Thursday, 20 October 2016

Ideas for beautifying and updating your fixer upper home

When it comes to buying a new home, more and more people are opting for fixer-upper properties. These are properties that are in need of a little TLC and because of this, tend to be more affordable to buy. Fixer-upper properties can range from houses in need of a few small updates to places that need to be completely renovated. They offer you the chance to redesign an old property and transform it into something new. If you’re someone who loves the idea of being able to really make a property their own, a fixer-upper house could ideal for you.

Of course, that being said, it’s important to understand how much of a commitment a fixer-upper can be. You won’t be able to update the space and move in overnight. It will take a while to get your new home into a liveable condition. So it’s important to ensure that you’re okay with that, before taking on a property that’s in need of doing up. Otherwise, you could end up putting money into the project, only to give up on it halfway through.

If everything about doing up a property appeals to you, then you’ve come to the right place. Below is a combination of ideas and inspiration for transforming your fixer-upper home into an amazing space!

Take into account what’s already in place

The first step when it comes to approaching the renovations for a fixer-upper property is seeing what’s already in place. Although you’ll probably want to change things like the flooring and main features, there may be some things that you like and want to keep. Say, for example, the living room of the property has a beautiful marble fireplace complete with a wood burner. You may love this and want to keep it. 
There may be a couple of updates needed to make it usable, such as replacing the glass on the wood burner's doors. So you'll need to make these, but that's about all. Or, say, for instance, the kitchen has a beautiful bi-fold door that can be used to separate it from the dining room or to open up the space. You may love the idea of having a bi-fold door, but the door in place may need to have some features updated. If this is the case, you want to get the pieces that need replacing from a specialist company, such as Debar, for instance. As that way, you know that they’re of a high quality. That’s the important thing when it comes to doing up a property - using high-quality products. As that way, you know that they’re worth the money and will last well!

Get inspired

Once you’ve found out what’s already in place and decided what you would like to keep and what you would like to change, it's important to get inspired. To do up a fixer-upper property, it’s important to have a creative mindset to see beyond what’s there. That’s where inspiration comes in. You see, sometimes it takes seeing what other people have done to their homes to give you the inspiration to update yours. Take the time to have a look online for inspiration. Read blogs, Google different room ideas, and use photo sharing sites like Instagram. Any ideas that you like the sound of note down or save images of. That way, you can refer back to them later on. If nothing takes your fancy, don’t despair, have another look the next day. It can take time to find a decor style that you love, and that’s fine.

Think about the layout

Before you start making updates to the property, take the time to think about the layout. If you’re going to spend time and money doing it up, it’s important to ensure that in every way the property is just how you imagined it would be. Say, for instance, you’ve always wanted a separate kitchen and dining room. However, the property doesn’t have one. You could consider creating one. This could be by changing another room into a dining room, adding a small extension, or by sectioning off part of the kitchen to create a dining room. 

Don’t be afraid to get creative when it comes to the layout of the property - it’s completely fine to change things up. Just make sure that before you do, you ensure that you can cover the cost of any changes. A great way to do this is to call in a contractor to give you a quote, as this will give you a better idea of how much you’re going to need to spend. If you’ve got the funds available to cover the cost, then go ahead and make any changes that you want to. It’s your home, and it needs to be somewhere that you love.

How will you add a personal touch?

Obviously, transforming an old property into a modern, stylish space allows you to put your own stamp on it. However, to give it that truly personal look and feel, you need to find little ways to add elements of your personality to the property. This could be via the decor that you use, with the furniture that you pick, or with the accessories that you put in place. There are lots of simple ways you can add a personal touch to your home; it’s just a case of taking the time to think about what the best.

Don’t forget the outdoor space

Last but not least, don’t forget about the outdoor space. When it comes to beautifying and updating a fixer-upper property, it’s not just about the interior. It's also about your outdoor space, as well as the exterior of the building. If you want to create a home that’s beautiful inside and out, you need to take the time to think carefully about what you want to do with the exterior. Think paintwork, window trims, door styles, and, of course, the garden itself. 

Take your garden, as an example, in order to make it a nice space, you need to transform it. The problem is that you may not know how to go about it. If you’re stuck for ideas, contact a landscape gardener to come over and take a look. They should be able to give you the inspiration that you need to transform your garden into a beautiful and practical space.

Hopefully, the ideas above will help to make beautifying your fixer-upper home easier!

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

A festive day out at Gulliver's Kingdom in Matlock Bath

Ok, lets just get this over with.... I'm going to mention the 'C' word on my blog today. Yep, it's mid October and I want to talk about CHRISTMAS already. I'm one of those people who can't get enough of the festive period though so it's never ever too early in my book!

We are certainly a family who like to create lasting memories together and Christmas time is such a special time to seek out some unique experiences for children that will keep them smiling over the colder months. Whether it's a pantomime, a festive market or a visit to see Santa.... there are so many options for things to do in the run up to Christmas!

But have you ever thought about a festive day out with your children at a theme park? Nope? Well, please read on as this is exactly what I am going to be writing about today! 

Last weekend we spent an amazing day out at Gulliver's Kingdom in Matlock Bath finding out everything there is to know about their festive offer. There were more decorations and fairy lights than I could shake a stick at, gifts galore and plenty of dancing animals and do you know what? We blummin' loved it! 

Gulliver's Kingdom is a unique theme park in that it is specially designed for families with children aged between the years of 2 and 13. It really does have one of the best offers in the UK for children with a huge range of rides, play areas, attractions and shows that are suitable for even the youngest of guests. It's absolutely brilliant! 

Gulliver's run a number of theme parks across the UK in addition to a dinosaur and farm park in Milton Keynes. You can even turn your fun-filled day out into a trip away with their range of accommodation including the unique Gulliver's Hotel in Warrington (which is now on my list of places I want to go!).

Matlock Bath is the Gulliver's that I remember so fondly from my childhood though. Set on a stunning hillside with the most incredible views. It's unique and quirky and so different from other theme parks that we visit often. I was so thrilled to be asked to come back to the park, to see how much it has changed and I couldn't wait to share the experience with my little girl!

Here's what we got up to during our day.... 

We arrived around 11am and was pleasantly surprised by the car park which was not only free but had parking attendants directing you to the nearest space. A nice touch! After a friendly welcome from the characters and staff at the entrance, we were soon inside the park. 

As the main point of our visit was the Christmas preview, this was our first point of call. We were welcomed into Gulliver's Kingdom with some hot drinks and after a super interesting welcome talk, we were led to Santa's grotto which is situated in the 'Western World' at the top of the park.   

As soon as you pass through the door you enter a real winter wonderland. Thousands of sparkling lights illuminate a magical festive path that guides you all the way through the forest to Santa's grotto. There are moving animals, decorations and countless Christmassy things to spot!

This whole area is a delightful scene setter and is sure to charm children of all ages. It has a super traditional feel and whilst decorations are in abundance here, it all feels very nostalgic and very much assembled with the intention of creating those precious childhood memories. 

As we walked through this area, Miss E loved stroking all the 'animals', particularly the reindeer and the husky! 

Once you reach the end of the path, you'll find the entrance to Santa's Grotto. Here, guests will have the chance to meet the big man himself and you'll be able to have a photograph taken if you wish. These photos can be purchased from a range of goods that you can take home including a Christmas tree decoration... such a cute idea! 

The one thing we discovered during our day at Gulliver's is that you won't be pushed into making a purchase.... it's all very much about the experience rather than them trying to take money from you at every available opportunity. This idea gets a big thumbs up from me!

Obviously Santa is still getting ready for the festive period so we had the opportunity to meet a super cute polar bear who was keeping his place warm instead! We took a photograph so you get the idea.... just imagine Santa instead of the bear! 

Once you have met Santa you'll enter Santa's Workshop which looks very much like a gift shop. Except this is no ordinary shop. Nope! Every child that has made the journey through the enchanted wonderland to meet Santa will be given the opportunity to pick out a present for themselves from Santa's Workshop to take home. This is such a delightful idea, your child is guaranteed to like their gift as they will have picked it out themselves. And the gifts on offer are really good too.... there's everything from soft toys to wooden puzzles and everything in between! No tat or gender specific gifts which I very much liked. 

We really loved the grotto experience and thought that it offered something really unique and special compared to others that we have experienced before. Not only do Gulliver's offer this experience but there are a whole range of packages available to suit all different requirements.... you'll be sure to find one that suits you! I have my eye on the 'extravaganza' package which is available on select dates in December and is complete with crackers & hats and a turkey dinner with all the trimmings. Amazing!

Once we had finished in the grotto, we had the rest of the day to explore the park in our own time. We decided to explore the rest of the 'Western World' first as we were already at the top of the park. Here you'll find a range of attractions including the log flume, a junior sized cowboy town and Old Macdonald's Farm which kiddo thought was hilarious with all the singing animals! 

We were soon feeling quite peckish so we headed over to Canyon Grill to grab some lunch. There are a range of food options available in the park (and yes, picnics are allowed!) but we had a bit of a fast food craving so a burger meal it was! Honestly, it was all so good.... I spoke to a few guests during the day and they also commented on how good the food was in the park, especially at the Canyon Grill. Yum!    

After lunch we headed down the hill to explore the rest of the park. The park is layered and attractions are set out on terraces. Everything is close by and you won't find yourself walking for ages to get to the next ride. Even though some of the hills are blummin' steep, we all managed perfectly fine throughout the day.... this goes for kiddo too who usually can get very tired in theme parks. On the steepest hill there's also a travelator which will help you up the hill... a nice touch for tired legs!

We found one of many soft play areas..... and had a fair bit of trouble extracting kiddo from all the fun!

We found ourselves spending quite a bit of time in the 'Party House' which is just the best area for young children! Inside here you'll find many interactive features, some small rides (kiddo loves a ladybird ride!), a small cinema showing cartoons with tiny chairs for little people, a ball pool, a huge sand pit, refreshments, merchandise and much more!

I just wanted to mention here that one thing we particularly loved about Gulliver's is that there are absolutely no coin operated machines or rides.... everything is included in your entry price. Those little roundabouts that cost 50p or £1 everywhere else? At Gulliver's they all operate at the touch of a button and don't leave your purse empty. Amazing!

We also loved the quirky touches around the park that incorporated the natural landscape and the area that the park is built on...

Another favourite area of ours was the JCB zone in Lilliput Land. This is one of the more recent additions to the park and it's such a fun area! There are small ride on diggers, building blocks and you even get the chance to operate one of the actual iconic diggers. I'm tempted to say that I might have had more fun than kiddo trying out the full sized ones! 

After that we headed over to the 'Lost Kingdom' and 'Adventure Land' to explore some of the rides and attractions in the top half of the park. Kiddo enjoyed her first ride on the dodgems (laser dodgems, no less!).... at other theme parks and fairgrounds she has always been too small to ride. She really enjoyed it and I think it was worth the wait! 

We took the chair lift down the hillside (possibly my most terrifying moment of the day.... I have a strange fear of chair lifts and cable cars, etc!) and pottered around 'Smugglers Wharf' in the lower half of the park where we soon found kiddo's new favourite ride, the Pirate Ship. We rode it a fair few times. She never fails to surprise me.... I didn't think she would like this one! 

We also had a few goes on the double decker carousel (those miniature ponies for small children.... too cute!) and after a good workout on the cycle monorail, we stopped by the doughnut hut for freshly made warm doughnuts and a hot drink. I couldn't pass that opportunity, no way! 

There is so much to see at Gulliver's Kingdom in Matlock Bath and there really is something for everyone to enjoy. From traditional roller coasters to playgrounds and soft play areas. There's even a talking apple. It's all delightfully bonkers and will be sure to spark the imaginations of every child who visits. I have distinct memories of these quirky little parts of the park from when I was young and I am so happy to see that they are still there!

We had such a wonderful day out in Gulliver's Kingdom in Matlock Bath and we are already planning on coming back at Christmas to see the rest of their festive offering and explore the park a bit further. 

Thank you so much Gulliver's Kingdom for inviting us to be your guests, kiddo had a marvellous day out (we all did!) and hasn't stopped talking about it since we got home. We'll certainly be back again real soon!

Do you visit theme parks with your little one? And have you visited Gulliver's Kingdom before? Let me know in a comment below!

Sunday, 16 October 2016

Things I've loved this week // 023

A little Sunday round-up, some of the little things that I've been loving this week!

Autumnal days

We've been experiencing some proper autumn weather here in Sheffield this week. We've had plenty of rainy walks, puddle splashing, conker collecting, leaf kicking and my favourite, getting cosy at home with a mug of hot chocolate! It is my favourite time of year for sure, I love everything to do with autumn! 


Over the last couple of months I've had around five tattoos healing and i'm currently at that stage where i'm just about all healed up. It's a funny feeling not having any booked in or planned. I'm forever thinking about the next one though so when we're back from our holiday i'm sure it won't be long until I make my next appointment! But until then..... I am going to enjoy all the baths! 


Earlier in the week I popped out to town for a spot of shopping with my little lady and we had such a fun time! It's something we rarely do so when we do it, it feels like a treat... of sorts, anyway! We picked up some sparkly pink Converse for her and made a start on the Christmas shopping (yep, I mentioned the C word!). Even bought an advent calendar.... only because I am certain that they will all be sold out before we can get out to the shops again though!

The holiday countdown

Our next holiday has crept up on us all of a sudden and so the countdown has begun. There are a lot of lists being made at the moment, going away with a small child needs some serious preparation! We're all so excited though and have so much planned for when we get there. Until then, I better start thinking about packing those bags!  

A cheeky nap

If you know me then you'll know how much I love naps! They are a complete rarity nowadays though as kiddo stopped napping quite a while ago. This week though, she asked for a cuddle in bed and promptly fell asleep. So, so good!

What have you been loving this week? Let me know in a comment below!

Friday, 14 October 2016

MegaBleu Games Review // Cobrattack and The Enchanted Ball

There was a lot of excitement in our house a few weeks ago when the postman delivered a box of games from the lovely people at MegaBleu to review. Kiddo has just reached that age where she has discovered the joy board games, she loves a bit of snakes and ladders. Playing games is such a fun way to engage together! 

Originating in France, MegaBleu are a company who specialise in making innovative and amusing games that offer a nice twist on the traditional board game and are perfect for the whole family to play together. 

We were sent out two games to try out, Cobrattack and The Enchanted Ball and as you can imagine, we couldn't wait to get stuck in!

First up, we have Cobrattack. This game is designed for one or more players and the rules of the game are super simple. Dare you come close to the basket to snatch the emerald and beat the Cobra? The challenge is to retrieve the emerald without the cobra (who's hiding inside the basket) seeing you. You may move as long as his eyes are green. If the eyes change to red, it means he's watching you so you must stand as still as a statue! If he catches you moving twice then he will leap out of the basket and the game is over. If you get the emerald? Then you are the winner! It's pretty much like an electronic version of the statues games (or grandmothers footsteps as it is sometimes called!) and it is great

The game was really easy to set up. Inside the box you'll find a snake, the basket, a plastic emerald and a key. There is also an instruction booklet. To play the game you'll need to insert 4 AA batteries into the basket, these are not included. 

We loved this game, it is super fun and I think it would make a great party game too! What we especially loved was the minimal fuss in setting it up and the fact that it can be played with as little as just one player or as many players as you like. 
The cobra popping out of the basket may be a little unnerving for small children especially as it does it quite suddenly! However, we found that even though the recommended age for this game is 5+ years, kiddo understood it all and really got into playing it. It really is super and one that we'll be bringing out again and again to play. 

Next, we have The Enchanted Ball. Miss E isn't very much of a 'girly' girl so we took a chance on choosing this one to try out but after a few weeks of playing it, I can safely say that it has rapidly become one of her most played games. 

Once again, there was minimal fuss in setting up the game when we first took it out of the box. We thought that adding the stickers to the board yourself was a really nice touch because what child doesn't like sticking stickers to everything in sight?! The game requires three AAA batteries that do not come included. These are inserted into the base of the main body of the game and once you've done that, you're ready to go! 

I'd also like to mention that there a number of small pieces (lots of coloured stars and dancing ladies!) that could easily get lost so have a zip-lock bag or small storage box ready to keep them in when you're not using the game!

The game is really easy to play and offers an inventive twist on a traditional board game. Each player moves around the board with the aim of climbing the stairs to enter the ballroom to join the prince for a dance. When one (or more, depending on which square you land on!) of the ladies enters the ballroom, the music will start and a dance will commence. If a lady falls into the arms of the prince by the time the music stops, she will earn herself a coloured star. The first player to collect four of these stars is the winner!

This game teaches turn taking, patience and is super fun to play. Miss E loves seeing the figures dance and she gets quite competitive when it comes to collecting those stars! 

The Enchanted Ball can be played with 2-4 players and the length of game play can really vary. It's definitely not one you can rush, in the same way that snakes and ladders or ludo could either be completed quickly or take forever! It's a perfect game for a rainy afternoon or when you have a little bit more time and we absolutely love it!  

Many thanks to MegaBleu for sending these games out for us to try. We really love them both, they will be absolutely perfect for rainy day play at home over the coming winter months!

Do you play board games with your children? What are your favourites? And have you ever tried out any games from MegaBleu before? Let me know in a comment below!

Thursday, 13 October 2016

#SpooktacularCrafts // Super easy spooky Halloween tea light holders

I can't even tell you how much I love Halloween, I just adore everything associated with it... pumpkin carving, getting dressed up, trick or treating, decorating the house, watching horror films and reading scary stories. Honestly, I am obsessed! So when Viking Direct got in touch recently to ask if they could send over a box filled with an assortment of craft supplies so I could create something Halloween related for you, I absolutely couldn't say no!

These spooky tea light holders are super easy to make and look really effective. I had so much fun making them and the design possibilities are endless! You could get really creative with these, depending on how much time you have. Mine took me around an hour to make and that included drying time! If you'd like to make some for yourself then read on....

Before we start, here is what Viking Direct sent to me. When I saw the jars and the tea light candles, I instantly knew I had to make some sort of candle holder. You know how much I love my candles! I can't wait to see what other bloggers have come up with too, you can follow the hashtag #SpooktacularCrafts over on twitter to keep up with all the other posts and ideas! 

How to make the spooky Halloween tea light holders

You will need:
  • Clean glass jars in various sizes
  • Tea light candles (or even better, battery operated ones!)
  • Coloured tissue paper (I used orange and white)
  • Black paper
  • Mod Podge
  • A small paint brush
  • Scissors
  • Garden twine

1. Roughly tear up your tissue paper into small pieces. 

2. Apply a thin layer of Mod Podge to the outside of a clean glass jar using a small paint brush.

3. Stick the tissue paper to the glass and seal in with a thin top layer of Mod Podge. Don't be afraid to layer the paper, the more layers and the more texture the better! 

4. Leave to dry. Whilst the Mod Podge and tissue is drying, it's time to load up your computer and have a look for some Halloween stencils. Print off your favourites and remember to scale them down so that they will fit on your jar! Traditional pumpkin faces, spooky witches and bats are just a few ideas but you could really go to town with your design! 

5. Transfer your design onto black paper by tracing around it. Carefully cut the design out with a sharp pair of scissors. 

6. Apply another thin layer of Mod Podge to your glass jar and then stick on your design. Once you have done this, it's time to seal it all in with a little more of the glue. 

7. Finally, once it is all dry all you need to do is wind a length of twine around the top of the jar to 'finish' it all off. Seal it with a little glue if you like. Pop a tea light candle in and you're ready to go! 

Super easy! 

Thank you Viking Direct for sending me the supplies to create these super easy Halloween tea light holders. I had so much fun making them!

Wednesday, 12 October 2016

Visiting the Blackpool Illuminations with a toddler

Ah, the Blackpool Illuminations.... there really is nothing quite like them! When tourists depart from seaside towns over the colder months, Blackpool comes alive and truly sparkles. The illuminations remain the biggest free light show on earth and are such an iconic part of British culture. They are wonderfully indulgent and equally as beautiful as they are bonkers. They are creative and are constantly reinvented with the latest technology to keep visitors coming back for more. I blummin' love them!   

Visiting the Blackpool Illuminations each autumn is a tradition that we have had in our family for as long as I can remember. Some of my absolute fondest memories of childhood include many a trip to see those spectacular twinkling lights. It's probably no surprise then that when I became a mummy, seeing the illuminations each year was something I wanted to pass on to and enjoy with my little girl!
We've visited with her every year since she was born. Like her mama, she absolutely loves seeing them and we have created some wonderful memories during our time there! 

Like with any trip out with a small child though, planning and knowledge is the key to everybody having a good time! The illuminations are huge (10km long, in fact!) and getting around them with a baby or a toddler can seem quite daunting, especially when it is autumn and the days are both shorter and colder.

I thought that it might be fun to share some of my top tips for visiting the illuminations with a young child today. Seeing those twinkling lights and incredible electrical  displays can be such a fantastic experience, even for the littlest of people. A trip around them will be sure to create some magical memories that will last for years to come!  

Visit on a weekday

The benefit of having a young child that isn't yet bound to school holidays and weekend breaks is that you can go away when it is quieter. So if you can, try and visit the illuminations on a weekday! Weekends can get crazy busy with traffic along the promenade sometimes coming to a standstill. Not good with a toddler or a baby who wants to keep moving! Seeing the illuminations on a weekday is a wonderful experience, much more peaceful too!

Also, a good tip is to check what times the lights are switched on each night. If you aim to set off around that time, you'll get around them all with minimal fuss and be back at your accommodation for your little one's bedtime!

Wrap up warm!

I know this is a no brainer but I just wanted to mention it anyway! Take lots of layers and warm accessories such as a hat and gloves. The wind on the coast at this time of year can feel so cold and you certainly don't want it to spoil your fun!
We also like to make up a little bag with some sweet treats and entertainment (glow sticks are good!) in case we get stuck in traffic along the way. It keeps kiddo happy as we're travelling along looking at the lights, even if we're moving slowly! You could even take a flask with some warm milk or hot chocolate in too! 

Ride an illuminated tram

The illuminated trams are honestly the best way to see the lights and my goodness, what a fun experience it is for a child too! These trams run nightly throughout the illuminations period and you won't have to wait long at all for one to arrive as they run at frequent intervals between switch on/off times! 
To get on one of these trams, you need to board at the heritage tram stop opposite the Pleasure Beach entrance. There are limited stops and the tour runs the entire length of the illuminations and back in less than an hour. You won't have to worry about traffic or distractions either.... these tours allow the whole family to enjoy the illuminations in all their glory! You can read about our experience on an illuminated tram and find out more information here. It really is a 'must do', we absolutely loved it! 

Walk the tableaux

At the end of the illuminations along the cliffs that link the North Shore to Bispham you'll find a block of illuminated and animated tableaux. These giant displays are incredible to see and are really worth taking time to see properly in person. The displays are set back from the promenade, away from tramlines and the road and there is a buggy friendly pathway that runs alongside the tableaux.
Children will love spotting television favourites such as Noddy and Sooty, Sweep and Soo. They will also be enchanted by the oversized displays that include Alice in Wonderland, pirates and the seasons!   

Buy a light up accessory!

Absolutely not essential for enjoying a trip around the illuminations but certainly a fun one! We always like to let kiddo buy a light up wand or accessory when we visit, it's such a fun way for children to be immersed in the experience and will give them something to take home to remember all those amazing lights by! You can pick up light up accessories pretty much anywhere in Blackpool but I must mention that the official kiosk in the Lightpool Village has some really lovely ones! 

Other experiences

Finally, if your children can't get enough of the lights then don't forget that there are other amazing illuminated experiences around Blackpool that run alongside the illuminations. Make sure you visit the Lightpool Village where you'll find incredible projection shows, refreshments and official merchandise. There's even a chance here to get your photo projected onto the front of the tower.

Why not take a trip up the Blackpool Tower in the evening and see the illuminations from a whole new perspective? Or visit Illuminasia in the Winter Gardens where you'll find the worlds largest indoor illuminations display (read my review here). All of these experiences are super family friendly and will create memories that will last for years to come! 

Have you visited the Blackpool Illuminations with a baby or toddler before? If you're thinking of planning a trip and would like to know more then pop over to the Visit Blackpool website where you'll find all the information you need!