2016 The Best Bits

In previous years I have done a post sharing my top moments of the last twelve months. I love looking back and seeing what was most successful on my blog, so on the eve of the near year, here are my top posts of 2016.


Christmas 2016

After a manic but brilliant Christmas, I have finally found time to sit down at my laptop and write a post. Christmas is always our favourite time of year and I'm already dreading next week when the tree will be down, Mr H will be back at work and the daily drudgery will begin. I love getting together with family, playing games and enjoying the odd drink. So, as I have done in past years, I'm remembering this year with our Christmas in photos.

Holly's birthday


72 Hours In Berlin

Berlin - a city with such a harrowed history, most of which has taken part in just the last century. It has never been somewhere I've ever considered visiting and yet from the moment I stepped outside our hotel, the NH Collection Friedrichstrasse, something grabbed me and didn't let go. I recently attended a trip to Germany's capital city with Jet2Citybreaks, flying on its inaugural flight from Leeds/Bradford airport to Berlin Schonefeld, and I have to say it was a trip I will never forget.

travel to berlin with jet2

Enjoying a #FrozenIn Night with Lego & Disney

Last night we enjoyed a lovely night in to celebrate the new Lego shorts premiering on Disney Junior - Frozen Northern Lights. We were sent a parcel of goodies, including the Frozen Northern Lights Elsa Doll, which Holly was really excited about. So we opened up our goodies, snuggled down and rewetted the film before we watched the new show which aired this morning.

I filmed a short video of our night in, which is part of my Vlogmas series and features the Elsa doll.




*This is a featured post
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Win a Hamper From Keelham Farm

With Christmas around the corner now, we have been enjoying some cosy nights in, snuggling up together and relaxing as a family. Keelham Farm, who are based in Yorkshire, recently sent us one of their hampers to try so we grabbed our blankets, opened our hamper and settled down for a Christmas film.


We were sent the Cosy Night In hamper which was filled with chocolatey treats, slippers and a mug. We were all really excited about the chocolate drops which we used to make proper hot chocolate - none of that powdered stuff for us! It was all absolutely delicious and added that luxurious touch to our own cosy night in.


I've put together a little video of our night in which you can see below.


I also have one of there hampers up for grabs! Enter the Gleam below and you could win your choice of hamper worth up to £50.

Keelhaul Farm Giveaway
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Embracing Hygge As A Family

Have you heard of Hygge? It's the new trend on everyone's lips, encouraging us to celebrate time together, make the most of the small moments and take pleasure in the everyday. Whilst I'm in no way a trend-setter of any kind, anything that encourages relaxing under a blanket with a cup of something warm is a winner in my book. Recently we have taken to having 'family nights' once a week, where we take the hour before bedtime to choose a film, grab a drink and snack and snuggle down to enjoy some phone and ipad-free time together, and embracing Hygge (pronounced Hu-gah, by the way!) really fits in with this routine.

Review: Belles Musical Tea Party Cart

When I recently attended my local blogging conference, Blog On, I came across the Belle's Musical Tea Party Cart and thought it was a lovely toy. I love Beauty And The Beast, it's one of my favourite Disney films and Holly chose to dress up as Belle at her last birthday party. We have been trying out the toy for a couple of weeks now so I thought I'd share my thoughts.


1. It's a lovely looking toy - a large cart featuring a tray with a spinning top where Mrs Potts, Chip and another cup sit, two spoons, a shelf underneath, wheels and a handle to push the tray around. The cart has a button on the front that when pushed plays "Be Our Guest."


2. It's quite thin plastic so I would say if your child is a little heavy handed you may need to take care, although it did need a bit of pushing down on to get it to fit together and it took that well.



3. There are lots of opportunities for play - my two set it up with Holly's dolls and had a tea party, hosted by Anna and Captain America, which included filling Mrs Pots with juice and, of course, proceeding to spill it everywhere (although I should point out it does say not to be used with liquids, but we didn't have any problems)!




4. It pushed really easily, in fact Jack was running around the house with it, over carpet, our long-pile rug and lino, serving Holly when she rang, and it was absolutely fine.


5. Currently for sale for £49.99 (although I believe it has been on at £60), I do feel it has quite a high price tag. It is a large toy but apart from the music and tease there isn't a huge amount to it that warrants the higher price tag.

It's a lovely toy for any Disney Princess fan and will bring lots of fun to playtime, it quite expensive in my opinion, though.


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*We were sent this FOC however all opinions are my own.

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Black Friday Family Wishlist

Over the last couple of years Black Friday has winged it way from America and hit our stores with gusto, to the point that chaos has ensued in some places whilst people fought to get a bargain. I have never really joined in the fray, mainly because the thought of so many crowds fills me with dread, and for some reason I seem to miss all the good deals online. This year, though, I've set myself a few reminders and signed up for notifications with the intention of maybe buying a few bits for Christmas, if I see anything that catches my eye.

With that in mind I thought I'd put together a few wishlist ideas of what I'll be looking out for in the sales this year.

black friday sale

Wanna Hibernate?

If you follow me on social media at all you will be aware that the last couple of months have been tough going. As some of you may know I suffer from M.E./Chronic Fatigue and have done for the last three years, and in that time things have been a battle. For the majority of this year I was on the up, feeling a lot better, more awake and happier than I had been in some time. I was able to do things with the children, I was feeling motivated and actually working. Then September hit and it all went to shit.

Review: Blaze Monster Dome Playset

Jack is a huge fan of Blaze and has been since it originally came onto our screens. In fact for his third birthday I had to order a Blaze car from America as the toys weren't available in the UK. However, it has been eighteen months since then and there are a whole host of toys on sale from the show, including the Blaze Monster Dome Playset we have recently been trying out. Here are my thoughts on the toy.

Ninjago Fun at Legoland Manchester

A couple of weeks ago we were invited to preview the Ninjago event taking place at Legoland Discovery Centre in Manchester. Ever since we first saw an episode of Ninjago at the Manchester site, Jack has loved it and so we were looking forward to a nice morning out where the kids would be entertained for us!


Your Youtube #89


Hello and welcome back to Your Youtube and thanks for joining in! My co-host and I Sian love watching your videos each week and we love seeing you all link up. This week's video of the week is from Fritha at Tigerlily Quinn who, along with her helper, has put together a quick and easy demo for skeleton face paint.



Over to the linky - please link up no more and two videos and please DO NOT link up unless you are prepared to return the favour and watch at least two in return. This linky doesn't work unless everyone who joins in is willing to take part, so let's help each other out. Over to you! You can also join us at the Your Youtube Facebook Group here







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Review: Puppy In My Pocket Pretty Pet Palace

We recently took part in a Puppy In My Pocket party and as part of that were sent a couple of the playsets, and of course puppies, to try out. The toys were originally released in the 90's and, like many toys of my youth, they have been re-released to today's children with much success. We were sent the Pet Palace, Dog Park and a selection of puppies, so I thought I'd give you a quick run down of our thoughts.



Experience A Magical Christmas with Bents

I adore Christmas. In our family we all do and make a huge fuss of it. It's also Holly's birthday a week before which just adds to the excitement a little bit more. One of our traditions is to visit our local garden and home centre, Bents, at Christmas time to see their stunning Christmas displays and get into the festive spirit. This year I was given the opportunity to get a sneak peek at their range and I jumped at the chance.


Roco Clothing: Beautiful Children's Clothes

When it comes to shopping I'm like many a mum out there - I go for myself and inevitably end up coming out with bags full of childrens' clothes. There's just something about those beautiful, bright, soft outfits in tiny sizes that I cannot resist and often wish they did them in my size. My children are probably sick of me now asking them to pose for photo after photo, although the diva in Holly often asks me to take one of her even when I wasn't planning on. I think I may be creating a monster.

One style we've never really tried on is formalwear. We've not had occasion for the children to don posh frocks or a little suit and so when Roco Clothing offered to send us some bits to try I thought it would be a lovely opportunity to see them all smartened up.


Extending Our Home With Crystal Living

We have recently undergone a loft conversion and, whilst it's still in the finishing touch stages, we are absolutely loving the extra space it has given us. Of course, once you've completed one project you're always thinking of the next and so when I was invited to Crystal Living in Cheshire to have a look at their range of luxury glass extensions and have one designed for my house, I was really excited to see what they would come up with. Prior to the event we were asked to send over photographs of the room we'd like to see extended and ground floor plans for our house so that the designer could plan it exactly to our dimensions.

Review: Go Jetters Jet Pad Playset


Watching the TV is a popular activity in our house - with myself and Mr Huge films fan it was always going to be the case, and whilst it's not the only activity, it does feature a lot. So when I came across a children's show I hadn't watched I was surprised, as I've seen a lot. The children don't miss a thing though, and when we were sent the new Go Jetters toy to try out they already knew the characters names.

Your Youtube #87


Hello, I'm back! After a shocking couple of weeks, I finally managed to open my Mac and get your videos watching! Thank you so much to my co-host Sian for folding own the fort in the meantime, and hopefully I can catch up with all your great videos! This week's video of the week is from Kirsty at My Two Mums who filmed her time at the Mum and Dad Blog Awards that took place recently - I love all the GoPro footage, it definitely makes me want my own even more!

Getting Kids Into Golf?

Something a lot of people don't know about me is as a young person I was quit a keen golfer. My dad had always played and signed myself and my sister up for lessons and I just really enjoyed it. I used to go to the driving range every weekend and often played on the course, although didn't have the strength to hit it far enough most of the time! As an adult I've played once or twice, although without practice I've lost a lot of the skill so end up frustrated. However my dad still enjoys the sport as does Mr H, when he gets the chance.


We were invited to an event in Leeds with Online Golf and I thought it would be interesting to take the children along and have a go themselves. They've had one of those plastic sets of clubs, which inevitably ends up with the balls been whacked over the fence and the clubs turned on each other, but that's as far as their experience of the game has gone.


The event was at the Hilton in Leeds and there were three areas set up for the children to have a go - crazy golf, pitching and knocking down some skittles. The children were split into teams and there was a little competition to which team could score the most points.





My two weren't really interested in the competition, they just wanted to have a go at it all. In particular they seemed to enjoy the crazy golf and it was fun to watch them holding real golf clubs and getting a feel for how 'proper' golfers do it. The people from Online Golf were great at helping the kids, showing them the right way to hold the club and how to swing. Of course, mummy couldn't help but interfere along the way, ever the competitor!




The children had great fun and getting them to play golf at such a young age isn't really something I'd considered before, but realised that it is an option. Being non-contact it's a lot safer than other sports, plus it gets them outside in the fresh air and playing with friends as a group.  A big thanks to Online Golf for a great day out and giving us the chance to try something new!

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Party With Puppy In My Pocket


There's a new toy on the block and already Holly is a huge fan - Puppy In My Pocket. My two do love a good blind bag and with the popularity of YouTube videos featuring hundreds of these being opened in one sitting, they are always on the lookout for them when we go shopping. That's how we first came across these little puppies and now the sets are expanding.


On Wednesday 28th September we are taking part in the Puppy In My Pocket party on twitter where we will be playing games, making cakes and trying out a couple of the new playsets. Make sure you follow myself and UKMumsTV on Twitter and join us at 1pm using the hashtag #PuppyInMyPocket for the chance to win some great prizes.

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Starting School: Two Weeks In (Take Two)

A year ago I wrote this post about Holly 's first two weeks of school. Of course I knew at the time I would eventually be experiencing the same moment with my youngest, but what I didn't realise was how fast that would arrive. And here we are.


Review: Paw Patrol Weebles

Over the years Jack has fluctuated between TV shows, generally going through a few months of obsession which gradually gives way to the next on the list. His most recent one has been Paw Patrol and we have almost all the figures (just missing Sky!) and lots of the playsets. That is until the latest one was released - the Weebles set.


Planning A Loft Conversion

At the start of the year Mr H and I made a big decision about our home, and that is that we wanted to extend. For us it was a matter of moving house or adding more space to our current home and once we'd talked to an estate agent we decided we just couldn't justify moving at this time. Plus we love our home and although the bedrooms aren't very big and we don't have a huge amount of space downstairs, it is the first home since being together for thirteen years that we've actually felt settled and happy in.

So we made the big decision to extend our mortgage and add a whole new floor to our house. We already knew it had great potential, as the loft space was huge and we had a double height staircase meaning there was enough room for a new one up to the next floor. It took us a while to find the right builder we felt totally happy with, but once we did it was all go.

So, of course, I envisioned it all in my head - where the furniture would go, what colours we would have, the style of the room - and utilised Pinterest and various home decor stores such as Esprit, to collate all my ideas. Now we are a few months down the line and the bedroom is pretty much finished, so I thought I would start the big reveal with the initial ideas I had.

Make Working From Home Work For You


With the internet getter faster and technology enabling you to access data away from your desk, more and more people are now working from home. As a blogger, all the work I do on my blog and YouTube channel is from a table in my house, be that surrounded by toys and kids or dinner plates and chatter. As we don't have the space for a room to be solely an office in our house, it can be hard to find a place to work that provides the space and peace that I need to really get my head down and get stuff done. I've been putting together a few ideas of how I can go about this with the limited space I have and, with my recent invitation to a ‘Design Your Dream Home Extension’ event where we will learn more about improving our living spaces, I thought I would share them.

Review: My Name Label

This time last year I was waving my eldest off for her first day of school, and now here I am doing the same thing to my boy. It's strange how fast these times come around, so fast in fact that I didn't feel at all prepared! I left buying the uniform to only the week before and the shoes the day before he started! One thing I was all set for, though, was the labelling as the lovely people at My Name Label had sent me one of their Starter Packs to try.


Me & Mine August 16

Here we are, the summer is gone and we are ready for heading back to school and get into our usual routine. This time it's my boy's first day at school and everytime I think about it I get little butterflies in my tummy. It just doesn't seem time, and yet it so is.

August has been lovely to us and I honestly can't believe how fast this summer has flown. The children and I wrote a list of all the things we've done over the last few weeks and I was surprised how much we'd crammed in. We visited London with my mum and sister, the childrens' first time in the capital and they were overawed by it all. Mummy and daddy had a mini break all to ourselves, celebrating our ten year wedding anniversary, and then the children went to Wales with daddy for a couple of days to give me a bit of peace and quiet. There's been lots of firsts - first train, bus and boat, first blackberry picking, first time at golf, first time flying a kite, first summer holidays.

Holly



You Will Always Be My Baby

A week today my little boy will take those little steps in his big boy shoes through the gates of school and the next stage of life. It seems like only two minutes ago since I waved my first born off, and now it's time to kiss my youngest child goodbye and wave him off on his first day.


Children In Colour


Recently on my Instagram feed I've been having a think about what I wanted to share and the feel I wanted to portray. I've loved Instagram almost since it began but for me it was more of somewhere I just enjoyed rather than making it anything to do with my blog or to do for followers. More and more, though, I have realised that I put a lot of work into it, I love finding new like-minded people to follow and it is something PR's now look at when they are considering who to work with. So now I am trying to find a balance between hobby and social media that works for me.

I decided that I have always loved colour - when I was twenty I had a pair of bright pink corduroy flares and I always wore a multitude of brightly coloured eyeshadow. Now I may not dress quite as boldly, but there is always an element of colour in my life, from flowers to home decor. My love of colourful clothing has definitely spread to my childrens' wardrobes and I can't resist a bright item of clothing if I see it in the shops.

So with that in mind I have decided to reflect this love of all things bright in my Instagram feed, and I try to share something colourful in almost every post. And of course that is generally of the children and what they are wearing.

Keeping Your Home Safe Whilst You're Away

Unfortunately recently there have been a number of crimes in our area. Whilst we live in a relatively safe village, because we live in a new build we seem to have been targeted and things like cars been broken into and even a house has left be quite anxious to ensure our house is as safe as possible.

Rather stupidly, and possibly naively, we have never had an alarm fitted. We are the only ones on the street not to do and I am aware that this isn't exactly recommended. Money and other things being a priority are the reasons behind this, but with all these things going on recently it has brought it to the forefront as a necessity so next week the alarm is being fitted.

I am even more conscious os home security when we are away from home and often wonder what we can do to increase this when there is no way for us to be there to keep an eye on things. I have a few methods we put into place whenever we travel so I thought I'd share them on here.


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