In the night garden live (Richmond, London)


It's no secret that Blake loves In the night garden. He loved going to In the night garden live last year so we knew we had to go again this year. 

This year we chose to head to the show in Richmond, London at Old Deer Park rather than travel all the way up to Manchester. In the night garden live is a must see for little In the night garden fans and is also fun for grown ups too. 

Like last year there are a choice of two shows; the Ninky Nonk show where Iggle Piggle loses his blanket and the the Pinky Ponk Show where Makka Pakka washes faces. This year we chose to see the Pinky Ponk show. 



In the night garden live takes place in its own all-weather, purpose-built inflatable Showdome with many family-friendly facilities. This dome is a huge hit with children and parents and its theatrical experience makes audiences feel they are actually entering the magical world of In the night garden. 

We ended up arriving in Richmond 2 hours before the show was due to start. We passed a bit of the time enjoying sitting in the park. We then headed into the showdome approx 45 minutes prior to show starting which was easy to find, so we could use the changing facilities and to also use the microwave to heat up some milk for Blake before the show.  





The show brings the dome to life with magical music, puppets, actors and full sized versions of Iggle Piggle, Uspy Daisy and Makka Pakka. Blake was in his element watching the show and was so excited and clapping whenever a new charterer came on stage. Just like last year Blake was transfixed with the show from the minute it started to the very end. 








Like last year there is the opportunity to meet either Iggle Piggle or Upsy Daisy for £15 per character  which we chose not to do this year due to timing and needing to get home. 

In the foyer there are plenty of souvenirs starting at as little as £5 so there is bound to be something you can find for your little In the night garden fan. There is also a goody bag that you can had purchase in advance for £29 which on the day cost £39 with goodies worth over £60. We chose not to do that this year as this time round the goody bag contained items Blake already has. We did however purchase an activity book for him and a pack of stickers. 

 Overall it was such a fantastic family day out which we fully recommend. Will we be attending next year? If Blake is still into the show definitely. 

*We were provided tickets to In the night garden live for the purpose of this review. However all photos, thoughts and opinions are my own.

Living Arrows - 26/52

You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth” by Kahlil Gibran

The weather this past week has been extremely hot and we have struggled with it. On Wednesday it was my mother in laws birthday and so we spent the morning in my in laws garden. Blake loved being in the pool, splashing around and keeping cool.


Saturday we went to see In the night garden live in Richmond, London. The showdome was in Old Deer Park and we had a wonderful time. I have a post coming up during the week about the show. I really love this photo of me and Blake whilst we were waiting to go in. Blake was so excited and clapped all the way through the show. 



I hope you have all had a lovely week and have been enjoying the sunshine. 


Living Arrows

Tips for starting your own blog


So you want to start your own blog, first of all I would read this post I did about how much hard work goes into blogging. If you are still interested in taking the plunge than hopefully this post will help you out a little. 

Even though I have been blogging for five years now I'm definitely no expert this is just a bit of advice since I have been asked quite a bit over the years about how to go about it. 

Decide on a blog name
This was my first step before I decided to sign up to blogger. I found this bit  really tricky so decided to go with my name. It's a good idea to go for something that is easy to remember and not complicated with loads of xxx's for example. 

Purchase your own domain 
If you want to be serious about blogging than it's a good idea to purchase your own domain. I did this about 3 years ago now and it's opened a lot of opportunities when it comes to getting sponsored/guest posts. I purchased my domain from 1,2,3 reg however there are other websites you can also purchase your domain name from. The cost of your own domain isn't too bad either I think I paid something like £5.99 for 3 years or something like that. 

Set up social media
One of the things that has really helped me when it comes to blogging is setting up a Facebook, twitter and Instagram pages. Make sure you stick with the same name of your blog if you can so you can be easily found. I make sure that regularly post on these pages and interact with my followers. 

Equipment
When it comes to blogging the main things you will need are a laptop and a camera. However I do have a range of other items I like to have to help me which I will do a post on very soon. 

Content
When it comes to the content of your blog you need to blog for you. Write in your own style and write what you are passionate about. Its important to work out what your niche is for example do you like fashion/beauty or are you wanting to share your parenting journey. 

When it comes to content it's important to blog regularly, by posting regularly you will gain readers who will come back time and time again. When possible I try to blog between 3 and 5 times a week although there are a few quiet periods here and there. 

Photos
I include photos in nearly EVERY post, posts without images can look boring and if I see it that way than my followers would too. When it comes to posts most people will be drawn in by the images. I also make sure that all my images are the same size, there is nothing worse than a post which has different sized images as it's irritating. 

Working with brands

When it comes to working with brands it takes a lot of time and effort to build relationships and to get your blog noticed. If you are wanting to set up a blog to earn money or "freebies" than you are blogging for the wrong reasons. 

Opportunities don't come easy, It  took me 7 months of blogging, as well as reviewing items I had purchased myself for me to get my first review item. At that point I didn't even know that receiving review items and getting sponsored posts were a thing. I started off getting small low value items to review and now I get some higher value items and sponsored/guest posts.

When it comes to getting opportunities  most of the time brands will contact me. I also find opportunities over on twitter and Facebook and also by pitching with brands I'd like to work with. 


Overall when it comes to blogging you have to have fun. Enjoy what you do and try not to worry too much when it comes to your stats. 

Do You Keep Forgetting? Try these 5 ways to boost your memory!



Have you ever searched for your keys almost everywhere only to later find them right there in your pocket? How about forgetting the last date to pay your bills? Whether or not you have known what having a weak memory can do to your daily life, you probably realize the importance of keeping your memory sharp.

Here are some ways for you to achieve that:
1. Learn a new language: Bilingual adults have better memorization and working memory than those who know just one language. And you do not even have to be fluent at the other language, even a minimal knowledge will help you substantially improve your memory skills.
2. Workout your brain without GPS: Turn off the GPS as you go around the city. It will help your brain focus more and remember things that you otherwise forget. Put away your GPS and exercise your mental navigation skills.

3. Eat foods known to improve memory: The next time you go grocery shopping remember to buy avocados, berries, coconut oil, walnuts, eggs, dark chocolate, and green leafy vegetables.

4. Play bingo: Bingo can help you boost your brain power by improving your concentration and the ability to remember things over a short period of time. If you are in the UK, you can also play online bingo where no deposit is required to boost your memory.

5. Get enough sleep: Eight hours of sleep a night is important for your mental and physical well being. While you are sleeping your brain solidifies your memories and repairs them. Being unable to get enough sleep will lead to problems with judgment, attention, and creativity.


Now that you know all the things you can do to boost your memory, go ahead and try them.

Living Arrows - 25/52

You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth” by Kahlil Gibran

The weather really has been lovely recently especially the last few days which makes me look forward to next weeks photos as I plan for this week to spend most of our time outdoors. 

This weeks photos were taken from the weekend as not only was it Fathers Day on the 18th but my birthday on the 17th. On my birthday we met up with my Mum, Nan and sister for a lovely lunch at a local Italian. It was lovely to be able to catch up with my family for a little while before heading home as Blake was getting tired and needed to be out of the sun. Overall I had such a lovely relaxed birthday. 

Fathers Day was another lovely hot day and so we just spent time relaxing. I decided to bring out the tuff tray and fill it with water and rubber ducks for Blake to play in to cool down like a makeshift indoor pool. 









Living Arrows

What to look for when visiting pre-schools


I can hardly believe that the time has come to start looking at pre-schools for Blake. It doesn't seem at all possible that he is two and a half and that he will be potentially looking into starting somewhere in September. 

So far we have looked at one pre-school which we liked as Blake seemed to like it there when we visited and its not much of a walking distance either which is handy. We are also planning to visit another pre-school which is more further out which I've heard good things about. 

It's got me thinking about the things to look out for when visiting and choosing a pre-school for little ones. 


How your child reacts
You will know if the pre-school is right for your child by how they are in the setting when you visit. You may notice that they are happy to go off and play which we found with Blake which is very unusual of him to do. It's so important to look around different settings with your child so you can both get a feel for them. 

Location 
Is the pre-school easy for you to get to?  For example we don't drive so need to choose a pre-school that is within a reasonable walking distance. If you do drive you will need to think how long it will take to get there and also consider traffic. 




Toys
Does the pre-school have a wide range of good quality toys and offer a variety of activities?
Are there toys/activities that encourage your child to use their imagination and be creative? Do they have age appropriate books? with a comfy reading area? These are a few things to look out for. 

Outdoor space
Does the pre-school have a spacious area for children to explore and be able to have plenty of physical activity? The pre-school we have looked at has a good outdoor area and they can use the playground when it's not in use by the school children. 

Routine
Children thrive on routine which makes them feel secure so a routine is important for them to know what happens next during their time at pre-school. It also means that staff have taken great care when it comes to planning their day. 




Blogging it's hard work



I've been blogging now for approx 5 years and over the years I have had experience of people who just don't get it. From "Oh you get free stuff then" to looking at me as if they have no clue what I am talking about. 

I also get asked a lot by people about how to make money from blogging and I find most of the time people want to set up a blog and make money straight away and often don't realise how much time and effort has to go into it. It took me about 6 months of blogging before I started getting review items and and approx a year before I got my first sponsored post. 

It's not a case of just signing up to wordpress or blogspot it takes time. For starters you have to have the right equipment/resources, you need to start writing posts and gaining followers and just writing a post isn't good enough. I spend time taking and editing photos, finding free stock images (such as the one above)  if I need to, writing multiple posts and then scheduling them in advance, as well as getting my posts out there and read by sharing on social media. 

What you may not also realise is that costs too. For starters I pay for the equipment I use, to have my URL, my logo and blog design, and for facebook ads. There are many other costs too which at the moment I don't pay out for but plan on doing so in the future for buisness cards, courses,  E-books, photo editing tools ( I currently use free version of picmonkey which is very limited) social sharing applications and scheduling tools.

Monetising my blog is hard I don't have side board ads like some bloggers do as I found that that kind of thing wasn't working for me. I do sell advertising though in the form of sponsored/guest posts and for social media as well. Making money from my blog also means that I have to do my own invoices which I sometimes do via paypal or I have my own draft one which I edit for individual work that I do. Then I have to wait to be paid some companies pay instantly others have a 30 and even 60 day wait.

Sometimes you have short deadlines too and I have fit my work in around looking after Blake and keeping the household clean ish and organised. The work can be all over the place too as I don't have a fixed income and some weeks/months can be really quiet too. 

It works well for me at the moment though and I love what I do. I've gained some fab opportunities through blogging and I get to also look back some of the memories/ photos I share of Blake as not all of my posts are paid ones. 

Fathers Day with AMARA


You may have seen my recent Father's Day gift guide which included a wide range of products. However sometimes you want to find some items that are a bit more luxurious and this is where AMARA come in. 

Stocking many designer brands including Ted Baker, Ralph Lauren, and Tom Dixon to name a few, AMARA is the place to shop for that luxury gift knowing that they cater for a range of budgets. 

I decided to involve Stuart and let him pick out some items to include that not only he likes but he felt other Dad's would like this Father's Day. There is such a wide range of items to choose from in the Father's Day gift section. He found it slightly difficult to choose with there been so much to choose from and eventually settled on five items. 


Stuart enjoys having a glass of beer over the weekends and so he chose this 750ml beer tankard. The tankard is of great quality the glass is thick and the handle is very sturdy. For £20 its a great gift for beer enthusiasts. 


This charming flip alarm clock features an on and off face with a reversible alarm display, perfect for ensuring your mornings start on time. It's made from rubber ABS with an electro luminous dial and a touch sensor. To stop the alarm, simply flip the clock over. The flip alarm clock comes in many colours and retails at £29 



What Dad doesn't need a multi-tool? This leather credit card multi-tool (RRP:£18) is credit card sized and contains 9 different tools for any situation:

- can opener
- knife edge
- screwdriver
- bottle opener
- ruler
- orientation
- butterfly screw wrench
- saw blade 
- and a handy keyring hole to attach it
The chic leather pouch keeps this multi-tool contained.



This stylish Ted Baker notepad helps Dad's to keep organised with it's black faux-leather cover with beautiful brogue detailing, this stunning notebook is perfect on your desk or to be used during meetings. Finished with distinct blue endpapers, with a cogwheel inspired pattern and a single ribbon bookmark this makes a smart gift for Dad's. (£15 for small, £18 for large) 


Last of all is the Ted Baker bike repair kit (£20) My husband cycles to and from work so a repair kit is a must have for his work bag. The kit is contained in a beautiful blue smart tin with a screw top, perfect for keeping contents secure. The kit includes:
- a multi tool
- two metal tyre levers
- one 20ml rubber solution
- 8 rubber patches in three sizes, 
- a metal rasp and chalk. 

Ideal for repairing small breakages or repairing tyres. 

Living Arrows - 24/52

You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth” by Kahlil Gibran

This week we have started to try a new idea of getting Blake to start trying new foods. We are now starting to do more messy play but with food in hope he will start to eventually try new things. So this weeks photo is of him playing with some cereal that we needed to use up. He really loved it and was scooping and stirring as well as getting his zoo animals to stomp around. 

I'm also planning on doing messy play with jelly, porridge and cooked pasta over the coming weeks. Blake's been fussy with food since he turned a year old and very particular about what he eats. At 2 and a half he is still really fussy and we are finding it such hard work. We are even having issues with getting him to drink milk from a cup.





Living Arrows

Fathers Day Gift Guide 2017

This year Fathers Day falls on Sunday 18th June, which is pretty soon and because I know a lot of people find it hard to know what to get for Dad I have compiled a few ideas. The great thing is the list contains mainly items if you have a small budget and a few that are a bit more higher priced. 


Cards
When it comes to cards than Hallmark have you sorted with their wide selection. With a wide range of cards suitable for all types of Dads you will find one your taste. They even stock some great pop up cards. 




 Toiletries/Grooming

If you are looking for a budget item to include in a hamper than why not check out these face masks from 7th Heaven especially for men. Each mask retails at £1 and so makes a great little gift. Face masks don't just have to be for women. 



To keep your Dad smelling nice this Fathers Day why not purchase this fab beer soap for £5 this is a great little gift to add to a hamper or just as a little something. The team at Meantime HQ have certainly raised the bar with this soap. Made from the capital’s favourite Pale Ale, it’s ideal for the ultimate beer lover.



 If your Dad has a beard to be proud of why not get him these Brisk beard oils and shampoos. The beard oils are ultra light so they absorb easily and come in unscented as well as 3 different scents: Tree tree, citrus and cedar wood. The beard shampoos cleanses and refreshes the beard. Hair is left feeling clean, manageable and soft to the touch.





For keeping Dad groomed to perfection this fathers day this Deluxe grooming tool kit is a great gift from Uppercut which you can purchase over at Just my look. It's ideal for the style conscious Dad and the kit contains: 
Kit Contains:
1 x Uppercut Deluxe Quiff Roller
1 x Uppercut Deluxr Tortoise Shell Comb
1 x Uppercut Deluxe Pocket Comb
1 x Uppercut Deluxe Toothbrush

1 x Uppercut Deluxe Branded Tumber.



If your Dad is in the need of a new razor than there are two options first of all the Gillette Fusion Proshield or the Braun S3 ProSkin. 

The Gillette razor  has a new Proshield lubrication bar before the blades and in addition to the lubrastrip after the blades that shields from irritation, this is paired with a flexball handle. 

The Braun S3 ProSkin is a Wet and Dry electric shaver that  will give  an incredibly close, smooth shave, with 30% less skin irritation and an improved FreeFloat system makes it easy to deal with 3 day beards. The razor is a sophisticated shaving system which adapts to every facial contour to offer and comfortable and faster shave.  





This Remington Precision Cut Hair Clipper guarantees a superior cutting experience to help achieve precise results every time. With 17 precision length settings (0.5-44mm) for the perfect trim.  Ideal for Dads that would prefer to do their hair themselves from the comfort of their own home. The hair clipper has 5 different steps:
Step one: Nap of the neck
Step two Back of the head 
Step three: Side of the head
Step four: Top of the head
Step five: Finishing touches. 
The clipper is available from Aldi from the 8th of June in their special buys so make sure you head there asap. 


Book


For Dad's that need a bit of parent advice or just want to swat up than the Planet Parent book is an ideal gift. The book contains advice on fussy eaters, tricky teenagers, iPad addicts and even advice and tips on potty training. 



Tech kits 

Do you have a tech mad Dad? than he needs the Rebel Tech Kit from Sugru The Rebel Tech Kit is a collection of 14 killer tech ideas inspired by people all over the world. It combines the most popular, most useful and most ingenious Sugru tech hacks for the first time; with easy step-by-step instructions in a booklet full of information. Buy it for yourself, or as a gift for the most deserving hands-on person in your life!


Why not get this DIY speaker kit for your Dad. By following the simple step-by-step instructions, he’ll be playing music in just a couple of hours while learning about circuits and electrical components. 




Socks

If you want to get the usual gift for Dad of a pair of socks why not get ones from Quiet Rebellion they have released 6 designs especially for fathers day. For Dad’s with a sense of humour who want to look professional for work, Quiet Rebellion socks feature vibrant patterns and designs concealed within the shoe. Put simply, they are socks of two halves: a respectable top with wild and colourful soles.

Each design is named after a different historical rebel and comes with a postcard featuring the story of its namesake. Beautifully packaged with a wax seal of approval, Quiet Rebellion socks are ideal for gifting.With pairs of socks available to buy individually, or in packs of three, six, twelve or eighteen, there are options for every budget. No two pairs within each box are the same.



Alcohol 
Did you know that from 16th-25th of June is picnic week? I didn't, so why not take advanatge of picnic week with a bottle of Maison Williams Chase Rose, a beautiful pale shade of pink and bone dry, this Rosé boasts affluent stone fruit aromas of peaches and apricots, followed by a refreshing note of grapefruit with a backdrop of savoury Provençal herbs. Made from Grenache, Syrah, Cinsault and Vermentino grapes, the wine's moreish, creamy texture sits in harmony with a steely minerality working towards a long, mouth-watering, lingering finish. 31 Dover are a great company that sell a wide range of alcholic drinks and are worth checking out as they make a great gift. 






Candle

Candles don't have to just be for men ''mandles'' – which have been specifically created with male-oriented scent may fit the bill. Yankee candles with masculine and woody fragrances such as sandalwood, cedarwood and tobacco make a great gift. The Yankee Candle Barbershop collection is a selection of glossy black candles with scents such as 'Aftershave' and 'Chrome'.  These candles provide a clean and modern twist on a classic, and the black glass tumblers with brushed metal lids make a fantastic and contemporary gift for men
.



Gym Dad

For Dad's that like working out than this package from Discount Supplements is a great idea. The package includes: 
Optimum Nutrition Opti Men Tablets
Optimum Nutrition 100% Gold Standard Whey Powder
PHD Nutrition Stainless Steel Shaker
The protien powder can be had before or after a workout to support muscel growth and maintance where as the tablets support a strong foundation and are responsible for energy levels, performance and vitality.




Tracking Device

TrackR Bravo is a small tracking device that you can use to track things that are important to you using Bluetooth and the TrackR app on your smartphone.

This is great for fathers who struggle to keep track of all their belongings with their busy schedules - especially those who tend to be quite forgetful! The device can be attached to a briefcase, keys or wallet in case they get lost. The TrackR Bravo helps eliminate the added stress of losing your belongings, which every father undoubtedly needs!




Shoes

 For stylish Dad's that love their shoes than they need this pair from Rieker. These trainers are a sporty shoe with a lace fastening. Complete with contrasting stitched detail on the uppers, they offer the ultimate level of performance in sport and everyday life.


Do you think you'll get any of these items from your Dad? What's your favourite gift idea?

Budgeting for days out in the school summer holidays


The school summer holidays are a good time to spend some quality time with your kids on some fun days out.

But family day trips can be costly, so it makes sense to start saving up now. To help, Auto Advance give some tips for how to budget for the summer holidays, so you can enjoy some good days out with your kids.

 

How much money do you need?


First it’s important to think about how much money you’ll need to save. To do this, you should list the kinds of trips you’ll do and how many. For instance, a day out at a major theme park is likely to be more expensive than a zoo or sea life centre, while a trip to the seaside – travel, food and parking aside – will probably be free. You might also want to do a few big days over a couple of weekends, or lots of smaller trips over a couple of weeks.

You should also think about additional spend you’ll need for these trips, like petrol or train fares to get there, as well as food for lunch and dinner. Little things like car park fees can be easy to forget, but can also make a difference.

Plan ahead and look for offers


Try to plan some of your trips as soon as you can. That way you can look out for the best offers and deals for these trips. For instance, during the summer, many days out, like theme parks, offer deals where kids go free which can be a good money saver. Planning your trips can also make you know how much you’ll need to spend that day.

When planning trips consider looking at local visits, which will keep your children’s interest, rather than those that are far away to save on petrol. There will also be plenty of days out that might have free admittance, like museums, national parks or the seaside, so think about including those.

Set a budget and goals


By knowing what money you’ll need to spend and, in turn, how much you’ll need to save, you can set yourself a budget. You should already have a target figure in mind and be able to work out a daily or weekly budget to achieve that goal, ready for when your first family day trip is planned.

It’s a good idea to create a spreadsheet, which you can fill in each day, to make sure you stick to your budget and your daily spend. When you spend money, you can also include details like what you’ve bought, where you bought it and why. This can help you understand and improve your spending habits, like when you’ve bought something you could have done without.

Motivate yourself


Once you’ve created a budget, it’s a good idea to create ways to motivate yourself to help you hit your goals. A good way to do this is to put the cash figure you’re aiming to reach on your screensaver at work or on the fridge at home. This way you always have your goal in mind. Also, consider creating a countdown to your first family day out by crossing each day off that you’re in budget, as you move closer towards your goal.

Also, consider pinning up images or photos to remind you of the fun you’ll have with your kids during your planned day trips. This could include a family photo, on your office desk or by your bedside, of when you all went out and had fun somewhere special together. Alternatively, you could use images of some of fun attractions you’re hoping to visit with your kids, like of a funfair or the seaside, as an incentive to hit your goals.  

Save and shop around


Now you have your budget and your motivation to achieve your financial goals, try doing what you can to save money, like shopping around. When doing the weekly food shop, consider shopping at supermarkets that are different to your usual shops to find those with the cheapest prices. Also, try those supermarkets closer to your place of work or home to save on petrol.

When buying petrol, keep an eye on where is cheapest, rather than sticking to those petrol stations that are more convenient. It can mean more work on your part, but can help save the pennies in the long run.


Doing little things like this can help you save the money you need. This should help you enjoy some great days out, come summer, and make the school holidays a special time for you and your kids.