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CELEBRATING HALLOWEEN WITH HMV

31 Oct 2017

Elise turns two next month, which means that this year was the first year we could really introduce her to everything that is Halloween. She has already learnt about Santa, and is already excited for Christmas and her Birthday so we thought we would try and introduce her to Halloween too. We decided to try out trick or treating this year with her, and we weren't sure if she would completely get the idea of it, or if she would be scared. We thought a great way to introduce Elise to the world of trick or treating was through film and tv.


This is where HMV stepped in. They were kind enough to send us everything we needed for some fun family film time with a Halloween twist. They provided us with two films to watch, and we decided that Elise might be better with Casper. She really enjoyed watching the film with us whilst playing with the Halloween themed goodies that were also sent to us.


Casper is rated a PG and it is one of the first films that Elise has watched that isn't an animation. I wasn't too sure if she would sit and watch it due to the fact it wasn't animated, but the ghosts in the film did keep her attention. She understood some of the humour and she didn't find it scary. I think she would have been a bit scared with the other HMV pick which was Addams Family Values, but we will be keeping this for next year. We've also enjoyed watching Super Monsters on Netflix, which Elise is a little bit obsessed with now and has already learnt the character's names.

Along with the film we also tried to include some other Halloween activities. Elise wore a skeleton top during the day of Halloween, and then dressed as a pumpkin to go trick or treating in the evening. HMV were even kind enough to send some sweets for us to enjoy whilst watching Casper and made her treat bucket a little bit less empty!



We also had some balloons for her to play with and some witch's fingers, vampire teeth and even an eyeball! We played a game of pin the smile on the skeleton too (which she didn't quite get the idea of, but giggled lots!). She loved putting the witch's fingers on me, and insisted that I wore them all afternoon which made life a bit difficult if I am being totally honest. I don't think I'm cut out for the witch life!

I think that Elise will turn into a little bit of a film geek like her mummy as she loves watching films with us. I love going to the cinema, and Elise has already been to the cinema. I'm hoping that next year we can take her to see a Halloween themed film, maybe even The Nightmare Before Christmas (which I see more of as a Christmas film) as this is something that I like to watch every year. I'm also excited to watch Hocus Pocus with her when she is a little bit older, and every Tim Burton film you can think of.


I think Halloween has been a huge success this year, and I think we have HMV to thank for this! I don't think I would be able to find so many activities to do with a toddler if I tried by myself. Casper will become a film that we watch every year as a family as our own little Halloween tradition...well for as long as Elise wants to watch it with us!



SARAH HUGHES
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THIS IS A COLLABORATIVE POST WITH HMV. 
WE WERE SENT A HALLOWEEN BUNDLE FOR THE PURPOSE OF THIS POST BUT NO PAYMENT WAS RECEIVED. 
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VEGAS CASINOS VS ONLINE BINGO/CASINO SITES

26 Oct 2017

If you have read my blog for a while, you know that I got married in Vegas. One of the things in Vegas that you cannot escape are casinos. Within the casinos there are many machines and games to play, so whether you like playing poker, or prefer the slot machines there is something for everyone. We loved playing the slot machines, and although we didn't play poker whilst in Vegas, I do enjoy playing it online. This is something both my Husband and I regretted and so if we do go back to Vegas, we will be signing up to play a bit of poker. I'm not huge on gambling, but I do enjoy a game of poker or Bingo, especially from the comfort of my own home.


The slot machines in Vegas are great fun, and with free drinks being delivered straight to the machine, it is easy to stay there for long periods of time and spend lots of money. We didn't really spend much money though as we would just put the odd dollar in the machine and see how we got on with that. We tried to make a dollar last as long as possible so we could get drinks for a $1-$5 tip. In relation to this, we soon learnt that if you started with a higher tip, the waitresses would make your drinks stronger and come over more often!

When it comes to playing in a Casino, the whole environment can be extremely fun. You can hear all the machines, and you can hear everyone cheering when they win. The main downside though, especially in Vegas is the sticky floors and the constant smell of smoke. That's where playing at home can be that little bit more confident. I have found that playing Bingo online has a great social aspect to it. You can chat with other players and when someone wins everyone congratulates them. You can always find some great offers too such as free bonuses for signing up, and they often have free games running. You can find sites like BOOMTOWNBINGO who do all the research on the best sites to play on.


I haven't played bingo for a while now, but I do still play online poker and have found it to be a great hobby. I don't play with huge amounts of money, in fact I've been playing with the first £5 I put in months ago and play on low stakes tables. For me it is just a bit of fun, and I love to improve my game and just try and suss out other players. It is something to do to relax in the evening and I can now play multiple tables at once.

Do I prefer online or playing in Vegas though? Of course it is Vegas. Even though it is loud and smoky, you just can't beat having drinks delivered to your seat and the buzz of the place. Plus there is so much to see in Vegas that it would be a shame not to experience a real casino.

SARAH HUGHES
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THIS IS A COLLABORATIVE POST WITH BOOMTOWNBINGO.
 
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CHILD FRIENDLY HOLIDAY DESTINATIONS

The summer holidays are over, but you may be thinking about next summer already and toying with the idea of a family holiday. Between wrestling with the question of whether or not taking the kids is a recipe for disaster and thinking of the perfect place, which will accommodate them, it can quickly become an overwhelming task. One thing we can say, to put your mind at ease, is that; including your children, doesn’t have to be stressful. As long as you pick and choose the destination strategically, it’s possible to have a fantastic family trip, with minimum nagging, from both sides. Family holidays are important, as it aids bonding between the family members, and, just like adults need to relax and unwind, so do kids! We thoroughly encourage you to spend quality time together as a family, and what better way to do it, than in a beautiful location?


Before you choose the perfect location, to spend your holiday, you first need to understand your kids and their interests. Once you have established this, look for places that fit this spec. Kids want to be entertained, so try to understand the activities that make them tick, and also keep in mind that children love big open spaces, where they can run around and be free. Keeping all these factors in mind, when choosing the ideal destination, will ensure they are kept busy throughout the stay, giving you more time to relax! 

CASDON MORPHY RICHARDS TOASTER AND KETTLE SET REVIEW

We have previously reviewed a number of the Casdon products on offer and Elise has really enjoyed playing with all of them. This month we were lucky enough to get the chance to review the Casdon Morphy Toaster and Kettle set in a lovely red colours. Elise has been a little bit addicted to her Hetty Deluxe Cleaning Trolley, changing mat set and her grocery set so we were pretty confident that she would also love the Toaster and Kettle set.

ALL ABOUT THE TOASTER AND KETTLE SET

The toaster and kettle set from Casdon (in association with Morphy Richards) comes in a lovely bright red colour and also comes with two pieces of bread ready to pop in the Toaster. You are able to remove the lid from the kettle and fill it with liquid. To turn on the kettle, you simply click down the button on the side. The kettle doesn't make any noise apart from the clicking sounds. The set also has a toaster which is also red. You are able to turn the dial on the front, and there are two pieces of bread included in the set. You can easily push down the bread, but Elise did need a little bit of help with this. It is important for me to say that Elise is a little bit younger than the recommended age of 3. The toast then pops up from the toaster after a bit of a delay.

TREATING ADULT ACNE CAUSED BY EPILEPSY MEDICATION

24 Oct 2017

Although I haven't personally suffered from Acne, my husband has. His acne was actually a symptom caused by his Epilepsy medication and caused his skin to be red, sore and have spots. He actually left it for nearly two years and didn't seek help with his skin. He thought that it couldn't be cured and that it was just something he had to live with. He only started getting treatment when he went to the Doctor for another reason. The Doctor had asked whether he wanted to try and treat his skin.


My husband had used some over the counter Acne treatment, as well as using a number of moisturisers. Although some of them helped with the redness, none of them helped clear up his skin completely. I kept telling him to go to the Doctor but it wasn't a priority for him and as he had ready that it could be related to his medication, he thought that it wouldn't go away with any sort of treatment.

ORCHARD TOYS : ANIMAL SHAPES REVIEW

Elise is always wanting to learn and she is really great at recognising her shapes and colours. She can pretty much name any shape and colour that she sees and it is so lovely to see. Although she was a late walker, she has always been interested in learning and speaking. In fact she never stops talking! One of the companies that we love, and have found great for teaching Elise new things is Orchard Toys. We have already reviewed their Farmyard Heads and Tails game so when Orchard Toys asked if we would test out their new Animal Shapes game we jumped at the chance!

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

When Elise first saw the box for this game she couldn't stop saying "Wow mummy wow". She wanted to open it straight away and see what was inside. As soon as we opened the box she was calling out the names of the different animals. When I started popping out the shapes from the middle of the cards she soon join in. I noticed that there is a huge variety of animals within the box, and all the animals are the correct colour. I'm not a fan when toys are not the right colour as I think that it can be confusing, especially when little ones have just started learning about colours. There was a mix of household pets, farm animals and sea creatures so this kept Elise interested. There was a large range of shapes too, some easy shapes like circles, and then other shapes like a trapezoid.

DISABILITY AND ME : COPING WITH POTS

22 Oct 2017

Disability and Me is a guest post series featuring posts from people with a range of disabilities. My aim is to raise awareness of both visible and invisible disabilities. There is such a huge range of disabilities out there and I feel that people do not have enough understanding about them. People are quick to judge those with disabiltiies, and I have experienced this first hand. I hope that the series helps you to understand more and helps answer questions about a range of illnesses.
Today Zoe from nosaferplace is sharing some tips with you on how to cope with PoTs. Zoe is a close friend of mine and although we have talked about our disabilities I will admit that I didn't know much about PoTs and how it affects her on a daily basis. Her post has allowed me to get an insight into here everyday life and the struggles that she faces.

THE SNOWMAN TOUR 2017

Growing up, one of the films that we used to watch every Christmas was The Snowman. To me it isn't really Christmas unless I have watched both The Snowman, and The Snowman and the Snow Dog. It's a little traditon that I would like to continue with Elise this year too. We've been lucky enough to be invited along to watch the iconic film The Snowman at Coventry Cathedral, where a live orchestra will accompany the film. The show is being put on by Carrot Productions and we are very excited about going along and introducing Elise to this amazing film.


The Snowman Christmas show is aimed at families, and tickets are selling fast at several key venues across the Midlands and the North, so make sure you purchase your tickets soon. You can purchase your tickets on The Snowman Tour website, and the tour dates can be found here. The tour runs from the 1st to 30th December and has many venues across the county. I would encourage you to book your tickets soon as it is sure to sell out across the country.

As well as showing The Snowman alongside a live orchestra, they will also be showing The Bear and the Piano. This is something that I haven't seen so I am very excited about this. The show is aimed at families, and it is recommended that your children are aged 3+. We are taking Elise along as she loves music and we are pretty confident she will watch the film and enjoy it. The performance lasts an hour so if you think your younger child might be able to last this long then definitely take them along.

Photography © Tom Bangbala
This is the fifth annual tour by Carrot Productions and these annual shows regular appear in national papers, especially in "Tip things to do at Christmas" lists. This is no surprise as the shows are so magical. I can't wait to hear the live orchestra as I'm a huge fan of live music. There is going to be 46 performances this year so plenty of occasions to go and watch. The shows take place in seven cathedrals - Chester, Coventry, York, Worcester, Lichfield, Liverpool and Durham are among the 15 venues where the production will be taking place. I think the fact that it is taking place in a cathedral will make the whole experience just that little bit more magical.

Every performance features a young soloist from the local area who will sing "Walking in the Air", a key song from The Snowman. I think everyone knows this song and it will be hard not to sing along. I don't think I will treat anyone to my off key singing voice though and leave it to the professionals! There will also be a visit from the organisation's very own snowman!

For more information about tickets, you can visit the tour date site. 
To get a feeling of the evening, here is a video for you to watch:


We will be attending the 2.30pm showing at Coventry Cathedral on the 9th December so I will write a full review of the performance once we have attended. I feel so lucky that we are going to the showing and maybe it will be a new tradition every year. I'm hoping that Elise will enjoy it too!

SARAH HUGHES
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WAYS TO MAKE YOUR WORKING SPACE MORE COMFORTABLE

20 Oct 2017

Having a comfortable working environment helps to maintain happiness within the work place. Whether you work from home, or in an office, it is important that you have the right furniture that offers you support. As a blogger I can spend many hours sat in my home office, so it is really important that I have a chair that is comfortable, and it is also very important to have comfortable office chairs in the shared working space too. Today I thought I would share some ways you can make your office space a bit more comfortable, whether your office is at home or in a shared working space.

HAVE A FUNCTIONAL DESK SPACE

When it comes to picking a desk, it is important that you pick one that is functional. It is handy to have plenty of office storage, and one way you can do this is to have a desk that comes with drawers. In an office, an added bonus is having drawers which lock as this means that you can keep your personal belongs safe whilst you are away from your desk. There are many types of desk to use. I use a basic Ikea desk but I have added some of my own storage through metal drawers and letter trays. I would love something a bit nicer and more functional but at the moment the Ikea desk offers me more space. I'd love one of the executive office desks in the future that you can find on sites like Calibre Furniture. Calibre Furniture are modern office furniture suppliers who are experts in sourcing the highest quality contemporary furniture for a wide range of office spaces.

HAVE PLENTY OF STORAGE

Office storage is really important, especially when it comes to space to file documents. Even working from home I have countless amounts of paperwork to keep. I have to keep track of all my expenses and income, so I need plenty of space to store these documents. I do keep them on my macbook, but I also like to have paper copies. I also run another business alongside my blog so I need even more storage to keep everything I need for that. I get sent products to test so I have lots of different storage baskets within my office to keep everything organised. 

HAVE A WORK BUDDY

I find that having a buddy to work with can actually help with my productivity. By having a buddy I of course mean having a dog to keep me company as opposed to a toddler running around. My dog brings me lots of joy, and so having her around makes my working environment just that little bit more joyous and takes the focus off the amount of work I need to get done. Having a dog in the office has been shown to improve productivity and the general mood. You can read more about how having a work dog/pet could help your work place on the Calibre office furniture blog.

ADD A PERSONAL TOUCH

Whether it is a small family photo on your desk at work, or decorating an entire home office, it is important to add a personal touch. Looking at a photo of your loved ones during a stressful day at work could help you full through and get the work done. Creating a working environment that brings you joy is sure to increase your productivity and allow you to produce amazing work. I know that having my office just the way I like makes me want to use my office. It's the place I escape to!

These are just a few of my tips. I'm no expert on creating the perfect work space and I can only give advice on what I do in my own home. If you would be interested in an office tour, please do let me know either in the comments or tweet me



SARAH HUGHES
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THIS IS A SPONSORED POST IN COLLABORATION WITH CALIBRE OFFICE FURNITURE.
 
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10 BABY NAMES INSPIRED BY FLOWERS

6 Oct 2017

When it comes to baby names I love names that are a little bit different. I admit that my own daughter's name isn't that unique. Elise isn't super common, but at the same time it isn't something too obscure. We took inspiration from our own interests and hobbies and the name is linked to a certain car from the brand Lotus. You can read more about why we picked Elise here. I love baby names that are inspired by something rather than just plucked from a top 100 list, so today I thought I would share my top 10 flower inspired baby names. I'm hoping to write more posts like this under different themes so keep an eye out for future posts too!

pink flower background with a black triangle with "10 baby names inspired by flowers" written inside

I think there are plenty of beautiful girls names that are inspired by flowers, so this portion of this post was very easy for me to write. There are plenty of very mainstream baby girl names inspired by flowers too that you hear on a regular basis. Names like Daisy and Poppy are becoming more popular, and I know a number of people who have recently used these names.  Boys names are always harder for me to think of, and I think that most names that I like are quite mainstream. If they aren't mainstream, my name choices are pretty out there and my husband hates them, so I'm quite glad we ended up having a girl as we agreed on her name!

Here is my list:

SELF HELP BOOKS THAT HELPED ME TAKE CONTROL OF MY ANXIETY

5 Oct 2017

Living can be extremely stressful. As someone who suffers from anxiety, I find it hard to switch off and find many social situations very stressful. Something that I have found that helps me unwind and learn better coping mechanisms is to read self help, or self development books. I used to turn my nose up at these types of books and didn't understand why anyone would read them, but then I started suffering from anxiety and started to turn to them myself. The first self help book I read was actually to help with my anxiety and depression and I can honestly say that it changed my thinking, and helped me put everyday situations into perspective.

photo of a forest with a black triangle on top with the post title written inside

Here are the self help books that helped with my anxiety:

MY TOP 5 CHICK FLICKS FROM THE 90S
(THAT YOU CAN WATCH ON NETFLIX OR AMAZON)

4 Oct 2017

The internet has informed me that today, the 4th October is Alicia Silverstone's birthday. If you are not familiar with Alicia Silverstone, she is the actress behind a very iconic character named Cher from a film called Clueless. Clueless is a classic chick flick, and came out in 1995. I was only 8 in 1995 so I didn't watch it when it first came out, but it was one of the first grown up films I watched. I probably watched it with my cousin who is older than me as she was the one of introduced me to lots of films from the 90s. I thought I'd give you a quick run down on my top 5 Chick Flicks from the 90s that are available for you to watch today on Netflix or Amazon Prime.


I haven't put these in any particular order and narrowing it down to just 5 was pretty tough as the 90s was amazing for the teen chick flick genre. It seems like every film that came out was based in a high school with someone going from a geek to chic makeover. That kind of feel good movie is perfect for when you need something to make you smile (I'm talking about that time of the month...you know when you just want to eat chocolate and watch films from the 90s) or to make your partner watch on a date night at home.

...BUT FIRST I FELL IN LOVE WITH HIS MAZDA

3 Oct 2017

My husband and I both have different versions of the first time we met. He remembers meeting me before I met him and although I remember the said event, I don't remember meeting him until months down the line. I guess I just left a lasting impression on him! Today I thought I would share both versions of how we met in a post I'm calling "...but first I fell in love with his Mazda".

an mx5 sports car in the background with the blog title within a triangle.

MY "LABOUR" AND DELIVERY STORY

2 Oct 2017

My daughter was due to be born on 4th January 2016, but she was in fact born on 25th November 2015 at 34 + 4 weeks gestation. Her birth didn't involve any labour, and it wasn't a traditional delivery either. We didn't have the joy of leaving the hospital with her the same day, the next day or even a few days later. In fact it was over 3 weeks until she left the hospital with us to head on to her incomplete nursery, and a wardrobe full of clothes that were too big...we weren't expecting her for another 6 weeks after all!

Today I am sharing my "Labour" and delivery story with you.


I was under consultant care throughout my pregnancy for a few reasons, mainly due my my Epilepsy and my under-active thyroid. This made my pregnancy higher risk so they had to send me for more scans than normal to make sure everything was fine, and there was also a higher risk of complications due to the Epilepsy. However, everything was going fine and the baby was perfectly happy throughout my pregnancy. It was my own body that was not happy as the pregnancy progressed. By 34 weeks my whole body had swollen up and I'd gained lots of weight over the space of a very short time. I knew it was normal to have swollen feet in pregnancy so I'd ignored it for weeks. I stopped ignoring it when I started to get spotted vision though and ended up heading to the hospital to get checked out. I didn't leave the hospital again as they admitted me straight away. My blood pressure was very high and they were worried about the amount of protein in my urine, and the vision problems I had been having.
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