Saturday, 31 December 2016

The Year That Was 2016

2016, ey? What a year. While everything has seemingly gone to shit around us, it's nice to know that my own actual life hasn't been too bad, considering. I spent three quarters of the year being pregnant and feeling like a big ol' whale, but it was all so worth it when we welcomed Robin into our family. Other crazy highlights include Dylan starting school -sob-, celebrating our fourth wedding anniversary and watching my beautiful friend Leona getting married!  

We also saw quite a bit more of my Dad this year, which is always nice and Joe's brother visited for Christmas after having three years away due to living in Hong Kong. I celebrated my 25th birthday by not really celebrating it, and we saw a few of our favourite bands live as well as comedy genius Daniel Kitson who is a new favourite. 

I didn't really write a list of goals or anything for 2016, as I was still trying to complete my somewhat failing 101 in 1001 Days list. I did manage to tick a few things off though, but I also created life so I feel like that's a better achievement than making marshmallows from scratch... I am hoping to create a little list of things I'd like to achieve in 2017 but I think I'm now more in tune with that I can and cannot do so hopefully I won't end up with another forgotten list by December! 

Here's to the new year, see you on the other side! 


Thursday, 22 December 2016

Robin's 3 Month Update

Okay, so a somewhat delayed monthly update for little Robin - he's closer to four months now than three, but I still wanted to pop this update on here so I can look back on it in years to come. Month three has been pretty standard going, with Robin become more aware of us as his eyesight improves and he's making all sorts of weird and wonderful noises now too! 

Size - Feeding

I guess Robin is following the usual pattern with his weight now, I had him weighed at 14 weeks (as I stupidly missed the health visitor visiting for his 12 week check and had to reschedule) and he's now tipping the scales at 17lb 1oz! I don't think he's put on as much weight as he could have, as we were both pretty ill recently, and he wasn't feeding as much for a week or so. He's well and truly in 3-6 month clothes, but I think because we use reusable nappies, 0-3 clothes were struggling to fit over his huge nappy! 

Sleep

Just like Dylan, this kid loves a lie in! He's been a lot better than he was last month, so I'm glad that was just a little phase. No doubt we'll go through it again when the next growth spurt happens. He was sleeping a bit more than usual when he was under the weather, but that's to be expected. 


Looks

I shared a picture on instagram recently and almost everyone stated that he looks like Joe, and I have to say, I can really see it in that picture. It's so funny how people say a baby 'looks like' someone, when really they just look like themselves. I wish I had a baby picture of Joe at hand to compare them, though!

Milestones

He's getting even better at resting on his arms and supporting himself. I'm not really sure when he's supposed to be rolling over or sitting up unaided, but he loves being rolled over and wedged into a corner to sit up so that's good! He's also started to properly grab hold of things, and you can see him trying to grasp something if its within reach. 

Things Robin Loves

Weird noises like rolling your r's, and cat noises... 
Dylan, even if he is talking like Darth Vader
having a chat 

Thursday, 15 December 2016

A Last Minute Gift Guide*

Can you believe we're only 10 days away from Christmas day? It seems quite shocking, doesn't it? If you're still looking for a few gift ideas, never fear as I've managed to find a gifts you can pick up easily on the high street. 




If you know someone who spends a small fortune on fancy lattes, then this Whittard of Chelsea flavoured coffee gift set would be perfect for them. With classic coffee combos such as hazelnut and Irish cream, it's going to be loved by even the fussiest coffee connoisseur. If coffee isn't their thing, Whittards also sell gorgeous tea sets and luxurious hot chocolate gifts too. 


If it's a movie fan you need to buy for, then The Dark Knight Trilogy Special Edition boxset could be on the top of their wish list. The Dark Knight Trilogy is considered to be the best Batman series, so you know this will be a winner for that film buff in your life.  


Got a pamper queen or maybe someone who just deserves a little treat? Then the Bomb Cosmetics Let It Snow gift set is such a great little gift to pop under the tree. Another great pamper-style treat is this gorgeous Essie gift set. The colours are perfect for the festive season and should see them well into the new year too! 

So there we have it, a super easy last minute gift guide! 


*Disclaimer: This post was a collaboration with Warner Bros. Content written by myself.

Saturday, 10 December 2016

A Special Surprise with Saga's #GiftToFamily

December is a busy time of year for any family, with Christmas and New Year plans to make, and families to visit - you can often get caught up in all the planning and forget about how special this time of year is. As well as Christmas plans and a trip up north - we also have Joe's dads birthday to celebrate, and their wedding anniversary - both of which are hitting up big milestones this year. Now, our family are quite widely spread out, with some living close to home, some in London and one member even living in Hong Kong, so it's not often we can all be together. To celebrate this special year, the family had already been planning a big family holiday to Italy next year as his big surprise, so when Saga got in touch to see if I would like to take part in their #GiftToFamily campaign, I felt like the timing was perfect! Have a look below at the little video I made of us surprising him with his special gift... 


I'm so glad we can finally discuss our plans - I've been really conscious of being around the family to ensure I didn't let the big secret out! Now, it's full steam ahead with planning all the special extras - I'm thinking trips to vineyards and eating as much pasta as humanely possible! If you've been to Italy and could recommend anything in the Tuscany area then I'd love to hear bout it! 
If you'd like to treat a family member to a little act of kindness, Saga have put together this helpful guide on how equity release could be an option on releasing some money to spend on the people that matter. 
*Disclaimer: This post was a collaboration with Saga. Content written by myself.

Wednesday, 7 December 2016

Personalised Christmas cards with Choosey + Giveaway!

I'm not really one for sending cards throughout the year - it seems to be a tradition that my generation have missed out on due to the constant connection with social media. However, at Christmastime, I love nothing more then sending letters to my nearest and dearest. With my parents and extended family all living a few hundred miles away, I think they always appreciate a nice Christmas card too! Last year, I had the great idea of trying to stage a family photograph, but of course it was a disaster. Joe hates posing for photographs and Dylan kept pulling weird faces, so in the end I had to try and photoshop his face from another picture onto one that Joe and I looked somewhat normal on. And guys, I'm no whizz at photoshop! Nonetheless, my mam still has it stuck on her fridge, so it's definitely a case of 'it's the thought that counts' kind of thing. 




This year, Choosey got in touch to see if I wanted to send some Christmas cards with a twist - you can add your own video! This is great, because it means I can include all the funny outtakes of Dylan being a five year old weirdo, and the grandparents will just love it! The website is really easy to use, and if you'd rather not include a video, you can just send really beautiful cards instead. This is what I've done for Joe's Grandma, as I think a card with a video might blow her mind a bit too much! 
Choosey have been kind enough to offer my readers a rather generous discount for their website by using the code BGCHRISTMAS16 and there's even a chance to win 10 free cards worth £40! Please note, this is open to UK residents only, and will close on 15th December. You can enter below in the little widget! Good luck! 
Win 10 free Choosey greeting cards inc postage #26


*Disclaimer: This post was a collaboration with Choosey. Content written by myself.

Monday, 5 December 2016

5 Gift Ideas For The Book Lover In Your Life

I love receiving books as a gift - I think they can be quite personal and say a lot about the person gifting them to you, and what they think of you. Crikey, that's a bit of pressure, isn't it? Anyhoo, I love nothing more than picking up a good book and thinking 'yes, so and so would love this!' It's such a good feeling. Sure, at times I've been guilty of buying my loved ones books I would rather receive myself, but if you've got friends with similar tastes then this needn't be a worry. 

Prefers Halloween to Christmas? 
If your book fan is more likely to be hiding in darkness rather than under the mistletoe, then why not pick up the newly released The Nightmare Before Christmas book, written and illustrated by the genius himself Tim Burton? With never-before-seen illustrations, this is a must have for any Jack Skellington fan. 

Always dragging you to the nearest pop up foodie spots? 
I bought the Where Chefs Eat book for Joe last Christmas, as it really does list all the best places to eat in the UK. You can buy a world version, but I thought this cute UK edition would be better suited to us - but if you know someone who loves travelling then the world edition might suit them too! Or, if you've only eyes for Pizza, there's even a Where Chefs Eat Pizza edition! 

Got a fun and fashionable friend? 
Most readers started with The Tale of Peter Rabbit as a nipper, so these gorgeous editions with redesigned front covers from leading fashion designers will be ideal for your fashion-forward friend. With designers such as Orla Kiely and Henry Holland creating new covers, they give the much-loved classic tales a new twist that any book lover would be happy to see in their collection. 

Minimalist or not enough space to keep books?
Whether their house is bookless by design or if they simply cannot fit a bookshelf in their space, then why not try a Kindle? You can easily keep 10,000 books on there, and they're lighter than a traditional paperback - I've certainly seen the perks of having a Kindle in my life. Whether you choose a fancy Kindle Fire or the classic Kindle Paperwhite, there's certainly one out there for everyone. 

Fan of Margaret Atwood or Emily St. John Mandel? 
If you couldn't get enough of Atwood's Oryx and Crake series or St. John Mandel's Station Eleven then When The Floods Came by Clare Morrall could be the next best book you read. This is a startling vision of a possible not-too-distant flood-prone future and completely full of suspense which keeps you hooked as the story goes on.   

So there's a few new suggestions for your loved ones - or yourself, I won't tell! What books are you hoping to find under the tree this year? 

*Disclaimer: Affiliate links have been used.

Monday, 28 November 2016

Recently Read #3

I've been getting through a few books on my kindle recently so I thought it was about time that I shared them on here too. Sometimes I forget that I even have my kindle, but I've managed to squeeze in some extra reading during the evening and get my read count up. I'm still way off my Goodreads challenge, but I'm as hopeful as the next fool. I've only eight books behind schedule - I can do it, piece of cake! 




The Yellow Room - Jess Vallance
If you receive a letter telling you your father has died, what do you do? 
Anna's father left when she was very young and Anna, now 16, is living with her ambitious, unemotional, scientist mother. Then she receives a letter from her father's current girlfriend, Edie, with some shocking news: her father has died. 

Edie would like to meet Anna because she has something for her from her father. Anna's friends think Edie is not to be trusted and that she should steer clear. But Anna is drawn to Edie: her warmth, her character, her ability to rustle up delicious meals, all of which it seems her own mother is seemingly incapable of... and the way she can tell Edie the secret that is buried inside her, that she cannot bring herself to tell her mother or her best friends. 

A taughtly told, compelling tale about mothers and their daughters - and the lengths that some will go to, to make their dreams come true.
Pretty good intro, amiright? I definitely couldn't wait to read more. Vallance is clearly a very talented writer - she managed to portray some great characters within The Yellow Room, from the ordinary Anna to villain Leon, as well as approaching subjects such as mental health and bullying in a careful manner. The Yellow Room is a great book for young readers, and I would definitely recommend it to someone who is branching into YA for the first time. 


When Everything Feels Like The Movies - Raziel Reid
Everyone wanted to break me. But stars aren't broken, they explode. And I was the ultimate supernova. 
My name was Jude. They called me Judy. I was beautiful either way.
School was basically a movie set. We were all just playing our parts. The Crew, the Extras, the Movie Stars. No one was ever real . . . especially me. I didn't fit any category.
All the girls watched me - I could walk so much better than them in heels, and my make-up was always flawless.
All the boys wanted to, well, you know . . . even if they didn't admit it.
They loved me, they hated me, but they could never ignore me.
I only had eyes for Luke. A red carpet rolled out from my heart towards him and this year, on Valentine'sDay, I was going to walk that carpet and find my mark next to him. It would be like a dream.
But my dream was going to turn into a nightmare.
This is my story.
When Everything Feels Like The Movies follows the life of Jude - a trans, gay eighth grade student. Although it was quite difficult to read - Jude receives so much abuse and hate from pretty much everyone at school - as it is inspired by true events, it make it even more harrowing to realise the horrid ordeal members of the trans community are subjected to every single day. 


The Boy Most Likely To - Huntley Fitzpatrick 
Tim Mason was The Boy Most Likely To find the drinks cabinet blindfolded, need a liver transplant, and drive his car into a house. 
Alice Garrett was The Girl Most Likely To . . . well, not date her little brother’s baggage-burdened best friend, for starters. 
For Tim, it wouldn’t be smart to fall for Alice. For Alice, nothing could be scarier than falling for Tim. But Tim has never been known for making the smart choice, and Alice is starting to wonder if the “smart” choice is always the right one. When these two crash into each other, they crash hard . . . 

I really wish I had read book one of the My Life Next Door series before picking up The Boy Most Likely To, because I couldn't get enough of these characters. It's a well known premise - bad boy meets good girl, but I thought this had a great twist to this much loved scenario. 

I thought the use of Tim and Alice's voices to narrate their own passages was well thought out - as sometimes this can be a bit gimmicky, but I felt this really added to the pace of the story. Overall, I felt like it was a funny, surprising and charming YA romance. 

*Disclaimer: Some titles may have been provided in exchange for an honest review. No further compensation received.

Saturday, 26 November 2016

Desperately Seeking Comfort*

When you first have a baby, you have so many things you need to think about. What sort of crib will they sleep in? What kind of nappies will you use? How will you feed them? I managed to successfully breastfeed Dylan for over a year, so I was quite hopeful I'd be able to do the same with Robin. I've actually had a much easier time with Robin than I did with Dylan - we had to stay in hospital for three days to establish feeding - but one thing I have noticed this time around is how much my back aches.



Just before I left work to go on maternity leave, our offices were being completely refurbished. Despite being the head office for a stylish department store, our floor hadn't been decorated since 2008! My chair was pretty uncomfortable for a regular person, let alone a big ol' pregnant lady so I had to find a mesh back support to give me some much needed relief. A nice, high-backed office chair from Furniture at Work would have been perfect for me! I'm actually looking forward to returning to work to see what the offices look like now.

Back at home, as much as I would love a cute nursery chair to feed Robin in, it just isn't practical in our little house. Instead, I'm trying to convince Joe that we should buy some new sofas as ours are way past their best. Thanks to years of Dylan jumping onto them, they are so uncomfortable and are not nice to sit in. I'm hoping the elusive DFS sale will continue after Christmas in time for me to persuade Joe! 
*Disclaimer: This post was a collaboration with Furniture at Work. Content written by myself.

Thursday, 24 November 2016

Present Ideas from Wicked Uncle

With Christmas just around the corner, I always have loved ones asking what they should get Dylan - and now Robin - for the big day. Thanks to adverts on kids TV, Dylan would quite happily receive thousands of cheaply made, plastic monstrosities but I'd much rather he had something more creative that allows him to learn as well as play. 
This is when Wicked Uncle comes in and saves the day. They got in touch and wanted to know if we had a 'wicked uncle' who's a bit useless when it comes to buying presents for Dylan. As none of Joe's siblings have had children yet, they're all walking on unfamiliar territory when it comes to children's toys. I asked Joe's brother Jonny if he would like to use the Wicked Uncle website to select some toys for his nephew. A few days later, a little parcel came in the post addressed to Dylan and he was completely thrilled with Jonny's picks. 


Dylan received a Superhero mask maker and some build-it-yourself flying fighter planes. As Dylan is completely superhero-mad, the mask maker went down as a huge hit. Dylan loved creating his own mask, and of course wearing it when busy he's saving day! The flying fighter planes were also a huge hit as he was able to build them with Joe and they had lots of fun racing their planes. I was really happy with the gifts Jonny had chosen, as they kept Dylan occupied for ages and are something he comes to again and again to play with. 


I asked Jonny what he thought about Wicked Uncle and he thought their website was brilliant. You can select toys based on the child's age, or go one step further and narrow down the type of toy you need - something snuggly or something outdoorsy? Wicked Uncle sorts them all out and makes it a doddle! 
*Disclaimer: This post was sponsored a collaboration with Wicked Uncle. Content written by myself.

Monday, 14 November 2016

Getting Ready for the New Year


I don't know if it's just me, but since having a baby I feel like my memory really isn't what it was. Maybe it's because I've always got a thousand different things to think about now, but I found it hard to keep track of all my appointments. Busy B were kind enough to send me their Family Calendar in the gorgeous wreath design to see if it would solve my planning problem. The calendar can track five schedules and even a separate column for birthdays, which is really helpful now that I'm a mam of two now. With visits from the health visitor and countless trips to the mama clinic to weigh my little tubby boy, Robin definitely needed his own little schedule! 

Another great addition to the Family Calendar is that it has monthly pockets - these are so helpful for putting in receipts or birthday party invites, and helps keep my fridge door from being cluttered! Ever since Dylan started school in September he's been invited to birthday parties left, right and centre so I can't wait for January when I pop the calendar up and hid away all the Angry Birds and Minion invitations! 




As if that wasn't enough, there's also some handy stickers included with the calendar. With stickers to mark term times, days out, sleepovers and so much more, they're really transforming my event-tracking life! The colours work so well with the calendar, and I've even ordered a few different styles to really take it to town. 

Before I went on maternity leave, I loved using my Busy B double spread busy life diary, which you can see pictured above, as it allowed me to track my work events and 'life' events, as it were, so I'm really looking forward to using this calendar in 2017. Busy B is a brand I love so I'm sure the Family Calendar will be perfect for us! 

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*Disclaimer: This post was a collaboration with Busy B. Content written by myself.

Saturday, 12 November 2016

Staying Safe in the Workplace*

Since leaving university, I've worked in my fair share of offices. Ranging from a wonderful little converted town house in Bath to a concrete-nightmare 1960s building due some care and attention, each office has required different knowledge for staying safe in the workplace. Whether it's a lengthy walk to the nearest fire safety point, to ensuring doorways aren't blocked by excess packaging, I've had to make sure I knew all the ins and outs to keep myself and my colleagues safe. Just make sure your safety coordinator isn't Dwight Schrute. 
When I interned for a health organisation, you can bet your bottom dollar that I was up to speed with all the latest health and safety, and even had to complete some exams before I could properly start working. Of course, you don't need to wait for your work to offer you the opportunity to take part in a Health and Safety course - you can take one independently with SHEilds NEBOSH Training UK, and it goes with you wherever you work. Joe does this for his Health and Safety examinations as it means he can work freelance in other kitchens. 
This is really helpful if you work for yourself or if you have your own company and hire a team. Having yourself or your workers trained up to the latest health and safety standards is essential as it can actually save you a lot of hassle and money. For example, an improved workplace environment can be achieved - having a bright, non-damp workplace is key for boosting performance - and less costs due to accidents and health issues if your health and safety policy is up to date. 

If you think you'd be interested in some health and safety training, then SHEilds NEBOSH Training UK are an independent examination board and offer a range of globally-recognised, vocationally-related qualifications for workers in the private and public sectors. 

*Disclaimer: This post was a collaboration with SHEilds. Content written by myself. 

Monday, 7 November 2016

Some Christmas Gift Ideas



Okay, so now it's November I can finally accept that Christmas is around the corner. It's been quite nice to not work in retail over the festive period this year, as anyone who does will tell you how Christmas starts in September (or earlier!) if you have to peek into a stockroom at all. Anyhoo, the flip side of not working over Christmas means that I'm having to be a bit more frugal with my Christmas picks this year. I thought I'd pull up a little gift list of a few things I've got my eyes on for the nearest and dearest in my life incase it offers any help to anyone reading. 

First up we have the Fisher-Price Roaring Rainforest Jumperoo for little Robin. He'll only be four months by the time Christmas is here - I say only, when really I'm wondering where my tiny baby is going - so he won't actually be able to use this but at that age he can't really use anything so I thought it's better to buy something he needs while it's relatively cheap and put it away for when he's big enough. When people have asked, I've suggested that they could get Robin some clothes in the next size up, or toys that can be used from 6 months and over. Along this line, I've given friends and family a strict 'no teddies' rule, as our house is already swarming with teddies of Dylan's. 

Speaking of Dylan - we also have a house full of Lego! I thought a great idea to curb the lego buying is instead of buying him a lot of annoying sets, that this LEGO Star Wars 75146 Advent Calendar would fit the bill. Some of the Star Wars kits cost more than I'm hoping to spend on the entire family, so being able to get some cute little bits for around £20 seems like a bargain to me!

Can you believe I've never played Cards Against Humanity? I think this is more of a stocking filler kind of game, but I'm looking forward to buying this and having a play with some of our more outrageous friends! Another great buy for outrageous friends could be this Plant Theatre Boozy Gardeners Kit. I originally had Joe in mind for this one, what with him being a chef and all, but I think anyone can appreciate some cocktail-inspired plants, right?

And it wouldn't really be a gift list without a suggestion for myself. Anyone who knows me will know I'm a huge Margaret Atwood fan, so I'd love to find Hag-Seed: The Tempest Retold under the tree. I think this would be a great present for any fans of ol' Shakespeare too so that basically doubles the amount of people you could potentially buy this for!



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*Disclaimer: This post was contains affiliate links.

Friday, 4 November 2016

Robin's 2 Month Update

My little chunk is now two months old - it feels so surreal to say that, but he couldn't stay a tiny newborn for long. He's really becoming his own little character, and I've got to say that he certainly loves Dylan so much - his big brother always knows how to get the big smiles. Robin is overall a really happy chap, but we have had a few rough nights when nothing seemed to soothe him, which is heartbreaking more than anything else. I'm putting these down to a growth spurt, as he's certainly piling on the pounds. 

Size - Feeding
When the health visitor came for Robin's 6 week check, the first thing she said when she saw him was that he was really putting on weight well. I hadn't really thought about it too much, but he has put on 5lbs since birth and was 13lbs 7oz! At 8 weeks now, Robin is tipping the scales at 15lbs. As well as being weighty, I think Robin is quite a long baby, much like Dylan was, so I guess they have another thing in common! 

Sleep

As I touched on above, Robin's sleep has been slightly more disruptive this month but I definitely think it will pass soon as he certainly loves his sleep! We have a *kind of* routine in that he'll have a bigger feed at around 11pm, and then another at around 1:30/2am. It's this feed which has been tricky, as he works himself up into a fuss and won't be soothed, but he eventually caves, has a guzzle, and after a burp and nappy change, he's back to sleep like nothing happened. 

Looks

Absolutely everyone thinks he looks a double of Dylan, and we have to agree! He's a little bit chubbier than Dylan was, but I just love stroking his cheeks and wobbly legs. His eye colour is still just 'dark' with a tint of brown, so I'm still not sure whether he'll inherit mine or Joe's like Dylan has. 


Milestones

He's awake more during the day, which is both good and bad as he's still a clinger, but it means Joe and Dylan get to see him awake and interact with him more. He coos and 'talks' to us, which is simply adorable. 

Things Robin Loves

- 'standing' and having a nosy around
- tummy time
- giving me a mischievous look when he suddenly stops drinking and gets me covered! 

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Saturday, 29 October 2016

Family, Friends and Feeling a Bit Blue


As a Northern living in Somerset, I think it goes without saying that my family live quite far away - over 300 miles away, in fact. When we moved away from home, as I was going to attend university, I didn't really think much of it, as people move away for uni all the time. I guess, the difference with me is that, at the time, Dylan had only just turned one year old. It was a hard decision to move my little family away from my extended family, but we felt like life down south would be the best option for us. 



Fast forward four years, and we're still in Somerset with a now five year old, and a shiny new baby in tow. I miss living up north a lot, as we can only really visit once, maybe twice a year if lucky and it's hard for my family to get down and visit too. Because of that, I feel like they're missing out on the boys, and I do feel quite guilty over this. But then, if we ever moved back up - something I'd love to do - then Joe's family would miss out too as they live in Somerset. It's a tricky thing, this family life business. 


Due to moving south for university, I guess I'm lucky that I now have friends all around the UK. I have friends that I miss from the north, and friends I made at university in the south - as well as extra friends I have made when working. I've also been fortunate enough to make friends out of blogging - such good friends that two of them invited me to their weddings! You can see Becky's and Leona's weddings by clicking their names. As great as it is to have friends in all of these places, my closest friend geographically, still lives at least an one-hour train journey away - this sucks. Due to Dylan being at school now, and with Robin needing bags and bags of stuff before we can set off anywhere, it's not really viable for me to be hopping onto trains and travelling the country. This leads to the 'feeling a bit blue' bit in the title. 


I spend the majority of the day by myself, with just a mostly-sleeping Robin for company. When I was pregnant, I thought it would be okay as I'd be able to go to all these mother and baby groups, but it would seem like there isn't a lot going on in the area where I live. Plus, anything decent that we do have in the area costs quite a lot, and let me tell you - maternity allowance is not the greatest cash cow to ever exist. I'm not entirely sure what the point of this post is, if not to just get this off my chest. I really am truly grateful to have two healthy little boys, I guess I'd just like some local friends too! 

My Petit Canard
Mummascribbles

Wednesday, 26 October 2016

30 Before 30

Around this time last year, I decided that I would challenge myself with 25 things to do before I turned 25. In true Chelsea fashion, I mostly forgot about this list, and ended up being preoccupied with pregnancy and now being a mam to two. I'm pretty ashamed to say that in the year, I managed to tick off one item - although really it's just half an item, and I visited Glasgow in January for Joe's birthday. 
As I've got five years to complete 30 things, I'm hoping that I'll give myself better odds on finishing off the entire list. So, in no real order here's my 30 things to complete!
(01) Give blood
(02) Complete a cross stitch
(03) Visit Paris
(04) Move back North
(05) Do my masters
(06) See a West End show
(07) Pass my driving test
(08) Create a capsule wardrobe
(09) Read 100 books
(10) Experience a tasting menu
(11) See the Northern Lights
(12) Take a course in hand lettering
(13) Attend a music festival
(14) Write a letter to Dylan and Robin
(15) Go to a karaoke bar
(16) Have a girls trip away somewhere
(17) Go to the Lake District
(18) Plant Tulips
(19) Read 10 books from 1991
(20) Clear my overdrafts so I can close one of my bank cards
(21) See The Smyths 
(22) See a Shakespeare play (preferably Othello)
(23) Eat in a Michelin starred restaurant
(24) Volunteer for my political party
(25) Ride a hot air balloon over Bristol or Bath
(26) Buy a leather jacket
(27) Visit a Lush Spa
(28) Go to a book festival
(29) Visit the British Library
(30) Do something amazing for my birthday! 
And there we have it! I don't think I'll do monthly updates or anything like that - maybe the odd update here and there if I actually manage to make any progress! Wish me luck :) 


My Petit Canard

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

O is for...


Oh wow! 
I couldn't think of anything really interesting for 'O' - I was originally going to go for opal as it's my birthstone... but that's where that anecdote begins and ends. Then, I bumbled along to 'organised' as I know it's a blogger fave, but to be honest I'm just not very organised. Part of me is trying to blame baby brain for making me easily distracted, but I think I've just always preferred doing something fun over doing the ironing. Instead, I'm going for 'oh wow!', as inspired by Friends, but instead of listing how totally fine I'm finding Joey and Rachel's relationship, I'm going to list a few things that have made me say oh wow in a happy, non-sarky way recently. 
- finally typing up a proper book review! I recently read Hitman Anders and the Meaning of It All by Jonas Jonasson and popped a little review up. I'm hoping it's got me back into reading, my Goodreads challenge is still looking a bit patchy. 
- earning some pretty decent cashback online. I use a cashback website, and today after signing up for a new broadband package, I managed to get my total to £197.35! That's insane! I've only been using it since July, so I'm pretty chuffed with myself. The majority of it will be payable before Christmas so I'm hoping it will make a nice dent in the present buying. Or, y'know, I can buy myself something nice... online, of course ;)
- colder mornings. The days are still on the warmer side, but I am loving waking up to a bit of frost and really feeling the benefit of my morning cup of tea. 
- getting Joe to watch Parks & Recreation with me. I originally watched the show when it first aired, and poor Joe has often been subjected to references he just doesn't get. Now he's started watching it I can quote Jean Ralphio to my heart's content and I'm hoping we can start our own Treat Yo'self Day. 
- my dad confirming that they're coming down to visit at the end of the month! I'm super excited by this as I would have liked to go up North for my birthday but can't, so my dad coming down is the next best thing. 
I think I better stop it there before this becomes too boring a read! 

Friday, 7 October 2016

Hitman Anders and the Meaning of It All by Jonas Jonasson

When I heard that Jonas Jonasson was releasing another book, I knew I had to get my hands on it. His previous offerings had been right up my street, and the title for this one immediately drew me in so I knew this would be a great book to get me out of a reading slump I had found myself in. 


Like Jonasson's previous novels, Hitman Anders and the Meaning of It All is completely nonsensical. The story is hilariously far fetched, but I don't think anyone would expect any different by now. Although Hitman Anders is the titular character, it mostly focuses on Pers Persson and Johanna Kjellander - who are mostly just referred to as the receptionist and the priest, respectively - who have decided to use Hitman Anders' skills for financial gain. And by skills I mean his murdery hitmanness. That all seems to be going well for the duo, until Hitman Anders is accidentally shown the way of God by the priest. An occupational hazard, if you will. 

Although I enjoyed Hitman Anders, I did find myself leaving it for days on end before coming back to read it again. Luckily, as it's quite nonsensical, you can pretty much pick it up and immediately feel like you haven't been away for a while. The characters, for me, weren't as endearing as in Jonasson's previous novels, but I think the nature of this book lent to the fact that the characters were all a bit shady and didn't really require you to like or dislike anybody. 

Overall, if you're a fan of Jonasson's other books I think you'll really enjoy Hitman Anders. If you haven't read anything by him and this is your first try, you'll love this if you like anything with crazy capers. Like a modern day Wacky Races - but with more inappropriate biblical references.

*Disclaimer: A copy of Hitman Anders and The Meaning of It All by Jonas Jonasson was provided in exchange for an honest review. No further compensation received. An affiliate link has been used.

Tuesday, 4 October 2016

Looking After Exotic Pets with The RSPCA

If you've read this blog for a long time, you'll know that I have a rather fluffy dachshund called Monty. I'll be the first to point out that he isn't exactly exotic, too! However, you might not know that growing up we had a chinchilla. Clearly, I just have a thing for tiny, fluffy pets. Unfortunately, many people buy exotic pets and don't realise how much time and care they need - for example, did you know chinchillas live for up to ten years? That's a huge commitment of your time, energy and money - so you should think carefully before getting yourself a pet - exotic or otherwise. 

top tip: keep your chinchilla away from Jay Z
Exotic pets need special environments to live in too - so you can't just put down a bed and expect them to sleep there, like a dog would. Pets like bearded dragons, corn snakes and geckos need specialised heated tanks to live in, otherwise they can become ill. The tanks need to be big enough for them to grow in, and replicate their natural environment with places to climb, hide or bask in the light. Pets like chinchillas are nocturnal, so you need to factor things like that in before buying an exotic pet - will it be awake when you are? Will you annoy your entire family if you buy a pet that spins on a wheel all through the night?  

The RSPCA wants to help pet-owners, and even would-be owners, know the real-life issues with owning an exotic pet, and the best ways to care for them. A happy pet makes a happy owner, am I right? You might not realise it, but by not caring for your pet in the right way, you can cause some serious harm to them. When we first got our chinchilla, my youngest brother tried to give him a bath, but chinchillas use a sand bath, rather than water which my brother had no idea about. Luckily, we managed to save him before he was plunged into the bath but something like that could have caused all of his fur to fall out due to stress. Animals like terrapins and tortoises should be fed on a diet of plants, flowers and vegetables - but shouldn't be fed green beans as they are too high in protein, or cabbage because it's too high in oxalic acid. Knowing things like this can help keep your animal safe, as the worst thing you want to do when feeding your pet a nutritious meal is to mess it up and actually cause harm to them. 

Hopefully, by raising awareness and offering helpful fact sheets, the RSPCA can help to minimise the amount of animals who are harmed once becoming pets as well as reduce the amount of animals who are abandoned once the owner realises the effort and care needed to provide for them. Like with any pet, the best thing you can give them is a loving home, and part of loving should come from an understanding of their basic needs! If the thought of giving your ideal pet snake mice to eat, then maybe a snake isn't the pet for you. 


*Disclaimer: This post was a collaboration with the RSCPA. Content written by myself.

Saturday, 1 October 2016

TMTW #15 - Baby Love, My Baby Love



Best bits? How well Dylan has started at school and getting to dress him up as Fantastic Mr Fox for Roald Dahl's 100th birthday, having Joe off for a week when Robin arrived, being able to throw Dylan a little birthday party so he didn't feel too left out with all the new baby attention. 

My favourite thing? Robin!

Any regrets? Not having a cleaner, ha! - your house suddenly becomes very messy when you've got a baby and a five year old to look after! 

What's in store for October? Hopefully some cooler weather, it's been so clammy and horrible, ugh! It's actually coming up to my 25th birthday, which I feel like should be some sort of milestone, but also not. Which is a bit weird. I haven't asked for anything, as I had really wanted to go up north for my birthday but Joe can't get the time off so hopefully my Dad is going to come down to visit this month and meet Robin! 
So September was basically a month of me staring at Robin, I didn't really do anything else. I expect October will be much more of the same, but you can't blame me. He's such a cutie!
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Thursday, 29 September 2016

Robin's 1 Month Update

Robin is now 30 days old, and I honestly cannot believe it - where did my tiny newborn baby go? We've adjusted quite quickly into becoming a family of four, and Dylan has stepped up to the plate to be a big brother, I'm so proud of him. I thought I would post a monthly update on how Robin is progressing, as I always like reading these types of posts - hopefully you will enjoy them too! 

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Welcome...

If you follow me on any form of social media, you might have noticed that two weeks ago I welcomed my second child to the world! Little Robin, born on 31st August, and already proving to be practically perfect in every way. 

Following from a pretty natural - and somewhat surprising - arrival, he's been a contented, happy little baby and so far he's slotted into family life and the 'little brother' role. Dylan's absolutely smitten with the new arrival, although he did seem a bit gutted that we didn't bring home a sturdier child who could help create Lego masterpieces... 

I'm hoping to ease back into blogging soon, but these days I tend to spend most of my time just cooing and gazing into that sweet, little face <3

Chelsea x

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Monday, 29 August 2016

Recently Read #2

It's been highly documented that I've fallen off the reading wagon in recent times, and due to this I haven't actually featured a book review on here since erm... March. Whoops! In all fairness to me, I did start a new job and become pregnant, so I guess you all have to let me off. I've actually read eight books since March, so I've no idea why I didn't review them on here, but instead of rattling off all eight into one post I'll just share a few favourites. Sound good? Good! 

Sunday, 21 August 2016

It's The Final Countdown!

Some unrelated but rather pretty flowers.
Guys, I am due to have a baby in five days. FIVE DAYS. Whether I have a baby in five days or not is another matter altogether, but I cannot believe that the final days are creeping up! I've been trying to keep as busy as possible, and we successfully managed to visit my family up north for a family wedding - much to the surprise of most of my family! I'm pretty sure everyone was certain I'd chicken out, but the lure of a parmo was greater than my fear of giving birth on the side of the M5! 

Since getting back from the north, I haven't really ventured out too far from home and instead have tried to keep on top of boring householdy things like tidying up and sorting through all the tiny baby clothes I have recently acquired! I've also had a little baby shower thrown for me this week, which was a nice surprise. I'd like to say that I have some nice, relaxing things planned for before the baby arrives but I'm more likely to be fancying a nap than a manicure at this stage! 

In all honesty, I don't think I'll have my bundle of joy by my due date, as I've just got a feeling he'll be late! Dylan came the day after he was due, but as each baby is different you can't really compare that sort of thing. Who knows, he might surprise us all and be an early bird - watch this space! 

Chelsea x

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Thursday, 18 August 2016

Back To School Without Breaking The Bank*


With the return to school looming, many parents will be shopping to get their kids ready for the start of the new term. This can be expensive as all the necessary items – clothing and stationary, for instance – mount up in cost. If your child is going to a boarding school like Rossall, where they will be away from home, there may be more to keep in mind that a public school, for example. However, regardless of where your child is going there are a few simple tips you can follow, which can help you get your kids ready to go back to school, without breaking the bank.

Spread the cost

Firstly, try not to buy everything in one go. Consider spreading the cost by buying things piece by piece. Doing this, while doing the weekly grocery shop, for instance, means you can include the cost of different items, such as stationary, pencil cases and lunchboxes, as part of your weekly budget.

Monday, 15 August 2016

Have You Noticed The Change in Office Etiquette?

When I carried out my internship last summer, it was my first venture in to office life. I'd always worked in a customer-facing environment before that, so it was quite a culture shock to suddenly sit down at a desk for eight hours a day. To be honest, I had based most of my office knowledge on The Office, but luckily I haven't had to endure any David Brent characters, yet... 
When Calibre asked me to write about the changing behaviour of the office, I couldn't believe how recent some major changes had been! It seems insane to think that less than 10 years ago, people would smoke in the office. As a pregnant lady, I'm really glad that I didn't have to sit in a stuffy room with stale smoke affecting me and my baby! I didn't really think that drinking in the office was officially a 'thing' either, it just seemed like something Mad Men did to keep Jon Hamm looking suave as Don Draper. The office I work in is predominantly women-led so I could imagine wine sales going through the roof if we still had office-drinking in place today. Not sure how many calls we would answer, though.  

Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Win! A bundle of Scooby Doo DVDS!

It's finally here! I'm heading off up North on Friday! As I'll be busy fitting in visiting my entire family, attending a wedding and catching up with my Northern buddies, I thought it would be the perfect time to host a little giveaway. I've always loved Scooby Doo - in fact we even had a Great Dane with similar markings when I was growing up - as it reminds me of my Dad a bit. He likes to think he does a cracking Scooby impression, so whenever I think of Scooby dooby Doo, it just makes me think of him! 


Anyhoo, if you'd like to be in with a chance to three Scooby collections - with a whopping 13 episodes and 5 feature length films to keep the kids (big and small!) entertained - all you have to do is enter the competition below! Competition ends 19th August, so don't hesitate to get your entries in!

Good luck everyone! 
-Open to UK participants only 
-Competition ends 19/08/16
-1 (one) winner will receive 1 (one) Scooby-Doo! 2 DVD Summer Edition (containing a double bill of content) and (one) Scooby-Doo! 3 DVD Summer Edition and (one) 13 Spooky Tales
-The prize will be delivered to the winner within 28 days of confirmation of delivery address
-There is no cash alternative to Prizes which are subject to availability, non-transferable, non-negotiable and non-refundable. Prizes may not be sold, offered for sale or used in connection with any other competition or promotion by the Prize winner
-The promoter of this competition is Fetch Dynamic Ltd
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Sunday, 7 August 2016

Better than Linen


I honestly cannot believe that Joe and I have been married for four years. Four whole years! I like to think that we've already overcome so many obstacles and that it'll be plain sailing from here on, but with a new baby arriving anytime soon I know life as we've come to know it will be turned upside down yet again. But, if anything, I know that with Joe by my side I'm a better parent, a nicer person and far happier than ever before. Still pretty lousy at cooking and cleaning, but that's Joe's fault for being such a good chef/hausfrau. 

Thanks for putting up with me, Joe - here's to another year of wedded bliss! 

Tuesday, 2 August 2016

TMTW #13 - It's All So Quiet...


Best bits? It feels like so long ago now, but my dad visited! It was so great to see him, and Dylan really enjoyed our sort of camping trip too. 

My favourite thing? Leona only went and got married - I was really honoured when she invited me and the boys to her wedding, although I'm certain she only did it because she likes Dylan more than me. 

Any regrets? Not blogging or reading more! You might have saw my recent post about how far behind I am with my Goodreads challenge, but I've really not been helping myself. I guess I can blame a certain Pokemon app for that... 

What's in store for August? Well, hopefully a baby! We're also driving up North to attend a family wedding, sooo... feeling slightly insane for even considering a 6hr trip on the motorway at 38 weeks pregnant. What else? We have our anniversary on Sunday, and I'd also like to squeeze in as much time as possible with Dylan before his baby brother arrives - and before he starts school in September, sob! 

So July was a bit quiet, wasn't it? My apologies for that! I feel like I haven't really done a lot this month, but we've slowly been getting everything prepared for the baby's arrival so that's all good. I also went swimming with Dylan for the first time since he were a tiny baby, and it was actually lovely. It was so nice seeing his confidence grow as we were in the water, and I really hope we can continue going - it's a great way to break the time up over the weekend too! 

How was your July? 

Chelsea x

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Monday, 18 July 2016

The 'Save The Goodreads Challenge' TBR

I feel like I'm being maybe a biiiit optimistic in giving myself a TBR list, but I'm really failing with my reading goal this year. Apparently, I'm 7 books behind schedule, which is really naff. Last year I managed to beat my target by 6 books, so I guess technically I'm only 1 book behind schedule, right? Right? I'm just going to tell myself that's how it works. 
I recently joined the Kindle crew, after years of having it drilled into me that *real* books are best during my degree, and I'm so glad I did. As much as I love buying books and adoring all the beautiful cover designs - a Kindle is just a million times easier to chuck in my bag and not feel weighed down by a hardback or an 800 page epic. I do find I need to keep myself away from the Kindle bargains, as I do already have 10 or so ebooks I haven't started, as well as a sizeable amount of physical books in my TBR shelves. 
I've picked out three physical books to read to save the ol' Goodreads challenge, and they are The Girl With All The Gifts by M. R. Carey, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews and Asking For It by Louise O'Neill - the latter I forgot to photograph, doy. Asking For It is actually a lend from the library, so I should probably start that one first, and I'm hoping to head to Bath to see the author give a talk so yeah, need to read it. 
My Kindle TBR picks include It's Not Me It's You by Mhari McFarlane, Hitman Anders and the Meaning of It All by Jonas Jonasson, The Muse by Jessie Burton, and The Yellow Room by Jess Valance. A good mix of books there, I'd say. I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that I think I'll enjoy all of these titles - I remember the publicity trail for It's Not Me It's You sparking my interest when it was first published, and I already know I enjoy Jonasson's style of writing. Jessie Burton's sophomore title has been hotly anticipated since the release of The Miniaturist and I'm already hearing good things about The Muse. I haven't read anything by Jess Valance before, but The Yellow Room is already getting 4.3 star reviews, which is pretty good going, and I love a gripping YA novel.
So, there we have it. Seven titles to get me back on schedule somewhat, and hopefully getting me out of this reading slump I seem to have found myself in. If you're on Goodreads, let's be friends and you can keep an eye on my reading progress too! 
What are you reading? Anything you'd recommend for my growing TBR pile? 
Chelsea x
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