't just go with the first solicitor and or company you come across. Take the time to research them. Most of them can provide testimonies from previous clients. Any solicitor that is qualified in England or Wales can represent you, but that doesn't mean that anyone should. You need to take the time to get to know your prospective solicitor and find someone you are comfortable with.

Finally, find out the fees upfront! With so many companies offering different deals and no win no fees, often you can get caught up in all the confusing jargon and not really understand what you will end up paying at the end of it and no one needs a nasty shock of a huge bill when it is all over. Ask for an estimate on the fees. Most will give you a rough guide and a breakdown of all the costs you can expect to incur including the smaller things which you may over look like telephone calls, photocopy and letter charges. 




Whatever your situation, choosing a solicitor can be daunting task so follow these 3 simple tips and you can be sure to find one that is perfect for you and your personal circumstances. 

*This post was written in collaboration with LeoClaims.com

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Why is Invasive Ultrasound Important? *Guest Post*

Traditional ultrasound scans are non-invasive. The doctor or ultrasound operator uses an instrument called a transducer on the mother’s abdomen. The transducer emits soundwaves and collects them as they reflect back at different speeds and frequencies. The ultrasound software then translates this data into an image of the inside of the patient’s abdomen. This creates a picture of the fetus growing inside the uterus, and details like the sex, the position, and the heartbeat can be clearly ascertained.
There is an additional form of ultrasound that is more invasive, call Transvaginal Scan, or TVS. During TVS, the transducer is inserted into the patient’s vagina, rather than pressed against the abdomen. You may have heard about this form of ultrasound being required in some states before the pregnancy can be terminated. Its association with the politics surrounding abortion have made the procedure seem distasteful at best, or scary and violating at worst. Leaving the politics aside, TVS can be an important and useful tool as you progress through your pregnancy.
While TVS is more invasive than traditional ultrasound, sometimes it is necessary to be able to determine important information about the pregnancy; especially in the early stages. Traditional ultrasound will only provide readable, useful images after about 10 weeks’ gestational age. Prior to that, the only way to see what is going on with the embryo is with a transvaginal scan.
A scan in the early stages of pregnancy can be very helpful. It can determine the viability of the fetus and how well the embryo has implanted in the uterus. The scan can be used to date the pregnancy, such as if the patient is unsure of the date of conception or their last period, or if the patient has a history of irregular periods. Another reason for an early ultrasound scan would be to check for multiples (twins, triplets, etc.). These pregnancies can be risky all on their own, so it’s good to know if you have multiples as soon as possible.
The truth of the matter is that a transvaginal scan is a medical procedure, just like the traditional ultrasound is a medical procedure. They both allow your doctor to observe the fetus growing inside of you and provide you the best and most up-to-date information, so that you can plan accordingly.
If your doctor recommends an invasive ultrasound and you have concerns, be sure to voice them and have the doctor talk you through exactly why he or she is recommending that particular procedure. If you are still uncomfortable, remember that you are the patient and you get to decide what happens to you, your body, and your baby. If you feel uncomfortable, it is your right to seek a second opinion.
That said, again, the transvaginal scan is an important tool in the prenatal toolbox. Doctors can use it to see things that a traditional ultrasound can’t. If it is very early in the pregnancy and you think there might be as issue, a TVS could be the way to go.

This post was written for My Sidekick and Me by Glenn Josephik. Glenn is an account representative and the marketing coordinator at MedCorp LLC , the industry leader and premier business source for used ultrasound systems. You can follow Glenn Josephik on Google+  .