Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Alex turns 5!

Wow I am sure I say it every birthday, but 5 years!? Already!?

Well Alex you have turned from a Disney Cars loving boy to a Lego obsessed 5 year old, fuelled by the Lego City Undercover Wii game we got you for Christmas last year. Due to that your love of Police and 'arresting' people in role play have played a major part this year too!

You still love your cars, and can often be found making up all sorts of stories with them on the lounge floor (of course they lurk about the other areas of the house too)! This is made even sweeter when Sam copies you in your play.

At the start of the year you weren't too fussed with superheros but how that has changed! You love Marvels and know more of their names than I'm sure I ever will! In most of your play you love to make up scenarios which include your favourite characters. Of course this love of them has greatly increased as Lego have Marvels and superhero games and Lego sets which has given you more fuel to the fire!

Considering you have always had a dislike to dressing up I was really surprised to see you happy to wear your Spiderman outfit on your birthday yesterday-even if it was a bit of a challenge to get you to wear the mask just for a photo.

It's been a whirl-wind year. You enjoyed a fantastic holiday to Florida which you loved and still mention on and off now-your memory is still amazing with the small details you remember-you walked behind me at Mummy's and Daddy's wedding, and you started school without a problem at all (apart from that one day after half term...!).

There was no doubt that this year's birthday cake had to include Lego or Superheros, I chickened out of one idea and decided to keep it simple and stress free-thankfully you were very happy with the result. This smile made it worth it!

When you are lovely, you really are a joy to be around, we just need to work on that really short temper and attitude you are developing at the moment-I don't think that the apple falls too far from the tree there though-as for the whinging I really hope that comes to an end soon!

You have done really well in your first few months at school, and have made so many new friends, it seems like you are very liked there and I am so pleased you have settled in well. You are a kind and caring brother to Sam, he looks up to you much and wants to be just like you and be playing your games and toys whether you like it or not, Sam always has some of the best giggles just for you and I love it when you play your silly games with each other.

Happy 5th Birthday Alex! *

Now to make things for the Lego themed party next Sunday!

*behind on this post it was actually last Thurs!
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Monday, 24 November 2014

12 days of Christmas with The Snowman and The Snowdog: Blog tour

I have always been very fond of The Snowman, in fact I think I remember having a 5th party roughly themed around it-I certainly remember watching it on a video my Mum had borrowed for the party at home!

Now years on (it was first shown on Channel 4 Christmas 1982), it has become a bit of a tradition to watch it every Christmas!

So when I was contacted to review a new The Snowman product I was delighted, of course in recent years The Snowman has a new companion in The Snowdog and he is featured in their new products too.

We received a lovely 'The Snowman and The Snowdog finger puppet book'. I wasn't surprised to find it really good quality, it has thick board pages perfect for young hands! It simply tells the story of The Snowman and The Snowdog, the finger puppet part makes it more interactive and fun for the little ones.

"A boy built a Snowdog, and the Snowdog came to life! Wiggle your finger to play with Billy and his friends in this adorable and playful finger-puppet book. Featuring beautiful artwork from the animation, The Snowman and The Snowdog, this is a brilliantly fun book children will treasure. For children aged 3 and over."

For the RRP of £7.99 from www.puffin.com this would make a great addition to your Christmas goodies, perfect for a stocking filler, or as part of a book Advent calendar. I know ours will join our Christmas box of stories that I put out in December.

To follow along the blog tour tomorrow and see some other wonderful new Snowman and the Snowdog products do visit the lovely blog The gingerbread house and follow on twitter using #SnowmanSnowdog over the next 12 days!

*We received one finger puppet book to review but all views and opinions are our own as always.

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Superphoto photobook review

It's so great being a blogger when you get to review something you really, really love.

I am a massive hoarder of momentos, I love to look back at photos and could happily sit for hours doing so. I love how a photo can kick start a memory in your brain and you start to remember all the other stuff from that day, outing, or era!

In this day in age I think it's fair to say a LOT of photos get kept in the digital format, I know I for one have over 2 years of photos still to be printed...which is why I think it is important to try and print the photos as soon as possible and photobooks are a great way of doing so, especially as they really take up little space but can hold so many photos inside. 

Luckily this photobook review from a new company Superphoto came just at the right time for us, I knew it would be the perfect size for our mini-moon photos.

We only went away for 2 nights, so we didn't have too many photos, but it is so lovely to look back on those few special days we had after the wedding, child free, stress free and still in our own little bubble of happiness!

I couldn't have been happier receiving this product through the door, the quality is really great, the photos have come out sharp and the colour doesn't appear to be affected unlike one other company I have used before. 

There are many sizes you can choose from, as well as the outer material. Once you decide you find your way to the design part of your account. It is very similar to other photobook sites I have used in the passed, in that you can easily add pages, there are layouts and backgrounds to choose from, or if you prefer you can choose you own layouts to suit your wants.

Once you find your way around after playing about a bit, you can work out what the other features and buttons too. Like with all these sort of projects I suggest saving after every page as photobooks can be very timely to make. I always find it takes me a couple of pages to really get into how everything works!

I am so pleased with the product that I am already in the process of making our parent's photobooks for their Christmas presents this including our wedding photos. At some point I will get around to doing our own too!

We received one photobook for the purpose of this review but all views are my own and 100% honest.

Our mini moon!

After our, let's say interesting wedding night we set off to both our parent's houses to collect items (very importantly my glasses that were in James' Uncle's car) and say goodbye to family before they headed back home.

We lazily packed-we wanted to head off but we were both exhausted! After dropping the boys to my parent's we were eventually on the road to Cornwall.

Now those who are followers of this blog have probably seen some Cornish posts in the past-we try to go most years as we love it there. Padstow is also where we got engaged, it was meant to at our special place in Tintagel but James forgot the ring ;)

Now with it being August and booking late due to lack of funds there wasn't much accommodation to choose from. We ended up booking a hotel, but in some ways I wish we had booked a quaint B&B or something instead so that we could really stay in our own bubble for a bit longer.

We arrived at our hotel in the early evening, and literally dived straight into the huge bed, the exhaustion had really hit us, the adrenaline from the past couple of days had passed and our bodies were flagging!

I will admit to going on facebook, but only to change my details to 'married' and 'Spencer' and mooch at some of the wedding photos people had posted-there was still the wedding buzz in the air, I just couldn't help myself!

The relaxing bubble burst a little when we heard crying children running about in the room above-it appears we don't do time away from kids very well!

Nevertheless the time away from everyone was perfect, even if we didn't even get so much as a congratulations at the check in desk!

The next morning we enjoyed a lie in-the first in a while! Had breakfast outside and headed out for the day, pushchair and changing bag free!!! I forgot how easy it is to leave to go out when you only have yourselves to get ready! It was bliss just getting in the car without car seats to wrestle with, and getting somewhere and not have to worry about little people problems!

It was lovely to be away without the kids, I would say I missed them, but to be honest it was much needed and I knew they were being well looked after by my parent's-I think James missed them more than me!

We had a perfect couple of days, dodging the British summertime showers and visiting quaint, touristy, and beautiful spots in Cornwall.

I even managed two meals out (yes me who does not eat out!) even if I did make James freeze in the wind outside one night just so I would eat out! We had two delicious meals, I had fish both nights-something I don't do enough of at home- one of the meals was perfect as it didn't look like it was a place where it was going to be anything special but we each were pleasantly surprised and will definitely eat there again.

After a couple of days of Cornish pasties and fudge we finished off by staying on at Trevone Bay, somewhere we had visited on a whim when Sam was only 3 months old. The sun was shining (if if it was super windy and chilly), we enjoyed the meal watching the sun starting to set whilst the surfers waited for the waves where children played just hours before. There is something so relaxing about the sounds of waves crashing in isn't there, we just sat and cuddled of the cliff edge and watched the world go by until we needed to get a bit warmer so went for a short walk. I am so glad we did, we got some beautiful photos and managed to dodge the huge waves which were crashing over the top of the land's edge.

And that was it, we had to drag ourselves from Cornwall and head back home, back to reality and back to our boys (although Mum had them an extra night for us which was great)!

We hope to maybe do something a little longer and abroad next year, but with moving now, I don't really see it happening! It would have been nicer to have a week away really but James couldn't have the time off work unfortunately!

And just for comedy value, here is this embarrassing photo of me!

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Wooden Kitchen and Food Review

Now it is no secret that I love wooden toys-I always think they look a lot better than their plastic equivalents!

So when I was contacted to review some toys from the new Wooden Toy Range at ASDA Direct I jumped at the chance. 

I have wanted to get the boys a play kitchen for years now, but never had the space, seeing as we are moving soon I thought it would be a great opportunity to try out the Deluxe Kitchen. 

For £40 I think it is a fantastic buy, it is a product that has so many play opportunities and would make a really lovely present or addition to your children's toys.  

The ups 
-Cost: It is a great product for £40
-Easy to follow instructions (I managed to make it all by myself with a pen knife as couldn't find a screwdriver in the house! So if I can make it anyone can)!
-Cute unisex design (It can be relatively difficult to find a kitchen that isn't girly for a similar price)
-Great for role play
-Not too large, but large enough (it measures approx 89x30x60cm)

The downs
-I think it would be better if the hob rings and washing bowl were secured too (I may just get the hot glue gun on my pieces to stick them down)
-The clear sections on the oven and microwave were a little marked and I think they will mark quite easily after a bit of use. 
-There were a few places around the edges where the paint had slightly chipped (not enough to notice once it's all made though)

We also received the wooden food crates to review which are very sweet and a great addition to the kitchen. I think they would also be brilliant with the wooden play shop & cafe

The food is really well made and painted brilliantly, for £10 you get 11 groceries and 2 wooden crates to keep them in (which are also brilliantly made). 

So why not treat your little ones to something wooden this year?

We received these products to review but all opinions are 100% and our own.

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Our wedding: The hotel night, and the future funny story to look back on!

We had nearly fully booked the hotel out with just our guests and had done so many months before the wedding. There were only a handful of rooms that weren't our friends and family.

Unfortunately the management had changed from when we had booked it all-it seemed that some things hadn't been passed on to the new management!

We had a fair few of us that were late check-ins (for obvious reasons) yet when we arrived shortly after midnight the doors were shut and there was no one there to help us-until the night porter made an appearance-he seemed very unaware of any late check-ins. Great.

There was no bar open until 1am like we were promised-cue a bit of a flat moment. But that was just the start...

Now there were about 5 rooms that we needed keys for, he found ours-hurrah and we were told to go straight up to our lovely room by my Uncle and told us not to worry about it with it being our wedding night! We stayed for 10mins though as felt really awkward.

It was my parents, James' parents, James brother and fiancée (who had only flown over from America the day before and were flying back the next day), and my brother's waiting for rooms. For some reason the night porter couldn't work out which rooms were free and which keys corresponded with the rooms needed. It was horrible, it made the day end on a flat note, everyone was tired after after 15minutes of nothing seemingly happening or getting sorted!

We were made to go to our room, but we couldnt truly relax like we wanted too.

Eventually the right keys were found, everyone got sent to the right places...well that was until my brother's used the key to their room, only to find my Grandad in his undies getting into bed!!

My brother's waited until the manager was called in (I think) and by this time it was nearer to 2am. They still couldn't work out which room was empty! My brother's then each ended up with attic staff quarters, with no toilets, one of them had a filthy space with rubbish and dirty clothes strewn all over the floor!

My parent's didn't get the lie in they deserved as had an early toilet call from the boys!

Now we were completely unaware of all of this, we assumed it would have all been sorted out. We sat in our HUGE, comfy bed and opened all of our cards and presents like kids on Christmas day. The excitement not yet dulling from the wonderful day. I ate for the first time in over 24 hours, probably the wrong thing to do though-rich wedding fruit cake and crisps past midnight=bad stomach ache throughout the night!

We've only ever had one night away from the children, in fact it was when I was pregnant with Sam and we were at our house, so not sure that even counts. So we enjoyed the peace and quite and alone time, but forced ourselves up for breakfast at 9.30 like we had said we would.

There were a couple of sore heads, and many messy hairdo's that had been immaculate the day before! And all seemed well-until it got busy. We already knew they were short staffed as James' Dad in his 'jolly' state the night before had read on the staff clipboard and had mentioned quite a few times in the chaos of sorting out the rooms!

The service was unbelievably slow, we had to ask for everything. The help yourself fruit juices, cereals, and croissants weren't replaced, which left all the guests at the hotel wondering what on earth was going on. At one point James' best man had to ask for a wine glass so he could have an orange juice as none of the glasses had been replenished!

What was supposed to be a nice relaxing morning, catching up with family and friends before we all started heading off, turned into me and James being really embarrassed for organising this hotel (which was recommended by our reception venue).

But hey silver lining, we now have 4 rooms, meals paid for for another night in the hotel for their mix up. Doesn't make things right and I am absolutely gutted that this happened the night of our wedding, as it did promise so much and looks so quirky and beautiful. I guess in years to come it will be a funny story though!

I just hope we can blag our feature room back again it really was beautiful! (just excuse our wedding mess-it looked a lot nicer made up and without all of our belongings)!

Monday, 27 October 2014

Our Wedding: The reception

After the ceremony and photos we were able to relax and breath once more!

Well sort of, we were running nearly an hour late to our venue due to timings running over a bit!

Unfortunately on the way to our venue, the rain started, it wasn't heavy, but it was heavy enough for our BBQ to not go ahead and be cooked inside, and no one could enjoy the outside of the venue.

It seemed a little busy and frantic when we arrived (probably due to being a bit late-and thirsty guests as our free drinks were running out and James had told the venue not to open the marquee until we arrived-which was where the bar was I was completely unaware of this).

I entered the garden room to discover the sweet bar had been opened, as this photo shows- me saying out of the side of my mouth "who opened the sweet table, it wasn't meant to be open until the evening"!

On reflection though, it was a good thing really as it kept the guests of which 20+ were children busy-I just wish we had stocked up on more sweets as it was empty after dinner and neither James or I got to eat any!

AND I found out the first culprits-my cousins as my Auntie said they could open the jars! She apologised later when she saw the sweet tables signs on the table in the marquee ;) something to laugh about now!

Caught red handed!
We entered the marquee and James loved what I had achieved with the help of some of my family (as he hadn't seen it all finished). In fact there were many compliments on all the final touches I had been making in the months beforehand and the beautiful flower arrangements my Nana had made for the tables.

Small jars, card tags (made to match invites) tied on with twine. Flowers by my Nan.
All the children had a colouring or puzzle book I made. Every guest had a hand stamped, hand cut, hand punched place card made by yours truly! Along with all those butterflies on the table which was also hand punched out!!

All the gorgeous flowers! I'd decorated all the jars and bottles you can see here too!
We said our hello's to everybody again, more kisses, cuddles and well wishes! People could find their seat from the seating plan I had made-yes more hand stamped names! *

It turned out the tables were a bit of a squeeze as the marquee co. had said we could fit 12 around a table when in fact I think 10 would have been best (not going to lie I wasn't too impressed) I think it worked out ok in the end though!

Dinner like I said was a bit of a shame as it wasn't really a BBQ any more like we had really wanted, had I had known the cooking process was completely dependant on weather I probably would have gone for a different menu as the meat didn't look as nice as it would have been. They never said it would depend on whether (I assumed they had some sort of sheltered BBQ area). Having said that I didn't eat a thing as nerves and adrenaline just kept me going, I didn't really even see the food, but heard all the salads were lovely. 

Dinner and pudding all seemed a bit slow service wise, we had tables finishing before tables had got their food, but I guess you get this at a lot of weddings if you aren't at the top end wedding budgets! 

James and I actually snuck off for some photos in the venue whilst everyone ate as James' nerves were building for the speeches! It was nice to take some more time out from the commotion as we were upstairs where no one else was allowed. 

Then it was time for the speeches! Both James and my Dad were very nervous, but Dad composed himself and delivered a lovely speech-embarrassed me a little but not too much, even got a little soppy at points (very unlike my dad) and made a joke about James too-to be honest I don't think James was listening too much I have never seen him so nervous. 

Now James can speak to anyone, for a LONG time and strike conversation out of no where to complete strangers, but I found out in that moment he HATES public speaking which really surprised me, I have never seen or heard him shake and stubble over words before, but he got there-even if I had to remind him of a few thank you's ;)

Then it was time to hand over to his brother (best man) who gave both a funny and lovely speech-I am just surprised there weren't as many embarrassing stories thrown in too!

The toasts were all done, the top table moved, and it was time to get the dancing started-whilst the kiddies took care of the dance floor (now high on the sweets) we did a fake cut the cake shot as our photographer had to leave (he'd already stayed an hour over thankfully)!

Fake cake cutting! Cake made by Mum and I
In the chaos of the weeks before the wedding we hadn't had the chance to see/speak to our DJ properly so some of the music we had lined up from out guest requests didn't happen, but it didn't stop people dancing. 

Our first dance was a little awkward, now me and James are no dancers, I had wanted to do a funny mash up dance-I have since I saw one on YouTube years ago-but due to time we had a lack of enthusiasm from James it didn't happen. Luckily for us one of our favourite artists Ed Sheeran released an album out just before our wedding, and in doing so we finally found 'our'** song, yes it can only be 'thinking out loud'. We just sort of shuffled in a circle and James kept stepping on my dress haha, perhaps we should have practised at least something!

Lots of people had to head of early due to young kids or other little things so in some ways I wish we had invited some evening guests just to fill the marquee up a little bit-especially as we had a lot of food left that we'd paid for!

We had a lovely evening though and everyone seemed happy, we did the real cutting of the cake (albeit a little later than planned (as I was waiting for someone to tell me when to do it!) and the bacon sarnies went down well also-I am sure it helped suck up some of the alcohol too!

*Yes I was sick of purple ink and stamps for a while after the wedding!!
**Which is probably many more people's 'couple' song due to it's popularity since then!