Monday, 27 March 2017

Upcycling // Tips and tricks for getting started

I love thinking about different ways to help me cultivate a warm yet stylish home environment. I’ve often found myself getting lost on the Internet or in interior magazines, figuring out the latest trends or simply trying to understand the best way to save space in my small terraced home. What’s most important to me though, is making sure my home has a bit of character!

It’s those little quirks of originality borne from your imagination that mark the fact that this is your home. I’ve found that a wonderful way to do this is through upcycling, where you take something destined for the dump, and turn it into something that is different, better and truly your own.

Upcycling can save vast amounts of money, unleash your creativity, and you honestly don’t need to be a professional carpenter. I hope my guide on some of the basics of upcycling will get you revved up for your own tiny transformations.

Starting small

It’s easy to get lost in the plethora of upcycling projects that have overrun Pinterest, and make a million grand plans to turn suitcases into beds and beds into fireplaces. The enthusiasm is great, but like with everything, it’s best to start small to get into the mood and rhythm of your upcycling adventures. Find something already in your home, like an unused stool, and get started will a simple sanding down and repainting. So easy right? Remember, upcycling needn’t cost a fortune either – otherwise, you might as well have just bought something new.

Elbow grease and what else?

Turning trash into treasure needs the right equipment, your own ingenuity and just that little bit of elbow grease. If you enjoyed your first couple of small projects, why not start stocking up on some of the essential tools as your projects get bigger and more creative:
  • Paint stripper - to get rid of any coats of paint and finishes
  • Power sander and sandpaper – for sanding the surface once you’ve stripped the paint
  • Paint sprayer – can save you a lot of time when you want to coat your furniture quickly
  • Brushes – good quality brushes create smooth, beautiful colourings and minimise the messy appearance of brush strokes
  • Glue gun – like the ones available at Kenyon Adhesives can help you to stick on appliques and knick knacks onto your nearly-finished pieces, giving them that final cute touch

It’s the little things

It’s those inspired finishing touches that can truly make your upcycled project; they are the cherry on the cake so to speak. Things like replacing simple knobs on doors to more ornate ones you may have found at a car boot sale, sticking on little appliques or knick knacks as already mentioned, maybe some buttons or fake flowers, or even a bit of wallpaper onto a surface. These can make all the difference and create such a pretty end product.

Remember most of all to have fun with it! Make your upcycling experience as vibrant as the furniture you create, and you’ll never want to stop.

Sunday, 26 March 2017

Things I've loved this week // 033

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

Mothers Day

Mothers Day this year has been absolutely lovely. Honestly, I love my little family to bits! We had a trip out to the Peak District in the sunshine for a delicious lunch, kiddo picked out flowers for me and I received some lovely, thoughtful things. Being a mama is incredible, isn't it? I'm so lucky. 

Beauty and the Beast

This weekend we finally got to see Beauty and the Beast at the cinema. I feel like I have been waiting forever to see this movie! The original is my all time favourite Disney movie and one that has been so close to my heart for most of my life, I am so glad that I could share this new experience with kiddo. 
It was absolute perfection in every single way, expanding on the original story and answering many questions including why nobody in the village knew there was a castle there all those years! 
The casting is spot on, the songs are beyond i n c r e d i b l e (don't even get me started on Evermore... I think it might be my new favourite Disney song)... oh, I need to see it again as soon as possible!

Elsie's birthday

This weekend, Elsie turned 6. I cannot even fathom how it is almost 6 years that I bought this little peanut home with me.... I honestly don't know what I would do without her! She might be a lazy bum and hate the rain but this dog is the best fur baby I could ask for, always there for cuddles no matter what. She's amazing. 

'To do' lists

This week I have been blitzing those 'to do' lists. Every once in a while, everything seems to build up to the point where I find myself with a million shitty jobs to complete. Instead of getting stressed though and not knowing where to start, I have been making concise lists and powering through them before adding more. It feels pretty satisfying, even if I'm only crossing off mundane things like 'return library books' or 'eBay parcels'!


Finally, we all know I like cleaning.... right?! I'm crazy, I know! I have recently started using Zoflora after seeing it crop up on Instagram over and over so I picked some up at Poundland (I also love my bargain shops!). I'm absolutely hooked! This multipurpose product is good for so many things. I mainly use it for cleaning the bathroom, mopping floors and cleaning sinks but it leaves everything feeling so clean and it smells amazing. It's cruelty free and the sheer amount of things this product can be used for is insane. I need to grab some more scents next time I am out shopping, for sure! 

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

Friday, 24 March 2017

Unique gift ideas for mums

Looking to show your mum how special she is? When there’s a special occasion on the horizon, chances are you want to find the perfect gift to really treat her and show her you care. However, some mums are hard to buy for. Maybe they’re not that interested in material things, or perhaps they’re the kind of person that seems to already own everything? Sometimes nothing on the shelves can seem quite right. If that’s the case, why not do things a little differently? Here are some alternative gift ideas for mum!

Something homemade

The great thing about homemade gifts is that it shows a whole lot of thought and effort, and with each piece being completely unique you know they’ve never had one just like it before. If you have a skill in an area, utilize it! Whether it’s baking, sewing, paper crafts, candle making- create something special with your mum in mind. You could even buy a kit with all of the equipment you need included to help you create something if you’ve not done it before. 

Hampers also make great gifts for mum, you can buy these or create them yourself. This idea is useful if you’re not particularly crafty since you still get the homemade element without actually making anything. Get a selection of different items, and bundle them together in a pretty basket. Homemade gifts are a good choice whether your budget is big or small. Have a look on sites like Pinterest for ideas, there are so many wonderful things people have made it’s sure to inspire you! 

An experience day

If you’re looking on the shelves for presents and nothing seems quite right, why not gift an experience day instead of a physical item? It could be tickets to see a performer or a show at the theatre. It could be some pampering treatments at a spa or salon or even lunch or dinner at a fancy restaurant. It could be something you could do together, great for spending more time together if you don’t see them as much as you’d like. Or you could simply gift two tickets and let them choose who they bring- whether it’s a friend or even your dad. Instead of an item to unwrap you get to give them incredible memories and treat them to something that they might not have done for themselves.

A subscription

A magazine subscription is the obvious choice, but actually you can get subscriptions for anything these days. Food, beauty products, books, even tea and coffee. Rather than just a gift on Mother’s Day it keeps on giving, they will receive a treat in the post for the next three, six or twelve months depending on what you sign up for. Make sure you order early enough that the first box arrives for Mother’s Day, that way you can keep hold of it and give them the first one on the day. Or you could purchase a one off box to arrive as soon as possible, along with the subscription for future boxes.

Spend time on gift wrapping

The thought shown in a beautifully wrapped present might be lost on an excited child, but when it comes to your mother, it’s something they’re sure to really appreciate. Handing them a gorgeously wrapped gift shows that you’ve put time and effort into it, even if the gift itself isn't especially expensive. You can find so many gift wrapping ideas online. You could go with anything from rustic brown paper or coloured paper tied up with ribbons and strings, paper that you have printed or designed yourself or some gorgeous gift wrap from a store.

Thursday, 23 March 2017

Bluestone Wales // Check-in, Buggy Hire and Accommodation Tour

Bluestone is the perfect place for the whole family to enjoy. Nestled in the beautiful Pembrokeshire Coast National Park, your arrival at Bluestone instantly transports you to a calmer way of living... a place where you can stop and be still and a place where the fun is free-range. It's a fantastic base for getting out there and exploring the surrounding area whilst still retaining that luxury holiday feel.

After a day of fun exploring everything that Bluestone has to offer, what's better than to return to a cosy warm lodge in the evening? 

Today I wanted to share a little tour of the lodge we stayed in on our recent trip to Bluestone. The range of accommodation available at the resort is impressive. There's everything from studio accommodation sleeping two people and cosy cottages to a wide range of lodges that sleep anywhere from four to fourteen people.

On this trip, we stayed in a Caldey Lodge which sleeps four people across two bedrooms. This is in fact the second time we have stayed in a Caldey Lodge and our return visit was just as good as the first. Everything was spot on and just right for us as a family.... the perfect place to relax, dine, wash and sleep!

Before I show you around our lodge though, I just wanted to quickly mention the check-in process when you arrive at Bluestone. It is all so easy and well thought out, arriving to our holiday destination couldn't have been more simple!

On the day of your arrival, you are welcome to use the facilities at Bluestone from as early as 11am and you can access your accommodation from 4:30pm. Perfect if you have travelled a long way as you don't have to worry about hanging around for check-in time. 

When you arrive at Bluestone, the road leads you to the 'welcome lodge' which is where you can check in. Yep, there's no having to park the car and find a reception.... the check-in is a drive through. This is so good when you have tired little people in the car! 

Once we arrived at the welcome lodge, we gave the member of staff our booking reference at the window and in return we were handed a super welcome pack which was complete with key cards for our lodge, swimming passes for the Blue Lagoon and an assortment of maps and details of all the activities that would be on during our stay. Basically everything you need to make the most out of your stay!

All checked in, we parked the car in the long stay car park and popped across the path to collect our golf buggy which we had pre-booked on the website. Bluestone prides itself on being a car free resort and we were keen to explore as much as possible so booking a buggy was the perfect solution. If I remember rightly it cost around £85 for five days and was worth every penny in my mind. We were keen to have a relaxing holiday, plus driving it around was so much fun! I really do recommend hiring one (or even a bike) if you want to take things a bit easier during your stay.

Once 4:30pm came, the barrier at the top of the car park lifted allowing us to take our car down to our lodge to unload our suitcases and food. Once unloaded it was time to take the car back to the long stay car park (which is free for the duration of your stay). 

And so, here is the Caldey Lodge we stayed at on this trip. 19 Augustus Way.   

Our lodge contained everything we needed for a wonderful stay. It was clean, modern, comfortable, warm and most importantly, safe and well equipped for children!  

Let me show you around! 

Our lodge had a nice little porch area which was the perfect place for removing muddy boots and wet coats. The porch led into a large open plan room which contained the living space, dining space and kitchen. I really grew to love the open plan way of life during our stay, it was lovely being able to cook and keep an eye on kiddo.... something that is much harder to do at home! 

The kitchen was well equipped and contained everything from fridge and mini freezer to a dishwasher. Everything was absolutely spotless and I had no problems finding anything when it came to making meals. 

The dining area by the french doors was such a lovely place to sit in the morning and enjoy a cup of tea. In fact, we all loved sitting around the table together planning the day ahead! We often spied bunnies, birds and all kinds of wildlife from the window which felt magical. Kiddo absolutely loved it!

In the kitchen, a starter pack had been left which included items such as bin liners, a small bottle of washing up liquid, dishwasher tablets and cleaning cloths. I thought that this was a nice touch and in fact, it kept us going all week (admittedly, we dined out a fair few times so there wasn't much washing up!).

Onto the bedrooms! Here is our double room which was super cosy. Not pictured is a large wardrobe containing a safe and a tall chest of drawers. We all slept amazingly well during our stay which was down to a combination of fresh air, long walks and those super comfy beds!

Also, I must point out that the blackout curtains were a m a z i n g. Such a great touch for families with children... kiddo actually slept in because the room was lovely and dark even though the sun was up! Hooray! 

The second bedroom was a twin and contained two single beds that had been pushed together. Again this room contained ample storage and those all important blackout curtains!  

We loved the decor in the bedrooms. Clean, contemporary and relaxing. We all slept so well during our stay, something that is really important to us on holiday! 

A travel cot is provided in every lodge if you have a baby with you, no mattress is provided for this though so you'll have to bring one along with you if you intend to use it! 

Before we move onto the final room of the lodge, I just wanted to quickly mention the TV in the living area. A DVD player is provided which we made use of on more than one occasion as the regular WiFi in the lodge was good but not good enough to stream movies/youtube at all on our iPads. I do believe you can upgrade your WiFi for a small price though this is an offer we didn't make use of as I feel that decent WiFi should come as standard as it does in other resorts! 

On the TV itself you'll find a special Bluestone channel which is the perfect place to find out more about the resort, whats on and much more information. A nice touch, once again!

Finally, on to the bathroom! A small but well equipped room containing all the essentials in a wet room setup. The shower worked perfectly, we loved the heated towel rail and also the illuminated mirror which was great for putting my makeup on in the morning! 

We have stayed at Bluestone twice now and have found that the quality of accommodation is consistently fantastic. Clean, comfortable, modern and well equipped.... what more could you want?! 

Have you stayed at Bluestone before? What do you think of the accommodation available at the resort? Let me know in a comment below! 

Monday, 20 March 2017

Our Holiday at Bluestone National Park Resort // 2017

I seriously have the post holiday blues this week. I'm currently sat typing this after a soggy, wet nursery run and in between trying to get all of our washing dry. I have a 'to do' list that fills an entire sheet of paper but hey, I'm going to forget that for a little while because today I wanted to share a few photographs from our break in Wales last week. It was absolutely wonderful

You might remember a couple of years ago we were very kindly invited to Bluestone National Park Resort for a stay. Kiddo was just a year old at the time and because we loved our time there so much (it's so child friendly), we always planned to return as soon as we could! 

A month ago I checked my inbox to find an email asking if we'd like to come and stay again and well, of course I said yes immediately! We were feeling very much ready for a break after a difficult winter and I couldn't wait to see how much Bluestone had changed over the last few years. I also couldn't wait to explore more now that kiddo is older!

I really want to share this holiday with you and there's so much I want to talk about so I'm going to spread it across a few blog posts. I'll be writing a post on things to do at Bluestone with a young child, I'll do a tour of our accommodation and also share where we ate though if there is anything you'd like me to talk about then please do get in touch!

As a family, we have a tendency to hardcore our holidays and try and do e v e r y t h i n g which usually results in us coming home feeling like we need another holiday to recover! This year though, I really want to conquer that FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) and take a more relaxed approach to our holidays. 

At Bluestone we did just this. And? It. Was. Amazing. 

We still crammed in loads of stuff (there is so much to do at Bluestone and in the surrounding area) but we took it easy, slept well, ate well and for once, we actually came home feeling refreshed. This break was just what we needed and we've returned with a pocket full of wonderful family memories and feeling ready to take on the world. 

Thank you Bluestone

* We were provided with a Monday to Friday stay at Bluestone in exchange for an honest review

Saturday, 18 March 2017

A Mothers Day Wish List

Mothers day is a time to treat the women in our lives, to celebrate motherhood and appreciate the influence of mothers in our society. There is no denying that being a mama is incredible. It is the most tiring and difficult yet the most satisfying role I have ever played. I wouldn't change a minute for the world.  

This year, Mothers Day falls on March 26th, a date that is rapidly approaching. If you are feeling a little bit stuck for gift inspiration this year, I have gathered together a few items that I have had my eye on recently for this blog post today. A wish list of sorts! 

First up, we have the Selfish Mother MAMA supersoft sweatshirt (link). Easy to wear and comfortable clothing is a must as a busy mama and this sweatshirt fits the bill perfectly! Perfect for trips to the park or wearing around the house. This top doesn't just look amazing either, £10 from the sale of this design goes straight to MOTHERS 2 MOTHERS which you can find more about by clicking here.

Is your mama a super hero? I am such a fan of these Supergirl and Wonder Woman Itty Bittys from Hallmark (link). The perfect way to let the mama in your life know that she has super powers! Pair them with a matching card and you have an instant gift. So cute! 

If you don't like the hassle of making cards yourself then Hallmark (link) also have an amazing range of cards this year. I love the 'Queen Mum' card which transforms into an adjustable crown, I think this is such a cute idea and will make a fantastic prop for some fun mothers day photos! 

Next we have the Charlotte Tilbury 'Natural Beauty' Instant Look in a Palette (link). I think this is pretty much the perfect palette. Make up in 5 minutes? I'm sold! I absolutely need this beauty kit in my life! It's so pretty and feminine, perfect for every day use. 
With my regular lack of sleep, I rarely leave the house without makeup but this beauty would help me feel more human in just a few minutes. It's perfect for travel too!

There are no words for this "I dream of sleep" hooded top from Mother Like No Other (link). It is perfect! My eternal struggle for sleep is something we laugh about often, as a mama I am always tired. I am sure every mother can relate to this! A portion of money from every sale goes to Pandas Foundation UK who provide incredible post natal depression support. 

If you're looking for a gift that isn't 'stuff'' then why not let mama have the afternoon off and gift her a voucher for afternoon tea somewhere. Whether it's at her favourite place to eat or in a country hotel, there are so many places that offer them nowadays. I always find that afternoon tea feels like such a treat! I won't provide any links but if you're stuck for ideas then google will be able to help you with ideas for the best afternoon teas in your area. 

Lastly, if you're a mama like me then you probably spend most of your time outdoors. Whether it's the endless school or nursery runs, after school classes, trips to the park, walking the dog or trips to the shops. I literally feel like I am always outdoors doing *something* and so bearing our good old British weather in mind, a good jacket is essential. I have long been a fan of the Seasalt Seafolly jacket (link) ever since they first released them a few years ago. It is the perfect jacket in my mind. Lightweight yet warm, waterproof yet breathable. They last for years and are effortlessly stylish. The perfect treat for a mum who is always on the go!

How will you be spending Mothers Day this year? Let me know in a comment below!

* This post contains PR samples

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Five non-Disney theme parks I want to visit in the next few years

If you know me in real life, you'll know I'm a little bit* obsessed with theme parks. Our holidays throughout the year are almost always centred around visiting attractions, we just can't get enough! Of course, Disney is my one true love but I'm also such a geek when it comes to theme park history too. I feel super lucky to live just a couple of hours away from my favourite theme park, Blackpool Pleasure Beach, which is packed full of the most amazing assortment modern and vintage rides, including the Flying Machines which remains one of the oldest rides still in operation in Europe.

Visiting every Disney park is an ultimate bucket list goal for me but there are also so many other parks across the world that I want to visit too. Here are five theme parks that I am putting on my list of places to see in the next few years! 

Efteling, Netherlands

Efteling opened in 1952 and is a fantasy-themed theme park packed full of attractions that are based on legends, fairy tales, folklore and ancient myths. It's just over an hour away from Amsterdam and now that overnight stays are offered in hotel rooms, holiday homes or apartments.... well, I really have no excuse for not visiting! All of the attractions look magical but I am so enchanted by the idea of riding Droomvlucht (the dreamflight ride) which travels through a land of castles and fairy tales. It sounds like just my cup of tea!

Tivoli Gardens, Copenhagen

One of the oldest theme parks in the world. Every time I look at photographs of this place, I get so excited. It looks so beautiful, magical and wonderfully nostalgic. My only hesitation in visiting here is making that tough decision of when to visit first.... Halloween looks incredible as the gardens are transformed into a breathtaking Halloween wonderland but Christmas sounds equally amazing too! With heaps of things for folk of all ages to do, Tivoli is definitely somewhere we'll be visiting soon!

Moominworld, Finland

I've been a huge Moomin fan since I was a child so finding out that Moominworld is an actual real life place has blown my mind. I need to go! This place is not a traditional theme park in that it doesn't have any rides although there is lots to see and explore. It looks like such a sweet little place, definitely high on my list of places I want to visit!

Dreamland, UK

Surprisingly, this is the only place in the United Kingdom on my list! Recently restored and reopened, Dreamland is now packed full of retro cool and the kind of British seaside nostalgia that I love oh, so much! There's loads for little ones to do too including a classic mirror maze, gallopers and swing boats. Free to enter and pay per ride, let me at it!

Liseberg, Sweden

One for when kiddo is a bit older because we'd want to make the most of all the amazing rides and attractions on offer! From one of the best wooden track coasters in the world to the 2017 arrival of the terrifying looking Loke and let's not forget the more traditional log flume and bumper cars too..... there's so much I want to see at Liseberg! Also, it's in Gothenburg, Sweden.... somewhere I've wanted to visit for so long!

Are you a fan of theme parks? Or have you visited any of the theme parks that I have listed? Let me know in a comment below!

*OK, a lot!