A Letter To My Kids Now I’m Working Full Time

I had a sense of Déjà vu as we sat down to talk. Remembering my Mum (Nana) doing the same thing to Uncle Justin and I. She said “do you want Mummy to be home all the time or do you want treats, holidays and days out?” We went for the latter. We always had holidays to Tenby, days out to Oakwood and much more. Mum worked hard (still does). She was a single parent for a while and it must have been exhausting for her, working all day and coming home to meet our demands too.

So I told you I was going to be at work Monday to Friday from now on because the other lady I work with was leaving and the opportunity was there. Daddy and I had talked about it and decided it was a good idea because we bumble along at the moment but this would make life easier. You looked sad for a little while as I went on to explain that I was doing it for us to have more money, for a better life. A chance to have holidays and more fun days out. “Could we have a holiday?” you piped up Little Man. “Where would you like to go?” I asked. “A caravan in Porthcawl” you answered and I gave you the biggest hug because when you’re little a caravan holiday to a seaside town with a fair, arcades and icecreams of all colours is beyond your wildest dreams.

I promise I will still be there to get you ready for school, to kiss you goodbye and tell you I love you before you start the walk to school with Daddy, I may not be there to pick you up from the gate but I will still take you to gymnastics Little Lady and tut at all the other parents who, despite being British don’t understand the concept of a queue. I will make it to all your concerts and parents evenings as I always have because I love to see your little faces light up when the teacher is saying all those lovely things about you. Even though in your case Little Lady I sometimes sit there with my mouth hanging open in disbelief as they tell me how quiet you are and they barely hear a peep out of you.

I reminded myself of Nana (in a good way, not in stern get your elbows off the table way) when I set about ironing a huge pile of your uniforms in a bid to be totally organised, I would usually wing it but I’m determined to start as I mean to go on and not rush around in a panic because I can’t find anything. So far we have got ourselves in a routine that works. I still get the best cuddles when I walk through the door, play board games on the bedroom floor and get our weekends all to ourselves. I hope that as you grow up you will see that working hard is good not only to keep your head above water financially but that it gives you good self esteem too as your older brother has found now he too has a full time job. I don’t claim to be the perfect Mum by any stretch of the imagination but I have and always will, try my best. Because I love the bones of you, my little monkeys.

Mum

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The Importance Of Blogging Besties

If someone had told me nearly 3 years ago that I’d have some amazing friends, I’d never have met them but they would come to be my support network I’d have laughed my fat arse off. You wouldn’t believe it though would you? How could people who live inside your phone be a source of laughter, comfort and people that you can rely on to tell you how it is? Well that’s exactly what did happen. I’m not even sure how it came about but it did.

They are people just like me, who blog for fun, to make a living or just because they love writing and it’s an outlet. For laughter, tears, mayhem and more. The other day I was asked why I started blogging and I couldn’t really give a definitive answer. I know that I may come across as confident across social media and maybe even my blog but I’m really not. I’m blundering along through life eating far too much cake than strictly necessary and making it up as I go. Just like most other people.

These guys though, they get me. They get my sense of humour, maybe even share it. A meme can pop up and straightaway I can think of the perfect person or persons it would relate to. In ‘real life’ Facebook I’m mostly ignored, people scroll on by without a care but in the blogging world there are those certain people who have your back know that it takes blood sweat and tears to build your Facebook page only to find your most recent blog post has a reach of 3. They’ll like and share away as do you for them.

I remember seeing someone talking about a ‘blogging tribe’ and thinking what a load of pretentious bollocks that is. But I fell into one and I’m very happily cwtched in the middle of it even though I still hate that name.

The guy that everyone gravitates towards when they start blogging, come one, come all Daddy of Dad bloggers Martyn Kitney is my first mention. He took me under his wing – mind you I’m not so sure I’d want to be there now having seen his sweaty pits – you’ll have to go browse his blog or ask Hannah Cupcake Mumma to see what I mean! Stevie A Cornish Mum was there for me back when I was a terrified newborn blogger and was the one that made me see that big follower numbers didn’t equal unapproachable.

Martyn also introduced me to Alan OMG It’s a Girl (not sure if I should thank him or smack him in the gob for that one) guaranteed to be risque, totally bonkers and with the cutest daughter you ever did see. Tracey Hooks & Dragons and Ember Relentlessly Purple who make me laugh every single day, pick me up when I’m feeling down, give me advice when I need it and are always there for me.

Someone who makes me roar with laughter over on her Facebook page and shares a mutual love for Tom Hardy – the only other woman in the world I’d ever share him with is Gemma Life is Knutts. If you ever want a gin in one hand and the worlds best cakes in the other, she’s your girl.

A special mention for some ladies I’ve had the privilege to meet in real life and didn’t axe murder me in the carpark are Kate KateLili, Jo First Time Valley Mam and Sally Teddy Bears and Cardigans.

If you happen to be reading this because you just started blogging and you feel like nobody takes any notice of you, you just don’t where to start or you’ve tried to chat to people and not got very far, any of these guys will be happy to talk, help or in Tracey’s case make you the best damn softie you’ll ever purchase!

Follow ’em on Twitter (if you dare):

@lifeisknutts 

@stevie_couch 

@KateLiliBlog 

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Last Minute Back To School Ideas

Back to School time is upon us once more and the last minute purchase scramble is in full swing. Here I’m sharing some fab options if you’re yet to finish shopping for your littles and are looking for some inspiration.

Smiggle Says Silicone Roll Bottle £13.50 

This awesome Smiggle drinks bottle can be rolled up to take anywhere, great for lunchbags with a fold down spout, squeezy body and a handy caribiner clip to attach it to their bag. The silicone carry strap can be used to hold the rolled up bottle in place.

Smiggle Chaos Twin Zip Pencil Case £10

Rectangular soft block pencil case perfectly sized for holding all their stationery items. Features 2 zipped compartments, attractive bright colours the Smiggle logo embroidered to the front.


BRITA fill&go Active Water Bottle in Pink & Lime £12

The BRITA fill&go Active water bottle is an easy way to make sure your child is hydrated at school. At our school they ask us to bring plain water in bottles to be kept in the classroom as well as their drink in their lunchbag, which makes the Brita fill&go ideal as it can be filled up at any tap and the Microdisc filter (which lasts a month) will reduce the levels of impurities and chlorine, leaving you with fresh tasting water. It comes in lime,pink,blue and purple colourways and has a BPA free pull up/push down mouthpiece and a cap. The filters are replaceable and can be purchased separately.


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Pusheen Lunchbox Set from Find Me A Gift £7.99

This stackable bento-style lunch box set features a cute Pusheen cat illustration to the top and inner layer. The set is made up of two individually-lidded layers that clip neatly together meaning you get a small, medium and large compartments, big enough for a yummiest of packed lunches. Even better, included are a spoon and fork.


Madpax Tennis Ball Bag Pink & Green from Room To Grow £29.99 each.

These quirky bags are made to look exactly like giant tennis balls. Double padded straps and a carry handle make it cool for school along with zipped pockets, inside compartments for pens/pencils/ dinner money purse or wallet and space for a lunch box/ drink bottle. Also great for days out or sports kit, particularly great fun if you have a tennis mad child!


Personalised Patchwork Union Jack Swim/PE Bag from Born Gifted £11

This great quality bag has made of bright blue canvas outer and has a waterproof lining  and black drawstring dual cords double up as shoulder straps. It’s roomy too, making this a perfect choice for either PE kit (which is what we will use it for) or swimming kit. It can be personalised with up to 12 letters, great for ensuring their PE kit doesn’t go walkabouts from their peg. In the school holidays it can even be used for days out. I also love that these guys are an independent website. It’s easy to go for all the big chains without seeing the other options out there.


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Term Scarlett Touch Fastening School Shoe from New Brands £39.99 (Left)

Comfortable yet hardwearing and sturdy. Easy to get on and off with the velcro straps and a pretty pattern to the black leather upper. Term shoes come in half sizes which is brilliant if you struggle to get your child the right size.

 Black Boat Shoes from Dobell £29.99 (Right)

These black touch fasten shoes come with a double strap fastening for easy on and off. A padded collar for extra comfort and breathable mesh inside lining. They also have easy to clean uppers and durable soles which make them ideal for running around at school.


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Del Monte Squeezies from Asda RRP 50p

These yummy squeeezy fruit pouches are packed with vitamins and minerals and full of flavour. As every pack counts as one of your five a day there’s no worrying what they’re eating at school and with 100% fruit, no added sugar or artificial ingredients there’s only goodness involved. The caps of the pouches can even be joined together to make fun shapes once they’re done enjoying them. Perfect for fitting in their lunchbox or as a snack after school. They come in Apple/Banana/Strawberry, Apple & Mango and Apple/Strawberry/Blueberry flavours.

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Sheaffer Star Wars Stationery from £10

With a Darth Vader roller ball pen, Yoda pencil case and journal these are the perfect choice for any Star Wars fan big or small. The pencil case is large enough to fit all the essential school items or pens and pencils for after school colouring fun. A brilliant journal for writing about your day, remembering the all important homework or doodling your favourite Star Wars character in. Han Solo for me 😉

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*Some of the items featured were provided free for the purposes of this post however all opinions remain honest and my own*

Celtic Manor Summer Afternoon Tea

When someone messages you asking if you fancy trying their afternoon tea it doesn’t take much to say yes, does it?! So when the Celtic Manor in Newport asked us to try out their Summer Afternoon Tea there was no thinking needed. Tea, cake and much more with great company in Jo from First Time Valley Mam and Sally from Teddy Bears And Cardigans.

We were shown through to the light and airy Olive Tree room, seated and offered a glass of Prosecco, sadly I had to decline as I was driving! The bottle was brought over to and opened at the table to the ladies that were partaking in a glass.

Jorge came and introduced himself and talked us through the choice of blends of tea which he showed us in glass vials. We could have: Black/White/Green/Herbal Infusions as well as English Breakfast and there was also coffee if preferred.

The teas were brought in a proper teapots, not small ones either! We were given one each and the tea was in leaf form so we needed a good old fashioned strainer which we were also provided with.

We were asked before the food was brought out whether there were any allergies/intolerances within the group and we advised that yes, we required 1 to be nut free and 1 to be gluten free. This was not a problem we were told and we chatted amongst ourselves while we waited for the goodness to arrive.

Due to the allergies we were brought separate options for the nut free and gluten free and the ‘normal’ one was enough for the 2 others in the party to share. The savouries were brought first and consisted of:

  • Goats cheese and pesto mousse with pickled shallots
  • Smoked salmon, cream cheese and caviar blini
  • Baked tomato and chilli tart with minted pea salad
  • Roasted ham and wholegrain mustard finger sandwich
  • Mini brioche bridge roll with egg mayonnaise and baby spinach
  • Hafod cheese and spiced carrot relish finger sandwich

There was only one out of them all I disliked and that was the smoked salmon, I really wanted to like it and I tried it because I wanted to be open to trying everything so I could fully experience it. I disliked it purely on personal taste and no other reason. My favourite was the baked tomato and chilli tart, the chilli gave it a kick, the pea and mint gave it a little sweetness. The cheese and spiced carrot relish was orangey, almost a marmalade taste which I actually really liked.

Once the plates for the savoury were cleared we were offered more tea/coffee asked if all was ok and told the news we all couldn’t wait to hear, the sweets were on there way!

Again they were brought out as separate versions for the nut free, gluten free and standard. They included:

  • Red berry and vanilla shortbread ‘Jammie Dodger’
  • Summer Pudding with citrus creme fraiche
  • Raspberry and chocolate canneloni
  • Strawberry mousse and almond tartlet
  • Freshly baked raisin and vanilla scones with strawberry preserve and clotted cream

The cakes are small and you might be fooled into thinking you can stuff the lot no problem. Think again! I have the worlds worst sweet tooth and I really struggled. I managed a scone with preserve and cream, raspberry and chocolate cannelloni and summer pudding. My favourite was most definitely the scone. We asked for some boxes to take our remaining cakes home though so if you do go, don’t forget to ask for one!

Prices are:

£21.50 per person (Monday – Friday) £29.50 per person (Saturday & Sunday) Children £10.75 per person (Monday – Friday) £14.15 per person (Saturday & Sunday)

Book online here and there are other options and themes for afternoon tea available as shown here.

The only thing I would say was that because we had separate tiers of food, we struggled to fit everything on the table and we could have done with a little more room although this is a minor gripe and didn’t stop the enjoyment of the food itself. Everything was clean and tidy, nothing was too much trouble for the staff and although the room was really busy it wasn’t too noisy. I wouldn’t hesitate to go again or recommend to a friend. It would make a lovely birthday/christmas/just because present. In fact whilst we where there there was a lady having her baby shower.

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*We were invited free of charge to try the afternoon tea for the purpose of this review however all opinions remain honest and my own*

Back To School Labels With Petit Fernand

One thing that can be a huge headache for Back to School is labelling every individual item to ensure that errant ones are returned to their owner. The office at our school has a huge box of sad looking lost property, unclaimed & unloved even though they probably cost the parents a small fortune when new. This is where Petit Fernand comes in. We were offered the chance to try out some of their clothing/item labels to see what we thought.

Ordering was particularly easy, choose which type of labels you need, customise with colours and a little picture, as you will see my children chose game controller/dinosaur (Little Man) and cupcake/lolly (Little Lady). They are made in France and dispatched within 48 hours with free delivery.

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The labels come in a hand ‘cheque-book’ style which is great as it means they are all together and easily storable if you don’t use them all at once.

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Each page has it’s own heading at the end so you know which labels are which. We had:

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I used the Stick-On Item Labels for their lunchboxes (you’d never guess their favourite colours are green and pink would you?) They could also be used for bags, pencil cases, bottles etc. They are dishwasher/microwave safe and should be allowed 24 hours before use.

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The Stick-On Clothing labels need to be applied directly to the label on the item rather than direct to the fabric as it would not stay put otherwise and you need to allow 24 hours before wearing or washing after applying. Iron-on labels are also available.

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The Stick-On Shoe labels come in 2 parts, the sticker with the name on and then a transparent protective layer that goes on top. These are perfect for P.E day as I have heard of kids going home with the wrong shoes in the wrong size (bless). These stickers mean there’s no confusion. Again they should be allowed 24 hours before wear.

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Inside the back/front cover of the book are instructions on how to apply the labels and some care tips just to make things extra easy. There is also an extra page of fun stickers for the little ones to play with. We shall say no more about me opening the door to a visitor with a coconut stuck to my chest.

Overall I loved these labels, they make life so much easier. As I chose the non-iron ones I literally just had to sit there and stick a few stickers on the items I wanted labelled. It took a matter of minutes once I’d gathered all the items together.

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*we were gifted the labels for the purpose of this review however all opinions remain honest and my own*