The Ultimate Shopping Experience

Is there such a thing as the ultimate shopping experience once you’re a parent? With your kids, no, but without, then yes. Or is this just me being a bit cruel? Ha! My boys hate shopping, unless it is toy shopping of course, but even then it’s usually a traumatic experience. I tend to avoid shopping with my kids and the majority of my shopping is done online nowadays.

Pre-kids I used to love shopping for hours and hours, sometimes a whole twelve hours. Shopping and perusing were some of my most favourite past times. Then my little bundles of joy came along and shopping turned into more of a chore. It was a rushed process, I no longer perused in my own time, I had to be organised and be quick. The joy soon withered away regarding shopping, but the love I have for it is still there, buried but still there, and every so often it gets rekindled and I remember how much I love it.

I do, however, go shopping in a much more organised manner nowadays. My trusty lists help me. I plan which shops I need to go into, this makes it so much easier to not become overwhelmed and to lose the joy of shopping.

Comfortable shoes are also a must! There is nothing worse than going shopping and having to wince at every step you make because you’ve worn heels and your feet feel like balls of lava.

At least one coffee pit-stop is also usually required, sometimes two, and maybe even three if it’s Christmas shopping. I carry a bottle of water too, the changing rooms are often hotter than the Sahara Desert!

I also love going to the beauty counters in department stores too during my shopping trips. Nothing warms my heart more than a few samples of the latest perfumes and make-up products to trial at home. It gives you  little spurt of shopping energy too a little pick-me-up!

One of my favourite shopping centres is The Trafford Centre in Manchester, I’ve been a few times and have always had a great shopping experience there, but my shopping goal for 2017 is to visit Liverpool ONE. Its reviews are amazing (you can see what’s on in Liverpool if you’re interested here).

No matter where I shop I think my favourite time of year to shop has to be Christmas, I love the smells, the lights, the decorations, the coffee specials, and the general atmosphere. What’s your favourite time of year to shop?

Are you an organised shopper? I’d  love to know how you make sure you have the ultimate shopping experience!

#ultimateshoppingexperience

 

Your Guide To Our Top 4 Freebie Sites

Everyone loves getting something for nothing right?! I sure do, anything from a simple piece of biscuit on a taste trial in Tesco to random items through the post. I do find though that a lot of people hesitate to use online sites for freebies, figuring that there is too much hassle involved in getting started, and sometimes they are right. Other people get fed up with all the junk mail that these sites generate, in fact, does is there anybody that actually likes getting constant junk mail?

A lot of freebie sites say you have to register – also you will have to provide your address so that the freebies can be sent out to you, but what is the best way to provide the required information without signing up to a heap of junk mail or giving away too much private information? Using technology the right way an finding the right site is the secret to success.

These sites listed below are great for freebies that are actually useful, and the sites are pretty hassle free. The freebies range in use from household goods, free magazines to birthday presents. Who wouldn’t love those?!

WOW FreeStuff An easy to use site, WOW Free Stuff has over 600 freebies on offer. Five or six new ones are added every day so you will always be able to check out something new. The majority of the freebies in this site are samples, so you can get your hands on toys, eco-friendly products, shampoo and even chocolate. Toiletry samples are great, especially if you plan to travel or take a vacation somewhere in the near future. The site also has a hints and tips section which is great for understanding how to make the most of freebie offers (like setting up a second email address). They also have an app that you can sign in to that lets you check out the latest freebies wherever you happen to be.

Gumtree Gumtree Freebies is a lot like Freecycle, members who have items they want to get rid of can upload them for viewing. Do expect to trawl through a lot of rubbish first (in saying that what one person calls junk, another person may call treasure) but don’t give up too easily, if you keep searching you will see that there are some good items out there. In fact, within one day we saw a dishwasher, a trampoline and a vintage typewriter. You can be as specific as you like when it comes to location for pick up, however being too fussy might mean you miss out on a great offer. Keep an eye on the site regularly as items move fast. However, if you are after something specific you can list a ‘wanted advert’. Who knows, you might just receive contact from someone with the exact item.

Hot UK Deals Discount vouchers, competitions and freebies; Hot UK Deals has got them all! This site was set up in 2004, registration is free and anyone can sign up. You will find fun competitions, the latest top 10 hottest deals as well as deals on specific products. Hot UK Deals is definitely worth checking out. They also have a fab Facebook page if you search for them too.

P & G Everyday Think of some of the UK’s favourite brands; Bounty, Crest, Pantene. Proctor and Gamble manufacturers have them! P & G Everyday provides coupons for download and free samples for posting. You will also find informative articles and product reviews if you google them.

Do you have any go-to freebie sites? I’d love to hear what they are!

Meal Times

Who loves meal times? Not me, well I do, and I don’t. They are a lot easier now my boys are 5 and 7 though, the years before that mixed in with sensory issues, well, they were interesting lets just say. I have two children who are extreme opposites in the majority of things. I have one who is obsessively clean and likes things in order and I have another one who thrives in chaos and mess. Both have been a fun journey, and when I say fun I mean stressful. The last 7 years have been an interesting meal-time journey as I’m sure everybody else’s with kids has been too. My floor and walls have suffered immensely, as well as my sanity. I don’t think I actually miss the days of old though in regards to meal times, is that terrible of me? Well, I don’t. I don’t miss the mess, the pleading, the throwing, the tears, or the stressful cooking whilst looking after a baby and a toddler, nope I don’t miss any of that!

In our house one thing we like to do is eat our meals as a family at the table, which is much easier now to do consistently because the children eat the same times as us these days. It’s lovely all sitting together (most of the time, ok half of the time, maybe) and sharing a meal together. It’s even better when they eat it without moaning about it smelling gross or that this week they don’t like chicken any more etc etc.

I do love family meal times though, they’re quite special really aren’t they, despite how stressful they are in the build up to it. I must admit though I tend to use my slow cooker for most of our meals, throwing ingredients in and hoping for the best usually. It’s made meal preparation so much easier for us, and I wouldn’t be without it, I literally cook everything in it; spag bol, pasta bake, beef, whole chickens, stews, Mexican food, and even chocolate cake!

We also love making meal times special, and my boys love nothing more than a spontaneous tea party, or themed dinner with table decorations, but their most favourite meal is when we invite people over for tea, they get all excited and love helping with the prep. I love hosting people, and my boys do to. We love a good party here. I hope they grow up feeling the same too, and enjoy making meal times special, and being kind to others by inviting them to share a meal too.

Unfortunately though there are so many people in the world today who don’t get to eat a meal regularly, let alone share a meal with somebody, or some people eat all of the meals alone, and not out of choice.That makes me feel so sad. We really shouldn’t take forgranted that we have a house to enjoy a meal in, whether it’s at a table, on a sofa, on a floor, on the garden, or in a bedroom. And I know a lot of people, myself included, don’t have the budget to stretch to help others who are less fortunate than ourselves with hundreds of pounds etc, so here’s an idea in the video below for a way that we can help, and every little really does help.

Why not host a get together at your house, share a meal with a few friends and all chip in what you can to donate to Christian Aid? You can sign up here if you are interested.

If you choose not to sign up that’s ok, we are all free to do as we please, but please don’t take your meal times forgranted, one day those children will be too cool to be home for dinner with you, and you’ll miss them. You’ll miss the squabbles, the sly elbow nudging, the kicking under table, and the attitude problems.

Go share a meal with someone this week.

Happy meal times folks!

A Sound Sleep

Do you want to hear a joke? Yeah? Ok. Sleep. You don’t get it? No, me either!

I love my sleep, a sound sleep, but unfortunately since becoming a parent sleep does not love me. We are almost seven years into being parents and the exhaustion continues. Nobody could have prepared me for the little amount of sleep we have to survive on. Don’t get me wrong, it has got easier, some days, and then others I’m living on the edge of exhaustion because it took four hundred hours to get through a bedtime story, or I was up all night with a flustered six year old or some flipping virus of some sort has attacked us, again.

I’m such a light sleeper, but parenting has made it even lighter, and sometimes non-existent! Although, I do snore and never seem to hear that. I think I possibly hold some kind of record maybe for the decibels I reach? Maybe I’ll ask my husband his opinion, or maybe not!

I could possibly sleep on a washing line though, I’m a light sleeper but I can also fall asleep anywhere and at anytime depending how exhausted I am. Other times I can lie awake for hours whilst sleep evades me. Hmm, maybe my sleep is quite irregular reading this.

What time do you go to sleep? I am such an early bird since having children. I used to be able to go on until about 3am, now it’s more like 9pm is a very late night for me, it’s terrible, ha ha. My husband is more of a night owl than me, but needs complete darkness to get a good sleep, and silence. Our kids, however, like a light on in the distance and classical music, this has always been the way for them.

This infographic below has some really interesting facts about sleep from Mattress Next Day. I think I’d give the grandma and her snoring a run for her money though!

How do you like to sleep? With music? With the light on? I think it’s fascinating how we are all so different and need different things to function.

Sweet dreaming folks!

Driving On Snowy Days

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Being able to drive gives you a great sense of freedom, but also puts a lot of responsibility upon your shoulders. You’re not only responsible for yourself but for the vehicle you’re in, your passengers, pedestrians and other drivers to a certain extent too.

Cars are pretty easy to maintain during nicer weather but during those cold, snowy, icy days your car becomes a bigger responsibility. So I thought I’d share some cold weather tips with you from The RAC about driving in snowy conditions:

  • Wear comfortable and dry footwear
  • Accelerate gently, use low revs and change up to a higher gear as quickly as possible
  • Move off in second gear as this will help reduce wheel slip – some cars have a winter mode, which does the same job – so to check whether your car has this function in the vehicle’s handbook
  • Get your speed right and maintain safe stopping distances between you and the car in front, leaving as much as 10 times the normal recommended gap
  • Prepare for an uphill by leaving plenty of room in front so you can maintain a constant speed without the need for changing gear
  • Use a low gear for going downhill and try to avoid braking unless necessary, make sure you leave plenty of space between you and the car in front
  • When approaching a bend, brake before you actually start to turn the steering wheel. If your car does lose grip try not to panic; the key thing is to take your foot off the accelerator and make sure that your wheels are pointing in the direction you want to go in
  • If you do encounter a skid, steer gently into it – for example, if the rear of the car is sliding to the right, steer to the right. Do not take your hands off the steering wheel or stamp your foot on the brakes
  • When driving in heavy snow, make sure that you use your dipped headlights. Relying on daytime running lights is not enough, because they don’t always put lights on the back of your car.
  • If visibility drops below a 100m, put your fog lights on. But remember to turn them off when the visibility improves.
  • If the road has not been gritted, be wary of driving in the wheeltracks or other vehicles as compressed snow is likely to be more icy than fresh snow
  • Controls such as the brakes, as well as the steering, accelerator and even gear changing should be operated smoothly and slowly
  • Sunglasses can help to reduce the glare of low winter sun on the snow
  • Keep your speed down and allow more time to stop and steer
  • Finally, it’s important to think about the environment that you’re driving in, especially microclimates that might appear on the road. These are areas that perhaps the sun hasn’t got to, which could stay icy when the rest of the road has thawed. Bridges are a good example. They’re normally the first to freeze and the last to thaw. So be aware of that when you’re driving in open spaces.

It’s also a good idea to pack some emergency blankets in your boot and may some water and durable food. It’s always better to be over prepared when driving in snowy conditions. And don’t forget a snow shovel and some gloves!

The weather here at the moment is so cold, snowy, icy and windy. There are amber and red alerts throughout the country so if you’re in the UK please be careful and listen to the above advice.

Do you have any top tips for driving in the snow? We’d love to hear them!

 

 

 

Seen On The Screen

The UK and Northern Ireland have so many wonderful places, rich in character and wonder, so much so that many films and tv series use it as their scene setters. From wonderful castles to cloud laden mountains, the views are stunning. And in particular Northern Ireland which has become such a popular location with film producers in recent years. It has stunning, varied landscapes and surroundings, some of which may look very familiar if you are a fan of certain movies and series.

If you’re interested in looking into where your hometown has been featured in films and on TV shows then you can find out here as part of the PCA Predict #SeenOnTheScreen campaign. You’ll be surprised at the results! I was!

Game of Thrones has used Northern Ireland for various scenes, some of which may surprise you. Locations range from River Quoile, County Down which is Old Valyria Canal, Essos, Pollnagollum Cave, County Fermanagh which features as the Brotherhood Without Banners’ Hideout, Ballintoy Harbour stars as The Iron Islands and Murlough Bay, County Antrim features as the Coast of Essos. Also, Belfast’s Titanic Studios is the scene setting of some of the interior shoots including The Eyrie and Throne Room.

I absolutely love GOT, and even more so that alot of it is filmed within the beautiful setting of Northern Ireland.

The fabulous Line of Duty Series 3 is also set in Northern Ireland, with series 2 having been filmed in Belfast.

The Fall is currently having it’s third series filmed within Northern Ireland too.

Aswell as tv series scene setters, Northern Ireland has featured in a lot of movies both big screen and local; Cupcake, Keith Lemon The Movie, Killing Bono, Highrise.

It’s easy to see why Northern Ireland is used for so many feature productions, it’s so beautiful.

 

 

Kate Middleton, How Dare You Be So Beautiful!

The Royal Baby has arrived in the UK, and I’m guessing the majority of people (worldwide) have heard about it, read about it, or watched some related news regarding it. It’s big news whether you like it or not!

I’m not really a Royal fanatic, but I don’t dislike the Royals either. I can take them or leave them. BUT I’ve found myself feeling very protective about Kate Middleton, the future Queen, in the last 48 hours.

Hundreds of thousands of people have eagerly awaited the young girl going into labour with her second child. Will it be a boy? Will it be a girl? When will it be? The day finally came, and you can’t help but be a little bit happy for them. The TV and newspapers were filled with congratulations. A new baby, regardless of status, is always something to celebrate. Good news is hard to come by these days so it was a joyous occasion.

Kate Middleton looked effortlessly beautiful as she showed their new daughter to the rest of the world.

Their precious baby girl. It was a picture perfect moment. And a moment is all it was. People then decided to let the green eyed monster invade it.

The newspapers, the TV channels, the magazines, and social media all started questioning irrelevant details:

How does she look so beautiful so soon after giving birth?

Why doesn’t she look tired and worn out?

Why isn’t her hair greasy?

Who cares about the baby?

How is it possible to be standing their like that a few hours after labour?

And so on.

I’ve even read about surrogate conspiracy theories and even the birth date has been questioned.

Get a flaming grip will you people!!

The girl looked beautiful because she IS beautiful. All the make-up that Mac has to offer can’t fix ugly! Of course she had a make-up artist, but so what – wouldn’t you? I sure as heck would!

Of course she had a blow-dry – why not? I wash my hair and roll out the ‘good’ make-up just for family reading sessions at my son’s school and at his parents evening, let alone facing the whole world and being photographed by every Tom, Dick, and Harry.

Don’t hate on the girl for looking so good. Green doesn’t suit you! 😉

Why can’t we just say congratulations and well done, and leave it at that? People are allowed to look good, it isn’t a crime!

Who cares about the real birth date? Or how Kate managed to look so dam good? The fact remains that she looked beautiful, and gave birth to a beautiful baby girl, Charlotte.

As the saying goes “Haterz gon’ hate!” – but we all know why!

Come on fellow mommas and daddas – let’s not be a part of all this pettiness. Credit where credits due – and she needs credit for looking so good! I sure as heck didn’t!!

Congratulations Kate and William!

New Year’s Resolutions as a Parent

Twelve months is a very long time in the world of parenting. You cannot possibly count the tantrums, the bogeys, the amount of times you are vomited on, the tears you wipe, the hugs you give, the food you prepare, the chocolate consumed, the vegetables refused, the battles you won, the battles you lost, the times you’ve yelled, the times you were patient, the baths you gave, the cuddles you received, the car journeys you took, the holidays you went on, the food shops you waded through, the break downs you had, the bad dreams you banished,the budgets you didn’t stick to, the sacrifices you made, the butts you wiped, the rooms you cleaned, the idiots you’ve encountered, or the coffees you consume.

As the end of the year approaches you find yourself, as a parent, reflecting on the year you’re leaving behind and making your new year resolutions as a parent (whether verbally or somewhere in your subconscious). Were you a good parent? Were your children happy? Did you feed them healthy food? Did you yell just enough as to not cross the border into scarring them for life? Did you make fun memories? Did you laugh enough?

When I look back on my year I see a lot of things, both good and bad. I see a momma who yelled, but a also a momma who fiercely loved. I see a momma who wanted to curl up in to a ball and cry for a week solid, but I also see a momma who carried on regardless and made life fun.

We had treasure hunts, spontaneous tea parties, cinema trips, and outings to feed the ducks. We went crabbing, to the fair, on train rides, to theme parks, to the beach, to the forest, to firework parties, to birthday parties. We celebrated our babies birthdays in VIP style, and left no detail to chance. We made Christmas magical. We (my husband and I) poured every ounce of ourselves into making life an adventure for our little people.

The happiness will always outweigh the crappiness.

When I look back I see we had an amazing year, we had low points, sometimes very low points, but the happiness outweighs the crappiness, and always will.

The year ahead is set to be amazing, and by amazing (I am under no illusion believe me!) I mean it will be full of laughter, fun, tears, snot, poop, cheeky four year old’s, terrible two year old’s, birthday parties, wrestling, (a bit of) yelling, time-outs, family holidays, things getting broken, grazed knees, grazed hearts, cleaning, lots and lots of cleaning, meeting new people, saying goodbye to toxic people, not putting up with peoples crap, making fun memories, and making life a fun, secure adventure for my two little boys.

My New Year’s Resolutions

We all know a new year’s post would not be the same without adding some of my new year’s resolutions as a parent, so here they are:

  1. When one of my darling children hand me a huge bogey to dispose of I will not gag loud enough for someone on the next continent to hear. I will work on my gag-reflex
  2. When my name is called for the four hundredth time that hour I will not get irritated; I will smile and respond accordingly
  3. I will try not to yell at all ( or maybe limiting myself to 3 times a day seems a more attainable goal)
  4. I will wash my hair 3 times a week, even if it means showering with a 4yo, a 2yo, Nemo, the whole cast of Monsters Inc, and two squirting penguins. Dry shampoo should not be an everyday essential.
  5. I will brave potty training my little rascal of a 2yo
  6. I will discover a way to get my children to sleep in until 9am every single day. I will. I most definitely will!
  7. I will stay awake past 8.30pm at least on Fridays and Saturdays
  8. I will spring clean the house from top to bottom at least once a week (maybe once a month, or maybe bi-monthly sounds more achievable?)
  9. I won’t run away from the geese when we go to feed the ducks
  10. I will be more sociable. In fact I will be sociable full-stop.
  11. I will assume people like me instead of always assuming they don’t, unless they tell me otherwise.
  12. I will eat healthy. I’m laughing already at this one! Great start, great start, ugh!
  13. I will be more of  a ‘Yes Parent’!
  14. My husband and I will go on at least two date nights a month, and on one out of the two he may get lucky! (As in he may get to choose where we go! Come on! What were you thinking?!!)
  15. I will be less grumpy, even when I am grumpy
  16. I will learn to like wine. Wine always sounds so grown-up and sophisticated. Most taste like paint stripper to me. (I am currently gagging my way through a bottle – resolution completion in full swing!)
  17. I will learn to like watching a movie. Husband this is for you!
  18. I won’t bear a grudge against whoever interrupts my morning coffee!
  19. I will learn to love Lego. And quickly. I will be a Master Builder because everything is awesome!
  20. I will cry less
  21. I’ll love more
  22. I’ll conquer my fears. All of them! (Except spiders, roller-coasters, and wasps!)
  23. I will blog more

And there we have it, my new year’s resolutions a parent! What are yours?

Follow me on Facebook and share your new year’s resolutions as a parent with me!

A little insight into Swords and Snoodles

I’ve wanted to blog for a very long time, even pre-children. I’ve often started a blog, and then lost enthusiasm. That was until May 2014.

For some reason it felt the right time. I was passionate from the start. I love writing, always have. Even as a little girl I’d write stories, and poems constantly.

I think writing is a sort of therapy to me. It keeps me sane lol.

I’m now into month fourteen of blogging and  my passion is only growing. It’s hard to lose passion about sharing your daily experiences; the good,  the bad, the ugly. It’s lovely reaching out to people, and knowing they feel the same.

I pride myself in being honest, sometimes brutally honest, and those who know me will know that’s always been the case 🙂

It took a while to come up with a name for my blog. I wanted it to be personal and to stand out. After much brainstorming with my marketing mastermind husband we came up with Swords and Snoodles.

Swords is obviously self explanatory. My boys love being pirates. They’re typical boys.

Snoodles, however, isn’t very self explanatory unless you know us. Snoodle is the name we gave my first borns comforter bear blanket he had at 2 months old. From that moment it’s not left his side (it has but we replaced it undetected!) His brother also loved Snoodle, so we purchased a few more. They adore them.

We now own four Snoodles. My boys won’t sleep without them. My 4yo has one. My 2yo insists on three! They carry them mostly everywhere. Snoodle is a big part of our family and so are his three siblings 😉

Now you know who Snoodle is and where the name Swords and Snoodles came from 🙂

Does your child have any special names for their comforters? 

Becci of Swords and Snoodles

In the beginning

May 2014…

Once upon a time I had a blog, or two, and then life got in the way.

Almost four years into motherhood, and here’s to a fresh writing start; the highs, the lows, the joys, the tears, the worries, the fun, the happy memories, and the heartaches.

I’m looking forward to sharing my journey with you all.

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