The Perfect Gift | Votre Portrait Review

Did you ever get an email that literally made you squeal with excitement? I did! 

As a blogger, and like most first time parents, I take many, many, MANY photos of Aidan. The poor kid is so used to it now that if he sees a flash he instinctively turns towards it sporting his cheesiest grin. Like most people these photos remain only in digital form and are only appreciated in moments of nostalgia, remembrance or when you are in search of one suitable to a blog post.

A few weeks back my friend Eimear from The Two Darlings shared a print she had received from Votre Portrait (your-portrait.co.uk). I immediately fell in love with it – it was beautiful! I visited the companies website and decided that after Christmas I would treat myself to my own print from them. Then I got the email – they asked if I would be interested in reviewing one of their prints! Ehh.. YES!

The service was fantastic. From placing my order to receiving my print to my door took 3 days and I was informed of each step as it happened. I chose the artist sketch portrait, sent the photo that I had chosen and when the artist had finished they sent me a proof to ”approve” before sending it to print. I fell in love with it immediately.

IMG_20151025_125358-2
This is the photo I chose
Here is the artist sketch digital print
Here is the artist sketch digital print

A few days later when the print arrived it looked even better than what I had imagined. While 20x20cm is small in size I personally think it suits the style of the art work perfectly. It now has pride of place in our hallway so that everyone will see it as soon as they walk in the door.

I cannot speak highly enough of Votre Portrait, both their service and their fantastic talent. I have already chosen another photo of Aidan to get done and I will be getting some of the new baby when he arrives too (it’s only fair, right? haha). If you are looking for a gift for a grandparent, new parent or even yourself then I would definitely suggest one of these pieces. The prints are also available on photo paper and phone cases.

20151212_201425
This canvas is a 20x20cm Artist Sketch Portrait, one face – costing €65.00

*I was sent the canvas print in exchange for a review but as always all opinions are my own, 100% honest thoughts.

Octagon 4D Cards | Review & Giveaway

‘Twas some nights before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that some Octagon cards would be there…

octa4d

I have a toddler who can work an iPad like a teenager – It originally started out him watching a few youtube videos while having his dinner, then a few games and now he bloody loves the thing. A recent study suggests that 72% of Irish children use the internet daily meaning Aidan is not alone in his love for technology.

A few weeks ago when Octagon got in touch with me and asked if Aidan would like to review their new 4d interactive alphabet cards. Aidan has yet to venture into the world of words so anything that might help him is always of interest to me, especially when it is digital because it will hold his attention like nothing else.

Octaland 4D cards are alphabet cards that teach kids about several different professions, from Albert the Astronaut to Matt the Magician and Zack the Zookeeper. Each character moves and looks at the screen while staying true to their profession. For example, Albert the Astronaut hovers a few inches above the card as if he were in space.

octagon cards

As well as the 4D images there is a 2D section where the child can flick through each character and learn more about their job.

octagon cards

 

Octagon also have an Animal card range. For me, this was utterly jaw dropping! As I already knew what to expect from playing with the occupation series I jumped straight into the animal cards expecting a similar cartoon type graphic. However, the animal graphics are extremely realistic looking and acting – I literally spent an entire nap time playing around with the animal series before even showing it to Aidan.

octagon cards

 

These cards would make a great stocking filler for children – it makes learning interesting by making simple flashcards come to life in their hands. I think these will get a lot of use in our house over the next few years.

 

I have a set of the Octaland 4D Occupation series and Animal series to giveaway to you! This competition is open worldwide, simply follow the steps below to enter. Good luck!

Octagon 4D Card Giveaway

 

*We were sent some Octagon cards to review and giveaway but as always all opinions are our own, 100% honest thoughts.

I Wish We Co-Slept!

Co-sleeping is always a topic that causes much debate amongst parents (and non-parents too). Some people swear by it while others choose to completely avoid it. I can understand both arguments but once everyone is getting a decent sleep I think that is the most important thing. As a baby Aidan would co sleep with me when his Dad was at work, I don’t ever remember the three of us being in the bed together – perhaps on a rare occasion. This was not because I was against co-sleeping, I really enjoyed the time spent cuddling my little baby, he just settled better in his own space.

When Aidan moved into his own room he took to it like a duck to water. I did however at this point make a commitment to not bring him into our bed unless he woke up with a genuine reason, like a temperature, nightmare or extreme upset. I never had to actually find out if I would stick to this as Aidan much preferred having his own space and his own room. He would never wake to come into our bed or even our room. At the time I thought I was really lucky that we were all getting our sleep and space. And, I am still thankful that he doesn’t mind being in his own room, I would hate for him to not like his room or to dread going to bed at night. (He gets so excited at bedtime and nap time it is actually weird!)

However, last weekend our house was struck with a vomiting bug. Luckily I have managed to avoid it so far which meant I was able to run between the two patients. Aidan was being sick all night and because he is so used to sleeping in his own room he wouldn’t settle in our bed. This meant that each time I cleaned him up I had to put him back into his cot and sit outside the door listening incase he was sick again – which he was. I spent the entire night wishing that I co-slept so that I could get some rest and still know that Aidan was ok. Eventually at 7am he was so tired, and I think a little scared, that he fell asleep in my arms on our bed and we both got an hours sleep before he realised that he wasn’t in his own bed.

Thankfully he was fine the next day apart from everyone being tired. While I understand all the arguments people have about co-sleeping I would have given my right arm to co-sleep with my sick little man that night. It would definitely have been the best option for everyone.

co sleeping

Fool Proof Christmas Dinner?

Today I actually got to watch ‘This Morning’ which hasn’t happened in months! When I switched on they were talking about Tesco’s microwave Christmas Turkey? Luckily we go to my Mom’s for Christmas dinner because to be honest if it was left to me we would probably end up with beans on toast or something because even the thought of having to do a big dinner like that stresses me!

Anyway, this got me thinking of a fool proof (or Ellen proof) Christmas dinner, and if such thing exists. Alas the internet never let’s me down in suggesting some crazy Christmas dinner alternatives….tinner

A tin of dinner, or ‘tinner’ per person – who wouldn’t love to be served this on Christmas day?

 

canned chicken

I actually don’t eat turkey so for me how about this ‘canned whole chicken’? Beans on toast is starting to sound pretty great right now, eh?

 

canned bread

Clayton is a sucker for bread and butter with a roast dinner so as not to leave out one of his favourites I could pick up this brown bread in a can? 99% fat free & 100% weird!

 

candwich

Incase you didn’t know Clayton is actually from American so to keep with his traditions – a PBJ ‘candwich’ to enjoy with a cuppa in the evening. Includes a candy surprise inside. Could not be further from excited about that surprise!

 

I do promise if I ever invite anyone for dinner in my house I will not serve any of these ‘delights’ but I just thought they were too weird interesting not to share! Hope I haven’t turned you off your Christmas dinner. Just remember if it all goes wrong beans on toast is always a better option than ‘tinner’.

christmas-dinner

DeiseBloggers

Last weekend I attended the very first Waterford blogger event (aka #DeiseBloggers). It was such a great day and I am only recovering now to be honest! Meeting other bloggers is always great fun but I never expected to meet such lovely and beautiful girls.

12322822_10205547584825337_3067794801353505537_o

The event was free to attend but cost me a fortune because a room full of make up bloggers meant that I left with a list of products I ‘needed’ as long as my arm.

IMG_20151129_204928

The event was organised by Emma, Lisa, Rachael and Jodi who couldn’t have done any better. Everyone who attended left with two jam packed goody bags each and some won spot prizes too. It was honestly like Christmas had come early. Some fantastic brands got involved all of which I have linked over on my instagram picture. There are one or two products that I will be reviewing separately because I LOVE them already! Of course, I am not a beauty blogger but make up is something that I enjoy when I am not rocking a ‘mum bun’ and changing nappies while making the dinner and doing the laundry so getting to try so many new brands, that I never knew were Irish, was great.  PhotoGrid_1448744645240
I got to meet Emer from Penneys to Prada whose blog and snapchat (@penneystoprada) I love, and Laura Dempsey (@laudempmakeup – snapchat) who gives me so much make up envy! Along with so many others lovely ladies. I can’t wait for the next meet up already!

Winter Warmers*

With the winter weather truly upon us I am getting into the festive spirit and can’t wait to get our decorations up soon. At this time of the year I also like to create a warm, calm and cosy atmosphere in our bedrooms to helps us get a good nights rest – which is essential when 6 months pregnant and running after a toddler all day!

winter warmers

Heavy tog duvet
This goes without saying I think but a heavy duvet is a must for the bed when the winter months arrive. If I had my way I would have a duck feather and down duvet but Clayton isn’t a fan so we settle on a 13.5 tog regular duvet.

Soft, luxury bed linens
The softer the better. Last year I got some Egyptian cotton sheets for our bed and they are the best thing I ever slept on. They add warmth and comfort without being over bearing. I definitely need to pick up some new ones this year, like these from Yorkshire Linens.

Candles
The ultimate atmosphere setter! Lighting is such a huge element in setting the tone and atmosphere in a room, bright light immediately wakes me up but soft light is relaxing and cosy. Scented candles are great not only for mood lighting but also scents like lavender and jasmine are perfect for a bedroom. Midnight Jasmine from Yankee Candle is a favourite of mine for night time relaxing.

Blankets
A blanket thrown over the end of the bed adds and extra layer to your linens and can be pulled up for extra warmth during the night, I have fleece lined blankets in our bedroom, Aidan’s room and our living room – perfect for copying up during Christmas movies. Penneys (Primark) have a great selection to choose from and are so reasonable!

 

What do you do to create the perfect warm and cosy atmosphere at Christmas? Are bed linens and blankets essential to setting the mood in your bedroom?

*Collaboration post.

Top Tips for Saving on your Weekly Shopping

top tips saving

A few months ago I ended up comparing how much I spend on our weekly grocery shopping with some of my friends. There are 2 adults and one, fairly good eating toddler in our household but yet I was spending more than friends with several grown children as well as two adults! Using these 5 tips I managed to half our weekly shopping bill so I thought I would share it with you incase you were an excessive spender like me.

 

 

  • Meal Plan & Shopping list
    Fail to prepare, prepare to fail – this is true for grocery shopping too. I found I would buy lots of things ‘incase’ I needed them and they would end up going off before I would use them or I would need to run out midweek for things I needed but hadn’t picked up. This meant excessive waste and spending. Now I make a weekly meal plan on a Monday evening and from that I make the shopping list ready to go on Tuesday.
  • Freeze things not used in time & Freeze leftovers
    I love to made homemade soup but found that I would buy all the ingredients and not find the time to make it so one day I had a brainwave (dangerous I know!). I chopped up all the veg before it went off and froze it in a large freezer bag so I can just take it out and pop it into the pot or slow cooker when I want some. I  also started to freeze leftovers, like lasagne, curry and cottage pie. Not only does it cut down on waste it also means Aidan can have a proper dinner if we decide to get a take away or I don’t feel like making anything. He would eat cottage pie until it came out his ears so it is always handy to have one to hand on those fussy eating days.
  • Plan meals around super 6
    Aldi’s super 6 is your best friend when trying to cut down on food costs. I downloaded the Aldi app and I check out the weeks super 6 before I plan the weeks meals. I believe Lidl do one also but as we shop at Aldi I use theirs.
  • Do not shop hungry!
    We do our shopping on a Tuesday usually and unconsciously would do it before lunch, which meant that I was picking up things that weren’t needed simply because I was hungry at the time. We’ve started to do it now after breakfast and it definitely cuts down how many things get thrown in which aren’t on the list.
  • Use your smartphone
    There are so many apps and websites around now to help you find the best deals when shopping. They aren’t only for big purchases several have been released that help with weekly shopping. BabyDoc is great to find offers on nappies, wipes and other baby essentials. Aldi and Lidl also both have apps that tell their weekly offers as well as their ‘special buy’ products.

top tips saving

 

Do you meal plan or write a shopping list? What tips would you add?

Christmas Crafts for Toddlers





toddler christmas crafts

 

With the festive season approaching it is time to get creative – mainly because the weather keeps us pretty housebound. I have snooped around Pinterest and put together a list of crafts that I want to try (keyword being try!) with Aidan during the holidays.

Christmas Wreath Painting with Dish brush

Christmas crafts for toddlers


Toddler Christmas Tree cards

toddler christmas craft


Letter Ornaments

toddler christmas crafts


Snowman Letter

toddler christmas craft


Marble Art Christmas trees


Bedazzled Gingerbread men

toddler christmas crafts


Pasta Christmas Wreath

toddler christmas craft


Holly Jolly Christmas cards

toddler christmas craft

 

What crafts have you got planed for the winter months? Will you be trying any of these with your little one?




DIY Bath Paints

With the horrible weather and the lack of daylight being home with a toddler all day can be a terrifying task. I spend hours searching Pinterest for new ideas to try but find many things aren’t suitable for toddlers or contain products and ingredients from America. I should also point out that the least amount of clean up the better – as if we don’t have enough of that to do already!

So today I put Aidan in old clothes and made some bath paint. He took a while to really understand the concept but once he got going he made a right ole mess! The best part? It all washed down the drain with zero effort – I just rain the shower head over the bath and ta da it disappeared. Disclaimer: I did scrub my bath afterwards but I that may be due to my current nesting situation.

DIY bath paint

So here is how I made the paint:

  • 0.5 cups of flour (I used self raising but doubt it matters)
  • 0.5 cups of baby shampoo
  • 3/4 tablespoons of water
  • Food colouring

If your paint is too runny add more flour, or too think then add more water. Wait until you’ve added your food colouring though as mine became very runny after I added it.

Minimal effort preparing. Minimal effort cleaning up. Maximum fun for the toddler!

DIY bath paint

I Hacked the Toddler

Hacked the toddler


Last night the Toddler child did not want to go to sleep. Now he is known for kicking up when he is put to bed by his Dad so we just ignored his antics and after one or two “resettlings” he dozed off. At midnight he decided that sleep was in fact over rated and it was time for us all to get up (even though the rest of us had yet to actually go to sleep.) We went through a phase for a couple of nights, a while back, where he would wake in the middle of the night and want to play and we tried to settle him in his cot and not take him up like all those books tell you to do. In the end, after 3/4 hours we ended up taking him downstairs and rolling him in the pram until he dozed off – again something they tell you not to do but clearly they didn’t write these books at 4am with a toddler screaming ‘DAAAAAAADDDDD’ repeatedly.

Last night though I took him up and rocked him for a bit, singing to him (poor child!) because he looked genuinely upset – apparently another of his Oscar worthy preformances. He cuddled for a while before deciding enough singing lets play – so we did.

I took him into our room, took off his gro bag and we messed about for an hour, all 3 of us. As much as he faught it he yawned the entire time and his little body couldn’t deny its fatigue. So when 1 o clock rolled around I began our nighttime routine all over again.

‘Do you want to go to bed?’
Carried him downstairs, changed his nappy and his shirt (to mimic getting into his PJs)
Got him another bottle and gave it to him in his room with the lights off – as we do every night.
And it worked!
He got into his cot and lay down, I kissed his head and said ‘Night chicken, I love you’ left the room and got into bed.

He slept until the following morning – success!!
So this might be a tip worth remembering in the future – if you have a good night time routine in place then maybe going back to basics during these night time parties is the way to go. Let them have their ‘awake’ time before starting the routine, could save hours of stress, tears and sleeplessness.

Hacked the toddler