Monday, 26 January 2015

New Mums Go to the Baby Show - Win One of Two Pairs of Tickets to London's Baby Show 2015

The Baby Show London February 2015 win tickets here
There are certain things you just must do when you are pregnant, especially when expecting for the first time; for me, one of those things was attending the Baby Show. Being a Londoner, I of course went to the London Baby Show. I dragged husband along, and we spent the whole day visiting every stall.

I had two main priorities when attending. One was to visit all of the reusable nappies and pick a brand, and two, to push around ALL of the buggies and pick a brand. I didn't stick with either of the brands I picked that day, but it is invaluable in bringing brands to life, and getting your grey matter ticking. I was relatively early on in my pregnancy though, and there is so much to consider as your tastes evolve. I did make some purchases on the day though, and sometimes things you don't see on the highstreet. Plus, spending the day surrounded in lots of ladies with bumps, has a special quality about it.

I wish I could share some photos from 2010 when I last went to The Baby Show, but either they are on an old phone, or on my old broken laptop. I'll have to make new memories when I attend this year - so far without a bump. I will however be attending with someone who is pregnant, in the hope that it just might be contagious LOL!

The Baby Show with MadeForMums is the UK’s leading pregnancy and parenting event, and will be returning to:

ExCeL London 
from 
20th to 22nd February 2015. 

However, it's also on:
15-17 May 2015 | NEC Birmingham
23-25 October 2015 | Olympia London

The Show is a must-attend event for new and expectant parents providing everything needed for bump, baby and you including all of the essentials, alongside the latest, innovative products and not-on-the high street brands.  

This year it will incorporate The Work & Family Show, which is dedicated to providing expert advice, solutions and ideas for managing work and family life, and helping to kick start careers after having a family.

The Baby Show highlights include:

 Over 200 trusted brands offering visitors the chance to thoroughly test and try before buying.

 Exclusive show offers and competitions from top parenting brands. 

 The Baby Show stage will feature an array of leading experts, including nutrition specialist Annabel Karmel.

 Catwalk shows with all the latest fashions in maternity, baby and toddler wear.

 A complimentary crèche where parents can drop off their little ones and enjoy the Show knowing they are being cared for.

 The Baby Show Stars’ themed competition where the winning baby will be awarded a high end, exclusive photo shoot and entered into a grand finale to win a year-long modelling contract.

 Dedicated baby facilities ensuring visitors have everything they require, including The tommee tippee feeding area where parents will be able to take advantage of heating and sterilising equipment, complimentary baby food and a comfortable and private space for breast feeding. The Baby Changing Area also includes free nappies and wipes.

 Complimentary entry to The Work & Family Show exhibition.

The Baby Show is taking place on Friday 20th, Saturday 21st and Sunday 22nd February 2015. For more information go to www.thebabyshow.co.uk. 

Standard tickets are priced at £20 on the door (book online in advance and you could save 30%) and I have 2 pairs to give away… 

Opening times: 
Friday 20th February: 9.30am – 5.30pm
Saturday 21st February: 9.30am – 5.30pm
Sunday 22nd February: 9.30am – 5.30pm. 

Ticket Competition Terms & Conditions
  • No purchase necessary. 
  • Entrants must be aged 18 years or over. 
  • Competition is open to UK residents only. 
  • Entry into this competition confirms your acceptance of these Terms and Conditions and your agreement to be bound by the decisions of The Baby Show.
  • Entry is strictly limited to one round of entries per person - in this case an entry includes all of the platforms available, i.e. an individual can post a blog comment and meet all of the criteria for entering on Twitter also.
  • Each and every way of entering is mandatory, so you have to make a blog comment AND do the tweet AND follow both @TheBabyShow and @NewMumOnline each on Twitter.
  • The winners (there are TWO pairs of tickets available to be won, i.e. two people will win two tickets each) will be notified on email and on Twitter once the competition closes. 
  • If one of the winners does not reply within 7 days a new winner will be drawn, with the original winner being disqualified.
  • The winners will be selected at random from all the correct entries received before the closing date and time by Rafflecopter. 
  • All prizes must be accepted as offered. There can be no alternative awards, cash or otherwise. 
  • There is no cash alternative to the stated prize.
  • Entrants will receive a ticket code which can be activated at www.thebabyshow.co.uk
  • Your data will be treated in confidence and will not be disclosed to third parties.
I literally looked like I was having twins with Aaron:



This competition is listed over at Super Lucky Di's blog:

SuperLucky Blog Giveaway Linky

and at Win competitions at ThePrizeFinder.com - See more at: http://www.theprizefinder.com/content/bake-maw-broon-cookery-book-hardback-copy-beautiful-photography-and-easy-recipes#sthash.0oQds8EI.dpuf

Friday, 23 January 2015

A New Mum for a Second Time: Adopting Pets

A couple of weeks before Christmas Aaron started saying that he wanted a dog for Christmas. There's only one problem. I am frightened of them! Luckily the dogs he has pointed at that he likes, are two breeds that I am not frightened of: Labradors and Retrievers. I haven't taken him up on his wish though, but he is still routinely mentioning it, even going as far as to ask: "where would he sleep?".

Becoming a mum for the second time can be difficult; especially if it is to a new pet. So, I'll be delaying the inevitable as long as I can. I have however watched with interest as a couple of online friends have recently adopted dogs.

More and more people are also choosing to add to their family by adopting cats. 

Recently, my friend added to her family of three with a little kitten from the RSPCA – there are so many kittens for adoption, it was hard to pick just one. But, the hardest thing about adopting a kitten is introducing him/her to your children. 

It is up to parents to teach children how to approach pets, handle them, stroke them etc... It is important that this is done right! 

Most kids are great with pets – soft, gentle and loving, but it is all down to the parents to set the ground rules. 

Bringing the kitten home
When you first bring the kitten home, it’s really important that you let him explore his/her surroundings – after all, it’s going to be his/her home too! I would also recommend that when you approach him, you get down to the same level as the kitten – this will stop him from feeling intimidated and scared. 

One of the best things about adopting a kitten from the RSPCA is you are 100% sure on its health and wellbeing which is one less thing to worry about – so I would really recommend it. 

You should also try to put him/her on your lap and stroke him/her – if s/he jumps off or gets uncomfortable, don’t be offended, this is all new to him/her. But, you should try to give him/her as much affection as you can; you are going to be his/her new mum after all.

Making friends
Once your new little kitten has accepted you, you can begin to introduce him/her to other members of the family, including your children.

However, there some important things that you need to keep in mind when your children and your new kitten come into contact:

 You should never leave a small child and a kitten together on their own – for both their safety

 Quiet voices are important – kittens don’t like loud noises

 Ensure your child never puts their face near the cat – scratches are unfortunately common. I still remember school friends who had cats coming to school with scratches

 Never touch the cat when s/he is eating or sleeping

 Never chase the cat – if s/he runs away, he has had enough for now

 Watch body language – if either your cat or your child is getting angry, it is time to separate them

It is really important that you teach your children how to stroke the cat and look after it. The best way to really bring the two together is to give your child a chore – for example, feeding him/her. This works to bring the pair closer together and allows your child to feel a sense of responsibility for the new feline family member. 

Adopting a new pet is incredibly exciting, with these tips in mind; it should be a smooth transition. What's been your experience?

Thursday, 22 January 2015

When Blocks Are Cleared Everything Shifts and Everything Falls into Place

The only thing that gets in our way, is ourselves. I don't know if that is an official quote but it certainly sums things up. I have been a "can do" person all my life. Always solving my problems, but more often than not, everyone elses. But in 2012 I got made redundant and not long after, I went into a "can not" phase, which has been enduring.

I can't do craft
I can't bake
I can't paint Aaron's bedroom

And so on... and so forth... except so forth infers some movement and quite frankly there hasn't been any.

But if you have read my posts of late, you will know that tide is turning. Even my foot is hurting less, whether it be plantar fasciitis or gout, I will know very soon (in 5 days).

So, last Friday, a week ago, tomorrow, I baked.

I went and bought all of the ingredients (who said baking was cheaper than buying cakes though? *gulps):
You'll see the cookery book I was using above.

I love that the recipes are VERY straight forward and that there are quite a few that are a little different - Aaron's Teacher's Assistant said "it was different eating a cupcake with a spoon" but more on that later :-)

The first instruction was to pre-heat the oven, but considering I was doing this for the first time in 10 years, it probably wasn't the best idea for me, as it took me far too long faffing around so I'd say the oven was on a tad too long by the time I got MY act together.

Second mistake, was that despite owning a scales, i didn't bother getting it out of the cupboard. Meaning I guestimated everything, resulting in (i) the cupcakes being too sweet and (ii) the cupcakes being too eggy. I announced my frustration on Instagram (as you do) and a very helpful @threeboysandacat suggested that I weigh the eggs, in their shells, and then you add that same amount in flour, caster sugar and unsalted butter. It works. It's great for example if you are using large eggs instead of medium, as they may weigh at 200g instead of 180g and you can then adjust everything accordingly. Yes, cupcakes appear to be an exact science. Am I right in thinking it is the exact same recipe as madeira cake? Should madeira be with a capital "M"?

Anyway the page after the cupcakes recipe, had the instructions for "Cupcakes in a Jar" so that is what I did, and I simply adored them:
What is really weird is that I had already washed two jars that chocolate spread had vacated, about a week before. I NEVER do that. I mean I do, but they go in recycling. When I washed and kept them, I didn't even know why I was doing so, AND no, I had not read the cookery book yet!

So these are the two teacher's gifts prior to delivering them on the p.m. school run:
They were not expecting them, so on delivery I announced that they were "Thank God It's Friday" gifts, which I kind of made up on the spot, to cover my embarrassment at giving a gift without reason. If you have read recent posts, you will know that after that, I opened Aaron's book bag and he'd got a Head Teacher's Award certificate, so it was like I was saying THANK YOU for that, without even knowing about it yet. He got it for handwriting - his is very good it has to be said, and he gets that from his Dad.

I must say, I did enjoy the baking. I wasn't an expert at filling the cake cases though. This was my first effort:
I'm such a perfectionist, that the MINUTE Aaron came home from school, I made them again, this time with him. True say, they were much better. I was glad of the weighing eggs tip, as my medium eggs were by this time finished, so I was now using large eggs. Now, I DID get my scales out of the cupboard. I weighed all of the ingredients out correctly and as a result the cupcakes tasted perfect. They weren't too sweet at all, and therefore could accommodate the jam and buttercream, without it all being a bit much.

Baking for the first time in sooooooooooooo long meant there was NO WAY I was going to make the buttercream myself, so I bought this stuff. I'd say (i) it is too expensive and (ii) the taste is a bit much. If I made a cupcake have a topping the size of what you see on the web, I don't think I could eat it - just too rich. Plus if you do a topping THAT size, you'd only get 8 from the tin, which means the cost per serving would just be too much. So now that I have popped my baking cherry, I WILL be making the icing topping MYSELF next time - watch this space :-)
Clearly baking was on the horizon for me, as I bought this wire stand a few weeks ago. You'll see that my cakes kind of sunk. They rise beautifully in the oven, then sink as they cool. This even happened when I was making them for the second time, despite doing everything right :-(

You'll see that's the amount of icing I can JUST about cope with:
So are we bonkers? Or, do you weigh your eggs too? I would love to hear more about cupcakes from the lovely +Helen Jessup as I know she is the resident cupcake expert of the parent blogging world.

Anyway, if you like the sound of Bake With Maw Broon, which is a beautiful baking book, with wonderful photography, you can win one below. It certainly is a bit different, with lots of slightly out of the ordinary things in there - lots more recipes for me to try, now that I am back in the game. The baking game! Now, I need an apron!
MAW BROON is the indomitable matriarch of the Broons family and the original domestic goddess. In between cooking, cleaning and setting the world tae rights ower a braw cup of tea, she has also found time tae become the bestselling author of Maw Broon’s Cookbook, Maw Broon’s But an’ Ben Cookbook, Maw Broon’s Afternoon Tea Book and Maw Broon’s Cooking with Bairns. Bake with Maw Broon is her definitive guide tae guid Scottish home baking. She lives with her husband and eight children at 10 Glebe Street, Auchenshoogle.
Here's the comp, which is quite easy to enter. You don't have to do much, but all entries are mandatory.
Thank you

Bye for now, Liska xxx
Sadly, despite the enthusiasm displayed in this post, I learned a tough life lesson TODAY just after writing it, which resonates with positive, intended to be upbeat, opening sentence of this post. It has inspired me to create this pic below, which I will open up about tomorrow in a further blog post:

This competition has been listed at The Prize Finder
Win competitions at ThePrizeFinder.com - See more at: http://www.theprizefinder.com/content/bake-maw-broon-cookery-book-hardback-copy-beautiful-photography-and-easy-recipes#sthash.0oQds8EI.dpuf

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

When Your Wishes Come True

My Mum's always taught me that if you have a wish, you should put it in God's hands (or those of your guides and Angels) as you go to sleep and it will all become clear in the morning. Decisions can be made, once you've slept on them, confusion magicked away whilst you slept, if you remembered to ask for help just as you were dosing off.

Well, this 9 times out of ten works for me, but sometimes I just go "phew", "glad that resolved itself" and move onto the next thing to worry about.

Except, lately, I have been noticing the immediacy with which they have been granted. So... with that in mind, and with no further ado, I link up to the launch of #GiveThanksThursday. I have really missed Michelle's Reasons To Be Cheerful, so I am thrilled and thankful (see what I did there) that she has come back with a bang! You go girl!




Give Thanks Thursday at Mummy from the Heart



Some of you may know I am currently decorating Aaron's bedroom. Well we have visitors coming this weekend, so I also wished that I would find a suitable tradesperson to build his bunkbed.

I contacted my person of choice and he hasn't been getting back to me (turns out he has just had a baby).

Except, I moved on from that worry, because despite all my decluttering and cleaning and polishing and preening, a smell appeared the other day in the kitchen. A vile awful smell. Daddy had his theory on where it was coming from, but I couldn't confirm it as I had a head cold and a blocked nose (yes despite already having flu for 3 weeks at Christmas) but I put it down to detoxing which can cause that. My headcold NOT the smell ha ha!

Anyhow, the other night I was so worried about it, that the last thing I thought about as I slept was my wish that I would find AND resolve where it was coming from.

The next morning, despite having LOTS of other things to do, I was guided  to the back of the fridge and sure enough, the fridge has a drip tray on the back that was full of smelly stagnant water (as I often let things go "off" in the salad crisp tray at the bottom of the fridge).... I know! I know!

Anyhow I unscrewed it, bleached it etc etc etc, and the smell immediately went but I also burned incense for good measure. What was amazing was that 1. we've never in 10 years known about that drip tray and it's never caused a problem before, yet 2. I was immediately drawn to it despite nearly no sense of smell.

I then wondered why a tradesperson hadn't got back to me, and was almost cross about it, until I remembered THAT was not what I had wished, so as an experiment, THAT night I wished that the perfect person would contact me the next day, offering to build the bunkbed. Not just build it, but do it this week in time for my visitors.

And... you know what... he did!

It is booked for tomorrow, so let's see how we go shall we.

And my final wish of three?!?!? I have needed a blood test for 6 months and was too scared to book it, being scared of needles, but my Mum had convinced me to. I was terrified of the forthcoming appointment, but to cut a long story short, "I was taken care of" thanks to putting it in God's hands. Basically that cream you put on an hour before! It works!

So it's funny, my beautiful kitchen that I was so proud of went a little downhill due to that smell, but it was rectified once I found the stagnant water, and pretty quickly too.

Even my flowers looked sad about it (below) but I discovered that my vase had run out of water and the tulips were literally looking for it (look at them leaning). The first time I saw them like this, it kind of scared me as they look like venus fly traps ha ha!
I'm still having a hot cereal every morning after dropping Aaron at school but now it's ready brek instead of porridge. I put that in lower case as it is the Aldi version not the real thing, and it is yummy. I'm spicing it up with fruit and nuts on top and some naughty brown sugar.

Anyway, I can't wait to finish Aaron's bedroom and if it looks good I'll share it with y'all. Can you tell we are watching Sheriff Callie right now? :-)

This is a blog hop, so link up tooooooo:

Liska xxx

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Radiant Little Person - My Living Arrow

It's been the longest time since I hooked up with Living Arrows, but firstly I was blown away by how Aaron's smile just JUMPED out of the screen on my camera yesterday. I said to Daddy, it's the best picture EVER. When I visited Romanian Mum this morning, I straight away knew what I needed to do with that photo. It's a Living Arrows photo if ever I saw one
My beautiful radiant boy. My heart, light, love and soul, all in a pint sized bundle of joy!

Here you see, below, he is not even doing anything on the computer - he is just enjoying wearing the bin lid earphones. I remember that feeling in the 1970s, the first time I tried a pair on. It was in Wood Green at my Great Aunt's house. Takes me right back #Nostalgic
Bye for now, busy day ahead of me.

Lots of love, Liska
x

A House in The Country or NOT as The Case May Be

I thought I liked the countryside. I do like the countryside.... but I couldn't help but have an extra spring in my step when we swapped a remote boutique hotel in Scarborough for an inner-city streetside one in York, on our family staycation weekend "ooop Norf" at the end of November. I think within the country me (who spent ALL her Summer holidays on the west coast of Ireland) is perhaps, as loathe as I am to admit it, a city girl at heart.

So when I received an email from Snaptrip with this property in Suffolk, the first thing I noticed was that it is on a terraced street "an attractive period cottage situated in a pretty street just a few minutes walk from Woodbridge's Market Hill and town centre".

Intrigued by this impressive suburban "cottage" I was intrigued to delve deeper and went to the top deals section of their website, where I was stopped in my tracks by this Whitby rooftop view:
I was slowly but surely coming to understand that Snaptrip may offer something rather different, to my image of a rental cottage (something that sleeps 6-12 people with acres of land around it and only country walks on offer, weather permitting). Cottages are not something I think of when I think City Break.

The clear "key" you see above shows you at a glance:
  • how many bedrooms there are 
  • how many people it sleeps
  • whether pets are allowed
  • whether there is Wifi; and finally
  • review comments, if there are any (the ones I have read are glowing)
There's an exceptional 42% discount on this beautiful cottage in Norfolk:
You'd be forgiven for thinking that the homepage looks like this, and offers nothing more than a search tool, as I did:
But...
that is not the full story and that is not the only thing on offer from their homepage. In fact if you scroll down, you can pick which region you would like to peruse! Although of course, just looking at the "top deals" is good too, but for sure, sometimes it is a particular destination or part of the country you'd like to visit, like for example The Lakes!!! Somewhere I have always wanted to go as thus far I have only been to the Peak District, when really it's always been The Lake District I wanted to see. I misunderstood when my colleagues invited me LOL!
I love that when you are viewing a property on the website, if you scroll down to the bottom of that page, you see the map of where the property is located along with a long list of "local amenities" including how far away each one is in miles. Each of those amenities is even hyperlinked so that you can click through, for your convenience to the place you would like to visit during your stay.

I am literally writing this post, documenting my experience of the website.

Here's what Snaptrip has to say:
Our aim is to make finding the right cottage at the best price as easy for you as possible.We still adhere to the founding principles of our business which allow us to provide a first class service and unbeatable prices to you, the holidaymaker…
  • We personally select all of our properties
  • We only offer quality properties at the best price
  • We work closely with our cottage owners to ensure high levels of customer service and satisfaction
  • We treat all of our customers and suppliers with integrity and respect.
  • Get everything you want on one site, instant bookings at great discounts.
I'm off now to read the Snaptrip blog, while I daydream of a holiday I could have. Ooooh a post I have read there now has me longing for a 3 night break in Wales.

Dear reader, where would YOU like to go?

If you really do want to go somewhere, in partnership with Snaptrip I have an offer for you:

This post is in partnership with Snaptrip and is my genuine overview and initial experience of the offer, having spent time on their website. All words, all opinions, are my own.

Liska xxx
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