Friday, 16 June 2017

Spring Update

Hi guys,

It's finally Summer, yaaaaas!! My favourite time of year! And also time for my Spring Update.

It was quite possibly the hardest few months of my life if I'm honest. But I'm happy to leave that behind me and have an amazing Summer. 




March

So at the very end of February I found out that the man I spent the past 8 years with, settled with and started a family with had been having an affair for the past year. 

So March was tough. 

I had to deal with what had happened myself, as well as pick up the pieces for my children. My eldest is obviously old enough to understand and was heartbroken. It has massively affected him. My youngest has been very confused but is slowly adapting to life with Daddy not living at home with us anymore, not having a family; Mummy & Daddy not being together anymore, the way he was supposed to grow up. 

I threw myself in to spending quality time with the boys, making sure they were okay and understood that I loved them and I wasn't going anywhere. Lots of fun days out and keeping them busy. 

I also took some time out for myself, to go see The Full Monty at the local concert hall. Watching some of my fave former Hollyoaks men get their bums out cheered me up a bit, if only for a couple of hours. 


My most popular post this month was The Full Monty, UK Tour.





April

So we started April with a trip to watch Justin Fletcher Live, it was so good. Taylor loved it! His little face when 'Mr Tumble' turned up! Even I was excited! haha

It was a month full of finding my feet, taking over the house and bills.
And if all that change wasn't enough, my employment stopped and I was made self employed. It's been a scary ride. I literally sat there at times thinking, 'wow, how the hell am I going to do all this by myself.'

This pushed me into making the decision to join ActiLabs. It's something I've been thinking about for the past 2 years. I use their products and I adore them. I soon found that it wasn't just another 'direct selling / money making scheme'; the company is an absolute joy to work for, they're super supportive, positive and rewarding. And the products are just amazing. I'll tell you a bit more about them in another post sometime. But if you fancy taking a look at what we do, click here.

I also took a bit of time out for a couple of weeks, to be kind to myself, treat myself... and a few days out in the sunshine with cocktails helped with that too!


My most popular post this month was Sending & Receiving Flowers.





May

May started with a trip to Butlins in Minehead. Bradley spent a week in Corfu with his Dad, so I'd booked a Just for Tots week at Butlins for Taylor. If you have under 5's, TAKE THEM! Honestly, it's such an amazing break specifically aimed at under 5's. Was such a good week. 

When we got back, I had my friends baby shower to get ready for. I was in charge of the games so I tried to go all out for her. She'd been a huge support for me over the past few weeks so I wanted to make sure she had the best time. And I think she was happy! :)

I managed to reach Diamond Status with Acti for the second month running so super happy with how that's going! Getting paid to play with makeup and take selfies can't be bad! :)

It was also Bradley's 13th birthday this month. Yes, I am now the mother of a teenager!! I'm not quite sure how that happened!!! But I made sure I spoilt him with 13 pretty fab presents and he was a very happy boy! 

It wasn't a great month for me. I think things finally caught up with me. Keeping busy, putting everything into work and the boys was all well and good but I think things finally sunk in and I fell into a really dark, dark place. It wasn't nice and I wouldn't wish that feeling on anyone. Well, any decent human being of course! There's a huge stigma surrounding mental illness, but it should be spoken about more. I was in a place that not even my 2 beautiful children were stopping me from not wanting to wake in the morning. But, it's okay not to be okay. 

Now, I'm doing well. I know I deserve to be happy. I know I deserve so much better than to be treated in such a disgusting way. I'm SO much better than all those involved. 
I won't let this ruin me. I have two beautiful boys and we're going to be happy, the three of us.
 
I don't have much support. Unfortunately I don't have family around me to help me out, advise me or check in with me. I have some great friends, that are there if I need them. But otherwise it's just me, me and my boys. Us against the world.


And I'll shine. Watch me.
BRING ON THE SUMMER!


My most popular post this month was Butlins Just for Tots week - Minehead



How was your Spring?







SHARE:

Saturday, 20 May 2017

Butlins 'Just for Tots' Break - Minehead

Butlins, just for tots, toddler, holiday, minehead


Holidaying, day trips and generally entertaining my two is hard work.

With a 10 year age gap between them, it's often pretty tricky to find something they'll both be interested in. It's often a case of one being bored while the other is busy doing something they want to do, or before we separated, James and I would take turns taking one child to do something while the other kept the other one busy. 

But when Bradley arranged to go to Corfu for the week with his Dad, I jumped at the chance to take Taylor to the Just for Tots break at Butlins.

I'll throw in my disclaimer now; I am not in any way being paid for this post, I am not a Butlins Ambassador (I wish!) I just simply thought this break was bloody amazing and needed to be shouted about. ;)


Butlins, just for tots, toddler, holiday, minehead
Butlins, just for tots, toddler, holiday, minehead


I've always been a fan of Butlins for the kids, they really have thought of everything in terms of a fun packed family holiday. 
Bradley loved visiting Butlins growing up, he was just spoilt for choice at the amount of activities and things he could do. 

When he was 7 I took him abroad to Menorca. It was nice and all, and I loved being in the sun, but other than playing in the pool and a few kids clubs there wasn't much else for him to do and he often got a little bored. I ended up booking to take him to Butlins when we got home. :)

The Just for Tots breaks are aimed specifically for Under 5's. 

With fully packed entertainment schedules full of toddler friendly shows and activities, early meal times, 'drop in' activity sessions and early finishing evening entertainment, the break is designed to fit perfectly around little ones routines.


Butlins, just for tots, toddler, holiday, minehead
Butlins, just for tots, toddler, holiday, minehead


Minehead is most definitely my favourite Butlins resort.

Although it's the furthest from us, I much prefer how it is set out, and Minehead is just beautiful. The beach is lovely, and we were fortunate to be able to spend a gorgeous-ly (if it isn't in the dictionary then it should be!) warm day there, playing in the sand, splashing in the sea and eating ice cream. Pretty lucky for the first week of May!

I'd booked a Silver Suite with dining plan and housekeeping package and it still came to under £400.

And from the minute we arrived it was go, go, go. 
Taylor didn't stop.

All the staff were so friendly and accommodating. The resort was clean and really beautifully made up. You can tell a lot of work goes into making the place perfect for it's holiday makers.

The dining package is ideal as with a buffet style restaurant you're spoilt for choice for food with options even the fussiest of eaters will enjoy. Taylor loved coming up and choosing what food he would like each morning and evening. The greeting staff on the door were fantastic at getting the little ones involved, calling them by their names and making them laugh. I'm pretty sure kids under 5 eat free on this break too! 


Butlins, just for tots, toddler, holiday, minehead
Butlins, just for tots, toddler, holiday, minehead


Taylor spent most of his days in the Little Tikes village, climbing on the climbing frames and slides, and playing inside the houses. And he loved the car track, full of Little Tikes cars to speed around the track in, filling up with petrol on the way round. It took some bribing to get him out most days.

He loved watching his favourite TV characters live; it was like he'd stepped into CBeebies! He was in awe! Teletubbies, Mr Men, Mister Maker... amazing! I've never seen him sit so still before!! :) And he got to meet his favourites, have cuddles and have his photograph taken with them too.

There was so much on resort to do; the indoor Skyline is full of entertainment, shows, shops, bars, restaurants, amusements. Then there are lots of play areas and playgrounds, the fantastic Splash Waterworld pool, the fairground, the children's indoor fairground, the library and the arts and crafts room in which we had fun playing with Playdoh one day and creating a dinosaur collage the next. 

There was so much that we didn't get to do too; the Puddle Ducks swimming lessons, toddler football, soft play, balance ability and so much more. 


Butlins, just for tots, toddler, holiday, minehead
Butlins, just for tots, toddler, holiday, minehead

It was an amazing week, hats off to Butlins who pulled out all the stops for the Just for Tots week and I'll definitely look into bringing Taylor back again. Although we hadn't been back more than 2 days before I booked a cheeky little break with the boys and our friends for next year! :)

If you get the chance to visit, go go go!



SHARE:

Sunday, 2 April 2017

Sending & Receiving Flowers

How do you show your love, to your loved ones, family & friends? What about the ones that live further afield? 

A lot of my closest friends live far away and I don't get to see them as much as I'd like. It's difficult on special occasions or even when they're going through tough times, to be there for them as I'd like. I like to send little cards to let them know I'm thinking of them. And I've been known to send flowers too.

Do you like receiving flowers? For me, it depends who they're from. 
When I'd receive them from my ex-partner, I always thought it was a cop-out; he'd regularly pick some up from work on special occasions because he couldn't be bothered to make any effort and put any thought into anything else. But when I receive them from a friend or family member that lives far away, I LOVE the fact that they've personally chose and purchased flowers online for me! Such a lovely feeling! 

A recent survey found that Northerners are more likely to buy flowers than Southerners. What do you think of that? Being from the Midlands I'm staying well out of that debate ;)



What is your favourite flower? 
Apparently 83% of people associate the classic red rose with 'love'. I do like to receive red roses as a token of love. However, my favourite flowers are tulips. I love different coloured tulips in the Spring time!

In Columbia, they have a special day to mark 'Love and Friendship'. Groups of friends gather together for dinner or drinks for a 'Amigo Secreto' (Secret Friend) event, similar to Secret Santa. I love that! Sending flowers to loved ones is also a popular way to mark the day.

While in Korea, they celebrate love and friendship every month! The 14th of every month is a celebration of friends and lovers. For example, May 14th is 'Yellow Day' where couples buy each other yellow roses! Cute.

Fancy telling someone you're thinking of them? Why not consider a flower delivery from Flying Flowers?


I think we should have a special friendship day here too, don't you? 
Make mine tulips... just for future reference! ;)


*In collaboration with Flying Flowers.

SHARE:

Sunday, 26 March 2017

Toddler Friendly Places to Eat : TGI Fridays

TGI Fridays, Highcross Leicester, family friendly


Eating out with my 2 year old is one of the most stressful situations for me as a parent. He has been known to throw cutlery across a restaurant, shout and scream, not sit still and generally be very hard work. It can be hard to find a place ideal for him when we're out at lunch times;  the thought of him having a tantrum because he's hungry and fed up of waiting for his food makes me shy away from places I would eat at without him. And then there's the battle between good, nutritional food and convenience. I would often find myself heading for certain fast food restaurants simply for the ease and speed of service, but of course I don't want to be feeding my toddler fast food every time we're out...

Which is why I decided to create a series on my blog, visiting different restaurants and reviewing how Toddler Friendly they are. You may have seen my previous post reviewing Bodega Leicester



TGI Fridays, Highcross Leicester, family friendly


We decided to see how family friendly TGI Fridays was.

The lovely people at TGI's HQ sent me this fantastic goody box to take with us, to keep little man amused during our lunch. It included a Team Fridays hat, crayons, puzzle paper, a balloon pump, tons of modelling balloons, and Taylor's favourite part, a Gingerbread man & squeezy icing!


TGI Fridays, Highcross Leicester, family friendly


On Sundays, they're currently offering a FREE ice cream sundae to every child in fancy dress!
So Taylor dressed up in his Bob the Builder costume, hard hat and all, and off we went to our local Fridays.

Our nearest TGI Fridays is set on the corner of Highcross shopping centre's food court, full of amazing eateries. Highcross Leicester is a lovely family friendly shopping centre with great facilities and family parking. It took us a lot longer to arrive at TGI's as Taylor had to stop to play on the interactive play screen and try out all the Strollex trolley cars which are available to hire, to make shopping a little less stressful for parents and more fun for little ones. I think I'm definitely going to have to hire one next time as Taylor is desperate for a ride in the cars! :)

We arrived just in time and were shown to our table by the lovely waiting staff, before Taylor was gifted an amazing modelling balloon, how cool is this?


TGI Fridays, Highcross Leicester, family friendly


Entertainment 

Keeping Taylor amused is very difficult, he's not a child that will sit still for very long. So this is something that is so important to me when eating out; does the restaurant offer anything to keep young children amused while waiting for their food?

As well as the fantastic balloon, they offer a 'kids pack' which includes some puzzle and colouring paper and crayons. Taylor will often get bored of this, he's possibly a little young, so we were lucky to have the goody box for him to attempt to pump his own balloons and decorate his gingerbread man which he really enjoyed. The gingerbread men are available to purchase to decorate, for £2.49.


TGI Fridays, Highcross Leicester, family friendly


Menu

Many kids menus are quite standard. I'm looking for variety and nutritional options...

TGI's have two sections to their Kids Menu; Little League and Major League for older children. The Little League menu offers five options for little ones to choose from, including burgers, fish, chicken & pasta, and all come with a small pot of apple, cucumber and carrot. 

Taylor went for the Tomato Tubes pasta, and out came a huge bowl of yummy pasta, which he really enjoyed.


TGI Fridays, Highcross Leicester, family friendly
TGI Fridays, Highcross Leicester, family friendly


Of course I had to show you my amazing steak, with Jack Daniels sauce and the beautifully creamy mash. Totally worth a mention, it really is lovely!


TGI Fridays, Highcross Leicester, family friendly


We asked for Taylor's ice cream sundae as he started to get a little bored and wouldn't sit still but he managed to demolish it before our sundae's even arrived! They were very yummy! 


TGI Fridays, Highcross Leicester, family friendly
TGI Fridays, Highcross Leicester, family friendly
Overall, we really enjoyed our lunch at TGI Fridays, the food was perfect and the waiting staff were super lovely. It did get a little stressful at times while waiting for food, as little man doesn't like to sit still for very long and spent most of the time trying to climb over seats and run off! But they do offer some great bits for entertainment to keep them amused.
I would recommend TGI Fridays as a Toddler Friendly Place to Eat, but recommend taking something along to entertain them. I will be happy to visit them with my little whirlwind again very soon.

*In collaboration with TGI Fridays and Highcross Leicester
As always, all words, opinions and images are my own



Linked up to:
SHARE:

Friday, 17 March 2017

My new favourite post-workout snack

post-workout snack, healthy, taste inc, chicken fillet


This year I started kickboxing classes, plus working out more at home (although I should do more of that!) but I always struggle with finding the best foods to eat before and after a workout, particularly after. 

By the time I get home from my kickboxing class, it's about 9:30pm and I'm usually pretty hungry at that point and my body ready to re-fuel. But of course it's far too late to cook anything and I usually find a protein shake a bit too much at that time too. 
So when I heard about Taste Inc Chargrilled Chicken Fillets* I was pretty eager to try them out!


post-workout snack, healthy, taste inc, chicken fillet
post-workout snack, healthy, taste inc, chicken fillet


100% chargrilled chicken fillets, high in protein, low in saturated fat, salt and carbs and only 45 calories per portion (52 cals for the spicy version) they make THE perfect post-workout snack!

Ready to eat straight from the fridge, the mini fillets are quick and easy to reach for when I get in from my class and they're super tasty. They're the perfect size too, not too heavy and fill me up just nicely before I settle down for bed.

I've also used the spicy fillets heated up with some steamed veg for dinner before a workout and the kids loved them too. And of course I'm happy knowing they're eating good quality, healthy tender chicken breast! Mummy thumbs up!

In fact, I'm a bit gutted now they've ran out! ;)


post-workout snack, healthy, taste inc, chicken fillet


Taste Inc Chargrilled Chicken Fillets are available from Nisa, Ocado and Morrisons in packs of 5 at £2.70 (and also available individually).



What do you enjoy as a post-workout snack?



*I received these snacks for the purpose of this review.
All words and opinions are, as always, my own.


SHARE:

What Does Mother's Day Mean To You?

Is it an excuse to spend time with your Mum, spoil her and thank her for everything she has done for you? Or will you be spending the day squeezing your little ones tight, feeling grateful for everything you have around you? Or spoiling the mother of your children for doing an amazing job?

I don't have an amazingly close relationship with my Mum, unfortunately. I'm always very jealous of those that do. I will of course still buy her a thoughtful gift and card. But for me, Mother's Day is about me and my babies. After recently separating from my partner, I'm not in high hopes for a day of treats or being spoilt but I will be spending the day holding my babies close and enjoying spending quality time with them, remembering just how very lucky I am to have my boys.

What are you treating your mum's / mothers of your children to this Mother's Day? 

Truprint have put together some great ideas, if you're needing a bit of inspiration!




I like to buy, and receive, personal gifts for Mother's Day; something to commemorate special memories, something special, thoughtful from the children. I've always just received last minute gifts such as flowers and chocolates, but one day I hope to receive something that some real thought has gone in to. That would be so special. 

I love photo books! I used to love looking through photo albums as a child and nowadays, we take so many photos on our phones, they often get lost in the camera roll or uploaded on to social media and forgotten about. Photo books are the modern day photo album, easy to upload on to a website and delivered to your door. They're lovely to look back on and share with family members. 

Memories are priceless. 

You can create a personalised photo book online at https://www.truprint.co.uk/personalised-gifts/photo-book.



However you spend your Mother's Day this Sunday 26th March, 
I hope you have a fantastic one! 



*In collaboration with Truprint
All words and opinions are my own





SHARE:

Monday, 13 March 2017

The Full Monty, UK Tour

theatre, the full monty
Credit: @FullMontyPlay

What do you do when you're having a pretty awful week and you need cheering up? 

You grab a girlfriend and you head off to the theatre for some wine (and cake! Press perks! ;) ), some giggles and some... almost naked men! And that's exactly what I did last week.

The Full Monty by Simon Beaufoy was at the De Montfort Hall all week, and is now moving on to a theatre near you. 

Directed by Jack Ryder, yes THAT Jack Ryder (think Jamie Mitchell in EastEnders) and with a cast headed by Gary Lucy (Hollyoaks, EastEnders, Footballers Wives...) and including well known faces such as Hollyoaks' Kai Owen, Brookside's Louis Emerick, Dinnerladies' Andrew Dunn and Hollyoaks' Chris Fountain, you're set up for a good night.

Based on the 1997 British comedy-drama film, The Full Monty has been adapted for the stage and taken on tour around the UK. And after recently celebrating their 500th show, the cast still seem to be enjoying the run.

Set in Sheffield, the story is based around six unemployed men, four of them laid off steel workers, in the late 80's when Margaret Thatcher's right-ring policies led to once successful steel mills being shut down. The men decide to form a male striptease act, to raise some money.


theatre, the full monty
Credit: @FullMontyPlay

Touching on serious issues such as unemployment, suicide, fathers rights and body confidence, there are some real 'pull on your heart strings' moments, as well as the expected belly-laugh occasions. 

I won't lie, as a big Hollyoaks fan growing up, I was rather excited to see the lovely Chris Fountain, after his recent absence from the world of showbiz and was getting a little impatient throughout the first half, but right before the curtain fell for the half way break, Chris, playing cheeky Guy arrived on stage and made up for the wait by dropping his pants! ;) All was forgiven!

Things got a little confusing at times as the backdrop didn't change too much throughout the whole performance, it was often difficult to work out where they were supposed to be, but otherwise the story was spot on; all the important, memorable bits were in there. (Who could forget THAT moment in the dole queue!!)

The whole performance led up to the well-anticipated moment where things changed from stage play, to show time, where the six men gave us a full on strip tease performance, much to the excitement of the whooping, screaming audience; finishing with them going the FULL MONTY just as the lights went up! 

It was the perfect feel good show! 
Grab your girl friends and head over to a theatre near you before it finishes in April. Read more about the UK Tour and check out the last few venues here.


De Montfort Hall, Leicester has some amazing shows coming up this year, including Flashdance, Blood Brothers, family favourite Gangsta Granny, and my favourite; Dirty Dancing!! 
You can check out what's on here


Have you been to the theatre lately?



*Many thanks to Cool As Leicester for the press tickets for this performance.
All words and opinions are, as always, my own.


SHARE:

Friday, 10 March 2017

Messy? Tidy? Blame Your Horoscope!

Are you a bit messy? Or do you like things perfectly tidy and organised?

Apparently you can blame your star sign for this, as the clever people at Furniture At Work say that your organisation skills are all down to your horoscope... 




I'm an Aquarius and it's definitely true that I think about fun first and mess later. I can be pretty messy but I do like everywhere to be clean. A little clutter never hurt anyone! ;) I'm not so sure my desk is messy on Monday but picks up around Wednesday, I'll be honest it's most likely to still be messy by the end of the week!! haha. But I most definitely belong in the 'Signs of Mayhem' section! 

I work from home and a lot of work is done on my dining table. I'll be honest, my kids often have to eat their dinner next to a pile of laundry, a laptop and half a dozen parcels! And while I do my best to keep my dressing table tidy, it's usually sprawled with makeup, brushes and cotton pads.

Yes, I think they've got it right here! I'm a messy Aquarian. But it's not my fault of course... my horoscope made me do it!


How about you? Is it true for you?


SHARE:
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
© TheBrunetteSays. All rights reserved.
Blogger Template Designed by pipdig