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My Stoptober Journey Starts Here

OK it’s confession time, I’m a smoker. Yes it’s a dirty habit and one that I’m not proud of.  I blame my youth, working in bars for the reason I started and yes I did stop when I was pregnant with Imogen and Joseph but it was all too easy to start up again shortly after they were born.  Every New Year’s Eve I promise myself the new year will also see a new, no smoking me but it never happens.  There are many, many reasons why I’d like to give up, mainly because I don’t want my children to think it’s OK to smoke but also because of health and financial reasons, all that money I light up daily could be put to much better use.

As I am statistically more likely to quit with support this October I’ve decided to take part in Stoptober the 28-day national stop smoking challenge with the help of Boots, who have set me four weekly challenges.  Rather than being like a non smoking bootcamp these have been especially designed to support me as I experience new changes for the first time on my smoke free journey.


The first of my challenges starts NOW and will see me preparing for my Stoptober journey with expert, tailored, advice from Boots UK pharmacist Angela Chalmers who has told me how to beat cravings and stay focused on my goal.  As per her advice I shall be starting a new hobby to keep my hands busy (which will see me preparing for Christmas with a lot of buttons), recognizing my smoking triggers and trying to avoid them, not punishing myself for any relapse that there might be and rewarding myself. I have my eyes on a new coat and pair of winter boots and a jar where all of my saved money will go to give me a visual goal.

I have my NHS Quit Kit in hand and have purchased a Boots NicAssist nasal spray and gum to try and beat cravings.  The NHS iPhone app is installed on my phone to track my progress and offer instant support as and when I need it and I shall also be turning to Twitter using the #Stoptober hashtag for a friendly ear.

If you’re planning on quitting for Stoptober there’s a wealth of information on including how to find which nicotine replacement therapy is right for you and how to cut down using the Smoke Less Plan.  Also, do let me know, we can do this together, but if not wish me luck and join me for a Twitter chat (hashtag #bootsukstoptober) between 1pm and 2pm on Thursday 16th October to see how I’m getting on.




They told me time flies…

As I cradled newborn Imogen in my arms, they told me.   I didn’t quite believe them, after all she was so small, so helpless.  “Enjoy her whilst she’s young, time flies” they said and by jove hasn’t it? Before I knew it she was a big sister to Joseph and starting pre-school. Imogen Tomorrow is Joseph’s first day in pre-school and his turn to start the long and exciting journey into education and for some reason I am finding it a lot harder to “let go” of my youngest, my baby boy. Baby Joseph In three years, nine months and 4 days Joseph has grown into a loving, independent, determined little boy with a love of cars, Octonauts, biscuits and of course, his big sister! Joseph Another thing Joseph loves is cuddles, and although at sometimes it can be a little tiring having a toddler chasing you around the house screaming “Hug, hug, hug!” It is one thing I’ll never, ever deny my kids.  So as well as embracing the moment of proper squeezy hugs, I’ve ironed, washed dishes as well as attempting to get dressed and put make up on all one handed with a little boy on my hip clinging on for a cuddle. Joseph & Imogen Fairy are encouraging Mums to embrace every moment whilst you can with their #PowerofSoft campaign, after all time flies and soon, like me, you’ll be packing them off for their first day of school.  I know that whilst your knee deep in nappies and spend most of the day with sick on your shoulder it seems a long long way away but believe me it really isn’t.

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Imogen’s Dream House #TigerCubHideout

It’s the Summer holidays and that means a certain amount of rainy days, it’s a given.  Today was one of those days.  Having grown tired of baking, reading and writing letters to her friends at school who she misses terribly Imogen hit the “I’m bored” wall, hard!  After offering various activities that were all met with a glum face I remembered an Email that I had a few weeks ago from Tiger Sheds.

Tiger Sheds are challenging bloggers and their children to design their “dream house” and share it with their readers in turn giving them the chance to win their very own TigerCub Hideout House. Imogen, well up for the challenge, decided that rather than drawing her house she’d rather create a model of her dream house and set about making what can only be described as a jolly great big mess of my kitchen! Imogen's Dream House in the Making Hours (and a shredded copy of Ideal Home later) this is the result…

Imogen's Dream House

…and a little video she’s made to show it off!

Didn’t she do well?

If you’re a blogger and fancy winning a pretty cool Tigercub Hideout House like this

Tigercub Hideout

then have a look at the Tiger Sheds Summer Competition for details of how to enter.


School’s Out for Summer!

Well, that’s it the long six weeks of the school holidays is finally upon us.  Imogen will return in September to her last year of the infants and Joseph will start pre school three days a week.  Imogen is already missing school and is very keen to continue her learning over the holidays so I’ve set her up with lots of fun learning activities and “homework” to keep her mind busy during the break.

I’m proud to say that the first thing on her “Summer Holiday Bucket List” was joining the library.  So she now has a stack of books to read and hopes to complete the Mythical Maze and get her gold medal soon.

To improve her writing over the summer break we’ve also been trying out this fun Story Starter idea from Netflix.

Story Starter

She’s already created some wonderful stories with colourful characters and in depth story lines.  You can find out how to make your own here.

For those raining days, it’s bound to happen at some point, Netflix has a range of educational programmes for all ages.   The Magic School Bus is a favourite of both Imogen and Joseph’s.  Ms Frizzle and her students are always off on an adventure which takes them to some weird and wonderful places including outer space, haunted houses and inside the human body!

The Magic School Bus

Another favourite here is Monster Math Squad, starring Max, Lily and Goo who put their minds together and use their mathematical skills to find solutions to overcome obstacles.

Monster Math Squad

Sea Creature and Octonaut crazy Joseph simply loves the Blue Planet, which certainly makes a welcome change from cartoons and with stunning photography and interesting facts it’s something the whole family can watch together.

The Blue Planet

How do you keep your little one’s mind active during the holidays?

Me Time with Netflix

Finding time for yourself, as a busy parent, can be very tough but it’s really important to make sure that you do take some time out of your day to spend alone and doing exactly what you want!  Personally, even if I just manage five minutes watering the garden when the kiddywinks are in bed that’s enough but the ultimate has to be a long soak in the bath and catching up on a spot of TV or watching a favourite film.

Ever since we got Netflix at the beginning of the year my TV viewing has broadened and I’m enjoying a lot of shows that I possibly wouldn’t normally have watched.  The greatest thing about Netflix though is that it’s all there and ready when you are.  There’s no rushing to get the kids into bed so you won’t miss the start of a programme or missing a cliff-hanger because the mother in law is on the phone!

One of the series that I have really enjoyed on Netflix is Orange is the New Black.  Set in a women’s prison and a far cry from Prisoner: Cell Block H, it tells the story of Piper Chapman (played by the stunning Taylor Schilling) who is found guilty of a ten year old drug trafficking crime and sentenced to 15 months in a woman’s federal prison.  The new series started at the beginning of this month and so far I’m really enjoying it!

Orange is the New Black


Interplay Butterfly World Review

Our friends at Interplay recently sent Imogen and Joseph their Butterfly World Kit from their My Living World range for review.  This kit contains everything needed to rear and observe the amazing lifecycle of butterflies, including:

  • Pop-Up Butterfly Rearing Cage
  • Jar Cover
  • Small Plastic Pot & lid
  • Paint Brush
  • Informative Guide written by Nick Baker
  • Caterpillar Order Form

Interplay Butterfly World

The plan was for us to collect our own caterpillar eggs or caterpillars using the equipment supplied and the knowledge in the guide book.  Having just planted veggies in the vegetable patch at home, I honestly didn’t see this being a problem – they seem to like my broccoli!  However the weather was not on our side and the local caterpillars were hiding!  So we sent off for the live caterpillars from the supplier recommended by Interplay, Gribblybugs.

A couple of days later a small, well packaged box arrived containing a pot with five very small caterpillars.  The pot contains everything the little caterpillars need until they turn into pupae.

Interplay Butterfly World

Over the next 14 days we watched our caterpillars eat and wriggle around their pot.  They got bigger and spikier everyday until hanging themselves upside down on the lid of the pot and the chrysalis were formed.

Interplay Butterfly World

Then once all five caterpillars have turned into pupae, it’s time to move them (very carefully) into the butterfly rearing cage.  Pop the plastic lid off the pot and carefully remove the special paper lid that the pupae are attached to and, using the double sided tape provided, stick to the roof of the cage.

The butterflies will normally emerge within 10-14 days, however we had a bit of a shock after only 5 days (it was incredibly hot which apparently helps) and found our first butterfly emerging as we came home from school.

Interplay Butterly World

Over the next couple of days we watched all five of our Painted Lady butterflies emerge, feeding them on a 10% honey solution as detailed in the booklet.

This weekend we released our butterflies in the garden, it was a lovely experience, they flew around our heads and perched themselves in the garden before heading off for pastures new.

Interplay Butterfly WorldInterplay Butterfly World

Interplay Butterfly World

The entire family has loved watching the caterpillars and the butterflies, it’s been amazing and has taught us all a lot.  Imogen and Joseph were always aware that they’d have to set the butterflies free and so it didn’t upset them in the slightest, in fact they were delighted to see them happily flying around.

The booklet contained in the kit is really very informative and Imogen is still reading snippets of it now and again, learning about butterflies and their lifecycle.  The Butterfly World kit is priced at £12.99 but can be reused (we’ll certainly be doing it again) and caterpillars from Gribblybugs are available at the discounted price of £9.50 using the code in your booklet.  This is a great, educational kit that is bound to keep children entertained over the school holidays and will make a fantastic “holiday project” to write about and tell their friends.  Imogen has taken pictures of her butterflies and one of the pupae to show her friends and teachers at school.

Woolly and Tig “Songs for Wobbly Moments” Review

We’re massive fans of Woolly and Tig in this house so when the kiddywinks were offered a chance to review Woolly and Tig’s first musical CD Songs for Wobbly Moments I jumped at it! Songs for Wobbly Moments is due for release on 7th July and contains 20 fun songs from the increasing popular Cbeebies TV show.

  • Big Stomps
  • If There wasn’t a “No”
  • The Thunder Bang Song
  • Funky Dunky
  • Bunches
  • Rubba Dubba Rock
  • I Like Monsters
  • Counting Kisses
  • I Love Woolly
  • Holidays
  • Elves & Shoemaker
  • Give a Smile
  • Weenie Worries
  • I Love Mummy
  • Mairi’s Wedding
  • Cheeky Wee Echo
  • One More Step
  • Agree to Disagree
  • Auld Lang Syne
  • Counting Kisses Woolly’s Solo

Songs for Wobbly Moments

Just like the programme, the songs relate to new and different experiences that nearly every child has to face helping them explore their feelings and deal with them.  All of the songs are fun with great melodies and incredibly catchy lyrics that I guarantee will have you singing along in no time.

Imogen quickly declared “Bunches” as her favourite which is described as a pantomime song and is about haircuts.  Joseph likes both Stomp and The Thunder Bang song, simply because he can make as much noise as he likes whilst siging along!

Songs for Wobbly Moments will be available from 7th July on iTunes priced at £4.99 and Amazon on either CD or MP3 download from £5.99. 

Interplay Fairy Garden Review

Imogen loves all things fairy, she has a growing collection of figurines at home and her favourite book is The Complete Book of Flower Fairies which permanently lives underneath her pillow.  In the midst of rubbish week with Imogen suffering with an ear infection a surprise arrived from Interplay for her.  Her very own fairy garden, it was as if the fairies knew she needed a boost!

Interplay Fairy Garden

This lovely craft kit contains almost everything (you’ll need to add your own compost or soil) needed to create your very own fairy garden at home including:

• Fairy Garden Bowl
• Fairy figurine
• Oyster shell (water feature)
• Sparkly Fairy Cottage
• Clothes Line with posts & pegs
• Fairy sized blanket
• Grass seed
• Coloured gravel
• Fairy mushrooms
• Fairy flowers
• Fairy dust (glitter)
• Fairy stars

Interplay Fairy Garden

The kit also contains full colour instructions which are really easy to follow, even for non readers.   Imogen was very keen to get her fairy garden ready for it’s occupants and once the compost was added she slotted together the pre cut glittery fairy house.

Interplay Fairy Garden

Once the house is assembled there’s a pearly oyster shell water feature, multi coloured fairy path, miniature toadstools and a washing line with dinky pegs and fairy sized blanket to put in place.

Interplay Fairy Gadren

The finishing touches are twinkling stars for the water feature and the path as well as flowers to dot around the garden and a sprinkle of grass seed.

Interplay Fairy Garden
Ta da!  Your fairy garden is now ready for your fairy or fairies in our case!

The kit is beautiful and Imogen and Joseph spent a lot of time creating the perfect garden for their fairies and it’s been played with and perfected ever since.  Our grass is growing rapidly thanks to it’s sunny position in Imogen’s room but she takes great care of it with a small pair of scissors.  It’s available to purchase from Interplay here priced at £12.99, we’ve already brought another one as a present for one of Imogen’s friends.

Netflix and London Fashion Week

To celebrate London Fashion Week Netflix has teamed up with Natalie Hartley, Fashion Director at Glamour magazine to create ten easy and stylish tips on how to get the look of your favourite film or TV actress.

“As Fashion director of Glamour Magazine, I am constantly on the hunt for fashion inspiration wherever I go, whatever I do. For me Netflix has become a one-stop-shop for ideas. Whether I am organising a high fashion photo-shoot based on the fabulously manipulative Claire Underwood from House of Cards, or a summery sport-lux feature drawing motivation from the preppy cheerleaders in Bring it On, I can always find something to spark my creativity.

Let’s face it we don’t always have the time or money to keep buying into the latest trends, so using the characters to inspire the way you put an outfit together from your own wardrobe is always fun.

The key is to trust your instinct, and always be comfortable in what you are wearing.”

– Natalie Hartley, Glamour Magazine Fashion Director

Gossip Girl Series 1 – 6

Blake Lively is always well put together and she is not afraid to wear colour. If you are afraid of colour the easiest way to begin is to add a bright pair of shoes to a plain black outfit. Blake loves to accessorize so why not wear statement jewels with a simple t-shirt and add a blazer to give it that upper west side twist.

House of Cards Series 1 – 2

With House of Cards returning to Netflix for a second series this Valentine’s Day, Claire Underwood’s stylish but minimal look is a great one to copy. To recreate this wear a fitted dress layered over the top of a shirt for an extra stylish detail – this also works as a great cover up for those not wanting to bare arms. Structure is key to this look so make sure clothes are flattering. Go for knee length skirts with a kick hem for a more striking look.

The Bridge Series 1

The way to get Sofia Helin’s Scandinavian-chic look is to wear your usual pair of skinny jeans but rock it up with a great three quarter length coat or add a leather biker jacket. Keep colours tonal and simple and add a strong block heeled boot to finish your look.  I would opt for a cross body satchel bag, which is a great style for mums as it means you can still use both your hands for other tasks!

The Bridge

Confessions of a Shopaholic

Isla Fisher is all about statement designer clothes but I don’t think you have to spend a lot to look good, its how you wear what you have. In this film she would style animal print with bold coloured dresses and even clash pinks and reds. Checks and animal prints are bang on trend and easy to pair with colours.  There are no rules here, anything goes!

Annie Hall

Annie Hall is the ultimate style icon for anyone who loves to add a masculine twist to her wardrobe. Quick tip for this look is to raid a male wardrobe for an oversized shirt that can be worn with jeans and a man’s blazer. You can wear skinny jeans if that suits you the most or be true to the trend, and style with a pair of wide legged trousers and flat brogues.

The Help

The easiest way to get the look is to find simple floral A-line dress shapes and add a denim jacket for a modern update. Cropped trousers are a key style worn with a midi height heel. Cut the sleeves off an unwanted shirt and add to a pencil skirt. Mix and match your pastel shades and look out for boxy shaped bags.

Damages Series 1 – 5

Glenn Close can really work a simple shirt; it’s a classic wardrobe piece and worth investing in with many high street options available. Wear with a loose pair of trousers and a trainer to give it an edge for day or add a simple court shoe and earrings to dress this up for night. A plain white shirt always keeps things looking fresh.

Mr. Selfridge Series 1

Choose lace, cream and full-length skirts to recreate Rose Selfridge’s look.  An easy way to work her style into your wardrobe is to concentrate on the neck area. Adding a high neck blouse under a sweatshirt will instantly update something so ordinary. Keep your hair up to elongate the neck and add a cute pair of earrings to complete the look. Cropped jackets also look great here and can be worn with a pair of jeans.

mr selfridge

Iron Lady

Love her or hate her Margaret Thatcher has become a huge style icon of our time. Her distinct trademark piece was her pearls so the easiest way to represent her style is to add pearl earrings or a simple single strand necklace to any outfit, it would even look great with a plain white tee. Opt for a more traditional straight leg trouser cut or add a pencil skirt to complete.

Bring It On: In It To Win It

Prada has overhauled the sports trend this summer and possibly might have even taken inspiration from this film! For an easy wardrobe update invest in a bright pair of trainers and wear with everything!  Other quick fixes include wearing a silk bomber jacket, or a sporty all in one that means you don’t have to think too much if time is of the essence!

This February, Clifford the Big Red Dog® made his appearance on Netflix, both Imogen and Joseph have been enjoying his adventures and Imogen has even drawn a picture of him with a sparkly hat.  He might just need a bit of fashion advise from Natalie!

Clifford the Big Red Dog

Vinyl Flooring: Durability You Can Afford

Vinyl Flooring: Durability You Can Afford

Anyone passionate about crafting or cooking probably spends a lot of time in the kitchen. If this is the case, it’s important that your kitchen floor is durable and resistant to spills and heavy foot traffic. Vinyl flooring is an extremely popular flooring style for use in the kitchen, as it is water and stain-resistant making it perfect for craft and cooking mishaps, which are inevitable!  Even better, vinyl flooring is extremely affordable and offers a lot of style options! Today’s manufacturers are creating vinyl flooring that is both visually beautiful as well as extremely durable.

There are two types of vinyl flooring, which are sheet flooring and vinyl tile. Sheet vinyl flooring is laid down in sheets, and tile vinyl flooring is laid down much like traditional tile flooring. Tile vinyl flooring is perfect if you want to get creative with unique patterns, but many people prefer sheet vinyl flooring as it is sometimes easier to install.

Vinyl Flooring

Vinyl flooring is great because it’s not only durable and able to withstand a beating, but it provides a lot of comfort underfoot, as well as noise reduction. Because it’s less expensive than many other flooring options, you can honestly replace the flooring throughout your whole house! Vinyl flooring is a very popular option for homes with children and pets, because of its easy maintenance and extreme durability.

If you’re in the process of remodeling your kitchen or even your craft room, consider installing vinyl flooring today!


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