Friday, May 22

A VIP birthday party for a special engine

The weekend for before last Harry and I headed off into London on our own for a special day out.  We were off to a birthday party, but not just any old birthday party.
This was a party for Thomas the Tank Engine who had turned 70!
It's hard to imagine that much loved engine is now 70 years old, and I definitely hope I look just as good at his age.  He has been around throughout my childhood and my parents too and both Emmy and Harry adore his just as much as I ever did.
The party was hosted in a private area of the British Museum and was an invite only event.
We arrived early so grabbed a waffle outside and spent some time feeding and chasing the birds - Harry not me, although it looked rather fun!
Inside we met up with Sarah (Boo, Roo and Tigger Too) and her lovely kiddies and they raced around a little while the party was still being set up, then after a while headed downstairs to have some fun.
Thomas was obviously the centre of attention and everyone wanted photographs with him.  We also met the Fat Controller and Rusty and Dusty were there to keep the children entertained with their antics.
Harry is trying to sing Thomas a song
We had the chance to make Thomas a birthday card and Harry won some lovely Thomas the Tank Engine crayons for his wonderful drawing.
The kids could whizz around on Thomas scooters, bikes and ride-ones so of course Harry was in his element.  There was a selection of Thomas toys to play with and lots of friends to play with. 
The cinema was open all day showing Thomas the Tank Engine episodes with Rusty and Dusty on the stage entertaining the children (and the adults before the next shows started).  Harry was in fits of giggles and in his element.
"The Railway Series" began in 1945 as a collection of stories featuring Thomas the Tank Engine, Created by Reverend W. Awdry to entertain his son Christopher when he was sick with the measles.  Fast forward to 2015 and from the pages of a storybook to its live action UK TV debut in 1984, Thomas & Friends has gone truly global and is just as loved and relevant as it ever was.

Thomas the Tank Engine is watched in more than 1.1 billion households in 200 territories, the 400+ episodes and 7 movies based around the Island of Sodor have been translated into more than 40 langauges and I am sure will be loved by my Children's Children when the time comes.
For more information on Thomas & Friends please visit the website
Of course a party isn't complete without cake!
Photo Credit: Sarah - Boo Roo & Tigger Too

Disclaimer: We were guests at this birthday party and received a lovely goodie bag to take home.
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Thursday, May 21

Dreaming of a peaceful haven

I've mentioned before that we purchased our house from Paul's parents, their house sale fell through and as a bridge Paul took on the mortgage for our house with the notion to selling it straight away....well considering I am living here you've guessed that didn't happen!  We didn't manage to sell it and then got engaged so just moved it with the plan to move.

Fast forward almost 12 years and 2 children, a dog, a rabbit, hamster and a goldfish later we are still here and the house which was once far too big for us is just perfect now.

Well almost perfect.

The kids rooms have been decorated, in Emmy's case twice - most recently was her big girls bedroom and of course there is Harry's awesome Pirate themed bedroom.  The front room and kitchen have been done, although do need redoing again now, and we've even begun planning a spare room revamp turning it into a shared kids room with bunk beds.  Sadly our room is VERY neglected and has never been decorated and I want to change that this year.

The lovely Jaime is hosting a competition along with Oak Furniture King which has prompted me to start looking at changing my bedroom, to plan how I would decorate it and put the plans in place to actually make it a peaceful haven this year. 

I have already changed the basics and easy things such as the lightshade and curtains and of course we have our own bedding etc, but it is a difficult room to do much with as we have fitted wardrobes on both sides of the room and also at the side of the bed and over the bed too - storage definitely isn't a problem in our bedroom.

I would of course leave these as the storage is needed and it would cost a fortune to change them.

The thing I would change first would be to change the carpet.  The current one is red and it is rather hard to match anything with this colour as I really don't like red.  I am thinking of a natural colour and love stripes, I would like a patterned carpet of some sort as our dog sleeps in our room and the carpet is usually covered in dog hair (par for the course with pets).

Our bed is on the way out too and has lasted us since before we moved in which is good going but if I'm honest it is knackering my back.  I had thought a new mattress would suffice only between Emmy and Harry they have managed to break the base by jumping on it far too much.

I have been looking around and planning and this is what I have decided on so far for our room:

Bed: Boston 5ft King Sized Double Shoe Rack: Aspen Solid Oak Shoe Bench (We often have shoes tucked under the bed and bits and bobs here and there - this would help keep the room clutter free), Striped carpet (to follow through the hallway and down the stairs too), Bedside Lamp x 2, Cushions, Wallpaper border, Paint.

There isn't much wall space showing in my room due to the fitted wardrobes so it would be pointless papering the room.  What I would like to do though is paint it a magnolia colour and add a colour to the coving and a border around the room.

I've a beautiful Butterfly bedding set already which would fit perfectly into this colour scheme - and *may* have been the inspiration for the colour scheme I have chosen - yes I am mad enough to plan a whole room make-over around the colour scheme of my favourite bedding.

 "This is a competition entry"
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Giveaway: Win a Limited Edition Signed Print #Puffinrock

You probably would have seen our coverage of the new animated kids TV show Puffin Rock which aired this week on Nick Jr.
The kids were both enthralled and Harry was giggling away to the new show, it's now on series link here and looks set to be a new favourite.
Puffin Rock is a very cute new pre-school animation which is now showing every weekday at 6.30pm on Nick Jr.  Narrated by Irish actor and Comedian, Chris O'Dowd, Puffin Rock follows a Puffling called Oona, the heroine of the show, and her brother, Baba, as they embark on a range of adventures on the wild and beautiful Irish Island on which they live.
You can check out the trailer below:

To celebrate the first week of Puffin Rock on Nick Jr, we are giving you the chance to win this gorgeous limited edition print from the animation.  It has been signed by Lily Bernard, the illustrator of Puffin Rock and will be accompanied by a certificate of authentication.
For your chance to win this lovely print please fill in the rafflecopter form below.
This giveaway will end at midnight on 18th June 2015.  Good Luck.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
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Review: Where does it come from?

I do love children's clothes, it's hard not to really having two children.  It's lovely to be able to put together a nice outfit for them however I rarely go to many different stores so we get stuck in a rut of buying from the same places.
I was recently introduced to a site called Where Does It Come From? This site sells ethical children's clothes and accessories which are not only cute and comfortable.  The garments on sale are fully traceable o you can discover exactly where it came from and get to know about the people who were involved in making them too.
Everything for sale has been made by hand using traditional skills by skilled artisans using techniques which have been passed down from generation to generation.  
Inside each garment is a code which is stamped onto the label - by using this unique code you can unlock the story of your garment right back to it's beginnings as a crop in a field.  You are able to find out all the things that happened to it to turn it into the garment you have purchased for your child and 'meet' the people involved in turning it into something which will be worn in your home.
I have to admit that's pretty cool, don't you think?
I haven't given much thought before to the whole making process of the kids clothes and I know I should do.  I often go with supermarket clothes or the stores I have a store card for, these aren't always ethical choices and it is price which does influence my purchases I sadly have to admit.
I was sent a pair of Jeans for Harry and a pair of Culottes for Emmy to try.  The Jeans start at age 4 which is far too big for Harry however the plan was to turn them up as he does wear a nappy and is tall so could have worked.  It wasn't a possibility as the Jeans were very big for age 4 and they infact fit Emmy and still need turning up a little at the bottom.  The website does state that their clothes are made longer in the legs so they can see children through a growth spurt and that is a very good idea!  Kids grow far too fast and while we do know that as parents and we generally know the size clothes our children wear, aunties, uncles and friends often don't have this insight. 
They both have adjustable waistbands with elastic either side which can be pulled in and made smaller with buttons.
Both the Jeans (age 4) and the Culottes (age 6) have rather large waists - I do know that Emmy is extremely skinny so we needed to move in 4 buttons on each side so they fitted her.
The material is very hard wearing and washes up beautifully.  The thick material quality is noticeably different from supermarket clothes and cheaper clothes and the quality of the garments is visible from the off.
I really love these and they will see Emmy through not only this year but next year too and then I am pretty sure the Jeans will still be fine for Harry.
I have used the code and traced Emmy's culottes:

There are far too many steps and pictures in the tracing process to show them all, however what I can do is give you the code of Emmy's culottes and you can follow the steps to trace the making process for yourselves if you would like to.  The code is CG44MDKW - enter that in the box when prompted here.
I really like the whole idea of these clothes and the site, it is wonderful to actually see the whole process involved and to learn where the clothes have come from and it is lovely to be able to show Emmy too.  While the clothes are on the pricier scale it is obvious why this is.  The Jeans are £29 and the Culottes £25
Disclaimer:  We received these items in exchange for an honest review, all thoughts are our own.
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Wednesday, May 20

Not to miss family activities while in Italy

It's that time of year again when I am day-dreaming and planning.  My favourite time of year if I'm honest, with Half-Term upon us next week (I know already!) I like to ponder holidays.
I've not taken the children abroad yet, mainly due to finances but I am a little scared I will admit.  Holidays in the UK are just easier while the children are young, with no hassle of flying, making sure I've not forgotten anything, worrying about what they will eat and most important that they aren't bored.
One of my favourite holidays I had pre-children was to Rome in Italy so my thoughts have drawn my planning family holidays in Italy.  I am thinking of maybe next year however it is never to early to plan and with the children in tow it would be lovely to experience Italy away the craziness of the bustling city and to rent a villa somewhere quiet where we would be able to just roam and explore the region.   
To help with my planning I asked around to find out if there are any activities which are perfect for families while holidaying in Italy, things I MUST add to our list as well as doing my own research. 

Here is what I currently have:
  • A family bike ride around the Lake Garda was a fond memory of a Julie and her family from their holiday last year.

  • Cass also recommends a bike ride around the lakes as well as a trip to Verona to see Romeo & Juliet's balcony

  • Swimming at Thermal Park looks fabulous and the pictures in this post written by Emma make it look amazing.

  • Greeta has a whole post dedicated to family activities in Sicily and I am definitely adding visiting a Volcano and exploring a Castle to our must do list.

  • Visiting a chocolate factory in Tuscany is more than enough of a reason for me to look into Villa holidays there not to mention the Sagra's you are able to join in with.
    A Sagra is an evening of fun and food organised by the local community.  You will find local delicacies on offer at these local fairs, and the children are often able to run around and play together which gives a perfect chance for the children to make new friends.

  • Louise says there are some amazing caves which you can explore in Puglia - I know both Emmy and Harry would love to do this.

  • Food tours and food markets would of course be high on our list, my children adore Italian food so it would be a perfect chance to explore and try some new foods.
The more I look into this the more I am determined to make my plans a reality, hopefully sooner rather than later.
Have you visited Italy with children?  What are your must do and must see places to visit and what tips can you offer?
"This is a collaborative post"
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