Monday, 16 July 2018

Making the Most of our Weekend - Lightwater Valley

Since going back to full time hours at work back in March 2018, I have really tried to make the most of our weekends as a family. So, with this in mind I thought I would start a new feature all about how we make time for ourselves as a family.

It is so easy to get caught up in the rat race of full time work then spend the weekend running errands and cleaning, forgetting to fit in the fun. I'm not going to lie and say everyone weekend is a high octane thrill ride, sometimes its just a quick trip to the leisure center swimming pool and feeding the ducks on the way home, but every moment, no matter how small, that we spend together as a family - this is how memories are made.

Having said that, this first edition of MTMOOW (making the most of our weekend) is pretty high octane, lets start this with a bang!

We decided to take a trip to Lightwater Valley - a theme park in Ripon, Yorkshire.

I haven't been to Lightwater Valley since a year 8 school trip! We did a quick search of similar places within a few hours drive, and it seemed the most affordable. I was a bit worried there wouldn't be many rides Zoe could do, but for kids over 1 meter tall there is LOADS. Although, most they have to be accompanied by an adult, which I wasn't super thrilled about. Although in all honesty I really did enjoy some of them.

I actually think I might be raising a little thrill seeker! She snubbed the 'baby' rides for the more exciting rollercoasters and the wonderfully names 'Trauma Tower'. She rode the Ladybird rollercoaster 8 times and cried when we had to leave as she wanted to have one more turn.

She even asked if she could try the Ultimate! Sadly she wasn't tall enough. We found the height charts super helpful for showing her why she couldn't ride, with the green/amber/red indicators she cottoned on pretty quick which she could ride.

The only downside to the day was the food, if we were to go again I would 100% pack a picnic. The food was expensive and all burger, hotdogs, chips and sweets - not a vegetable in sight. Also from an environmental point of view there was so much plastic, I would have liked to have seen a water fountain or free tap water on offer. Heck, I would have even paid to refill my bottle rather than having to buy multiples.

I know these places make their money on the concessions, but I was really disappointed by the selection on offer.

All in all a very successful trip, Zoe is dying to go back to the 'fun fair' as she calls it. Although at £55 for the three of us, we won't be able to do it that often.

Along with this new blog feature I will be starting the #makingthemostofourweekend #mtmoow hashtags and sharing some of my faves in subsequent posts or on my IG stories. Lets share how we make time as families, and share ideas for awesome activities over the summer!

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Tuesday, 10 July 2018

Conquering the Curls. - Our curly hair care routine.

One of my most asked questions on Instagram is how I deal with Zoe's curls. I do not have curly hair so its been a bit of a learning curve for me too, but I thought I would write up a little 'what we do' post. I am no expert, we have just experimented and come up with what works for us right now. I am completely open to tips and tricks, or product suggestions that you love.

Zoe had quite straight hair up until her first birthday when it started to curl, it was still quite fine but over the past 2 years it has thickened and grown curlier and curlier. It is almost to her bottom when wet, but as it dries it bounces up into wonderful ringlets.

We have tried all sorts from the Curly Girl Method, to Low-poo/No-poo, serums, oils, leave in conditioners etc... Some worked well, some did not, but we have learned and added to the routine as we went. We stumbled across a brand called Curly Ellie 6 months ago and fell in love. The brand was developed by a Mum of a curly haired child who was fed up of the pain of combing her curls so developed her own range of products. The products are gluten free, SLS free, SLES free, dairy free, peanut free, wheat free, silicone free, paraben free and we are free of all mineral oils. ANother thing I like about the products is they are mostly coconut free (the shampoo has some ingredients derived from coconut oil), so many products aimed at curly hair are coconut based and Zoe has a coconut allergy so I am wary.

So without further ado, let me talk you through our routine...

This is Zoe's hair pre-wash. We tend to only wash Zoe's hair once a week (unless needed, she's three so something comes home with sand/paint/beans etc... in her hair). We find washing less actually really helps combat dryness and frizz. If we want to neaten up her curls midweek we tend to just spray with water and apply some leave in conditioner and allow to dry naturally again.

We start with a thorough shampoo, we do love the Curlie Ellie Shampoo as it has no nasties and smells amazing, but it is pricey so we also have some silicone free Superdrug stuff we love too.

Her pony friend is getting in on the action too, luckily Zoe is really good with water and doesn't mind getting it in her eyes etc... But having a toy in their that she gets to wash helps her with sitting still through this process.

Up next is conditioner, I apply a generous amount, especially around the ends and knotty bits, then grab a comb. We have tried a plethora of combs over the years but have settled on these wooden beard combs! They are cheap (ebay) and wooden so can withstand a lot, I cannot tell you the number of plastic combs we have broken trying to comb out knots. One important point to make is that we only ever brush Zoe's hair when wet, with plenty of product, brushing when dry is a big no no with curls - you'll end up with a HUGE frizzy helmet of hair rather than bouncy ringlets.

My method for combing is simple, lots of conditioner and tackling it section by section. You lift up a small section, hold it tightly below the root and comb downwards, its important to hold it so that when you comb you don't pull at the root, your hand takes the brunt of the pulling meaning little to no pain for Zoe. I hope I have explained that well, if not I can post a little video - let me know.

An additional occasional step (we don't do this every time) is a hair mask, if its feeling super dry or neglected, or we have a fancy event coming up I might add this in to give it that little bit extra. Its just a case of slathering it on, leaving it for 10-15 minutes then rinsing. I've also used some Lush products like H'suan Wen Hua, which is a product I use on my own hair.

Once you are all rinsed and done splashing about, its time for the post bath products. I know this seems like a lot, especially for a child, but its only once a week and its honestly worth it for me.

I use the Curly Ellie detangling spray and leave in conditioner. The leave in conditioner is the wonder product for me, if you buy any of the Curly Ellie range this is the one - the superstar. Once out of the bath I use an old cotton t shirt to squeeze excess moisture from Zoe's hair (rubbing curls with a towel is another no no, frizz central), and then spray with the detangler - combing it through to ensure all knots are gone. Then I rub a small amount of leave in conditioner in my hands and run it through her hair, focusing on the ends first then the front (so less product goes on the front and more at the back).

I run my fingers through as I do this to separate the curls a little and style her parting to the side, as when its central it tend to fall into her eyes, so a side part is easily managed with a clip.

I always make sure she has some toys or her tablet for this bit as asking a 3 year old to sit still while you comb and style is a big ask. She does love having her little pamper sessions though, and the detangling spray means we rarely get any tears or upset with brushing.

I try to let her hair dry naturally and completely before bed, although we are having some issues with her waking up with frizz, we are planning to try a silk pillow next to see if it helps combat this. With the hot weather though I think its unavoidable sometimes. I quick spray with some water and a bit more leave in conditioner in the morning and she is good to go though.

I hope this has been helpful, and please do share your own curly tips or tricks!

I purchased all of the products myself, this is not a paid review in any way

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Thursday, 14 June 2018

Life Lately - June 2018

Well, long time no see once again. Life seems to keep finding a way to get in the way of blogging. I have umm-ed and ah-ed over wether to continue calling myself a blogger these days, but the fact is, I love it and its been such a huge part of the last 12 years.

So here is a little update to whats been going on with me...

1. We've been making some home improvements recently, we replaced our ancient old inherited sofa (which was far too big for the room) with a brand new mustard yellow two seater from DFS. Its made the room feel so much bigger, and made room for this cute little desk area. While we rent, we finally realised that house buying is a long way off for us so we might as well make this place feel more like home. I've become obsessed with interior inspo on instagram and I am toying with the idea of painting some walls. If you know any cute blogs or IG accounts focusing on making rental home cute... hit me up.

2. How nice has the weather been lately? I am living in these new Birkenstock sandals, after I literally wore a hole in my last pair, they lasted 5 years which is not bad. I also picked up these wannabe birkenstocks for Zoe from TKMaxx. I am toying with the idea of sharing some more fashion related content on here, thoughts?

3. We've had some health related news recently and as a family we have decided to implement some lifestyle changes. I am all about the body positivity and acceptance, but for me this change is not about the outside, its all about the inside and looking after ourselves. We bought ourselves Fitbit Charge HR fitness trackers and I practically dislocated my shoulder trying on sports bras, we're making small changes and focusing on health. Wish us luck. Is this something you'd like to see more of on the blog?

4. Little Zoe update for you; Zoe is at such an awesome age, she is 3.5 now and her little personality is really coming into its own. She has a weird sense of humour and loves to compliment people. Her favourite activities are swimming and going to the cinema. Her taste in music is growing outside of Disney soundtracks, she is particularly partial to Little Mix, Beyonce and Robyn. I am really enjoying this age, and while she can be grumpy or tired at times, she is alot eaiser to talk down or distract/bribe.

5. We went to Center Parcs! I am thinking of doing a longer post about our long weekend, but honestly it was so lovely, already planning another trip! This weekend I am travelling again, a little trip to Telford and Suffolk for a long weekend, watch out on Instagram to follow our adventure.

6. I am sure I have mentioned the group Punky Moms here before, its a facebook group and website, and we have launched a Newcastle Chapter for local meet ups. Its been amazing and its lovely to get a chance to meet lots of lovely local parents and kids. So, if you are looking to meet up with parents in your area, check out all the chapters (they are global) its the most wonderful group of people. Last week we met up for a chilled coffee and ended up spending 5 hours chatting!

So anyway, enough about me, how have you been??

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Monday, 16 April 2018

Leftover Easter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Pre-kid I would have scoffed at the sheer idea of leftover chocolate, I mean who isn't eating all their Easter Eggs? But now Zoe is a bit older she got ALOT of chocolate, more than she could ever get through and to be honest there is only so much chocolate I can eat, also I do feel a but guilty eating her eggs. So, I thought I would repurpose them, and bake something delicious.

If cookies aren't your thing, checkout this easter tray bake, or these mini chocolate & banana doughnuts.

I have spoken about the game changing magic of browned butter, but I honestly don't think I'll ever make cookies without browning the butter first, it just adds so much flavour and depth. If you have never tried it, what are you waiting for?

To brown butter you just pop your measured amount (whatever the recipe you are using calls for) into a pan, a light coloured pan is easier to spot when its ready. Pop it on a low/medium heat and stir intermittently until it becomes a golden brown colour. For a full breakdown check our this post from Joy the Baker; Baking 101, how to brown butter.

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Tuesday, 10 April 2018

MUM STYLE - All about Monki.

Dipping my toe into the world of fashion blog for a second today to talk about my new obsession. Monki.

This is in no way a sponsored post, I just love this brand

I came across Monki on Instagram when I started seeing plus size bloggers and some of my style inspiration accounts wearing some really cool pieces, its not often you find a plus size brand doing such unique things. However I soon discovered they weren't a new cool plus size brand, but a brand who do a lot of 'oversize' pieces. While I do sort of hate that the only way I fit into a lot of these clothes is that they are mean't be be worn oversize, I do love the vibe of the brand and cannot get enough of the bold patterns and colours. Really really hoping they respond to the number of plus babes calling for a plus size collection or extending their sizes to include plus size across the store!

Monki is part of the H&M group, but unlike H&M the sizes are actually really realistic and generous, not just the overize items. A lot of the L and XL items are a size 18-22 which is really refreshing in the world of high street brands.

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