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

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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Thursday, 13 April 2017

Easter Egg Hunting with Cadbury

The two week school holiday can feel rather long especially when the sun seems to have disappeared again.  My children have been buzzing with the excitement of Easter, talk of the magical bunny and what he may bring and asking to do activities, games and crafts in the lead up.  I love bringing the seasons to life for them, but sometimes I need a little help with ideas.

Cadbury have come up with some great Easter activities to try over this long weekend and we couldn’t wait to do our own Easter egg hunt.  We only have a tiny little garden and it has been sorely neglected over the winter, but whilst we were away last week my parents kindly came over and cleared it for us, so this was the perfect place to hold our hunt.  Admittedly all the weeds would have given us some much better hiding places, but this way they could run around afterwards (and create their very own car wash for the garden toys).


255,000 Cadbury eggs are made at the Bournville factory ever day (that is 177 a minute if you were wondering) and I am sure you can guess the best seller? It is of course the creme egg, which happens to be my favourite so those are what I chose to hide for them (with some bonus Cadbury caramel eggs too)


There are some other great activities on the Cadbury site including making pompom bunnies which I know is exactly what Dylan has been hoping to try and the activity sheets will keep them all entertained in the mornings when Mummy and Daddy haven’t quite had enough caffeine to function properly.

According to Cadbury's research, the top activities over Easter are eating Easter chocolate, seeing friends and family, giving Easter chocolate, going on an easter egg hunt and baking. 


Easter egg hunting is most definitely the boys' favourite activity though, they love the excitement, the race (everything is a race when you have two brothers and a sister) and of course the delicious Cadbury goodies at the end!

If you want to join in with the Cadbury’s Great British Egg Hunt then head over to their website to find a downloadable pack! There are over 300 hunts going on at National Trust sites in the lead up to Easter too, you can find more information on the Cadbury website



 This post is in collaboration with Cadbury


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Saturday, 11 March 2017

Made By Mum

I am the woman I am today because of my Mother.  She is the one who taught me about the world and about myself, the one who gave me the skills I needed to be independent, who gave me the strength to follow my dreams, who gave me the courage to stand up for what I believe in, who believed in me when I needed her most.
    


In many ways we are so similar, in others we couldn't be more different but I am #MadebyMum and with Mother's Day approaching I have been looking for the perfect gift for her.  Getting Personal have helped me find something that celebrates everything that my Mum has taught me, because her present should be as unique and special as she is.


My Mum taught me to be strong, and that our inner strength is powerful.  She had three children very close together and my memories of my childhood are fun and happy.  She reminds me that there are tough days (and tough weeks) but I can get through them and tomorrow will be better.  

My Mum taught me to be prepared, to think about the future, to save for a rainy day.  In many ways this is where we are different, I am more spur of the moment than a planner but the contents of my handbag include many strange and occassionally useful things much like hers.  

My Mum taught me how to love through her unconditional love for me.  I grew up feeling loved everyday and I hope my children feel the same way.  She is kind and compassionate, she helps others personally and in the community, she is passionate about recycling, she volunteers, she always has time for her grandchildren.


Getting Personal helped me to create a gift that celebrates what my mum taught me, how she shaped me, that I am #MadebyMum.  Their unique range of Mother's Day gifts is easy to personalise to create something perfect for the woman who made you who you are today.


Getting Personal have launched an exclusive #MadebyMum collection with gifts specially made for mum.  Their gifts are easy to personalise and the perfect gift from children big or small.

 What has your mum taught you?



Collaborative post
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Monday, 27 February 2017

Bedtime with Johnsons // The Results


It has been just over a week since I started trying the Johnson’s 3 step bedtime routine and I have been really enjoying the bonding experience. Cora loves the bath and it is wonderful watching her splashing around and squealing in delight. All the techniques I learned in the baby massage classes that I did with Dylan have come flooding back and we have both been enjoying that quiet time to wind down together before bed.


With last week being half term for us, I have struggled some nights to stick to the routine. There were two nights where I just couldn’t fit it in, one because I was doing solo bedtime for all four children and the other was Archie’s birthday and we had family round until late so Cora was too tired for anything other than milk before bed. I think that going forward there will always be some nights like this due to the craziness of having a bigger family and the freedoms we like to have. What I did notice was that bedtime, when we did follow the routine, was so much easier. Cora was never that difficult to get to sleep before, but the night’s that we followed the routine she was into a deep sleep very quickly. She has been so sound asleep that I have almost been tempted to try her in her own crib - but I haven’t quite braved it yet.


We have been using the Johnson’s Bedtime App to keep track of how we are doing and I completed the sleep analysis tool at the beginning of the week and at the end of it. Whilst the improvement may look minor so far, any sleep deprived parent can tell you that any improvement is pretty major, and I’m sure we’ll get there!

I love the feature on the app that allows you to create your own lullabies and soothing sounds. I remember finding YouTube videos of people hoovering in an attempt to get the boys to stay asleep as babies but this app has a variety of sounds (including a hoover) that you can layer together to find a combination that works for you. I have been using the Lullabies with Finn as he enjoys falling asleep to music and ‘Lullaby and Goodnight’ is his favourite.


Whilst following the three step routine hasn’t been a miracle cure for my growing eye bags, it has made bedtime more relaxing and enjoyable and I know that Cora will eventually start sleeping for longer periods at night time. Cora loves her baths, is chilled out for her massage and falls into a deep sleep very quickly as she drinks her milk.  The app is a great companion and I know it will come in very useful when we are away from home and Finn still wants the comfort of a lullaby.




This is a sponsored blog post by the Johnson’s brand. I have received payment incentive and samples but all opinions are my own. Johnson’s clinically proven bedtime routine consists of bath, massage and quiet time, tested on babies 7 months+, 1 week+ use.
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Friday, 17 February 2017

Bedtime with Johnsons

Somehow my children have got progressively worse as sleepers. I don’t know whether we had a better routine with the first ones or whether it is just their personalities, but at 7 months Cora still has a long way to go before she is sleeping through, and at nearly 2, Finn doesnhave it mastered either. The team over at Johnsons have sent us some of their bedtime bath goodies and a guide to their 3-step routine to try and help us all get a better nightsleep.

This week I will be trying their routine every night and I will be reporting back to let you know how it all went. Neither Cora or Finn are good sleepers so we are going to be trying it on both of them.



Step 1) Warm Bath
Johnson’s have sent us their bedtime baby bath which is perfect for both the little two (and their big brothers too). Studies have shown that babies bathed with a fragranced bath product spent nearly 25% less time crying before sleep and whilst mine dont tend to cry, I am willing to try anything to keep them happy and asleep that bit longer. They both love to splash at bath time too, so I think it is a great way to get out the last of the days energy.


Step 2) Baby Massage
I went to all the classes for baby massage with Dylan, but having older brothers so close in age meant that the younger three didnt get the same experience. We have Johnsonbedtime baby oil as well as their baby cream and hopefully the touch and bonding time will help both little ones feel secure, loved and ready for sleep. I know that a massage always relaxes me and I think they are both going to really enjoy it, although Finn is rather tickly now!


Step 3) Quiet Time
With warm, soft and calm babies, I don’t really need an excuse for a cuddle so I know this step will come naturally. The Johnsons Bedtime baby sleep app has a selection of relaxing lullabies which I think Finn will love as he has always liked to fall asleep to music. Cora is still breastfed to sleep which is one of my favourite parts of the day as we snuggle up quietly together. At the moment she is still fed to sleep but the app is suggesting I try to get her to fall asleep on her own, so feed her until she is drowsy and then put her down. We may give it a go this week as she may then settle better in the night when she wakes.


We are really excited to be trying out this new routine and hopefully feeling the benefits!




This is a sponsored blog post by the Johnsons brand. I have received payment incentive and samples but all opinions are my own. Johnsons clinically proven bedtime routine consists of bath, massage and quiet time, tested on babies 7 months+, 1 week+ use.

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Saturday, 30 July 2016

My School Years



Apparently I cried on my first day at school - not because I wasn't excited to start, but because I had two younger siblings and one of them was turning one on that same day and I didn't want to miss the party.  I had just turned 4 and with a late August birthday I was one of the youngest and smallest in the school.  This photo is from my first day (clearly before the tears) and I remember the smart red uniform so well.




School was very different 'back then' and my experiences at a private primary school are very different to Dylan's at a small infant school.  Whilst his school is considered small with only 180 pupils, that is double the number that attended mine.  My uniform was smart and strict with a summer and winter look.  Red blazers and hats and very specific brown shoes.  We wore a shirt and tie from Kindergarten although I think for the first year or two our ties were elasticated.

Dylan's uniform is still smart, but more practical.  He wears Polo shirts under his jumper which are much easier for him to get on and off and his school shoes must be black (much simpler to find).  Velcro seems to be the most common style in smaller sizes which is perfect as I haven't taught him about shoelaces yet!  


My mother bought my school uniform from Marks and Spencers and twenty something years on, that is where I am shopping for my son.  Their stainaway technology on their shirts is necessary when you have a four year old eating lasagne with his friends and the non-scuff shoes can withstand the battering he gives them in the playground.  Marks and Spencers asked me to look back at my school days and see how things were different, and they definitely were.

My first year of school was spent in a classroom and we learnt History and Geography alongside English and Maths however Dylan learns Phonics and Numeracy without even realising it.  His days are spent doing 'challenges' and the classroom is far more than one room, with his days spent between the playground, the IT room and the traditional classroom.  

The resources his school have are amazing compared to mine and the topic based learning means that part of the classroom is transformed into a pirate ship or a new planet in a way that encourages his imagination as well as learning.

My breaktimes were spent doing cartwheels and handstands up against the wall.  We played Bulldog and kiss chase and entertained ourselves with just our minds.  We made daisy chains and on sports day we competed in races, cheering when we won and being upset at coming last. Parents took photos and videos that we can still look back on now.  Dylan's 'sports morning' involved no competition, they just took part in sporting activities whilst the parents watched on aware that sharing on social media was prohibited.  His playground is painted with hopscotch, letters and numbers to encourage games and health and safety rules.


Both Dylan and I started school so young and the photos above - my first school photo at the end of the school year and him this week trying on his new uniform show us both at nearly 5 having learnt to read and write and count and learn alongside our peers.    We both love school and are keen readers and we both walked in every day of our first year in M&S Schoolwear.  


 Marks and Spencers are celebrating their back to school range by looking at how things have changed and evolved over the years.  If you want to share photos of your schooldays with them then use #MySchoolYears

Disclosure : This post is in collaboration with Marks and Spencers
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