Thursday, 27 March 2014

How Much Do You Know About Assistance Dogs?

I recently stumbled across an infographic on the Bolt Burdon Kemp website featuring all the different types of assistance dogs there are, when I think about assistance dogs the only one that springs to mind are guide dogs for the blind so it was quite a surprise for me to see that there are several different types that can help many different people in need.


As well as Guide Dogs for the blind there are Mobility Assistance Dogs who assist people with physical disabilities, Diabetes Assistance Dogs who are trained to help people with type 1 diabetes by detecting low blood sugar on their breath and fetching food or help if needed, Autism Assistance Dogs who are trained to be companions for children with autism which enables them to better cope with difficult or unfamiliar situations. 
There are Hearing Dogs to help deaf or hard of hearing people to be aware of or react to sounds such as alarms or ringing phones, Seizure Alert Dogs who assist people who suffer from seizures and sometimes warn their owners of seizures before they even occur and there are Veteran Service Dogs who are trained to help soldiers with post-traumatic stress disorder by acting as buddy dogs and providing comfort. 

Did you know there were so many different assistance dogs?

XXX

This is a collaboration with Bolt Burdon Kemp.
This is a sponsored post

Monday, 24 March 2014

Summer's 1st Birthday


Last week was Summer's 1st Birthday, my baby girl is one year old already! 

I honestly can't believe it, it's gone so fast, too fast. It's been quite emotional for me and even looking at her pile of birthday cards made me well up with tears, she's too small to be one for a start, she's only in 6-9 month clothes and this first year with her has been a very difficult one. At 9 months she got pneumonia and was in hospital for a few weeks, she had to have surgery right before Christmas and it was a very difficult time for all of us. 

Since leaving hospital Summer has had numerous colds and chest infections, it's heartbreaking seeing her ill all the time and of course she was ill for her birthday but we made the best of it and she soldiered on through her party like a little trouper even though she was feeling pretty poorly.


I love planning the kids parties and I've been thinking about Summer's birthday party for months, I decided to go with an owls and clouds theme because I'm obsessed with owls at the moment and I just think clouds are so cute. I found the perfect party set in Sainsburys and then chose everything else based on that.


We used the bunting from Summer's bedroom and the lovely canvas that we recently had done of Summer to decorate the wall behind the table. We put the bunting up with Command Strips and they worked brilliantly, they allow you to hang decorations but don't leave any marks or holes in your walls, I really recommend them for party decorations and we'll definitely be using them again in the future.


I love the tissue pom poms and the candy striped drinks cups, they look so cute with the paper straws and everyone loved them. My favourite thing at her party though was the cake, a friend of mine makes them and she's amazing, I sent her a photo of something I liked and told her to tailor it to my theme and what she came up with was absolutely perfect.


The owl is super cute and I love the sleeping clouds with their little eyelashes, it was exactly what I wanted and was the perfect centre piece for the party. I also made cupcakes to with little cloud cake toppers which looked adorable and were super yummy and we even had matching party bags.


For Summer's outfit I decided on a cute long sleeved vest with a number 1, her adorable cupcake tutu from Angels Face and a sparkly bow headband from What's In Lilly's Closet, I get all of Summer's headbands and bows from there so if you want some for your little one then you should definitely take a look.


Summer got lots of lovely presents, we really struggled with what to buy her though because when it's your second child you kind of have everything already but we decided on a new bigger kitchen as Summer loves to open cupboards and put things inside so we thought it would be perfect. Other than that she had some gorgeous clothes, a lovely tea set, a personalised breakfast set from Getting Personal.co.uk, some books, a ride on horse and learning chair from Fisher Price and a pretty little teepee tent to play in.



Considering she was ill Summer had a lovely birthday, I just hope that the next year doesn't go as fast as this first one.

XXX

Friday, 21 March 2014

Jamie Oliver Cookware

Jamie Oliver is one of my favourite TV chefs, I love his 30 Minute Meals cookbook and always enjoy making and eating his food. What I didn't know was that you could buy the Jamie Oliver kitchen range online from a New online store called The Homewares Company. They have some great items at really affordable prices, here's what I've got my eye on at the moment.


  • The Jamie Oliver Beautiful Bread Bin - I love the vintage look of the kitchen range and would love this bread bin, I like the fact that you can use the lid as a board to cut your bread and it has 20% off the price at the moment.
  • Jamie Oliver Groovy Chopping Board - This chopping board is great because it has grooves which catch crumbs and also allow liquid to drain away.
  • Jamie Oliver Clip Top Medium Storage Jar - These kind of storage jars always come in handy and I like to use them to keep all of my baking supplies tidy, I put flour, caster sugar etc. in them and it stops my cupboards getting messy and makes everything look really organised.
  • Jamie Oliver Stackable Cake Tin Set - These would be great for me as I love baking and these are perfect for storing cakes. They have an air tight seal to keep things fresh and I love the vintage appearance.
Have you tried any of the Jamie Oliver Cookware range?

XXX


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Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Vapiano Restaurant Review

We recently celebrated our fifth wedding anniversary and decided to take a trip to London for a much needed break. It was only for one night but it was enough time for us to relax and enjoy each others company without the children constantly distracting us. The one thing I miss the most about not having children is simply being able to have a conversation with my husband, I don't know if it's just us but having a 3 and a half year old in the house makes conversations with Ian virtually impossible so having the time to just talk without interruption was great. After saying all of that though it took me approximately an hour to start missing the children and then we pretty much spent the whole time talking about them, you can't win!


While we were in London we were lucky enough to be asked to review an amazing Italian restaurant called Vapiano, I'm not normally a massive fan of Italian restaurants as I find them all quite similar and a little boring but Vapiano isn't like any other Italian I'd ever been to. 

All the food in Vapiano is cooked fresh, right in front of your eyes, when you arrive you each receive a credit card, you then decide what you would like to eat whether it be pasta, pizza or salad and you go to the relevant station, there are several pasta stations, a pizza station and a salad station where there are several chefs cooking the food right there for you to see. You tell them what you would like and then they scan your card to enter what you've had and you watch them cook your food exactly how you like it, at the end of you meal everything you've eaten is recorded on your card and you take it to the cashier to pay.



We decided to order a pasta dish and a pizza and share so that we could try both so we ordered Cognac pasta and a Barbecue Chicken Pizza. 


All of the pasta is handmade fresh in the restaurant everyday and you can choose whichever shape you would like, the Cognac pasta had chicken breast, bacon, peas, garlic, cream, tomato sauce and cognac in and without a doubt it was the best pasta dish I have ever tried in my life. If I go to an Italian I would never normally order pasta as I find it too stodgy and boring but this pasta dish was so delicious I could have eaten two portions. I really liked that you could see the chefs cooking your meal and asking you how you like things, it makes the whole experience a little more personal and definitely more enjoyable.


The pizza was also delicious, I love Barbecue Chicken Pizza anyway and this was as good a pizza as I've had anywhere else. I'd definitely recommend having the pasta if you eat here though even if pasta isn't something you would normally have. When you order a pizza the chef makes it up in front of you and then pops it in the pizza oven to cook, they then give you a buzzer to take back to your table so that you can sit down whilst the pizza is cooking and when it's ready the buzzer goes off and you can go and collect your pizza.


We were pretty full after our mains but of course we had to sample dessert so we opted for Tirimisu and Panna Cotta. I wasn't sure if I'd like the Tirimisu as sometimes they have too much coffee in for me but this one was perfect and absolutely delicious and the Panna Cotta with strawberry sauce was so creamy we both loved it.


Overall we had a really lovely evening in Vapiano, the staff were so friendly and helpful, they were a pleasure to talk to and the atmosphere was really relaxed, we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and would definitely go again. There were quite a few people there with children so it's very child friendly and you could also order your food to take away. Unfortunately at the moment there isn't a Vapiano near to where we live in Nottingham but there are two in London, the one we went to is just a few doors down from Topshop on Great Portland Street just off Oxford Street and they're opening a third in London in the summer so if you're heading to London anytime soon or if you live there you have to give Vapiano a try, you'll love it.

XXX

Monday, 17 March 2014

Thomas Kitchen Knives Review

Tesco have a great sticker promotion running at the moment, you can get some amazing new Thomas Kitchen Knives with a huge 70% discount. For every £20 that you spend you receive a sticker and once you have 5 stickers you can claim the discounted item of your choice.

I was lucky enough to receive some of the knives to try and as we cook a lot in our house I was really excited about trying them out. Our knives are quite old and pretty blunt which makes slicing things quickly and cleanly quite difficult but the Thomas knives made cooking a pleasure and so much easier.


I was sent five knives to try which gives you a great selection. 
  • There is a Large Santoku Knife which is a classic Japanese style, general purpose knife. Perfect for slicing, dicing and mincing without food sticking to the blade.
  • A Cook's Knife which is a perfectly weighted multi-purpose knife perfect for preparing vegetables, meat and fish.
  • A lightweight Bread Knife which cuts through crusty bread with ease and is probably my favourite knife.
  • A Small Santoku Knife which is ideal for fine slicing of vegetables.
  • And a Utility Knife which is great for everyday use cutting cheese, meat, fruit and vegetables with ease.

I was also sent a lovely wooden Knife Block to keep them all in so that they're safe and tidy and it looks lovely in our kitchen.


We've really enjoyed using these knives and they've been a great addition to our kitchen, we've been using them everyday and they've definitely made food preparation quicker and easier. If you shop at Tesco then you should take advantage of this great offer and start collecting your stickers now.

XXX

 Tesco are running a sticker promotion between 3rd March – 1st June 2014 where you can save up to 70% on exclusive kitchenware products at Tesco. For every £20 you spend online OR in-store you can collect a sticker, once you’ve collected five stickers you can use these to save up to 70% off professional kitchenware items.

Friday, 14 March 2014

My Top Sleep Tips For New Mums

One of the hardest things about becoming a Mummy is the lack of sleep and trying to find time to get that all important sleep in can be very hard, leaving you feeling exhausted, emotional and drained. In this post I'll let you know some of my top tips for making sure you get enough sleep in those first few difficult months.


  • Make rest a priority - It's very difficult in the day to stop everything and just rest because there is always so much to do, as soon as you get your baby off to sleep you instantly think of a million and one jobs that need to get done before they wake up and you spend the whole time rushing around to get things done. However taking the time to get some rest in the day will not only lessen the effects of sleep deprivation it will also improve the quality of your sleep at night. So when your baby naps take a bit of time, even if it's just 10 minutes to just sit or lie down, close your eyes and takes some deep breaths, then have a drink of water or a piece of fruit and use that time to recharge a little bit before your baby wakes up and needs your full attention again.
  • Make your bed a nice place to be - It's really important to have a comfortable bed if you want a good nights sleep, one of the most important factors are pillows, it's advised that you should try Memory foam pillows for a great nights sleep as they give your head and neck to correct support that they need and allow you to sleep comfortably all night long. It's also important to have nice bedding, I always sleep better when I have some nice new, fresh clean bedding on my bed so why not treat yourself to some just before baby arrives, you can find a Great selection of bedding and duvets online at The Bedding Company.
  • Get some exercise - When you're an exhausted new mum the last thing on your mind is exercising however exercise can be very beneficial to new mums because it helps to reduce levels of adrenaline and other stress hormones and it boosts the production of hormones that repair the body which boosts your immune system and overall health. Exercise also ensures that when you sleep you spend more time in a deep sleep which means you'll feel much more rested and alert when you wake up. You don't need to go to the gym to exercise you can just take your baby out in the pram for a 20 minute walk which will be nice for you and the baby.
  • Make a list - If one of the things that is stopping you from getting some sleep is the fact that you can't switch off because you have a million things racing around in your head that you need to do, one of the best ways to deal with that is to make a list. Before you go to bed write a list of all the jobs that you need to do and things that you need to remember and you'll find that it's a lot easier to relax your mind knowing that it's all down on paper making it much easier for you to sleep.
  • Avoid stimulants - Try to avoid stimulants such as caffeine and alcohol, when you're tired it's very tempting to drinks lots of strong coffee to give you a much needed boost however drinking them too much could be what is causing you to not be able to sleep effectively. Caffeine can take up to 10 hours to leave your body so it's important to bear this in mind when you have a cup of tea or coffee in the morning as it could effect your sleep that night. Alcohol is commonly used to relax yourself in the evening however it actually stops you from getting a good, deep sleep and can leave you feeling mentally fuzzy in the morning. Herbal teas and water are much better if you want to improve your sleeping habits.

XXX

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Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Canvas Design UK Giveaway!

I take so many photos of my children that it's really nice to actually get some of them printed out either as photos or as a canvas. I was recently asked to review a canvas from Canvas Design, I chose a photo of Summer as I want to use it as part of her 1st Birthday Party decor and I absolutely love it.


CanvasDesign is a family run business that has evolved over the years into the company that it is today. The initial concept that drove the company forward is still the main focus of the business today. That is, to give every person the opportunity to own a bespoke photo canvas that does not cost hundreds of pounds.

Our canvas prints are the cheapest on the internet and the best quality with prices from as little as £5.99 and with FREE Delivery. If you find the same like for like product cheaper anywhere on the internet, we will refund you the difference.

If you would like to win yourself a canvas print of any size from 6x6 to 40x40 inches then enter my giveaway by filling in the Rafflecopter form below. There will be one lucky winner and the giveaway is open to UK residents only.


XXX

Friday, 7 March 2014

Mini Baby Girl Spring Clothing Haul


I went food shopping last night and every time I got to Tesco I can't resist looking at the kids clothing, they had some gorgeous new items in for Spring so I picked up a few bits for Summer that will be perfect for our holiday in May.


I love this 3 Pack of Printed T-shirts, I think the colours are so cute and perfect for Spring. You get a hot pink t-shirt, a really pretty floral t-shirt and a lemon coloured Polaroid print t-shirt which says "Pretty as a picture", all three t-shirts were just £7 which I think is great value for money.


I thought these Floral Print Jeggings were so adorable and would look gorgeous with the lemon t-shirt so I had to buy them, they were £5.


Lastly I got these Polka Dot Leggings, I love the crochet trim round the bottom of these leggings and again I thought they would look cute with the t-shirts that I got plus they were only £3.

I think I've almost got all of Summer's clothes sorted for our holiday now, I'll do a post on all of her outfits that we'll be taking on holiday with us before we go because she's got some super cute things.

XXX

Thursday, 6 March 2014

Spring Cleaning

The sun is beginning to show it's face more and the crocuses are out which can mean only one thing, Spring is almost here! I don't know what it is about Spring that makes us all want to have a good clear out but I have been itching to give our house a good scrub from top to bottom and I thought I'd share with you the products that I like to use to make our house sparkle.


Something that I've been wanting to try for ages is a steam cleaner for our floors, we have a tiled kitchen floor and laminate flooring throughout the entire ground floor and because we have a dog and Summer is now crawling I'm very conscious that the floors need to be cleaned really thoroughly to protect her from being exposed to too many nasty germs and bacteria.

The Thane H20X5 Steam Cleaner is a 5 in 1 cleaning system which can be used as a floor cleaner, a carpet steamer, a hand-held steamer, a window cleaner and a garment steamer.

It kills up to 99% of bacteria using only tap or distilled water, it has variable steam control, is really light weight and portable and it deodorises and helps to sanitise.


Included when you purchase your Thane H20X5 is

  • 1 x H2O X5®
  • 1 x Microfibre Cloth
  • 1 x Super Absorbent Cloth
    for window cleaning tool
  • 1 x Super Absorbent Cloth
    for Duster tool
  • 1 x Microfibre Cloth
    for Garment Steamer
  • 1 x Extension Hose
  • 1 x Round Nylon Brush
  • 1 x Round Metal Brush
  • 1 x Angled Jet Nozzle
  • 1 x Duster Tool Attachment
  • 1 x Window Cleaning /
    Garment Steaming Tool Attachment
  • 1 x Carpet Glider
  • 1 x Limescale Cleaning Pin
  • 1 x User's Guide

I couldn't wait to give it try and I got straight to work cleaning my kitchen floor, it has dark grey tiles making it hard to see how dirty it actually, it took me no more than 5 minutes to clean the floor with the steam cleaner and it was so easy to use, all you do is fill it with water, plug it in, wait for the on button to turn green and switch it on and you're good to go. My floor looked super clean after going over it with the steam cleaner and I was quite horrified at how dirty the Microfibre cloth was after I'd finished.


My Mum was so impressed with how well it cleaned my floors that she demanded that I take it to her house the next day so that she could use it on all of her floors. 

The H20X5 works on slate, marble, ceramic tiles, carpet, sealed hardwood, vinyl, granite and laminate. You can also use it as a handheld cleaner to cleaner in between tiles or to remove stubborn stains from your oven. It has 4 steam settings to make sure you're getting the correct amount of steam for the surface that you're cleaning which is all explained fully in the instruction manual.

I'm absolutely thrilled with this steam cleaner and you can currently buy it for just £79.99 from Thane Direct, however I have a special discount code which will get you 10% off, just enter the code HOMESWEETHOME at the checkout. 
I know this is something that I'll use regularly from now on and it's nice and compact so easily stores away after use.

My favourite place to buy my cleaning items at the moment is Home Bargains and I recently got lots of items for my Spring Cleaning mission. They have loads of Spring Cleaning goodies all for really reasonable prices.


I got some anti-bacterial wipes which I use all the time, they're great for wiping surfaces like Summer's highchair and cleaning the kids toys and I also use them when I'm cleaning the bathroom to wipe over the toilet seat. Their quick drying glass and window wipes are brilliant for cleaning windows and mirrors without leaving streaks and smears.

I've had a good sort out of the kids clothes and always store them in vacuum storage bags to keep them fresh and protected, these jasmine scented ones are great and smell gorgeous. I also use the scented draw liners to keep the clothes in our draws smelling fresh and they look pretty too.

I've never tried the Dizolve washing sheets and was quite intrigued to see how well they worked, you use them in your wash instead of a powder or gel and they worked great, my clothes came out clean and smelling of the lovely lavender fragrance. The Vac fresheners and really handy to pop in your vacuum and leave your rooms smelling fresh as a daisy after vacuuming and the steel scourers are perfect for removing tough stains from your pots, pans and ovens.

The last item I have which is essential in my mission for a clean home is a good vacuum and I've found over the years that having a super expensive big brand vacuum doesn't always mean it's better. I currently have a Henry style vacuum and although the suction is amazing the vacuum itself is really heavy and bulky making it almost impossible to vacuum the stairs and the suction is so strong that vacuuming carpets is really difficult as the vacuum literally sticks to the carpet and I can't move it. So when Debt Free Direct asked me to take part in their campaign to see whether supermarket electrical brands make good purchases I thought I'd try a supermarket brand vacuum and I absolutely love it.


The Sainsbury's 1600W Vacuum with Pet Brush costs just £34.99 as there is currently £5.00 off and it works brilliantly. It's super lightweight and comes with a special pet brush attachment that picks up animal hair from all types of floor. It also has a HEPA filter which cleans bacteria and other allergens out of the air before it's expelled making it perfect for people with allergies.


This vacuum has been a life saver for me as I can now vacuum the stairs quickly and easily without breaking my back carrying a heavy vacuum, vacuuming carpets is a breeze and it glides over the carpets easily whilst still picking up all the bits and the handle extends really far so I can vacuum without stooping down which really hurts my back. Overall I'm massively impressed with this vacuum and I'd recommend it to anyone thinking of getting a new one.

XXX

The vacuum was sent to me courtesy of Debt Free Direct, however all thoughts and opinions are 100% honest and my own.

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Mummy Favourites

There's been quite a few products that I've been loving at the moment so I thought it was time for a Mummy Favourites post so that I could share them all with you.


Something that we've been loving and using quite a lot at the moment is the Sanamama Baby Back Carrier, now that Summer is getting heavier it's so much easier to carry her on my back. It's really easy to use and super comfortable to wear, Summer really likes it too.


When you have small children baby wipes are essential, my favourites at the moment are the Huggies Everyday Wipes, they're really thick and wet and they smell lovely. They're perfect for changing nappies, wiping dirty hands or cleaning baby food from Summer's face, they're not too expensive and they don't irritate Summer's skin.

We also love the Huggies Pull Ups, Riley is potty trained but he still wears pull ups at night and these are the best ones we've tried. I usually always use Aldi nappies but we tried the pull ups and they were really uncomfortable, Riley much prefers the Huggies ones as they're nice and soft and they also have Lightening McQueen on so that's a big bonus too!




My next favourite is F+F Clothing from Tesco, Summer's entire wardrobe is pretty much made up of F+F clothes and I absolutely love them. They're such good quality, super affordable and they get new stock in all the time so every time I shop in Tesco they have new items to look at and usually end up buying. If you have little ones then I can not recommend F+F baby clothes enough.


I loved OXO products when I was weaning Riley so I definitely wanted to use them for Summer aswell, the plate with it's curved edges make it much easier for Summer to scoop up food herself without it spilling everywhere and the fork and spoon set are just the right size and shape for little hands and mouths.

So that's all the products that we're loving at the moment, let me know what your favourite items are in a comment below.

XXX

Monday, 3 March 2014

Pig Goes Pop Giveaway

Today I've got another fab giveaway for you, one lucky winner will win the super fun game Pig Goes Pop

It's really easy to play and lots of fun, all you have to do is roll the colourful dice and then feed the pig the number of burgers that it says on the dice, pumping his head each time to make sure he swallows them. With every pump his belly gets a little bit bigger until eventually it goes POP!

You can play Pig Goes Pop with 2-6 players, ages 4+


My son Riley has this game and he loves it, he sits for hours playing with it with me and my husband and by himself, he loves it when the pig's belly pops. I was really impressed with how sturdy it is because my son can be very heavy handed with things and often breaks toys just because he's a bit too enthusiastic when he plays with them but this has stood up to a lot of playing with and it's still in one piece.

To be in with a chance of winning just fill in the Rafflecopter form below, giveaway is open to UK residents only. 


XXX
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