Tuesday, 16 September 2014

A Healthier Me - 14 Weeks In


14 weeks ago I made a lifestyle change, one that I wasn't sure would stick. 14 weeks ago I cut out all the rubbish that I was happily consuming on a daily basis, and I opted for a healthier me. Chocolate was replaced with grapes, and my love of Coca Cola was quickly swapped up for water.

3 months later I feel like I have come so far, when I looked in the mirror all those weeks ago, I saw a spare tyre around my waist and I knew something had to be done. I didn’t see the girl I once was and the thought of going on holiday and wearing a bikini filled me with dread. My reflection wasn’t me,  I saw someone I hardly recognised anymore and it gave me the sheer determination to make a change. I have learnt that unless you are really ready to make a change to your life, you quite simply won’t do it. I have demonstrated this each time I have decided to start a diet or lead a healthier lifestyle, but this time my determination has prevailed and now the changes I have implemented are just part of my everyday life.

For me losing weight has meant finding the old me again, through each lb that has melted away I have found I am becoming more confident within my skin again.  I surprise myself with each week that goes by, I am wearing clothes that I never would have dreamed to wear 14 weeks ago, and they are all factors that go towards pushing me further. They truly are the reward for all of the hard work I have been putting in. Just having the willpower to say no to cake and chocolate has shocked me no end, and although I stumble every now and again, I am no longer eating it each and every day. I have found eating in moderation really does do wonders, and you still get to have a little bit of the forbidden treats that you crave.


A big part of my weekly routine sees me visiting the gym, I try to go each evening where I focus my main efforts on cardio. I typically spend around 50 minutes on the cross trainer and then work my way around the weights. In the 3 months since joining the gym I have noticed changes that are beginning to take hold. The changes have been gradual and it hasn’t happened over night, my results have been in conjunction with eating well and working out.

A month or so ago I was sent a pair of Ilu Sheer Panel Capri Leggings for use at the gym. I liked the look of them and was even more impressed with them when they arrived. They are completely different to any other gym clothing I own, and I love that they are so unique. The leggings are black and feature a black netting up each side of the leg. They fit perfectly and I feel incredibly comfortable while I am wearing them for my training sessions. As the leggings are so different to anything else I have found that people have been rather complimentary about them, which has actually caught me a little of guard at the gym!

The leggings are designed to make you look and feel great, they boast a tummy flattening, bottom shaping design paired up with a high sheen finish, and they really do look amazing. I have actually just placed an order on the website to get myself a second pair of these leggings, this time with the Pink netting. Ilu are currently holding their end of season sale, so I actually treated myself to a new top as well.  I have been really impressed with the sports range available, and you can see for yourself just how different it is to general sportswear.

They are currently on sale at £17.99 down from £35.99, so if you have your eye on a pair get them while stocks last!


Another much welcomed gym addition is my set of Yurbuds Inspire Pro for Women Headphones. They have been specifically designed for ladies ears for use during sporting activities. I have found them a godsend after using my iPhone headphones for a few weeks, and getting incredibly frustrated each time they fell out and I had to put them back in. The Yurbuds Headphones stay in throughout the duration of the activity, they are comfortable and perfect for my needs. They retail at £24.99 and I wouldn't be without them during my training sessions these days.


Each change I have made has helped me on my way to where I am today, I am now 2l lbs lighter than I was when I first started on this path. I have lost inches all over, I have achieved my biggest goal which was to be comfortably back in my size 8 clothing. My next challenge is to now to just keep going on my mission to tone up. It really does just go to how that if you really want something, and you are willing to work for it, you can achieve it.

14 weeks later I would gladly jet off to sunnier skies, and I would without a shadow of a doubt be comfortable enough to don a bikini, and for me to say that after feeling so self-conscious only 3 months ago.. It is clear to me that I am feeling a lot better about myself and my confidence is returning.

Since my last post 5 weeks ago I have gone on to lose another 4.6 lbs. The weight that is coming off is now just due to the fact I am not putting the rubbish I was in my body. I am a lot more conscious about what I eat, and this is reflecting in a slow but steady weight loss.


Disclaimer: I was sent the Ilu Sheer Panel Capri Leggings and Yurbuds Inspire Pro Headphones for the purpose of this post. All views and opinions expressed are completely honest and my own.


Sunday, 14 September 2014

The Fireman Sam Titan Boat Review


In the last few weeks Leo has been enjoying a new addition to his toy box, the Fireman Sam Titan Boat from Character. Leo is currently going through a boat phase, so it arrived at the completely right time. 

The boat itself is basic and is designed for children 3 and up, what I like about it was that it was a straight up toy, there are no lights or sounds and it is completely up to Leo to see where his imagination takes him. I love nothing more than watching Leo enjoy his games of make believe these days and he really does get into the games he dreams up.


The Titan Boat is designed for play on the floor, and features wheels to roll it around as you would a toy car. We received two fireman figures with our set, but when purchasing the boat you actually have to buy the figures separately and the price of £9.99 includes the boat only. 

Leo has been enjoying playing with his Titan Boat and moving the characters around the boat as they go on their adventures to fight fires.


The boat is the perfect size for little hands and easy to maneuver around. A great little gift for the younger Fireman Sam fans in the house.


Disclaimer: We were sent the Fireman Sam Titan Boat in exchange for our honest opinion.

Friday, 12 September 2014

"Folr" is launched to help watch over your loved ones.


I have spoken before about the digital age that we live in and how it can both help and hinder us all at the same time. Never before have we had so much knowledge in the palm of our hands, never before have we been so tuned in socially with each and everyone around us.

While the world continues to grow, and the technology before us exceeds new expectations on a daily basis, we are now able to tailor the technologies to aid our daily lives. Now seems like the perfect time to introduce you to Folr, a location-tracking application that provides real time information on the whereabouts of family members and those closest to you. The app can be installed on any smartphone or tablet and unobtrusively updates you on the locations of those most important to you.


I couldn't help but think what a great idea this was for school age children who would maybe be responsible for catching a bus home after school, I know that with Leo in the years to come this is something that would give me peace of mind, but also allowing him that little bit of extra freedom when the time swings around. Folr is targeted at users just like me who want that little bit of reassurance when letting their children grow up, but this app has so many other uses. For me the use of this app would be as a family locator.

Folr is a completely unique location-sharing app that can provide a current location at any moment in time, or you can even see the history played back for you. My instant thoughts were that this app could be used for bad as well as good, but you needn't worry, you send out an invitation to your nearest and dearest so that they can either accept your invitation or leave it. Users of the app get complete autonomy over when you are being tracked.


Folr isn't just a parenting tool though, you can use it to keep a check on a elderly family member or maybe even the husband who is away on a business trip. There are so many scenarios that could play out and be resolved sooner by using Folr. I know that when I was talking to my Mum about it she seemed quite interested, especially for use with my 17 year old brother who is getting to an age now where he loves to be out and about. I know that she wishes it had been around when I was younger!

In the above screen shot, you can see that I have complete control over who I accept, which means I no one I don't know can gain access to any of this sensitive information. It is primarily for friends and family on a need to know basis.

What do Folr have to say?

'At Folr, we believe in the good that this app can do, as we aren't just a
company, we are concerned users too.'

The Folr App can be downloaded for free from both the Ap Store and the Play Store.

Disclaimer: I was compensated for my honest opinions on the new Folr App.

How to get the cheapest broadband available in your area


This post was written for The Life and Times of the Working Mum by Helen Thomas, a writer at broadbandchoices.co.uk, where you can compare mobile phones, TV packages and the cheapest broadband deals.

You probably know that by comparing deals it’s possible to save money on your broadband, but are you put off by the hassle factor?

After all, are other providers really that different to your current one? And is it possible to find the cheapest broadband deal without spending hours you don’t have searching for it?
In short, yes.

These days, by going online you can see which providers’ offers packages where you live, and switch easily, within minutes, without so much as a sniff of buffering as you catch up on the last episode of The Great British Bake Off on BBC iPlayer at the same time. Phew.
So, what are you waiting for? Follow these top tips to get the cheapest broadband possible…

1.    Compare

Why spend hours trawling the web looking for cheap broadband when a comparison website can do all the hard work for you? Just enter your details into the postcode checker and find out what’s on offer where you live, from the cheapest broadband deal to all-singing, all-dancing fibre and TV packages - in seconds. And by using a site accredited by Ofcom, the UK communications watchdog, you can be certain the results you get are impartial and accurate.

2.    Find the best value package

Once you know what’s available you can pick the cheapest deal, but remember the cheapest package may not offer the best value if you can’t do what you want to do with it…

3.    Know what you want... 

It can be easy to get caught up in finding the cheapest broadband, but be careful you don’t end up with a package you aren’t happy with just because it cost the least. Be clear on what you aren’t willing to compromise on, like the minimum download speed you need or what channels you want if you’re getting TV too, before you pick a package. The best comparison sites will let you adjust your results according to your criteria so you won’t waste time looking at deals that aren’t what you want.

4.    …and what you don’t

Don’t pay for services or extras that you don’t want or won’t use. If your landline use is strictly limited to avoiding calls from people offering CPP compensation, paying for inclusive anytime calls will be a waste of your hard-earned cash.

5.    Look for special offers

By using a comparison site you can see at a glance all of the special offers currently available, some of which may be exclusives - so you could get a cheaper price on a particular package than you could anywhere else.

6.    Bundle up

If you want broadband, home phone and TV, it’s almost certainly going to be cheaper to get all three from one provider than separately. The UK’s big four providers - BT, Sky, TalkTalk and Virgin Media - all offer broadband, home phone and TV bundles, and with Virgin Media you can now add a mobile phone plan too.

7.    Check the line rental

When it comes to broadband, with the exception of Virgin Media and a few smaller providers whose packages aren’t widely available, paying for line rental is unavoidable. In fact, if often costs as much, if not more, than the broadband itself. So, check how much it costs before you sign up, and look out for providers that offer a discount if you pay for 12 months upfront.

8.    Sit back and relax…for a while

Once you’ve found the cheapest broadband package that works for you and signed up to it, in most cases your new provider will take care of everything else. Job done. However, like all good things, a great broadband deal will come to an end. So, keep tabs on when your contract’s up, and check your options again when it’s close to expiring to make sure you’re still getting a bargain. If you’re not, switch - providers almost always save their best deals for new customers.

Disclaimer: This is a featured post

Sunday, 7 September 2014

Leo Visit's Land's End


At the end of August the entire family packed up there bags and traveled to the Cornwall for a weeks break. Our week was spent in a holiday cottage at Sennen Cove, one of the last little villages in Cornwall before you reach Land's End. 

Leo had been so excited in the weeks running up to the week away, dreams of days spent at the beach and day trips out and about filled his head, and for the most part of the 6 hour drive he was surprisingly well behaved.. If you could ignore the constant 'I want to go to the beach' the entire time..

Our first full day was spent down by the beach, and the walk to the coast was actually a little further than any of us could of anticipated. Having had the car so full of everybody's bags, we had had to sacrifice the pushchair for this trip, which meant that Leo used the line 'But my feet hurt' more than we would care to remember..And it also meant that Leo was carried in each instance that he decided to sit down and refuse to walk another step.



The walk to the coast saw us walking through fields and avoiding cow pats, it saw kissing gates and stiles, all new experiences for my beautiful little man. When we eventually arrived at the beach, the walk seemed very much worth it, and those tired little legs that Leo had been plaguing Leo only moments before had been forgotten as soon as he had seen the sea.

Leo didn't care that there was a chill in the air, and within moments of arriving at the beach he was running in and out of the waves having the absolute time of his life.


With the beach out of Leo's system for a day or so at least we decided to visit the Cornwall Seal Sanctuary. This is a place I have visited a few times over the years, the last time when I was still at school. It must have been well over 10 years since our last visit, and now here I was bringing Leo along for his first visit. 

It was a rainy day and we arrived in our wellies and coats ready for a soaking, and as we arrived the rain went away and we began to peal off the layers as the sun tried to break through. Leo lead the way around the sanctuary and marveled at the Seals and Sea lions as he went.


All was going well until Leo had a little accident, and by accident I mean deliberately wet himself. Of course as Leo has been so good with his potty training, of late I haven't been taking spare clothes with me on each outing. So I had to quickly strip him off and dress him in the rain poncho.. Suffice to say he looked rather comical running around in very little...


We took the obligatory walk to Land's End and had a look around the attraction. Leo gave me many a heart attack as he wondered around and I saw just how little barrier enforcement that there was between the land and the shoreline below the cliffs!




Towards the end of our week away we visited St Michaels Mount, and Leo did especially well climbing the majority of the way to the top. I had casually slipped in that it was Mike The Knights house, and we may just see him if we took a trip to the top. Unfortunately Mike was away on a mission during our visit, but Leo had the best time climbing the steps and pretending to shoot the cannons.


You can see from the below image the walk that was on our hands, and with two toddlers kicking sand in their wake, we knew it was going to take a while. To visit St Michael's Mount you either walk to it while the tide is out, or take a boat. Leo was all for taking the boat, but we visited during a time when the tide was out, and followed the cobbled path all the way up.

Leo climbed steps and did amazingly well on his latest adventure, and only wanted carrying when the steps turned into slippery slopes and he couldn't quite keep his footing in his size 10 wellies, that were still that little bit too big for him.




With true British weather on our side, it was inevitable that we would encounter some rain. And when I say some rain, I mean that the skies opened up on us and didn't relent until we couldn't be any wetter than we were. At first Leo thought it was amazing, he ran, splashed in puddles and had a fantastic time, until of course it wasn't fun any more. We walked as fast as we could back down the tidal cobbles, but it was too late. We were all completely and utterly soaked, cold and feeling a little worse for wear.

There were so many memorable moments to our a week away, it saw Leo having a fantastic time and he seemed to just grow before our eyes. The week gave him lot's of opportunities to use his words and by the time we got back he seemed to have come on in leaps and bounds.

A particular highlight of the week had to be Leo's pronunciation of chicken chunks... Apparently chunks is a word that could be completely misinterpreted as a rather naughty word that he most certainly doesn't know. But having said that, I couldn't help crying with laughter when Leo strolled back into the kitchen after refusing to eat his chicken chunks and chips... and demanded to know 'Where are my Chicken Chunks!?' - Little did he know that naughty Mummy had gobbled them all up...

Now here we are in September, the schools have gone back and the Summer is soon to be a distant memory. But what lovely memories we have created.





Monday, 1 September 2014

Disney On Ice 100 Years Of Magic


With Leo getting older there are so many things I look forward to doing with him. With Leo's age comes an innocence and magic that reflects on everything that we do. Places we visit, the people we meet all stimulate a special spark that makes the entire experience extra magical. 

That's exactly why I am hoping to take Leo along to a Disney On Ice performance in the not too distant future. Leo absolutely adores many different Disney features, from modern day classics such as Toy Story, to films I used to love as a child such as Peter Pan. They are movies that never lose that special sparkle, that you can watch again and again and never tire of. I began investing in Leo's Disney education while I was pregnant, purchasing the DVDs that we are only really now getting around to watching. 

You may be aware that the 100 Years of Magic: Disney On Ice’ tour is currently working its way around the UK. Throughout September and October the tour will visit Glasgow, Manchester and Birmingham, eventually ending up in London at the end of the year - http://www.ents24.com/uk/tour-dates/disney-on-ice.

The tour starts on the 26th December 2014 and runs until the 4th January 2015. The Disney On Ice 100 Years tour promises a magical experience for the young and old a like. They invite us to sing along with our favourite songs and celebrate the Disney we all know and love. As you would expect from a Disney show no detail has been forgotten and it boasts spectacular choreography, sets and of course beautiful costumes.  

If you are planning on going along to one of the shows then the below event information may be worth knowing.


Tickets

Ticket prices start from around £15.00 depending on which venue you choose to visit. Children aged over the age of 2 years old will also need a ticket. There is not a separate ticket price for kid's and is the same price as an adults ticket. Children under the age of 2 can come along and sit on the adults lap.

Venues

- Glasgow
- Newcastle
- Manchester
- Birmingham 
- Sheffield
- Belfast
- London


Accommodation

In all the excitement we almost forget to consider the most practical of  aspects. Disney On Ice is a busy day for kids and grown up’s a like, and then of course there are the travel timings. Sometimes it is just easier to find a hotel for the night, and worry about the journey back the next day after a good night’s sleep. Of course with the expense of a fun filled family day out you don’t want to break the bank, you want a family friendly hotel within close proximity to your chosen venue. If you are visiting Glasgow, the Holiday Inn at Glasgow Airport is a great location. The Crowne Plaza Manchester Airport is a realistic option when visiting Disney on Ice in Manchester. When visiting Birmingham, the Crowne Plaza Birmingham NEC is a perfect base.

The most important thing is to go along with your little ones and have an enjoyable day.

Disclaimer: This is a featured post



Sunday, 31 August 2014

38 Months Old


On the 27th of August 2014 you turned 38 months old. 
3 Years and 2 months old.

All of a sudden your personality is blooming.

You’re funny, cheeky and mischievous.
You’re lovable, cuddly and you’re a wind up!

The wind up side of you is coming out to play daily these days, ever since your 3rd birthday rolled around it has become much more apparent. You have worked out what to say and the actions that complement them, and your away.

It was just the other day that I told you not to do something for one reason or another, only to be met with your reply of ‘I funny!’. Of course at the time I didn't think your actions were funny, but just hearing you state that you were indeed funny, proceeded to put a smile smack bang on my face.


So now whenever you do something that you potentially shouldn't, you tell me that your funny. In fact when anyone does something that they shouldn't, you tell me that they are funny too. Your cousin Josh decided to try his luck at running away, followed closely by his Mummy, and then by us. We really were a sight chasing Josh laden up with bags, and of course you in my arms while you had a moment of refusing to walk for the umpteenth time. When we eventually caught him, you looked at me and grinned from ear to ear, then you told me ‘Josh runaway! Josh funny!’.

Then of course your cheekiness expands further, you are now mimicking people. A few weeks back we paid a visit to the seaside, and we popped into the pub for a meal. A man walked in shouting loudly, so you looked and me and said ‘man’ and proceeded to make the strange sounds that he had made moments before… In fact recently you managed to really wind up your Aunty Alice. Alice had been playing with you and getting you over excited, of course she then got tired of playing… Whereas you wanted to keep going. You continued to climb all over her, and eventually she got so annoyed that she threw a complete hissy fit. You looked in my general direction to weigh up whether or not you were in trouble, and when you realised Alice was just having a moment, you re-in acted it for everyone in the lounge. You laughed and smiled even more when you saw how funny everyone thought you were, except for Alice of course!



This last week we have spent away in Cornwall at Land's End, you have spent so much time at the beach and you have eaten far to many fish and chips. You have loved being around your extended family and have been making the most of being the very center of attention. Just in the last week alone I have seen even more improvement in your speech, and you are stringing more and more sentences together.

You have even caught on that my name is 'Laura', and given half the chance you love to remind me that you know. 



One part of the holiday you were really looking forward to, was the possibility of going out on another boat ride. We were sat discussing the different boat options together when you told me that you didn't want to go on a big boat. I asked you why, and your response was that it would sink. Having only watched Frozen with you again that day, it suddenly clicked that you thought big boats would sink like on the film, and clearly justified your reasoning for wanting a smaller boat.


A rather big development at 38 months was that you would now actually let us sit you on the toilet. Up until now you would only use the potty, but after Alice managed to bribe you with chocolatey goodness, you haven't looked back. This has made taking you out and about so much easier as we non longer have to worry about taking a potty with us. One aspect we are still working on is getting you to co-operate with number 2's... But we aren't rushing and are tackling it in the same leisurely manner we do everything else.


The end of the summer holidays is here and you are now in your final year before starting school. This week see's you returning to nursery where you will be going Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday. I know that when you go back this week your nursery teachers are going to see such a big change in you. I have finally managed to eliminate the word 'Choo' from your vocabulary, and instead you say 'train' without thinking about it. I cannot wait to hear their feedback on you, I just know they are going to be pleased! 

As we go into your 39th month I still find is incredibly scary at just how fast time is flying by. Each day I feel that little bit prouder, even on the days where you push all of my buttons. You are such a clever little guy and I know that I cannot wait to continue watching you blossom.