Turning 30

August 10, 2014

30th Birthday

Last week I turned the big 3-0. Thirty. Dirty thirty. Flirty thirty. Everyone always seems to dread turning 30 and I kind of did as well. But the closer I got to it the more excited and grateful I got. We are lucky to be getting older, even if we are all scared of getting wrinklier and droopier. But if we don’t age there’s only one alternative. I know some people who haven’t made it this far in life so I am bloody grateful to be here enjoying life and getting older.

Obviously ageing in our bodies and our minds can be a potentially scary thing, especially for women I think. But really, I wish we could just embrace ageing and not see it as a negative thing. I think it’s hard with society nowadays (clearly I am old to say things like that!) when so much emphasis is put on the quest for eternal youth and celebrities all over the place appear to defy ageing. We do all want to look younger but we shouldn’t let it bother us as much as we do. I think it’s great that whilst there are all these beautiful young seemingly perfect stars making us feel bad about our looks, that there are lots of respectable, classy, successful older women like Helen Mirren who look amazing; who show us that you don’t have to look old and wrinkly or go into hiding or wear bad clothes when you are older; who show us that ageing doesn’t have to be a bad thing and we don’t have to be young to look beautiful and fit and that we can still be inspirational and fun when we’re older.

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The older I’ve got the more I have started to care about my health and I believe being healthy and fit plays a big part in growing older beautifully and keeping our bodies looking fit and healthy and keeping our minds young as much as possible. Drinking lots of water, moving our bodies, eating good clean foods that nourish our bodies, getting outdoors and enjoying some sunshine are more important to ageing gracefully and feeling good about ourselves than trying to stay forever young with lotions and magical potions and surgery of the plastic variety.

I also quite like being older; I don’t want to be 21 anymore. I like the thought of being 30, being a mother, getting married (next year) and being a grown up. I feel like I’m officially an adult now and I’m ok with that.

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I think my thirties are going to be amazing; I’m getting married, will hopefully be lucky enough to have more children; I’ll see Ava starting school, we’ll move house and more and more people around me will start to have children. I plan to only get fitter and healthier rather than less so; increase my confidence in different ways, learn to play the piano, travel and practice yoga. That all sounds pretty bloody amazing to me. It feels like a new chapter with lots of new experiences to come. I’m excited!

How did you feel about turning 30 or how do you feel if you’re not that old yet?!

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The Things She Says

July 14, 2014

Ava jumping

My toddler comes out with so many funny new things every day; she constantly makes me laugh. Some things she’ll pick up from things she watches, but most of the time I’ve got no idea where it’s come from. I wish I could remember them all and exactly how she said something because they’re often so hilarious and I always think ‘I’ll tell her Daddy that when he comes home’ but I usually can’t remember what it was.

Here are some things she’s said or conversations we’ve had that I have written down. I know some of them aren’t that fascinating, but they are when your toddler (she’s two and a half) has recently started speaking in sentences and she’s never said the cute or funny thing before.

Me (when she’s hurt herself): “Are you ok?”
Her: “I’m ok, just kiss it” and sticks the hurt body part out for me to kiss it better.

“Extra extra read all bout it”

To our cat: “Daisy a chew toy for you. I throw it for you and you bring it back for me.”

A to me: “What’s happening girl?”

“Calm down mummy”

When I’m singing
A: “Only daddy can sing mummy”
Me: “Why?”
A: “Because he’s a good singer”
Me: “Am I a good singer?”
A: “No”!!!!!!

“Only Daddy can sing mummy”
I pulled a sad face
“Come and hug me” (I was changing her)
“You didn’t hurt anybody”

A: “No don’t sing mum, I sing”
Me: “Why? I’m a good singer”
A: “Daddy’s a good singer”
Me: “Am I a good singer too though?”
A: “Of course mom”!!! (We say mum)

Watching frozen
A: “Everybody’s blowing away”
Me: “I know”
A: “Don’t worry, they’ll be fine”

“Mummy, what’s happened to the Princess?”

“I want to play ano” aka I want to play the piano

“Look at his big tuna” (talking about her toy elephants trunk)

A: “Mummy you trumped”
Me: “No I didn’t”
A: “You did you trumped”
Me: “No I didn’t!”
A: “You did you did stinky mummy”

Slaps my bum and says “nakeeeed” and runs off

Me: “We need to change your bum because you’ve pooed”
A: “No I haven’t”
Me: “What’s that stink then?”
A: “YOU!”

Coming out the doctors
“That was a good doctor”

“Can you be my hero mummy?” (She wanted me to help with her jigsaw)

To me: “No I don’t want your stinky compote”!!! (I’ve never made her compote)

“Mummy I’m calling you T-bone”

“I’m hiding from your face gorgeous”

“No I’m not proud of you mummy”

Have you got any funny things your children have said? I’d love to hear some!

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XPlus Screen

On Friday evening my friend and I attended a preview screening of the new Transformers: Age of Extinction movie at the brand new XPlus screen at Showcase cinema in Nottingham. XPlus has been labelled as ‘The Ultimate Cinema Experience’, with a wall-to-wall and floor to ceiling screen.

The red carpet was rolled out for me (and maybe the odd other person) and we very much enjoyed a few glasses of Prosecco and really nice canapés before the film. I could get used to being a VIP.

Here is what Showcase Cinema’s have to say about the XPlus experience:

“Showcase XPlus is our proprietary large format auditorium featuring Dolby Atmos™ sound and the most advanced digital projection and screen technology. XPlus offers a premium cinema experience with immersive sound, crystal clear projection and reserved seating.”

The Nottingham Showcase is only the second cinema in the country (the first was Leeds) to get an XPlus screen with more being rolled out soon.

Louise entering the XPlus screen

The viewing experience is said to be ultrasharp, with vibrant colour accuracy, super-reflective screens for maximum brightness and the brightest and sharpest 3D experience. In my opinion, it did look really good; it was very bright and clear and the 3D aspect of it looked really good (Transformers is a good film to have in 3D), but I didn’t really notice a massive difference. I’m obviously not a big film buff but I feel like I would have to see an XPlus screen and a normal screen side by side to be able to tell the difference. I am sure there are big one’s, but as an ordinary viewer I am just absorbed in the film and not paying particular attention to the details.

The XPlus auditorium features Dolby Atmos sound which is apparently the most significant development in cinema since the arrival of surround sound. Again, we didn’t really notice a difference during the film. However, before the film started they showed us the power of Dolby Atmos by playing some heavy rain and a thunderstorm and that was amazing. The sound really enveloped us and it felt like we were part of a thunderstorm. It sounded really realistic and the placement of all of the many speakers used with this sound system obviously works very well. We both agreed that it sounded brilliant.

Auditorium at Showcase XPlus

The Nottingham XPlus auditorium is having completely new seating soon, and having seen some photos of what that looks like I am sure that when they are installed that the overall experience will be much nicer than in a standard screening. Tickets to an XPlus screening are around £15 so it’s certainly not a budget option.

Regular film-goers will probably notice more of a difference and a higher standard with the XPlus but I just really ‘see’ the film rather than the details that make it.

Jen and I at Showcase XPlus

Transformers: Age of Extinction was ok. It is not something I would really choose to go and watch (I have seen the first one), but I do think it’s quite an easy watch and I enjoyed most of it. The fight scene near the end went on for about half an hour too long and I got pretty bored and just wanted it to stop. Also (and I’m really not a big feminist or anything usually), the women in it were REALLY wimpy. I can take the ridiculously short shorts and the close-ups of them and the never-ending legs inside numerous times; but the main girl in it screamed at everything and was scared of everything and so were all-but-one of the other women. That kind of thing doesn’t normally bother me, but with this it was a bit too much and obvious that the girls were made to look really weak and pathetic.

Overall we had a really fun night (free Prosecco helped!) and it would probably be nice to have an evening at the cinema and a bit of luxury – if you reserve your seats, make a visit to the bar for some sparkles, lounge in the new comfy seating (that will be there soon) and relax and enjoy a film on the very high quality screen with incredible sound, and really make it an evening out – then you will probably have a great time and it will be worth the cost. If you just fancy seeing the latest film, don’t pay much attention to details, and want a cheap-ish evening out – then maybe just stick with a normal screening.

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Fitness Update: June

June 30, 2014

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Maybe it’s the odd flashes of sunshine we’re getting amongst all the rain or maybe it’s the fact that I dragged out my summer clothes during these flashes (not mine) and a lot of them didn’t quite fit (I thought I’d only put on a few pounds during winter!), but I’ve been feeling very motivated to start exercising again during May and June. I planned to keep doing my 4 minutes a day throughout winter but the dreary weather, cold, greyness, layers of clothes and pure laziness stopped me. I’m still not finding it as easy as I was before, probably because it’s still been chilly and rainy a lot of the time (weather take note – it’s not April anymore, bugger off with your showers; sunshine sort it out, it’s June, almost July) but I really want to do it. I caught a glimpse last year of how amazing it was to actually feel nice in my clothes and it really increased my overall confidence so I really need to get back on it like a car bonnet.

I also really want to start a few new things, in particular yoga and running. I have never really been interested in yoga but after seeing lots of beautiful and inspiring photos of yoga poses on Instagram and coming across a couple of blog posts about it (particularly this one), I really fancy giving it a try. I’d like to do it for the body benefits but also for the things it can do for your mind. I find it impossible to switch off and stop worrying about every bloody little thing so I would love to do something about that and be a calmer person.

Unfortunately I haven’t found a suitable local class yet so I’m going to start practicing yoga at home for now starting with videos from here and here. There is a Pilates class near me; I know they are different, but I’d like to give that a try too so I might go to that one week and see if I like it.

I also want to start running. But I don’t want it to be a big deal or really push myself at first as I’ve always hated running so I just want to see how it goes. I feel like I would just like to add something different to my exercising so I would be happy with going just once a week. There is a place we take Ava for walks near where we live by a river so I’d actually like to go with my family for a walk and keep running away from and back to them. I don’t know if that’s a weird idea, but because going for a run sounds horrible to me at the moment I know that I will never make myself get my exercise clothes on and get out the door on an evening, when I am shattered and just want to collapse with some wine and Netflix. However getting some fresh air and going for a walk with my family by the river appeals much more.

There seem to be rather a lot of fitness related blog posts around at the moment and I am really enjoying reading them and getting inpsired. And hopefully next time I speak to you I’ll be downward dogging all over the place.

Do you do much exercise? I’d love to hear about what you do or if you have or any motivational tips to share.
Namaste my friends.

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A couple of months ago we went to see a wedding venue for the first time and we fell in love. It’s perfect for us. The Carriage Hall is a restored and converted station goods shed which makes a really unique and beautiful setting for a wedding. I love love love the big open space of the main hall with its stripped back brick walls and super high ceiling. It has lovely rural views and seating scattered about outside to enjoy a drink in the (hopefully) sunshine.

I actually dismissed The Carriage Hall a few years ago when I started looking because it doesn’t have any bedrooms to stay in and I really didn’t want anyone to have to leave early with Ava to put her to bed somewhere else. However, we are getting married next summer by which time Ava will be three and a half, therefore she will probably stay up late with us dancing the night away and if she gets too tired she can always fall asleep on someone’s shoulder for a bit, or in a room we have earmarked as a kiddies play/sleep room.

We did also want bedrooms at our wedding venue for ourselves so that we can just retire upstairs at the end of our long happy day and so we could join our close family who would have also stayed there for breakfast the next morning.

But this place is pretty perfect in every other way, and it’s really not a problem staying somewhere else. I just need to find a beautiful hotel in Nottingham for us to stay on our wedding night. We were actually thinking of staying in the Lace Market Hotel where the boy proposed to me but it just went out of business!

This weekend we went back to The Carriage Hall for a wedding open day and mainly to see the venue again. We still love it. The hubs-to-be thinks he likes it even more than last time. It was lovely to see it in the sunshine with people milling about outside and with all the big windows and doors thrown wide open. Let’s all now cross our fingers for sunshine on our special day!

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Father's Day

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Here I am sitting looking at the mountains in the Marlborough Sounds, enjoying a nice cold glass of Sauvignon Blanc from the very same region. It was gorgeously hot and we were staying at one of the most beautiful places, where there were only two self-contained purpose-built quaint and lovely lodges in the grounds of the owners house, and we were the only one’s staying so we had the place to ourselves. There were chickens and a goat, and the owner brought us fresh eggs, and homemade bread and cake. It was wonderful.

The Marlborough Sounds is a really beautiful place and we spent a couple of days there after attending the Marlborough Wine Festival (which was also brilliant), and then we got a boat over to the Sounds from Picton. Our long, lazy days were spent on long walks in the hot sunshine, buying rhubarb and ginger jam from the locals driveways, eating lovely food at the few and far between cafes and from our lovely host, drinking the Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc we had bought before getting there (there were no shops close by) and admiring the beautiful views and lazing about reading books and relaxing.

It was one of my favourite parts of our entire 5-month-long trip around the world and I’d love to go back to the exact same spot again one day.

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Save the Date! Paper Themes Bespoke Stationery Review

After four or five years of being engaged (we can’t remember!) we have finally decided to start properly organising our wedding for next summer. We have found our venue, which we love and have started to look at dates. We have decided on July 2015 and begun looking at Save the Date cards to send out to all of our guests so that by the time we get around to sending out invitations our friends and family are not all booked up. Save the date cards are great when you want to announce your wedding to your loved one’s and ask them to keep your wedding date free without having all the little details ready.

Paper Themes have sent me some lovely samples of their Save the Date cards so that we can choose our favourite and they can personalise our chosen card so that we can send them out as soon as we have a definite date for our wedding.

Paper Themes specialise in bespoke wedding stationery; offering a wide selection of traditional, modern and contemporary designs which you can personalise to show details of your wedding. The Paper Themes brand has been in the wedding stationery market for over 100 years and as such have vast experience designing, manufacturing and delivering personalised wedding stationery. Their invitations are made to order in the UK and delivered to you in a presentation box with complimentary envelopes.

I have been sent some Save the Date cards of my choice to review and to choose from for my own wedding. They are all lovely and there is such a wide range to choose from, it was hard to narrow it down to a select few. I’m pretty sure there would be something on their site to suit everybody. All of the cards are a nice size for a Save the Date and they are all printed on lovely quality card.

The ‘First Dance’ Save the Date card is one of my favourites. The midnight blue card makes it stand out from the others and I love the main font and the simplicity of it. I think it is a really pretty card and is certainly one of my favourite’s. This card is not to my fiance’s taste unfortunately so I am not allowed to choose the ‘First Dance’ card for our wedding! In my opinion this card would be improved by also having the back of the Save the Date in the dark blue (rather than white), but that would most likely increase the cost.

First Dance Save the Date

The ‘Wonderland’ Save the Date is a very pretty design, with snowy white trees on a minty blue background. This would be perfect if you are having a winter wedding. As we are getting married in the summer this isn’t the one for us, but I think it would be if we had chosen a wedding date in the colder months.

Wonderland Save the Date

This is the ‘Parisian’ Save the Date postcard which I chose to sample as I really like the French style and the simple vintage colours. We both really like this one and I think it provides great inspiration for a vintage-themed wedding. Again, I think the sepia-tones would be really nice continued onto the back of the card.

Parisian Save the Date

The ‘Eat, Drink and Be Married’ design is another one of our favourite’s. I like the text, the simple colours and the fact that it is printed on both sides. It is classic and stylish (just like us – ha!), not too plain but not too fussy which is exactly what I like. It is also available in a mint and a black (the mint is really lovely – and perfect if you are incorporating trendy mint colours into your wedding). There are invitations, order of service, thank you cards and table plans available to match so you can continue the theme amongst all of your wedding stationery.

Eat Drink and Be Married Save the Date

Eat Drink and Be Married Save the Date Reverse

The ‘Destination to Love’ Save the Date card would be really cool if you are getting married abroad. It is a boarding card style postcard and I love the style and simple but pretty colours. I really like that it is themed to your wedding but not in a cheesy way, and it is a little bit different. I don’t have a sample of this card as our wedding will be in this country but I think this would be my choice if we were jetting off somewhere.

Destination to Love Save the Date

Another Save the Date that stood out to me was the ‘Famous Couples’ card. This card shows your names amongst famous couples such as Romeo and Juliet and Elizabeth and Mr Darcy. I have seen these before as Wedding cards and I think they are a fun design but I didn’t choose to see these as the boy doesn’t really like them. I always think about whether a Save the Date or an invitation would be nice to keep or have framed, and I think this one in particular would be good to have framed after your wedding as it is personal and fun and would hold a special meaning as your Save the Date.

Famous Couples Save the Date

Paper Themes have so many different Save the Date’s and wedding invitations to choose from and it is great that some of the designs have a whole range of wedding stationery available so you can easily theme your wedding or find some inspiration to start planning your wedding if you aren’t very creative (like me). The Save the Date cards are really good quality and I will be happy to send them out to my wedding guests once I have finalised a date.

I have been sent some Save the Date cards of my choice to review, but you can also request samples of invitations you like on the Paper Themes website.

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Every day Ava comes out with new words or a phrase that surprise me, that I have no idea where she picked them up from. She talks non-stop when we are at home; chatting to me or her toys and I love listening to her ramblings and trying to work out what she is saying. She has started saying ‘Give it to me’ and recently she likes to respond to my ‘whys?’ with “Because gobbledegookgobbledegookgobbledegook”. She now has an answer to everything, even if she’s not sure what that answer is.

She’s been able to count to ten for quite a few months now, although she has now gone backwards so it’s currently 1, 2, 3, 7, 9, 8. She knows most of her colours and it’s lovely to hear her telling me the colours of objects. I love hearing her language progressing and listening to her trying to express herself in a new way and converse with us.

It’s weird having to think so much about what we say in front of her. Obviously we try our very best not to swear in front of her, but then there’s other words or phrases that coming out of her mouth just don’t sound right. I’ll sometimes say to one of the cats “Go away Molly” without thinking about it if she’s around us while we’re eating or something, but to then hear the same thing coming out of Ava’s little mouth just doesn’t sound very nice. She pays so much attention to us and the way we behave and the things we say that you have to be so aware of what you say. The occasional times that I accidentally swear in front of her, such as when I’ve hurt myself or something and out shoots a forceful “shit”, and then my little follower repeats it straight back to me. Bad mummy. Half the time I’ll ask her not to say that, but then that usually draws more attention to it and so she’ll repeat it over and over again, so it’s best to just ignore it and move on.

The other day I said to her daddy “She looks so cute like that”, and she chirps up “Thank you”! I didn’t even know she was listening! That just showed me how much we need to be careful what we say in front of her from now on, because she’s always listening and watching and learning.

The last week or so we have definitely had more actual conversations; going back and forth, and she loves to share her opinion with us and tell us when we are clearly wrong. Every day when we are sitting at the table for dinner we have the same conversation:

Ava: “Where’s Molly and Daisy?”
Me: “I don’t know, I think they might be outside playing”
Ava {annoyed}: “No, they’re not outside, they’re in the lounge sleeping”
Me: “Oh, ok”

That’s me told then.

Every day she makes me laugh with the things she comes out with and her opinions on every little thing. I regularly get told off for singing (she clearly has no taste). She’s also becoming rather American in her speech (I blame the US TV programmes she watches – BRING BACK PEPPA PIG!). One day she was jumping around on a chair and shouted “That’s SOOOO awesome!” with an American accent; she calls Ladybirds ‘Ladybugs’ and the worst of all….. footballs are ‘soccer ball’s’! I think her father nearly disowned her when he heard that one. (No offence to American’s of course, it’s just weird when we are English and live in England and she’s using different words to us! Plus it’s a FOOTBALL!).

I love watching her language develop and and her vocabulary grow and I adore having more conversations with her. The things she comes out with are so funny and I love spending my time with this amazing little chatty person who tells me she loves me ten times a day and asked me if I’m ok if I say “ouch”. I’ve said it before and I’ll probably say it again; I love this age.

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Ava with her doll's house

One of my favourite things to do is to watch my little girl happily and contentedly playing with her toys by herself. When she doesn’t know I’m there or has just got so completely absorbed in her play that she forgets I’m there and I can watch her with her big imagination creating lovely scenarios with her toys. She’ll talk to them and move them around and boss them about and it’s so adorable. I love to just sit and watch her role playing and I’m often surprised at just how much creativity and imagination such a small person can have.

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Imaginative play can help to develop and improve fine and gross motor skills, allows for self-expression and empathy for others and helps to develop problem-solving skills as well as language skills. It’s important to let children sometimes play by themselves allowing them to play exactly how they want to, to develop these skills.

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It always makes me smile when her play involves copying off mummy or daddy, like when she makes cups of tea for us or herself with her tea set, and when she follows me round the house sweeping while I sweep and chatting to herself or to her toys or to me.

She’ll sit by her dolls house and talk to the family that live there, tuck them up in bed and put them in the bath, and move the furniture around; completely and utterly involved in this little world she has created. She loves (and so do I) her pretty wooden dolls house ‘Blossom Cottage’. It’s not too big so it doesn’t take up too much space and it is easily moved around by a handle in the roof (Ava also likes to use the handle to post the dolls through!). Blossom Cottage comes with a really sweet little furniture set and a cute wooden family so you don’t have to buy everything separately which is great, and I think it’s a really good price for a nice wooden house. The dolls house with the family really encourage and allow imaginary play, and she can easily play alone or mummy can join in too. I love the creativity a dolls house inspires – I’m not a very creative person at all; but a dolls house and dolls make it so easy to think of ways to play together and brings up unlimited things to chat and think about; I love it. Plus, everyone needs a sheep in their bedroom.

Big Game Hunters have so many lovely wooden toys on their website http://www.dollshouses.co.uk and I especially love the Le Toy Van Play Oven. Wooden toys are my favourite type of children’s toys – I think they look so lovely, and they last really well too.

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Ava has very recently started to be interested in dressing up for the first time, inspired by lots of dressing up clothes at her toddler class. We always had a big dressing up box when my sister and I were growing up and we loved role playing in our fancy dress (I was mostly a bride), so I can’t wait to share that love with her and expand her fancy dress collection, while watching that imagination of hers develop even further.

Would I buy it myself? Yes definitely, it looks nice, is a great price especially as you don’t need to buy furniture or dolls separately, and Ava loves it.

We were sent the Blossom Cottage Dolls House & Furniture & Family from Big Game Hunters to review, but all views and opinions are my own and completely honest.

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