Family Time With The Grandparents

Time together is really special, especially the time my children spend with their Grandparents, and last week we all went to Butlins together to enjoy a brass band festival. I'm really happy with the photographs I took, I like natural shots rather than posed pictures, so I tried to get more of those! Here are my kids with Grandma & Grandad:

The various brass bands provided the entertainment which is not the usual Butlins programme, but we all really enjoyed it and there were also highlights that are typical Butlins such as the characters. My children spotted this guy wandering round on the first morning so we grabbed our camera!

Even though it was January we got a little welcome sun, although it was cold but you can't tell from this deckchair shot can you?

...well, maybe my daughter's fun fur coat and UGGs is a giveaway, but the cold weather didn't stop us visiting the beach! Each Butlins resort is next to a beach, and in Skegness where we were it was really pretty on the coast. I loved how deserted it was, there were only a couple of families out there with us and I got this lovely picture:

...and here are my three favourite people in the world, picking up shells:

During the weekend we went swimming (and on the water slides!), visited the funfair, spent all our 2p's in the arcade, watched some toe tapping music and indulged in some fab food in the premium dining restaurant. I managed to stick to my Slimming World plan for 95% of the time, my only weakness was the cheesecake on the Saturday night which I couldn't resist, but a bit of what you fancy does you good and I still lost one lb that week!

I'm glad that were were able to share this weekend with 'the Grandparents' and enjoy each others company, and as it was term time, my hubby, kids and I left on the Sunday night as we had to get to school and work the next day which meant that my In-Laws got to spend one night of the break alone and extend their holiday.

We've been on a Butlins break before and will do again, but if there is one thing I will take to future breaks with me it is that I loved being in the 'Premium Dining', and the bit extra it costs is worth it. I like having our own table to eat at, lots of choice of food and that it is less crowded in there. I'd highly recommend it!

Thank you to Butlins who provided the three night break at Skegness, as part of their Mum Ambassador programme for 2012.

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To Switch... Or Not. What Do You Think?

January has been a month of 'cleaning house'. I didn't intend it this way but this is the way it has turned out. It has been a month of looking at areas of my life that need improving and doing something about them. It has been about biting the bullet and doing things that I maybe didn't want to do but needed to, and now I'm at the end of January, I'm happy that I did.

I joined Slimming World this month, and I'm so glad that I did because I need the education that it supplies. Prior to SW I was just eating whatever I fancied, not really thinking about what the fat content was, but I'm learning to cook the low fat way now and to be honest, I prefer eating food I have prepared (or that fellow slimmers have prepared!) because I know what is in it. I also took a look at my finances this month and made some plans for that area, and I finally got on top of my business accounts and dealt with tax returns and other 'official' stuff that I'd been putting off because let's face it, it is so boring.

Next I'm looking at my blog. I have been planning a re-design for a while now and I know what sort of look and feel I want for the background and header. I have had the pink leopard spot design for 4 years and my baby who is shown in the header is now a school boy and we have an extra black cat, so things need bringing up to date. I want to create a really beautiful blog that reflects my current interests, I want to show some creative photography that I'm experimenting with and have a blog that looks almost like a 'coffee table' book - something shiny and modern that contains everything that I love, like my kids, what we get up to and my take on certain things. This is my little corner of the internet, so I why not fully use it.

Plus I'm a control freak. Well, this isn't strictly true - I was, before I had kids. I couldn't relax if a picture was hung on the wall all skew-whiff (is that the right spelling?!) But much to my own surprise I've chilled out, man! My laid back hubby has rubbed off on me so much so that nowadays he is more highly strung whilst I am the cool, chilled out parent! Ok, I'm not the chilled out parent, more like the disciplinarian but I am more relaxed about mess in the house and getting a chocolatey handprint on me! However my organised streak wants this blog to be tidier. To have less categories that posts fit into and to look 'cleaner'.

This is where I need your help. If you were me, would you re-design this existing blog or start a fresh new one? My blogging platform is currently Google's Blogger but I could go to Wordpress. There are probably loads of other free blogging platforms out there but I don't know what they are - suggestions welcome! I know loads of my fellow BritMums members are really tech savvy and know loads about SEO, so let me know what you do! If I stay with Blogger, can I trim down the categories (labels)that I have to choose from. Seriously, have you seen how many I have? It is ridiculous!

I'm happy to entertain any comments, suggestions or theories guys, so please share your thoughts. Should I switch - or not?

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Butlins, Baby!

Before a family break, there is always the preparation and here are my children getting excited about a trip to Butlins!

I'm always mindful that having lots of family experiences together is better than 'stuff'. I'd prefer to take my children on a day out to have fun together than buy them a new game for the Wii, as the memories created last forever, whilst the fun of a new game is short lived. Taking short breaks is always a lot of fun, except when I have a mountain of washing to do afterwards, but I can live with the washing!!

On this break, we are going with my husbands parents, so it will be a three generational trip. We chose the 'Brass Band Weekend' as my father in law plays a brass instrument, a Baritone I think, and they love this style of music! It should be an experience- apparently there are 80 brass bands playing!

Bring it on, I like a bit of umm-pa-pah!

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Review: Its Got Soul Shoes

**This is a Product Review Post**

Product Name: Premium School Shoes by Its Got Soul
Buy Online Here:
Price: £49.99
Star Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

The blurb: Its Got Soul’ offer a new and stylish solution to ill-fitting and unsupportive high street school shoes for young and teen girls. These are a brand new footwear line created by a mother of a teen daughter who developed severe back problems from wearing high street style pumps to school from her early teens. The Its Got Soul shoe styles have been in development for over a year, working with The Society of Chiropodists and Podiatrists (SOCAP), designs are informed by the Division of Podiatry at the University of Northampton. Its Got Soul are tested by the BLC Leather Technology Centre in Northampton to ensure each style offers young, developing feet the required support, and flexibility required for every day, long wear.

Initial Thoughts: When the box arrived, I noticed how sturdy the box was. Mums notice things like this, even though it shouldn't matter to how well the shoe works, but you get an idea about a product based upon many factors, and the shoe box it comes in is one of them. It made me want to open up and see what was inside - I was expecting quality based on the box. My daughter didn't care about the box, she just wanted to see the shoes!

My daughter had chosen the Giselle shoe - a ballet style pump with an elastic strap across the foot. It was simple and classic, and we were both happy with it. Mums of girls will know, they have different criteria to you when it comes to their shoes. They care how it looks, mums care about how well it fits and that it will allow space for their feet to grow, and then how it looks. We were both satisfied. I thought that it was a well fitting shoe of good quality and it had some structure around the toe, to allow my daughter's toes room to move whilst hopefully ensuring that the shoe keeps its shape in the long run. In the past when I have bought cheaper shoes, I've found that after a few weeks of wear they don't hold their shape and they start to slop and slide on the foot so your child isn't walking properly in them. As these were developed alongside Chiropodists and Podiatrists, I feel confident that they will hold up in the long term.

I Liked: I loved how this shoe is from a UK company and that a mumpreneur developed it. It feels nice to know that you are supporting UK business to buy from this company. The shoes all have leather uppers, leather insoles and Vibram soles. I learned after a quick Google search that Vibram soles are important because a Vibram sole was initially developed for climbing wear for its excellent traction on the widest range of surfaces, it is from an Italian company that supplies many leading footwear manufacturers with their rubber soles, so basically - no slipping and sliding in these shoes! Plus, the inner part of the shoe has a cushioned sole so they will feel comfortable to wear all day.

I wasn't Keen:
There was nothing about the shoe itself that I didn't like, I just wish that there had been more choice of styles on the company's website which is why I gave this review four out of five stars. There are currently three designs available to buy at £49.99 each, and whilst they are attractive shoes, it would have been nice to have seen more styles to choose from.

Overall: These shoes are great school shoes that will keep your daughters feet safe, secure and smart looking all term. As the box they come in is so sturdy, at least you will have somewhere proper to store them to make it easier to look after them!

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Our weekend with Kermit!

Is it a 'normal' thing to do to take a two pint milk carton to the spa, or to your son's classroom? What if you stuck a Kermit face onto the front of it? Is that better or worse?!

Well this is what we did over the weekend! On Friday my kids made a Kermit out of a milk carton because Cravendale sent us some stickers. It is for a competition to win a year's supply of milk, and we drink a lot of the good stuff at our house so this would be a very useful competition to win! You can see the post at the BritMums Blog. So the kids and I had a brainstorm to work out how we could win the milk, and this is what we came up with...

Here is Kermit being made:

Then we bundled him into the car and went to school:

Here is Kermit in my son's classroom with his teacher:

Then the next day we all went swimming, so along came Kermit! Here he is with my mum:

...and here he is by the spa pool with my daughter:

Kermit had such fun with us this weekend... and it was actually fun for us too as we thought up creative ways to show Kermit's adventure with the family! I hope Kermit's 'great day out' wins us the milk. I'll let you know on this blog if we win!!

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I've got some 'Training' to do!

Wow! January is usually a month where all the bills come in but my post lady has just been and I've had a rather nice envelope...

Cross Country Trains have sent me a voucher for a Family Railcard and are letting me pick a destination I want to travel to from their network! Hmm, they go from Leeds to Edinburgh, and I do love bonnie Scotland, so maybe a little visit is in order!!

Looks like I'll be on 't'internet this evening with my hubby to choose a short break. We've been offered four tickets though, so it looks like we'll have to take the kids and not have a naughty weekend ourselves! I'll keep you posted on what we decide!!!

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Littlewoods Fashion Challenge - The Results!

DISCLAIMER: I got free clothes! Yes, this post is a review post so if you don't particularly like those, stop reading although you will miss out on a laugh when you see me in the last picture.

I love clothes (who doesn't?!) so when Littlewoods offered me a few new pieces to see how I could make them work with my existing wardrobe, I said - "Bring it on, baby!" Here is my first post about this challenge, in case you want the background info too!

It was going to be a 5 piece challenge, but shoes weren't in stock or something, so I got to work the clothing instead. In total, I was sent some jeans, a smart blouse, a chunky cardigan and an evening dress, and here is what I did with them!

Black Jeans:

It was a grey December Saturday and I was taking the kids to a soft play area for a child's birthday party. These jeans looked great and I was able to dress them up with my costume jewellery. They are called 'Curvalicious Bum Lift' jeans, and I did feel quite bootylicious in them so I give them a thumbs up!

Grey Cardigan:

This cardigan was a useful cover up when it got cold, but I loved that it was a fashion forward, everyday piece. I was able to wear one of my silky summer tops with this, despite the cold weather, and I think it looked lovely - don't you?!

Slinky Shirt:

This shirt came in handy when I helped out in the school office and needed something smart to wear! I teamed it with a black skirt and heels for a more formal look but it would work equally well with jeans for a more casual occasion.

Red dress:
Here is me wearing the dress:

...but it looked better on my mum:

Mum will take this cocktail dress on her next Cruise- it is sure to impress the Captain!!

Here is the lowdown on the pieces I wore:
Curvalicious Bum Lift Bootcut Black Jeans, £35 (Very)
Curved Hem Grey Cardigan, £30 (Very)
Slinky Satin Blouse, £25 (Very)
One Shoulder Origami Frill Dress, £69 (Littlewoods)

All are available from and

Thank you to Jess, the lovely PR Fashionista who organised this haul.

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Competition to Win a Butlins Break!!

Now I'm a bit of a 'comper' (is that what you call someone who is into competitions?!) I like entering, because - well, you never know do you? And you have to be in it to win it!! So I have just been told about a great competition where someone could win a family break at Butlins, and I wanted to share it with you!

The competition was launched by Butlins in conjunction with their new TV advert on Facebook and Twitter (you can watch the ad here if you haven’t caught it on the small screen yet). To enter, entrants need to watch the ad and count the number of bounces the little girl makes and email Butlins with the answer. If you go to this website, you can email Butlins straight from the page!

Entries close at midnight on 10th January and they will do the draw and announce the winner on the 11th Jan. The winner will get a Butlins family break for 4 people in Silver accommodation, so go ahead - give it a go, you never know!

I don't know if you are aware but I am a Butlins Mum Ambassador this year (which is why I get to hear about competitions like this!) and I will be trying out the Skegness resort in a few weeks. I'll post on this blog how we get on and what we got up to!

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