Getting Dressed Up with JD Williams – review

With the long weekends, come the spring and summer weddings. I had a wedding of some good friends to look forward to. With nothing to wear, JD Williams came to my rescue. I live in Jeans and tunic tops and was not sure where to start. JD Williams have a great selection of dresses with items from occasion wear to everyday.

I was very hopeful that I would find something suitable for a spring wedding. I started with a few searches in the JD Williams online store and found I could narrow down my search by colour, size, style and even occasion. I had wanted a mid length flare dress and had a shortlist of about three. One stood out and despite it being a label I was not familiar with, it kept drawing my attention. JD Williams did have brands I had heard of, and plenty of choice.

The Nightingales dress that I ordered was perfect, and I chose to add the matching shawl as you never know with British weather. I love the cotton content, and the fit was very good. JD Williams also have a large range of shoes, and many come in extra width sizes. The first pair that I chose were too big. It seems that maybe my feet are shrinking. The second pair fitted like a glove and I have been very impressed with the fit, and style. I chose flats as there is so much standing to be done at a wedding, not to mention the dancing.

I love my Nightingales dress from JD Williams, and am looking forward to taking it on holiday later this month. I think the fit is superb, and great quality for the price. The shoes have been much admired and despite not breaking them in before my friends big day there was no rubbing. I can honestly say that I have been very impressed by my first online dress shopping experience. If I’m lucky enough to be invited to more weddings I know where I will be looking first.

Disclaimer I was sent these items in return for an honest review, the words are my own and have not been altered

 

Friendship Bracelets from My Style – Review

Friendship Bracelets from My Style are great kits with everything you need to make 10 projects and are available from the InterplayUK website for RRP £7.99.

The boy and lots of his mates love to make friendship bracelets so I knew this kit would be suited to a boy as well as girls. The kit contains nine different coloured cords, safety pins suction cup and instructions to make 10 projects. I love the box too which keeps your friendship bracelets safe and is easy to open.

friendship bracelets

The instructions are easy to follow, and once you have learnt the basic forward and backward knots, you are encouraged to make more complex pattered friendship bracelets. The boy chose his favourite colours from the supplied cords and decided on a v chevron pattern. Using a safety-pin to hold your project tight is a great idea. The pins supplied are small and we found a larger pin was easier and less bendy when pulled tight. You can alternatively use the sucker on a shiny surface to hold your bracelet.

friendship bracelets chevron

We found the Chinese knotting thread in this kit is bright, but does have a tendency to slip when you first start. There was some patience needed to get an even pattern as your bracelet is made. There is plenty of cord in the kit to make bracelets of all length’s and a handy ruler printed across the top of each instruction page means that all you will need is scissors.

friendship braelets finished

The finished bracelet is very effective and makes a great gift for friends and family. Once you are confident with each style of the friendship bracelets you can add beads and even charms. The boy loved the finished friendship bracelet in purple blue and black, his favourite colours. The addition of a silver cord makes for a fun and different bracelet.

I can see us making a few of these friendship bracelets as gifts as they are so easy to finish and look great. For more great My Style Craft kits have a look at the website of follow them on social media.

Disclaimer we were sent this kit in return for an honest review.

 

#BritMumsLive

Last year when I booked my #BritMumsLive ticket I had no idea where I would be in a years time or what to expect. I was quite frankly one of the new kids, and couldn’t imagine that would change in a year. Thanks to the support of some good blogging friends, who saw me through times good and bad, I had no choice but to attend.

britmumslive setting off

On the Friday I set off after dropping the boy off at school, and headed off to the big city with only my suitcase and the knowledge that I was meeting Mary from Over 40 and a Mum to one at the station. I had read that safety in numbers was a good idea at  #BritMumsLive and as we set off to the hotel which we were sharing with some other great bloggers, I knew I wasn’t going to be alone.

I was impressed with the set up at #BritMumsLive, with some great speakers, plenty of workshops covering lots of interesting, varied topics and even the odd slice of cake. I had a great time, learnt lots about all sorts of things, and even met and chatted to some new and interesting brands. Everyone seemed so friendly so getting to meet a few new people was a great experience, although something that doesn’t normally come naturally to me.brit mums live fun

I was told it was best to travel light but wish I had decided to bring my camera as my phone photos don’t do the event justice. I was pleased so that Weird Fish had generously offered me my outfits for the weekend, so I certainly didn’t feel out-of-place. I had seen plenty of other bloggers talking about what they would wear and as a SAHM, I’m not used to spending money on clothes for me, but instead am used to buying uniform, and fencing supplies. My first outfit the lovely Phoebe dress, that I was sent to review last month and you can read the full review here. I am still not quite brave enough to bear my lily white legs to the world, so wore this dress with my jeans, it was lovely and cool in the heat of London, and showed very little creasing despite sitting in for the lectures and walking round the hub.

For BritMums Saturday I wore a lovely new outfit from Weird Fish The Traveller Outfit, consisting of chinos, Nia 3/4 linen summer top, Briony waterfall cardigan in peach blossom, and a coordinating Gincko scarf. The chinos are a lovely soft cotton, in a steel-gray and not only compliment the light cream colour of the linen top. The contrast of the peach blossom colour of the waterfall cardigan, made this outfit look both cool and effortless. I loved the outfit and was concerned that I would be too hot, but the lightweight of the waterfall Briony cardigan made a lovely change to what I would usually choose and looked good for the whole day.

I had a great weekend, and have been inspired to have a good look at both what I do in the world of blogging, and how I do it. As the time went by my confidence grew and I was able to introduce myself to some new blogging friends, even in the lunch queue. I learnt about topics like SEO, that only just over a year ago I had no idea about, I was inspired by some great films from Greg Brand from Travizeo. Beautiful photography from Julia Boggio, designs from Lucy Heath, and even listened to a travel favourite in Simon Calder. I caught a quick picture as he unfolded he tiny bike and headed off into the city.

#britmumslive simon calder

Finally on the Saturday afternoon it was time for the Keynote bloggers. These emotional and moving pieces written and read out beautifully were enough to move everyone to tears. I think everyone in the room could connect with the stories in one way or another. The performance from the new musical the good enough Mums club was amazing, funny, sad and inspirational all in one. I was proud to finish my weekend in London with the chant of “I’m Good Enough”

brit mums live

I have to say if anyone out there is reading this and thinks that they don’t know whether to go to #BritMumsLive 2015 then I wold say do it! Find a friend, don’t go alone, and enjoy having some great times with friends, it’s not all work. Then there is also the goody bag to look forward to at the end, with lots of exciting goodies.

It helps to have a great clothing range to choose from, to make you feel extra special so a big thank you goes to Weird Fish. They have a great and affordable choice, and I know that I will get lots of wear out of my outfits, not least while on our holiday in 113 days time. So now just the small matter of getting my #BritMumsLive ticket for 2015, and the planning starts all over again.

Disclaimer, I was give this outfit for the purpose of review and to wear to #BritMumsLive 2014 the opinions remain my own and have not been altered.

Pets at Home, Christmas gifts for our cats

Thanks to Pets at Home Magic and Mischief will be celebrating Christmas too. We always have a gift under the tree for our feline friends but this year they have a large box all to themselves. Instead of the usual tin of tuna or turkey scraps from the table on Christmas day, Pets at Home have sent them their own stocking, along with some other gifts range from their range for cats.

Pets at Home have a lovely range of Christmas gifts for your pet, from £2.50 for some treats, up to Santa with is springy arms and beef treat sticks. The stocking is also very reasonably priced at £5 and has a great mixture of toys and treats, with mice, glitter balls and chocolate drops. Our favourite is the reindeer with the green tail, which I think the boy has enjoyed possibly more than the cats will.

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We have a Pets at Home store locally, and they are always very friendly and helpful, they have a great selection of all the brands of pet food which we buy. We also like to pop in and see what fish they have from time to time. The boy was lucky enough to attend one of their workshops with his beavers group, they were brilliant with the kids telling them all the things you need to remember before getting a pet.

So if you haven’t already treated your pets, I am sure there is still time to pick up that little gift to give your beloved animals! Now what to get our three fish for Christmas?

Disclaimer we were sent a selection of products from the pets at home range, the opinions remain ours and are unchanged.

Bloggers night in

When it was suggested that I meet up with my blogging pals for a Bloggers Night In, I was more than a little nervous. But I needn’t have worried as genuinely they are the nicest bunch of people. Once I had committed to collecting two other blogging mum’s, there was no turning back as I would never want to leave them stranded.
So despite the clash with the boys yearly fencing competition I set off on what turned out to be a bit of an epic road trip. First stop Southampton, collection of my two passengers, The Life of Spicers and Fiona, Mummy’s Little Stars then off up the A34 to meet our lunch stop at Mary, Over 40 and Mum to One.

With road closures and detours lunch became a mid afternoon snack but with Mary at the helm we were soon at our destination in plenty of time for our bloggers night in. Thanks to our host Eileen, ET Speaks from Home for putting us up and setting out an amazing spread.

Welcomed by, Pippa, Red Rose Mummy, Jenny, The Brick Castle, Zoe, My Mummies World,  Tami, Mummy of Two, Anna, In the Playroom the group was complete. Time to get the party started. With so much new food and drink to try, I found it a bit daunting but with Eileen at the helm we got tucked in. Starting with snacks like Pop chips and Ryvita thins, olives, dips with tenderstem brocoli. Cocktails, wine and shloer for the softies (Anna and I) We had Domino’s pizza, with Christmas gifts, cake fun and fantastic goodie-bags. Fun games like Who wants to be a millionaire, I can’t believe how many new products I have to try out over the next few weeks. But the best part was meeting my new friends, who now feel like old friends. All to soon it was time to get some rest before our Frankie and Benny’s breakfast and our trip home.
I had a lovely weekend in Birmingham, it was so nice to finally put faces to all my blogger friends and I hope it wont be too long before I meet up with them again.

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This is such a nice picture, and I usually hate pictures with me in them, but genuinely they are a nice bunch of very inspiring ladies. Thank You all!

My Feline Friends

All I wanted was a pet, I didn’t care what it was, a hamster, gerbil, cat or chicken! My Dad always had an answer as to why I couldn’t have one, too smelly, too messy, it will wreck the furniture we don’t have room. I now realise this was a battle of wills with my parents, my Dad wanted a dog, my Mum didn’t. So the result no pets! This didn’t mean I had no animals in my childhood, I had friends with pets, I looked after them while they went on holiday. I remember a gerbil drawing blood as my friend said her holiday goodbyes. I looked after mice, and even chickens but still the answer was “NO”

Imagine my surprise the day my Dad came home with a cat! YES completely out of the blue with no warning there she was Abby, a beautiful tortoiseshell. It had turned out while my Dad was decorating a customers house, the cat had followed him everywhere. The lady had told my Dad how Abby was a rescue cat who had belonged to her daughter who had sadly died. After a week of being shadowed by the cat the lady had asked my Dad to take her home, and to everyones surprise he had agreed.

Doris or Abby

Doris or Abby

So here was a small timid little cat, not the kitten I had dreamed about but still she was a pet. She had lived her early life in Abby woods in Birmingham, hence the name, and had never seen stairs living in a bungalow. She didn’t know how to play, especially with two very excited kids who still couldn’t believe their luck. Slowly she became a member of the family, finding her way from under the bed downstairs to the beanbag at the bottom of my bed. Every night she slept there with me believing she enjoyed my company, and that it wasn’t just the warmth of my nylon 80’s beanbag. Soon Abby became Doris except when my aunty Doris came to stay and a permanent part of family life.

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Doris was my best friend never judging and always there for a reassuring purr. I was convinced she came to find me if I was upset, and during my teenage years this was often. She understood all my inner angst, my dislike of all things to do with school, friends moving away, Doris was always there somehow knowing. I remember her love of all things Christmas from the boxes to the wrapping paper, and all of the turkey scraps. During the summer an outdoors mouser in the winter an in front of the fire cat, I thought she would live forever. Forever is a long time, and she did have a very long life, we don’t know exactly how old as we didn’t know how old she was when we were given her. She ended her days with a friend of the family as we had to move to a flat and couldn’t take her with us. Doris left us peaceful having had a very full life full of mice and balancing on fences which she was particularly good at!

I never wanted to replace her as there would never be a cat quite like her so imagine my surprise when a few years later another rescue tortie came into my new family. I was living in a flat with my then boyfriend who worked late shifts. I didn’t like the emptiness of the flat so we looked into getting a kitten, we were advised to get two so they had company while we were out. Sadly one died of Lukemea after only a few weeks, I was devastated as they were my babies. Thomas the tabby cat grew to be a strong willed creature who disliked me and adored my boyfriend. When he got to six months we looked at getting him some company, and there in the rescue centre was this little tortoiseshell, rehomed and returned twice how could I leave her there.

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She cam home with us and was soon named Dotty as yes she was very Dotty! she fell over, only drank from a tap and was the most affectionate companion. I have so many fond memories of my new best friend, she slept on me every night sometimes sneaking under the duvet when she thought we weren’t looking. We moved to a house and the garden became just another room till the day Dotty proudly bought home a sausage! It was then followed by bacon, and a slice of toast. We were convinced she was stealing the neighbours breakfast, it turned out they had been feeding left overs to the birds.

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Both Thomas and Dotty had full lives and saw many changes, from small garden to large and the arrival of the boy. As elderly cats the boy wasn’t exactly gentle but they tolerated his enthusiastic love. First to leave us was Dotty, who had cancer and then peacefully a year later Thomas. The house seemed empty and after a couple of years without the shadows to trip over and the sound of purring, we looked into getting just one cat this time. I was surprised to find that recue centres wouldn’t rehome with children under five and resigned myself to no more pets for a while anyway.

A friend at work then offered me a kitten, and the boy and I went to meet them they were so adorable, tiny and fluffy and all black. At 5 weeks they wouldn’t be leaving their Mum just yet but the boy was smitten with a little black bundle of silliness. Daddy said ok we can have two and we chose one each, sisters. Our two new housemates were so small and were everywhere, climbing curtains under the washing machine,and up the Christmas tree.

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Now our family is complete, the boy wont have any siblings I have come to terms with that, but he has his own feline friends. He chats to them cares for them and when they are indoors which is not that often they can be found in his room, by the radiator or on his beanbag, its not nylon but its home.

“This post is an entry into the Tots100/Swell UK competition.”

 

Friends, how do you find yours?

Over the weekend I found myself quietly musing about friends and where you find them.
As a person who finds making friends not the easiest task, I do worry that the boy is taking the same path. I have always had a few good friends but never crowds. This has made me question are friends made from circumstances? Do we really choose them, or do they choose us? Are friend forced upon us like the people we work with or share a school desk. I have decided I don’t know the answer but have found it an interesting question to ask myself.

The boy had lots of friends at nursery and was always popular but mostly with people older, and this includes good friends. At school he quickly had a “Gang” and the four of them were inseparable, but with class changes and being split up in working circumstances this has faded. So from Infant to Junior school he is now split from all but one of his close friends. He knows so many of the other children, and often a child unknown to me will stop and say hi to him. He seems to have an affinity with older and sometimes more interesting people than making friends with his peers. Could this be a factor of being an only child? Or is this something he finds easier because of his interest in constantly gaining knowledge? Or could it simply be that he has learnt these skill or lack of them from me?

I know friendships have to be treasured, and worked at, and this is something I am trying hard to keep going. Working from home can be a lonely place, especially on a grey winters day. I am determined that I will make this work for my family and hope that the boy will continue to work on his friendships for many years to come…

Epic, a wet half term day family film

Today turned out to be very wet, not like the weather at the weekend which had made us feel like summer was here. So there was only one thing to do, go to the cinema. The boy had told me that Epic looked like a good film, and I had seem a trailer somewhere and thought it looked worth a full price ticket (we usually only go on a Saturday to kids £1 cinema) So I booked online with my local Cineworld. This is so easy to do, and you even get 10% discount, plus when you arrive you know you will get in and you don’t have to stand in the queue to collect tickets. We arrived grabbed our tickets and went to find seats. I find it difficult to watch the 3D films for long, and don’t want to strain the boys eyes so had booked the 2D version of the film. It was very busy I guess in part because it was wet weather.

The film is set deep in a forest, and has a second family story running through it. If you like Lord of the Rings and fairy’s then this is the story for you. The footage although animated could be real, and I would imagine is very impressive in 3D with lots of great action and thrilling overhead shots. Epic is from the makers of ICE AGE and RIO, and you can tell this from the style of some of the animated characters. You have a hero Nod and a heroine M.T. Two comedy stars in the form of a slug and a snail called Mub and Grub, along with the baddie Mandrake. The film was great from start to finish, and I didn’t hear a noise out of the boy. It is a great length as well not too long that the kids lose interest, or that you have to make a trip to the loo halfway through. The boy said it was good, I think it had enough action and fighting in it. Daddy thought it was good, and I liked the nice amount of humour that ran through it. There is love, passion, loss and danger so be prepared. I will say that like all good fairy stories it has a happy ending, and was truly and Epic way to spend a rainy half term holiday!

We give Epic 5/5

I will just add that the lady next to me had a small daughter who was terrified for most of the last half of the film as there are lots of battles, and I was surprised to find out after that this is rated U. I think if you have a child that can be a bit spooked by battle scenes then maybe wait for DVD, but boys will find it EPIC!