Hi and welcome to ‘The List‘. If you are new here, ‘The List‘ is a great linky that I co-host with amaze-balls Hannah from Mums’ Days. The idea is simple, just link up any post that is in list/bullet point format, easy! I use mine to record my weekly highlights and remind myself of my hit list and targets, but yours could be a ‘top ten’ list or anything you fancy. Your posts can be old or new, all welcome.
Again, thank you to all the people who continue to link up, it is fabulous to see so many of you joining in. Each week both Hannah and I pick our own top 3 lists and give them a little shout out in our posts. I always struggle to pick, but I have narrowed it down and my favourite’s are;
I thought Polly’s post ‘The unspeakable truth’ was brilliant and such an important post.
I really enjoyed Mamma’s lighthearted post looking at all the new skills motherhood has given her.
The List breaks for Christmas – Hannah and I would like to wish you all a fabulous Christmas and an amazing New Year. The List will take a one week break (so there will be no list on Boxing Day) and we will be back all guns blazing on Friday 2nd January! We hope to see you all then.
Now time for my list;
We have been plagued by illness this week. Starting with Baby and ending with me.
We are still not ready for Christmas #Arghhhhh
I was really gutted that our personalised cards now will not arrive before Christmas.
Read life low; Illness
Real life high; The excitement of Christmas and family time.
1. You can link up to 3 posts per week! Be sure to paste The List badge on each post you would like to link up (code below – paste it into the HTML option of your blogging platform).
2. Comment on this post to say hi!
3. Comment on at least 2 other links – share the love man, it’s what makes this community great!
4. It would also be amazing if you could share your post and the linky party (using the hashtag #TheList) on your social media channels to help grow the community. Hannah and I will also retweet all your posts via Twitter if you mention us in your tweets! (@youbabymemummy/@mumsdays)
I love baking for people and I have some friends that live too far away for this to be possible. So when I first saw the idea (probably on pinterest!) of baking mixes in jars, I really wanted to put some together.
As Christmas is a time of family, food and presents, what a great time to give them a whirl. It is relatively straight forward to do, here is how I put mine together.
Start with Kilner jars. I got these from Ikea and they were quite inexpensive.
The recipe to fill the jars is;
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
95 g plain flour
35 g cocoa
75 g self raising flour
135 g brown sugar
150 g sugar
90 g chocolate chips
90g white chocolate chips
50 g walnuts or pecans
Combine the contents of the jar with 150g melted butter and 3 beaten eggs. Mix well, and pour into a lined 9 x 9 inch tin. Bake at Gas 4 / 180 C (160 fan) / 350 F for 25-35 minutes.
Layer the ingredients in a one litre jar. I tried to alternate the different coloured ingredients where possible.
There was a little gap between the last ingredient and the lid. As my jars had to go in the post, I didn’t want all the layers mixing together. So I scrunched up some christmas tissue paper to fill the gap. Hopefully this will keep all the ingredients in layers.
Then decorate the jars. I taped some ribbon onto the body of the jars. I purposefully taped rather than glue gunned, as I wanted the jars to be easily reusable.
I made some little salt dough stars that I sprayed with silver paint to make a garland, which I never got round to making. So these little stars made the perfect addition to the fastening of my jars. I popped on a big silver bow. All my ribbon came from Wilko for £1 per roll.
For the tag: I simply cut out a Christmas tree shape from white card and wrote the title on one side and the ‘how to make’ on the other. Punched a hole and attached it with ribbon.
That’s it, a good wrapping of bubble wrap and the were ready to post.
Let’s hope the friends receiving them like brownies! Do you like homemade presents?
We were recently sent three books, which have been written by two of the boys from McBusted, Tom Fletcher & Dougie Poynter.
I think the first thing that caught my attention was the titles!
I think the illustrations are great, they are colourful and the dinosaur looks quite cute. The font is easy to read and is large enough for older children to start reading themselves. The text is also well spaced on each page, so not to make it overwhelming for young readers.
All the books follow a rhyming couplet style, so children will start to predict what comes next and begin to learn the story.
Onto the individual books;
‘The Dinosaur that pooped Christmas’
This story is about a little boy Danny, who is very greedy and wants everything for Christmas. Instead, he gets a giant egg which hatches to reveal a very hungry dinosaur. The dinosaur eats all of Christmas and even Danny’s family. He then feels guilty that Christmas is ruined and poops out everything he ate and all is well in the end.
‘The Dinosaur that pooped the past’
Danny and the dinosaur go back in time to hang out with some other dinosaur friends. The dinosaur then has to poop them all out of the past, so they can get home to Granny and her broccoli cake!
‘The Dinosaur that pooped a planet’
Danny and the dinosaur go into space, but there is no food, so the dinosaur eats their rocket! How will they get home?! You’ve guessed it…
Here is a little video to give you more insight into the books.
The books went a bit over Baby’s head, she is still a little young to get the humour. I do like the style of the writing and the great illustrations that continue throughout all the books. However, for me I would rather read her a book about another subject than poo. I think older children and especially little boys, might ‘get’ it a bit more and find it funnier than I did. Having said that they are harmless fun stories, that I am sure lots of children will love.
Disclosure: We were sent these books in return for an honest review.
Welcome to my weigh in! This is my 10th weigh in since I started the Diet Chef plan. You can read about my previous weigh ins here.
So let’s get straight to it, this week I have lost 4lb and another 2″ (across 10 measurements). Hooray!
My 10 week totals are;
38lb/2 stone 10lb/17.2k
Inches (across 10 measurements)
46″ (inc 9″ off my waist!)
Here is how I have achieved these results.
Most of the breakfast options (17 in total) range from 150-200 calories. You can add milk and perhaps some fruit to make sure you are getting your 5 a day. I like all the breakfasts I have tried, but I now tend to stick to the muesli, granola, porridge or the muesli bars.
There are 27 lunch options and these range from 96 calories (the lovely Mushroom Soup) to 259 (the Lemon & Herb Couscous). There are handy bars and milkshakes if you are out and about; plus soups, pasta pots, couscous pots when you have access to a microwave or hot water. The soups are like normal (not diet) not diet soups, it is hard to believe they are so low in calories as they are quite thick.
There are lots of dinner options, which range from 167 calories (Mushroom Stroganoff) to 349 (Lasagne). I always have my evening meal with salad or vegetables. My favourites are curries, sausages and chicken and black bean sauce.
Pretzels, popcorn, chocolate bars are just a few of the many snacks on offer. The snacks start at 85 calories (Fruit & Oat Biscuit) up to 121 (Chocolate Cranberry Bar). My favourite snacks are the Cheese & Onion (or Paprika) Bakes, they are gorgeous!
Points to note
You can tailor each months meals, so you get exactly what you want to eat.
Add 2 portions of diary to the plan. I just don’t limit my milk, as I couldn’t live without tea.
Add fruit and vegetables to ensure you get your recommended 5 a day.
The portions seem small, but are surprisingly filling.
So I have stuck to the plan, not exercised (as I have back/pelvis issues) and I have lost 2 3/4 stone in 10 weeks! Christmas is a little bit of a worry, I want to have fun and eat some yummy food, but I don’t want to take any backwards steps. I did find this article on the Diet Times highlighting smart swaps for the Christmas period, so this might help me keep the calories down.
The programme I am on would cost £8.75 per day. However, if you order a 12 week supply this daily cost reduces to £6.61 (this is for all three meals and a snack).
Disclosure: I am being sent Diet Chef hampers in order to review the programme. All opinions are 100% honest and are my own.
Hello! Welcome to Share Your Wedding. The weekly feature that gives you the chance to re-live your wedding day and offer inspiration to any soon-to-be–weds.
This week we have an invitation to one of my blogging friend’s wedding, Nat. Nat blogs over at Style Me Sunday and can be found on Twitter @stylemesunday or Instagram@stylemesunday.
Now prepare yourself for a feast of gorgeousness!
The Wedding Day
The venue for Nat’s big day was the stunning beautiful Babington House. The decor was minimalistic, with a clean colour palette, yet it was stunningly beautiful. I think you will all agree!
The ‘Beige’ Suede Shoes
I had my eye on these high, beige suede with gold detail, peep shoe Jimmy Choos I saw in Selfridges, but my husband said they were too expensive and we couldn’t afford them, then for my birthday in June he surprised me by buying them for me. I have also worn them since my wedding, so they were definitely worth the money. I didn’t want white satin ‘wedding’ shoes that I’d never wear again.
My dress was made by Jacqueline Byrne islington, designed by myself. I wanted something simple yet stylish, with a vintage feel. A big belt was a must and the only thing I definitely wanted from the outset.
I love clothes with a defined waist for a feminine silhouette.
A touch of Vintage
My Veil was made by the dress maker, I wanted jewels and a bird cage veil for that vintage feel. My earrings were from Grays antiques off Oxford Street and the bracelets were from Accessorise.
I had make-up trials, but each time I was made to either look like a drag queen or just nothing like myself. So I decided to do my make up myself and keep it natural. As that was how my husband likes my make-up and I wanted him to think I was the most beautiful thing ever (!) A Hair stylist was recommended by the venue.
Flowers were left in the capable hands of my mother-in-law. I gave her jam jars and tea caddies I had found for the table flowers. I didn’t need anything elaborate. I wanted the flowers to be simple in the church so I asked for them to be white, for the table I wanted them to look like they were picked from the garden.
Matt’s suit was from Paul Smith, tailored to fit perfectly. Russell and Hodge, a little boutique do made to measure tailoring in Soho for his white shirts. He had one total Egyptian cotton shirt and one for the evening with added 5% lycra for a bit more movement to dance. They build the shirt around you.
He picked a cut away collar, mother pearl buttons and double cuffs. You could definitely tell it was a made to measure shirt, it fit him beautifully. The shoes he wore were brogues also from Paul Smith.
David Jenkins took the photos at my friends wedding, but I hardly remember seeing him on the day at all. When I saw their photos I was completely amazed with the photos and knew that I had to have him for my wedding. It was just my type of style, relaxed yet stylish.
I didn’t want an overbearing photographer who made you pose in those set staged photos for hours. In fact I wasn’t bothered about posed photos at all. Luckily David did do some semi-posed, but not for long at all, so we didn’t miss having fun with our guests. But got everyone who was important in the photos.
The Incredible Atmosphere
I really am not into wedding bands, so we just decided to have to saxophone player for the canapes bit accompanying chilled ibiza tunes. And then a DJ for later, Nigel Peirce, Babington’s resident DJ is fantastic.
My husband is a DJ so he was in charge of all the music. He made a huge list of all our must have tunes to play. Then towards the end of the night, our master of ceremony, who is a friend and real MC to Goldie, got on the mic, without being asked and the crowd went crazy. It was like a club atmosphere.
My mother-in-law is a great cake maker and she made our cup cakes, which looked beautiful. And were put out with the tea and coffee later.
A Very Special Moment
We had two first dance songs. The first was The Isley Brothers, “For The Love Of You”. However, when the party got going we put our real first dance on, which was a drum and bass tune by Chase and Status called, “In Love”.
The DJ had timed it perfectly and everyone went crazy and the DJ had to rewind the tune 3 times. My husband and I were dancing on the sofa, having it to the crowd going mad on the dancefloor. It was a very special moment!
We had no specified favours, however the guest were allowed to take the scented candles that had been dotted around the church and reception the next day. This also avoided too much waste.
Decide whats really important to you. And don’t compromise or skimp on it. Originally we had chose another venue. Just before we were about to sign on the dotted line.
I decided that as it wasn’t the venue I had always dreamed of, I was compromising to save money. I didn’t want to regret it for the rest of my life… So I decided we had to have Babington House!!!
Wow! What an amazing day and thanks so much to the beautiful Nat for sharing her day with us all.
All images are courtesy of David Jenkins.
If you want to Share Your Wedding just drop me a line email@example.com
We recently accepted the Poundland Christmas Challenge. The challenge was to give one room in our house a festive makeover, using decorations from Poundland. I had wanted to give Baby’s room a bit of a festive touch and so this gave me the perfect opportunity. This is Baby’s room as it was before I sprinkled the Poundland Christmas Magic on it.
It was time to hit the shops! An excuse to shop, always welcomed here. I found it really hard to spend all the budget, but struggled on! Eventually I had an overflowing basket and headed for home. Look how much I got for £25, two bags stuffed full of goodies.
I set to work, making over Baby’s room. This took a little longer than expected, but finally it was complete.
I kept all the decorations away from her cot, as we don’t want any disasters, but managed to add some festive cheer to most of the room.
I even gave her bookcase a blingy makeover.
Baby adored it and her new best friends are the inflatable Santa and Snowman. I was really pleased with the amount of decorations that I could purchase for £25, which just goes to show Christmas needn’t cost a fortune.
Do you have a Poundland near you?
Disclosure: We were sent £25 vouchers to take part in this challenge.
BritMums Live is the biggest parenting blogging conference in the UK and I went last year for the first time. It is such a fabulous experience and a great opportunity to learn, from the speakers and your peers alike.
A couple of weeks ago I was lucky enough to secure my sponsorship for this event in 2015 and I would like to introduce you to my wonderful sponsor.
Doctor Care Anywhere is an innovative healthcare service that enables you to book a Doctor’s appointment for a time that suits you. Membership gives you unlimited access to high quality UK Doctors, via video or phone consultations, 8am-10pm, 7 days a week, from wherever you are in any country! You can book and have your doctor appointment within two hours and medication can be delivered to your door (or another address you pick) same day.
Doctor Care Anywhere is registered with the Care Quality Commission and it is a Doctor-led service. All of the practitioners are UK Qualified GP consultants and are GMC registered. The Doctors are peer selected and reviewed regularly. They have undergone training in telemedicine and have to undergo regular reviews. Patients are asked for feedback after every consultation and Doctor Care Anywhere would act promptly, if the feedback was negative, to ensure only the highest standards of care.
The service can be accessed by booking a ‘one-off’ appointment, which is priced at £60 (£75 at the weekends). However, the membership service makes the costs much more affordable.
I am so happy to be partnering with Doctor Care Anywhere. I have recently had my first appointment with one of their Doctor’s and I will share my experience soon.
Disclosure: Doctor Care Anywhere have sponsored my BritMums Live experience for 2015. Baby and I have also received a 6 month membership plan.
Since having Baby I have been well and truly in the plus size spectrum! Clothes shopping had become a bit of a nightmare, that is until I walked into Taking Shape one day. On that first occasion I bought a couple of tops. The fit was brilliant, garments that are really cut to flatter. Then, Taking Shape kindly sponsored my clothing for BritMums Live last year gifting me two fabulous dresses.
Regular readers will probably be aware that I have recently lost 2.5 stone, sadly I am still plus size (there is no justice! ). So when Taking Shape offered to send me some outfits for the festive season, I was very grateful and picked these gorgeous dresses.
I did a VERY quick photo shoot with Mr Hubby, while Baby was distracted watching Doc McStuffins! I am not very comfortable posing or having my photo taken without Baby, so please forgive me. I thought it would give you an opportunity to see what the dresses look like on a more ‘normal’ looking lady!
This one is great for layering!
This one is Mr Hubbys favourite. Green would not normally be a colour I would pick, but I actually like it on.
I think this dress is my favourite. I love that it is so easy to wear and I adore the large slouch pockets on the hips.
This is another dress that would be great for layering, I like the asymmetrical hemline.
Taking Shape clothes are cut to flatter plus size ladies, rather than being a larger version of smaller clothes. So this ensures they make the most of your best bits and help to cover up your less desirable bits! They do feel really good on. Taking shape offer pieces in size 14-26, so a great range of sizes. I love that I don’t feel frumpy, as I sometimes do in other plus size clothes.
There are lots of other party dresses on their website, why not check out their special occasion dresses?! Thanks so much to Taking Shape for sending me these fabulous dresses.
Disclosure: I was sent these dresses in return for this honest post.
Christmas is now only 8 days away! Are you ready?! I have still got a lot to do, but I don’t have to buy crackers, as the lovely people at Lizard Orchid treated us to these fabulous ‘Very Posh Silver Crackers’.
They are gorgeous, very luxurious! Made from the highest quality materials, to ensure a great snap, fabulous quality hat and of course a funnier joke! They are trimmed with a satin butterfly bow and feature a sparkly diamante bead cluster. We are saving pulling these gorgeous things until Christmas Day, but the team at Lizard Orchid have given us a peek at what’s inside on their website. There’s a real shoe-horn with a leather thong; leather key-ring sporting the LO logo; a pot of coloured pencils; a horn napkin ring; a set of glass marbles; and a wooden honey dipper. A class apart from the rubbish kids toy and hair bobble that is usually in our normal crackers!
These crackers are currently on sale at £25 (usual price £50) and would certainly add a touch of class to your Christmas Dinner table.
Disclosure: We were sent these crackers in return for this honest post.
I love PicMonkey and I use it every day, in every blog post I write. I have been asked a few times how I have created a few of my pictures. So I thought I would share a few tricks with you all.
1. Spot colour on a black & white photo
The first thing you have to do is make the picture black and white.
Then click on the paintbrush icon. Hover over your image and see how big the brush is compare the the area you wish to change back to colour. If you need a different size brush, just change the size. Then you are ready to start erasing the black and white.
Go to the image, it might help to focus in on the area you want to change. Look in the bottom right hand corner of your screen and increase the percentage. This will make it easier to see what you are rubbing out. If you make a mistake, click the paintbrush again and it will fill in what you have just erased.
Change the % back so you can see your whole image and there you have it, a black and white image with spot colour.
2. Erasing things from photos
We have all done it, taken a really great picture then noticed something undesirable in the shot that is difficult to cut out. Here is where the Clone tool comes in so useful.
Select the Clone tool (the last option in the effects menu) under Advanced.
Check the brush size you need by hovering over the image.
Click source & then take your circular brush to an area you want to superimpose on the duff section (you can see this green circle just under my white arrow). Click to select this ‘good’ area.
Then click on the area you wish to remove.
Repeat clicking the source and dropping it on the area you want to change.
Click Apply and my weeds disappear!
3. Colour matching
Click Edit and upload the image that you want to match from (your desired colour).
Go to Overlays (Butterfly)
Add any shape
Click on Colour 2 then click the pipette icon.
Drag the pipette to the colour your desired colour. The shape will change colour.
Click on Colour 2 again and you will now see the HEX code for that shade to the left of the pipette.
Copy and paste it somewhere safe.
Repeat the process for all the colours you want to match to.
Then when you need a shade, just paste the HEX code into the box and the colour match will appear.
4. Making a picture circular
Open the picture that you want to edit.
Crop the picture, a true square will give you a better circle.
Then select Frames and look for a frame that you like and that gives you an option for corner radius.
Increase the radius as far as it will go.
Tick the box for transparent corners.
Save your new round image!
5. Curving words
Curving words is not very technical, but it might be something that is not immediately obvious. Photoshop curves the whole word for you, and so you might spend time looking for a function to do that on PicMonkey (there isn’t one). However, this doesn’t mean you can’t curve words.
Go to Edit and load the image you would like your text on.
Select the text option and click. It will launch the box to type in.
Type the first letter of your word only. Resize the box snugly around your letter.
Then repeat opening a next text box and popping in one letter at a time.
When you click on a letter you will see a circle on a line coming out of the top pf the box. Use this to change the angle of each letter to create a curved word.
6. Lighten & Brighten
I do this to almost all of my photos. Especially the ones we take indoors, as the natural light in our house is very poor.
To Lighten open the image, then click the little wand (effects).
Scroll down to last section and click on Curves.
You will see a diagonal line, click on it and drag it toward the top left (a bit at a time) to see how it lightens your image.
If your picture goes a bit yellowy increase the colour overide.
Click Apply when you are happy.
To Brighten in the same menu there is a Boost option.
Select and increase the colour until you are happy.
Click Apply and save your new light/bright image.
7. Removing the background
This can be quite time consuming, but it can be quite a useful thing to do.
Open a blank Design.
Then select Overlay.
Choose Your Own and pick the image you want to remove the background from.
Drag the edges out to enlarge, then click eraser on the overlay box.
Increase eraser size and then start rubbing out the background.
Vary the size of the image and the brush to get right into all the edges.
When you are happy go to the square option right at the top of the main menu.
Open Canvas and click make canvas transparent.
Then you can use this image as an overlay on a new image.
Just open the image (in Edit a picture), select overlay, your own, pick it and move it to an appropriate place on your new canvas.