Showing posts with label brand collaboration. Show all posts
Showing posts with label brand collaboration. Show all posts

Friday, 26 January 2018

What About Us // Heart Radio

What about us? Ed and I were only together 3 months before I fell pregnant with Dylan and 7 years and 4 children later, our life revolves around those four small people that call us Mummy and Daddy. When we were challenged by Heart to take on a mood boosting activity inspired by a feel good song as part of the #HeartFeelGoodChallenge, Ed and I decided to make more time for us, specifically with a proper ‘date’ inspired by Pink’s ‘What About Us’.

I listen to Heart as I cook and Pink’s ‘What About Us’ is one of my favourite songs to dance around the kitchen to (and sing along to badly as well) and as the familiar song came on again, I started thinking of different ways to look after myself and different things that Ed and I could do together rather than our classic meal out date night.

And we ended up settling on a couples’ massage and spa day - something we would never have even thought of before, but in the middle of the sleep deprivation (thanks Cora), the school runs, the cooking and cleaning for a big family it seems exactly what we both need - some pampering for us and something to do together.

Getting childcare wasn’t easy (it never is when you have four small ones) but it was worth juggling things to get some time together. We were massaged, we lay on the heated seats in the relaxation room and we enjoyed these moments of calm and quiet together in the middle of a busy week. We talked without small voices interrupting us, without the distractions of technology and we reconnected as a couple. There was a swimming pool and a sauna, there was a cafe so we could enjoy a meal together without having to share with a toddler and it was exactly what we needed.

One day our children will grow up and move out and so it is really important to nurture our relationship now so we are still strong when that day comes.

We are hoping to come up with some different ideas to do something each month with no children and this feels like the best start. I love how music can make us feel so inspired, not just to get off the sofa and have a boogie around the house, but to try new things and have fun too. Heart plays the songs from the 90s and 00s that I grew up with and the biggest feel good hits that I can’t help but sing along to. The uplifting music always brightens my mood and inspires me and I am hoping to get some inspiration for next month’s date - maybe Lady Gaga can convince us to ‘Just Dance’ at a dance class or we could follow Pink’s advice again and ‘Raise a Glass’ at a cocktail bar?

Get some inspiration and turn up the feel good by listening to Heart

This post is in collaboration with Heart Radio
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Tuesday, 2 January 2018

Looking After My Skin With Aveeno

There are so many things I love about winter from the fairy lights on the tree to the crisp frosty mornings and hot chocolate under a blanket in the afternoons. I hate how cold it gets on the school run though, how my feet never quite feel warm enough and how dry my skin gets.

Long walks in the sharp winter strip my skin and the central heating and hot baths which I very much rely on seems to dry out what is left and whilst I use very few products in the summer, it is a different story in the winter. I have always had to be careful with what I use on my skin as I had bad eczema as a child and I am still prone to flare ups. Aveeno® Skin Relief Nourishing Lotion and Restoring Hand Cream are gentle on my skin with its triple oat formula and they sent me a lovely hamper to help look after my skin this winter.

This winter I am determined to look after myself a bit more too,

My Hands

I have buggy mitts to keep my hands protected from the wind when we are out walking and AVEENO® Skin Relief Restoring Hand Cream for restoring moisture and keeping them silky smooth. There is nothing worse than dry hands and the 75ml tube is perfect for popping in my handbag to use on the go!

My Skin

The AVEENO® Skin Relief Nourishing Lotion with Shea Butter comes in two sizes and I have the pump lid one in the bathroom for after a bath or shower and the 200ml tube in my
bedroom. It is clinically proven to moisturise skin for up to 24 hours and help to prevent that tight irritable sensation of dry skin.

We already have the new AVEENO® baby range for the little ones and I am enjoying focusing on myself a bit more this year too, looking after my own skin as well as I look after theirs. None of the children see bad weather as a reason to stay outside so if my winter is going to be spent at parks and the beach then my skin definitely needs a little bit of TLC!

This post is in collaboration with Aveeno® but all thoughts and opinions are completely my own. #ad

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Friday, 15 December 2017

Christmas Parties // Hotel Chocolat Wreath

Christmas is the season for parties and gatherings, mulled wine and delicious chocolates and an excuse to get together with old and new friends.  In our old house we were quite stuck for space and we are really enjoying the new place and being able to host friends now.  This year we have Ed's family coming to us on Boxing Day and it will be the first time hosting a family event for us!

With school about to finish, I decided to celebrate the end of Archie's first full term by inviting some of his friends and their parents over after school one day.  The children quickly split off with the school boys going upstairs and the little siblings choosing the playroom.  The living room was for the adults and it was lovely to chat without the rush and distractions of the school run.  

I was sent a Hotel Chocolat Christmas Wreath and it seemed the perfect time to open it.  I left it in the middle of the table as it made a great centerpiece.  Once all the children were occupied, we broke it open and it was absolutely amazing inside! Our favourites include the 'Christmas mess', the 'Bakewell tart' and the champagne truffles, and the selection was brilliant with something for everyone's tastes!  I find that usually when we open a box of chocolates there are the same ones always left at the end but having some left at the end wasn't an issue with the wreath!

The Hotel Chocolat wreath is perfect for Christmas gatherings and I might have to buy one for a Boxing Day treat for the family too.  It is the perfect festive centerpiece and incredibly delicious!  When we have eaten too many roast potatoes and stuffing, I think bite sized sweet snacks will be great to nibble on.

I couldn't easily get pictures of all the children playing but here are a couple of my little two who loved having a house full of friends and playmates (although one still needs to work on sharing his toys with them).

Hotel Chocolat have an amazing Christmas collection to suit all families big and small, so whether you are having a quiet Christmas at home, a few friends over or the whole extended family, check out their amazing Christmas chocolate collection.

This post is sponsored by Hotel Chocolat but all chocolates were eaten exclusively by myself (and my friends)

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Wednesday, 13 December 2017

The Sony Xperia XZ1 Review

We were sent the Sony Xperia XZ1 to review recently and I was really excited to try the new smart phone.  For someone who works from her phone and laptop I know very little about technology and I was quite aware that any modern smart phone would meet my basic phone needs (call, text, facebook and instagram).  I wanted to see what made the Sony different though and most importantly, how good the camera was!

The Sony Xperia XZ1 is slim and sleek with a large display.  I have stuck to the same brand of phone for 6 years before this so I wasn't expecting it to be so easy to set up but everything was really intuitive.  The unlock button is on the right hand side, exactly where my thumb sits and the fingerprint unlock is perfect to keep little people from playing with it.  I could download all my favourite apps and use all the usual functions.

Sony Xperia XZ1 review
The 13mp front facing camera takes brilliantly clear images.
Sony are one of the leading camera manufacturers in the UK and they have used their amazing Motion Eye technology in the camera. Most of the photos I take are of my four small people and they are not ones to sit still and pose nicely.  I have to capture them mid movement, mid speech and mid swing and the Sony Xperia XZ1 has several features to help ensure that I never miss a family moment.  I took these photos on a very ordinary Tuesday, nothing special but special to us all the same and I love that I have some of these little moments captured.

Sony Xperia XZ1 review

Sony Xperia XZ1 review

The Autofocus Burst captures a string of images and means you can flick through afterwards to find your favourite ones.  The 19MP camera can capture so many photos in a short space of time and I was really impressed with how clear these were with no motion blur.  You can see in the swings below that both children look incredibly clear and you can't tell that they were actually moving at different speeds .

Sony Xperia XZ1 review

Sony Xperia XZ1 review

The Predictive Capture mode on the Sony Xperia XZ1 means you never miss a moment and this has been my favourite feature.  So many times I have tried to capture the children doing something sweet, but by the time I have pressed the button they have moved on.  The predictive capture mode recognises that the subject is in motion and takes up to three extra shots before you press the shutter button.  So often now I have looked in the gallery and realised half the child's head was out of the shot and then realise that predictive capture has meant the perfect picture is there too, thank goodness!

Sony Xperia XZ1 review

And the third fantastic camera feature on the Sony Xperia XZ1 is the built in slow motion mode on the camera.  I know you can download fancy editing software that will do this for you but I haven't worked out how and it looks very complicated! Not only this, but with your average camera taking nowhere near as many frames per second, it wouldn't even compare in quality.  With this camera, you simply press a large icon on the screen when you want it to start and the phone which can record 960 frames per second, slows the next second of footage down to last for five seconds before resuming the filming again.  I have used this to capture the children playing, someone throwing one in the air and I can imagine there would be some amazing moments to try it, like the finish line of a race.  For normal videos, the steadyshotfeature has 5 axis stabilisation to compensate for shaking movement and keep videos clear and smooth.

As well as the camera there are loads of brilliant features

Sony Xperia XZ1 review
Even in low light the camera takes sharp and bright images
- A longer battery life, which easily lasts me a whole day despite the fact I have a minor addiction to a battery draining app.
- Waterproof, so you can take it out in the rain, take photos in the pool and not panic if you accidentally drop it in the bath.
- Android 8.0 Oreo technology (apparently Oreos are not just a tasty biscuit!)
- Durable exterior, something I have noticed as this may be the longest I have ever gone without cracking my screen!

Sony Xperia XZ1

The Sony Xperia handset has an RRP of £599 and a compact version is available too.

This is a paid collaboration with Sony but all thoughts and opinions are completely my own.

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Wednesday, 29 November 2017

The Sony Xperia XZ1 - Initial Review

Blogging is what started my love for photography and when I look back at the photos from my early posts, I can see just how far I have come.  The cluttered backgrounds, odd angles and blurry limbs of a little Dylan feel like a lifetime ago and taking photos has become not just something I do to illustrate a blog post, but something I do because I love to.  I love taking the perfect shot, capturing just the right moment and learning more about using my camera. 

My DSLR is usually my camera of choice, but it is big and bulky, a pain to carry around and I can look quite odd when I pull it out my bag and start snapping away.  I need a phone that can take a good photo, photos that I want to share on social media, display on my blog and capture all those imperfectly perfect moments that aren't going to wait for a big camera.

We are testing the new Sony Xperia XZ1 which boasts brilliant camera techology alongside easy to use android technology (I am most definitely an android girl). It has lived in my pocket and my hand this last week whilst I get used to the camera, the features and the fun slow-motion videos you can make.  

Sony Xperia XZ1

We recently visited a little local soft play which has a (closed) theme park behind it so I stopped to take some photos of the little two running around outside.  It was a bright place but the day was dull and the sky was dark.  I love how well the camera captures the colours and more importantly how well it captures the moment.

Sony Xperia XZ1

Sony Xperia XZ1

One of my favourite features so far is the predictive photo taking.  Before I have even pressed the shutter the phone has taken a couple of photos and when I browse back through I can choose my favourite from the bunch. It means I am less likely to miss a sweet cuddle or the way they hi5. 
Sony Xperia XZ1

Sony Xperia XZ1

The phone camera can be used in either auto or manual, and this coming week I am going to be playing with the manual features a bit more.  These photos are all in the automatic setting so I just point and shoot, and they haven't been edited at all.

Sony Xperia XZ1

Having a phone with a great camera is important to me as it allows me to get in the photos more too.  Whilst most people are a little scared when I hand over the 'big camera', they are confident to point and shoot with a phone and it means I can get in the photos more too.  I want my children to be able to look back and see me in their childhood and I love these photos of me and my baby girl that my sister took on the Sony Xperia XZ1

Sony Xperia XZ1

What I really wanted to see is what makes this phone better than my other one, which is also a top of the range model of another brand.  Pretty much all phones now can call, text, browse the internet and host a huge range of apps and games.  Most of the features that get updated are things that I would be content having an older model of, but the camera is really important to me and the reason I upgrade every time I am able.  

In video mode on the Xperia XZ1, you can tap a little icon above the stop/start button which adds a slow motion clip into the recording.  It makes a tiny moment expand into five seconds worth of footage as it records 960 frames per second and you can do this as many times as you want during one clip.  I have so many ideas to try with this, but here is our very first go.  Again this video has not been edited other than the very start being cut off and I have uploaded it directly from my phone.

So far I am really impressed with the Sony Xperia XZ1 and whilst I won't be hanging up my DSLR, I am enjoying having a great little camera in my pocket.  

I will be writing a full review of the phone next week!

 I am working with Sony on a paid collaboration but all thoughts and opinions are completely my own.

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Saturday, 14 October 2017

My Little Pony Movie Toys from Argos

My Little Pony is a toy I remember from my childhood and I am really enjoying watching my children connect with the same make believe world that I did.  We have been working with Argos ahead of the My Little Pony Movie being released on October 20th and we were sent some of the toys for the boys to play with.

My Little Pony Movie Toys from Argos

I chose two of the larger ponies as I thought they would be perfect for Finn to enjoy and the Canterlot Castle Playset looked perfect for Archie.  All three are available from Argos along with a selection of other My Little Pony products.

My Little Pony Movie Toys from Argos

We have watched some of the episodes on TV and the boys really enjoy it so I was excited to show them the toys.  Finn loves unicorns and happened to be wearing his favourite 'loonycorn' trousers when I got out the toys so he was straight away drawn to Twilight Sparkle and Spike the Dragon. 

My Little Pony Movie Toys from Argos

 Twilight Sparkle has a star on her side that makes her sing when pressed and if you hold her best friend Spike up close then they sing a duet.  Both toys came with batteries already included (a huge plus!) and Finn loves carrying them around.

My Little Pony Movie Toys from Argos

Rainbow Dash is one of my favourite ponies from when I was young and her rainbow mane is so distinctive.  Rainbow Dash has a button on her side that when pressed lifts her front leg to give you a hi5 or to connect with the other ponies.  Inside her hoof is a light and I think these ponies work really well if you buy both from the set so that they can connect with each other.

My Little Pony Movie Toys from Argos

The Canterlot castle playset comes with lots of little features as well as Princess Celestia and the Storm King.  The boys haven't yet seen the film but they got stuck in playing straight away, creating their own scenes and letting their imaginations run wild.  

My Little Pony Movie Toys from Argos

From the tiny table and toy cakes to the opening front door, there was plenty for them to interact with and I can imagine them using the castle set alongside other toys in the future.

My Little Pony Movie Toys from Argos

We can't wait for the film to come out next week and to probably expand on our pony collection with a visit to Argos.  Their My Little Pony movie range varies in price from £14.99 to £79.99 and you can get free same-day delivery for only £3.95, seven days a week or you can reserve and collect in store for free.

My Little Pony Movie Toys from Argos

This post is in collaboration with Argos

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Thursday, 17 August 2017

Aveeno Baby

Last month we were invited up to London for a baby yoga session with AVEENO®. I have never tried baby yoga before (or even adult yoga to be honest) and I was curious as to how easy it would be with a newly mobile baby. As it happened, Cora slept through the whole session and I got to do the workout with a doll who not only stayed still, but was also considerably lighter than my actual baby.

Our yoga session was followed by a delicious oaty meal cooked by Alex from 26Grains. Cora devoured her beetroot and apple oats and we learned about the power of oats to make you feel good both inside and out. AVEENO® baby products are made with colloidal oatmeal and are gentle on their delicate skin whilst soothing, nourishing and protecting it.

A baby’s skin is unique, their skin barrier is thinner and loses moisture more quickly meaning it can be prone to irritation and dryness. Dr Shefali Rajpopat, an AVEENO® consultant dermatologist and she says “When it comes to baby skincare, it’s important to use ingredients that work to gently nourish and protect their skin. Oats are a key ingredient to look out for - providing gentle relief to dry and sensitive prone skin. Natural colloidal oatmeal creates a protective film that increases skin hydration, helps to maintain normal pH and protects the skin surface from external aggressors. The oatmeal granules even act as micro-sponges to absorb dirt and dead skin cells, to leave the skin feeling soft and healthy. Using a natural ingredient such as oat can help keep babies skin looking and feeling healthy.”

The AVEENO® baby range has become part of our daily routine from the Daily Care Hair and Body Wash in Cora’s bath to the Soothing Relief Emollient Cream we use on Archie’s dry skin. We are going to be incorporating more oats into Cora’s diet too, especially since she has decided she will not eat any bread products! The recipe from 26 Grains is below

In Collaboration with AVEENO®
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Monday, 24 July 2017

5 Family Travel Sleep Tips

It was shortly after Cora was born that we decided to upgrade our pillows and a year in and we have never looked back. We tested them all out in the store and ended up Choosing some Tempur pillows in the end.  Suddenly we have become pillow snobs, finding faults in hotel pillows and declaring our own bed to be quite clearly the comfiest one ever.  

This post comes straight from France where we are currently staying in a mobile home with a small double bed and some slightly flimsy pillows.  I feel quite smug that I have packed my Tempur travel pillow and with the amount I am still up in the night with Cora, I am definitely glad to be getting more comfortable sleep when I can!

So here are my 5 family travel sleep tips.

  • If you are flying, then plan the times around the children so that they can sleep on the plain.  We normally choose either an early morning flight so that they can be awake in the airport and then finish their sleep on the plane, or straight after lunch when they are more inclined to nap.
  • Take your own pillow! My Tempur travel pillow is small enough to fit in my bags and their eye mask is super soft and thick and really blocks the light out.  Good quality sleep makes all the difference.

  • Pack the children's sleep cues, whether that is their favouite bed time story, a much loved bear or a dvd that they always watch in the evenings.  Keeping their routine as normal as possible helps them to settle in an unfamiliar bed.
  • If you struggle to sleep in new places then download some soothing tunes or ocean sounds to relax with and don't forget to pack your headphones if you are sleeping on the go!
  • Going for a walk before bed can help expel any energy the kids have been storing and can be quite relaxing.  Let them run off steam, take in the views and hope the fresh air helps them sleep more soundly.
Do you have any sleep tips that you would add?

Tempur® have a challenge until August 7th where you can test out their mattresses in stores and win a travel pillow of your own. You can find more details here

This post is in conjunction with Tempur® but all thoughts are my own
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Monday, 10 July 2017

Fairytale Holiday Destinations

The list of places I want to visit seems to only grow as we travel more and I want to show my children so much of this world.  I want to take them to those traditional magical destinations, like the crystal clear beaches in Jamaica, and that fairytale castle in Disneyworld, but also to the lesser known cities that are still completely entrancing.

We recently took them all to Hamburg, but I would love to head back to Germany to take in the inspiration behind Sleeping Beauty's castle, Neuschwanstein Castle.  I am trying to sneak some classic Disney in between the more modern Pixar movies that they love to watch and I think that visiting this stunning castle would help them find the magic.  This fairytale destination also featured in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and I have been looking for an excuse to share the films of my childhood with my own children.

It would be a dream come true to take a Christmas trip to Lapland and I can think of nothing more magical than real snow and a visit to the big man in red.  I think with the fact our children are all so close in age, there is going to be a 'sweet spot' where they are all at a perfect age for a trip like this, old enough to understand and young enough to still be completely under the spell.  Reindeer, mince pies, snow angels and Santa - what a combination!

We are hoping to take them a little further afield in the next couple of years, especially once we have ditched the nappies and buggy and are a little more free and India is high up on our list.  I want to show my children different cultures and ways of life, let them try different food and drinks, explore not only with their eyes, but with their tastebuds too.  The Taj Mahal has to be one of the most beautiful buildings ever built and I know they would be scouring the sky for magic carpets if we visited.

I visited Thailand after I had finished university and spent time backpacking around it.  It is such an amazing country and one that Ed has always wanted to visit, and we are hoping to go as a family in the next few years.  After discovering the Yi Peng Lantern Festival in Chiang Mai, I am thinking we need to plan our trip around it! Sitting back and watching thousands of lanterns rising slowly into the night sky (think Tangled) would be such an amazing experience with them and I loved trecking in the mountains and visiting the elephants in this northern part of Thailand.

Which fairytale destinations have you always wanted to visit?

Collaborative post
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Monday, 8 May 2017

Yummy Tastes

At 10 months, you would think we had weaning cracked, but in many ways we have only just started.  Cora was reluctant to start eating, and it has taken until the last couple of weeks for her to start dropping any milk feeds in favour of food.  Suddenly she is interested in trying new tastes though, she is eating bigger portions and of course being newly mobile, she is not content to watch her brothers eating anything without coming over to see what they have.

We have taken a mixed approach to weaning as that seems to be what suits her best, she has finger foods, our meals and some pre-packaged foods too.  The combination of these gives her a great variety and fits well into our lifestyle.

Unfortunately, she doesn’t often get to eat her own food in peace as her brothers have realised how much her fruit pouches actually taste like smoothies and I often have four little mouths all trying to get a spoonful.  Knowing they are full of goodness and have no added sugar means I don’t mind them sharing and we get through quite a few fruit pouches at the moment! (Peach, mango and banana is definitely their favourite).

Cora tends to eat our dinners when we are at home which is both convenient and incredibly messy (have you ever watched a 10 month old feed themselves spaghetti bolognese?).  When we go out for dinner I am a bit more fussy though and I worry about the salt in the meals.  I also find that all three boys now demolish a kids meal with ease and I am reluctant to spend out on a whole meal just for Cora, so I often take a Heinz pouch with me which is full of goodness and salt free so I know that she has something tasty to eat.  We all pay our ‘Cora tax’ by giving her little bits from our plate too.

When we are out for the day, I try to pack snacks that all 4 children can eat as it is much easier than packing seperate boxes for the bigger and littler ones and the Heinz biscotti are loved as much by the 4 and 5 year olds as they are by Cora and Finn. They are pretty mess free and convenient to take for trips to the park. I usually have cut up fruit, breadsticks and biscotti for the four of them to share.

I am never going to be that mum that makes everything from scratch, but I am ok with that.  Modern parenting is demanding and I know there are tasty options out there which compliment the home cooked meals and help provide my baby girl with the vitamins and minerals she needs.  Cora has a variety of tastes and textures, she eats with us as a family and she loves her food now.  

Weaning is such a fun experience and I have relaxed more this time, taken it at Cora’s pace and followed her lead.  I have no doubt in a few months she will be demolishing dinners the same way her brothers do!

Collaborative Post

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