Degustabox Review May 2016

For a long time I have been reading reviews by other bloggers of the Degustabox, and always thought they sounded great. I’m really pleased that we have now been given the opportunity to try them out for themselves.

If you haven’t heard of Degustabox, they’re a food and drink subscription service. For just £12.99 a month, you get a box of carefully selected products delivered directly to your door. It’s a great way to try out new brands and products that you might not normally go for, and let’s face it, getting a surprise is always fun!

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Would the Midlands Survive a Zombie Invasion?

eBay have conducted a Midlands survey where it was revealed that most people believed a zombie invasion was more likely to happen than Leicester winning the Premiership! Now that Leicester has actually won it, we should all probably start being prepared for an invasion!

So, what did they find out?

  • The first thing we would reach for is our smartphones, followed by our trainers –  presumably for a swift getaway.
  • Birmingham, Nottingham, Leicester, Warwick and Wolverhampton were named as the best spots to hide out, with Solihull, Northampton and Lincoln being dubbed as the most ill-equipped.
  • Jamie Varney, Wayne Rooney and Peter Crouch are the top three footballers we would want on our team facing the walking dead.
  • Manchester United was voted as the best-equipped team to survive the apocalypse.
  • 40% of Brits would splurge out on a boat or a top of the range sports car to flee the Zombie hordes.
  • A quarter of Brits would barricade their front door and use a stash of golf balls to jeep the zombies at bay.
  • 16% would grab an encyclopedia on their way out to help reestablish civilisation when the apocalypse blows over.
  • Most Midlanders think that a zombie invasion would be caused by a decrease in brain activity caused by watching too many reality TV shows.
  • A fifth of the Midlands believe we could survive less than a week in the aftermath, but a further 20% were more optimistic, saying they would last over a year.

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Bathing Bunnies Review and Giveaway

All three of our boys are proper little water babies. We don’t have a bath anymore, but in our old house, they would spend a happy half an hour most evenings splashing about in the bath. These days, it’s more of a quick shower, but they all enjoy being in there. In fact, we have more of a problem getting them out than anything else – let’s face it, who does like getting out of a nice warm shower or bath into the cool air?

However, they (well, Alex and Ben!) have this gorgeous snuggly toddler towel from Bathing Bunnies to keep them warm once they get out. Available in four adorable designs, these hooded towels are super absorbent and are made of 100% cotton terry towelling, so even after being washed they stay soft.

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TOAD Diaries Review and Giveaway

Very recently, I mentioned that I was going to have a look at starting bullet journaling. I’ve been doing it for a couple of weeks or so now, and whilst I wasn’t sure to begin with whether it was just another form of procrastination, I’m really enjoying doing it and it is making me a little more organised and productive.

If you want to read more about exactly what bullet journaling is, have a look at the ‘official’  bullet journal website here , but in a nutshell…it’s a DIY planner, diary, organiser, tracker, to do list…basically anything you want it to be.

There are some hardcore bullet journal junkies out there, who live their lives by their ‘bujos’ (I hate that word!) and spend a long time making them looking beautiful – and believe me, on Pinterest and Instagram there are some stunning ones. I don’t do this though – I could easily spend hours prettifying it, but that kind of defeats the object for me. I want to use it to help me use what little time I do have more productively. My only concession to making it pretty is using the odd bit of washi tape. Mine is definitely more functional.

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I don’t use mine as a planner or a diary as such either – for that I have my Paperchase planner. I use my bullet journal as a kind of glorified to-do list and record keeper. If I write lists on paper, I tend to lose them, and as I find good old paper and pen easier to use than spreadsheets and online organisers, keeping it all in one place kind of makes sense.

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How to get children to love writing

Getting children to love writing from an early age is important, especially with such constrained school timetables. Find out how you can help children discover a passion for writing.

It’s pretty obvious that I love writing. I wouldn’t be a blogger and a freelance writer if I didn’t! Admittedly, a lot of my writing is straight onto a computer these days, but I still sit and physically write as much as possible. I draft the majority of my posts in a notebook first, and am always scribbling things down on post-it notes and in my planner – any excuse to use pretty stationery really!

I think it is really important to get children to love writing from as early an age as possible. When they get to school, writing becomes something that is squashed into a space in a timetable, and whilst schools do their best, it’s more of a case of practising writing rather than ‘just’ writing. Being able to sit and write creatively, about absolutely anything you want is a bit of a luxury that isn’t usually possible in a constrained school timetable.

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Cider and Pizza at The Stable, Birmingham

A couple of weeks ago, I was invited to a cider and pizza event at The Stable, in Birmingham.  It’s only been open since November, and prides itself on using local produce for its pizzas and pies, and local cider suppliers.

The Stable Birmingham | www.parenthoodhghsandlows.com

We were greeted with a glass of Devon Red cider, which was very much appreciated on the hottest day of the year so far, and sat chatting and admiring the interior – think exposed brickwork, long wooden benches and neon signs!

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The Mummy Tag

I was tagged by the beautiful Louise at Birds and Lilies to complete ‘The Mummy Tag’ so you can find out a little (or a lot!) more about me.

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1. Are you a Stay at Home Mum or a Working Mum?

Both! My main job is working from home, doing my blogging and my freelance writing, but at the moment, I also have a part-time job at Harrison’s school. I’m working as a teaching assistant, just for fifteen hours a week. I kind of wanted to test the waters a little bit and find out how I felt about working in schools again. As much as I enjoy it, I have realised that for now, I want to carry on working for myself so I can be at home with the kids. My contract ends at the end of the school year, so will be back to full-time blogging and writing.

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It’s all over…

A little under 18 months ago, we went from being in a happy little newborn bubble with Benjamin to being thrown straight into the middle of every parent’s worse nightmare. One day we were at home, snuggling up watching Christmas films and looking forward to the last, manic weekend before the big man in red came. The next, we were sitting in the children’s high dependency unit at the local hospital, with our three week old hooked up to drips and monitors. For 24 hours, we weren’t even sure if he was going to make it through the infection that had taken over his tiny little body and the sepsis that was slowly creeping into his major organs. No one knew what the matter was – meningitis and  cystic fibrosis were two of the scary things that were mentioned. When he began to show signs of improvement and responded to the antibiotics that were pumped through him, we were told that the infection (which later turned out to be e-coli, contracted at birth) may have damaged his little kidneys beyond repair, and if this was the case, dialysis and kidney transplants were something that may need to happen.

It's All Over | www.parenthoodhighsandlows.com

At his poorliest

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5 Tall Girl Problems

5 Tall Girl Problems | www.parenthoodhighsandlows.com

Image credit: adapted from https://www.flickr.com/photos/novecentino/1414033269

The average height for a woman in the UK is 5ft 3 inches, according to a study by the Office of National Statistics. At 5ft 10 inches, I tower above most other women, and quite a few blokes as well. Whilst it definitely has its benefits, it also comes with its fair share of problems, some that most people wouldn’t even think about!

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Becky and Lolo Toddler Review and Giveaway

Harrison and Alex are obsessed with ‘pack packs’. Neither of them actually need one – Harrison only has to take his book bag to school – but they still love them. We have a couple of very plain, nondescript ones, and a Spiderman one which they argue over all the time, so when Becky +  Lolo  asked if we wanted to review one of their adorable backpacks, the kids were really excited!

We were sent a Wildkin Action Vehicles toddler backpack. With two vehicle obsessed little boys, this went down a treat! It’s a lovely vibrant blue colour , covered in little pictures of emergency vehicles.

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The First Water Fight #MySundayPhoto

What a mix of weather this week! It’s gone from beautiful warm sunshine, to torrential rain and storms and back to sunshine again. This photo was taken last Sunday evening.We had just had dinner outside, and the boys were playing. They had their buckets out and were filling up their water table, which inevitably descended into the first water fight of the year! It was a lovely ending to a really nice, sunny weekend.

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Weather Mobile Craft #BostikBlogger

Weather Mobile Craft|www.parenthoodhighsandlows.com

Our latest Bostik Blogger box arrived this week, and this month’s theme was ‘weather’. I thought this was pretty appropriate considering the crazy weather that we have had recently – one minute it’s snowing, the next we are sitting outside in shorts and t-shirts!

We decided to make a weather mobile to hang up in the play room. It was pretty simple, and even though we used pre-cut foam shapes  for ours, you could easily make the shapes yourself out of card.

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Securing Your Financial Future

Securing Your Financial Future | www.parenthoodighsandlows.com

Photo credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/ajc1/8224616786

One thing that has been playing on my mind recently and something that Graham and I have been talking about is securing our finances for the future. Decent pensions are no longer guaranteed, and as we don’t own our home, and probably never will, we won’t have that to fall back on. The only way to ensure financial security is to save money, and there are various ways of doing this.

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Family Games with Hasbro and Pork Farms

The week starting 24th April was National Board Games Week and to celebrate we were sent ‘Guess Who’ to play one evening.

Board games are something we haven’t actually played with yet because the boys are too young for most of them. However, although ‘Guess Who’ is aimed at children aged 6+, I figured with the help of Graham and me they would be fine. I may have been a little optimistic about that however! We did seem to spend most of the time playing it saying ‘no, you need to leave that one open’, but it was lovely to sit down as a family and do something together that didn’t involve technology.

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Living with Arthritis

Photo credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/stevendepolo/4129400323

Photo credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/stevendepolo/4129400323

My nan has been dealing with rheumatoid arthritis for many, many years. She’s just celebrated her 82nd birthday, and whilst plagued with health problems lives completely independently. In fact, considering she can only walk a few steps, and that’s with a walking frame or stick and holding on to someone, the fact she lives by herself in an ordinary two storey house and goes out to the shops is pretty damn amazing.

I guess living with something as long as she has means you just kind of get used to it, and adapt your life accordingly. My nan is not one to moan, not in the slightest, but I know her arthritis must be incredibly painful, and is progressively getting worse.

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The Reward Box Review

We’ve never really used any sort of sticker chart or reward system with any of the boys, but seeing how well Harrison responds to the class dojo reward system at school has made me think about introducing one to reinforce positive behaviour. Harrison is slightly challenging at the moment, and The Reward Box is proving a fantastic way to remind him of what is and isn’t acceptable behaviour.

The Reward Box Review | www.parenthoodhighsandlows.com

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Alex and Bill {The Ordinary Moments}

Although they have sackfuls of bears, none of the boys have ever really shown any particular attachment to a soft toy. They’ve ended up buried in the bottom in the toybox, and when we moved house, I gave three bin liners of unloved bears to the charity shop.

In the past couple of weeks, however, Alex has become very attached to one particular bear. I’m not sure why this one – I don’t even know where it came from! He’s named it Bill (no idea!) and he’s suddenly become a very big part of our family!

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Playing in the Bluebells #MySundayPhoto

We are determined that every opportunity that we have, we will take the boys somewhere they haven’t been before. I’ve got a list in my planner of places we want to visit, and one of them was to see bluebells in the woods. We ended up an hour in the opposite direction of where we had planned to go on Saturday, but spotted this gorgeous bluebell wood by Chipping Norton. We took a picnic and the kids had a happy couple of hours playing in the bluebells and building dens.

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Sue Ryder Kids Sofa Review and Giveaway

We spent bank holiday weekend decorating the lounge, and whilst it still needs a few finishing touches, it’s pretty much done. Our next task is to redecorate the playroom, which is a great space for the kids, but it painted in an awful dark colour, similar to plaster. We are going to be painting it a nice bright magnolia, and making it into a really nice area for the kids.

We will be sharing the before and after photos of the playroom when it is done, but I am far too excited about this, and wanted to share it with you right now!

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What’s growing in your tummy?

What's Growing in Your Tummy? | www.parenthoodhighsandlows.com

Harrison and Alex were only young toddlers themselves when  I was pregnant with Benjamin. They were pretty accepting of the fact that there was a baby in my tummy, and as far as I can remember, neither of them said anything particularly funny or strange!

Sudocrem, who has been caring for families since 1931, asked mums from all over the country to tell them the funny things toddlers have said to their unborn brothers or sisters, and it was no surprise that there were some absolute corkers!

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The Body Shop, Birmingham

I haven’t been in The Body Shop since I was a teenager (a scarily long time ago now!), when I would spend ages trying out all the fruity lip balms and spraying myself with White Musk body spray.  I was really pleased to be given the opportunity to go to the grand re-opening of the store on New Street in Birmingham thanks to The Bloggers Parlour and have the chance to see how the brand has evolved over the years.

The Body Shop, Birmingham

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A Week on Instagram #4

I feel like we haven’t stopped this week! Instead of having a nice relaxed bank holiday, we have been busy painting the living room and swapping our bedroom with the boys room. The decorating has all had to be done in the evenings when the kids have gone to bed, which is far from ideal but it’s that or have everyone and everything covered in paint!

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Lavazza Prontissimo Coffee

Lavazza Instant Coffee Review | www.parenthoodhigsandlows.com

As most people who know me in ‘real life’ know, I have a serious addiction to coffee. If I had the choice between a glass of wine or a decent cup of coffee, I would go for the coffee pretty much every time.

I love the taste of ‘real’ coffee but as I am the only coffee drinker in the house, it isn’t always worth me putting on a pot just for myself, so I tend to stick to instant coffee. I’ve yet to find an instant coffee that tastes quite as good as the proper stuff – until now!

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