Livs design comes to life with Petplan Equine!

Wednesday, 12 December 2018

Back when I decided to start blogging, I could never have imagined some of the wonderful opportunities that would come my way.

Right up there was a few weeks ago when Petplan got in touch and asked if Liv would like design her very own dream horse to be made into a unique stuffed toy for her!

Liv is a huge animal lover, to the extent that she tells everyone she is going to be the Queen of animals when she grows up! This will entail living in a pink castle full of cats and looking after the needs of all the animals in the world. I imagine she will be quite busy, I hope she makes time to visit us regularly!

Anyone that knows Livs is very aware of her obsession with My a Little Pony and will guess immediately the next question I had to ask - Is it ok if this dream horse also has a horn and wings? With the reply “Of course - anything goes!” We signed up immediately!

Liv emptied out her pencil case and got to work straight away. 




Three drafts later she finally had an outline she was happy with and began the next stage - colouring! 

A little while later she proudly presented me with her finished drawing, a beautiful alicorn (unicorn with wings)




As you can see she has her very own cutie mark just like the My Little Pony characters she has adored for so long. The cutie mark is made up of a heart because she loves and looks after her friends, how adorable!

We sent the design off and waited to see what it was made into, let me tell you it was worth the wait!

Liv couldn’t wait to open the beautiful silky bag it was delivered in and became quite 
emotional when she saw inside.




The likeness in uncanny and the detail that has been copied from the design to the toy is quite extraordinary. Obviously it is completely out of scale and wonky to say the least, but absolutely unique and magical that your Child’s imaginations can be brought to life.

Ali the alicorn has quickly become Livs best friend. Her old sleep partners have been ditched and Ali gets tucked up in bed when Liv heads off to school. She absolutely adores her and takes great pride telling everyone that she designed her and no one else in the world has one the same.

The quality is excellent too, not a loose thread in sight. I was also pleased it is made from a soft fleece type material as it will wipe or wash well when it’s inevitably dropped in a puddle or dunked in some dinner.

I really hope Livs love of animals continues throughout her life. There is nothing like a loving pet getting all excited to see you! Our 7 month old pup is a joy to see every morning, her little bottom wags along with her tail when she spots us, she has us all firmly under her spell!

Of course if you are lucky enough to own your very own horse or pony, you should make sure you are covered for any accidents or costly illnesses with horse insurance from Petplan Equine  Pets become part of our families and as such need looking after in the same way, don’t get caught having to think about money should the worst happen.

What pets do you have?

This post was made possible by Petplan Equine, however all thoughts are my own.

Last minute gift ideas for Children

Tuesday, 11 December 2018

With Christmas day fast approaching, if like me you are struggling for gift ideas for the children on your list this year, I hope the below selection I have put together provides some inspiration. Happy shopping!





BFF surprise packs

Behind slime, the second most popular thing in our house this year has been surprise packs and blind bags. Thanks to You Tube, kids the globe over are desperate to open these little treats and complete the whole set.

Unlike some similar sets, I don't mins Liv having these as they aren't so expensive or hard to store.

Perfect stocking fillers. Each BFF surprise pack contains 1 BFF, 1 bag and house (the box) with over 60 to collect, your little one will have hours of fun.

Priced at £2.99

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Ready2robot

The only collectible that lets kids build, mix & match their own custom ‘bots, and battle their friends in a robot-brawl. Unbox surprise bots, build the ultimate brawler and blast their way to becoming champion! Last bot standing gets the glory and the bragging rights!

Ready2Robot Battle Packs provides everything needed for the ultimate battle! Armed with 2 mechbots and 4 Pilots Asst, you'll build and battle right out of the box. With over 10 layers to unbox and 20 total pieces, the mechbots can be customized for battles in hundreds of ways, really getting their imagination working.

Contains exclusive Ready2Robot pod and Bot Blaster

Priced at £14.99 in Argos

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Pallina game from Hape

A traditional game of skill, 
simply insert the sticks, place the wooden balls on top, then each player rolls the dice and is assigned a different stick colour. The question is can you pull out a stick without any of the wooden balls falling down? 

This fun game can be played in three different ways to suit all skill levels, right from toddlers
 A great way to introduce family games to little ones.

Made of sustainable bamboo it is far better for the environment too.

Suitable for age 3 + 

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Shimeez cuddly sequin pets

Cuddle, dazzle and create with these super cute transforming sequin pets. Not only super soft and cuddly, you can also create cool and crazy patterns right onto your toy. Simply draw in the colour changing reversible sequins then wipe it off and start again! Customize your plush with different designs, the possibilities really are endless!

These Shimeez sequin teddies are available in 4 different designs and are an impressive 39cm tall.

Suitable for ages 3 years and over. Priced at £15 


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Slime factory - glow in the dark.

Top of most kids list this Christmas, I couldn't not bring you slime!


Have a gooey, gungy time making this glow in the dark slime! The Slime Factory Glow In The Dark set is the yuckiest educational Science kit yet! From Science4You, the set includes everything to make incredible creatures that slip, slither and slide! Create jumping balls, monsters, worms and even fish, 17 cool experiments to make what you wish! Whats not to like?!

Priced at £19.99

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Hamster race game



It's not Christmas without a new game to play after dinner. One of the games on Livs list this year is the cheese chasing hamster race game! Race around the track, pick up cheese, tip the see-saw and ride the wheel! Last hamster on the wheel, wins the game! I really hope Santa brings this one as I would love a turn!



This game is suitable for age 4 and over, for 2 - 4 players and requires 4 AA batteries.


Currently £16.49 in Argos.



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Pokemon soft toys

Another very popular series the last few years has been Pokemon, if its not on the TV then adults and children alike are wandering around capturing and battling them on phones, a great way to get your kids outside on a winter walk!

An easy way to make your little fan happy this Christmas is with the ever popular 12 inch plush Pikachu, super cute 8 inch Popllio or even a plush Pokeball in their stocking!
Super soft and cuddly, they will bring hours of fun and maybe even some peace for you!

Available online.

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JoJo bows


Unless you have been living under a rock, you will have heard of and seen plenty of Girls wearing JoJo bows this year.


Perfect stocking fillers, I couldn't resist getting Liv this set. One bow is beautifully decorated with cupcakes, rainbows, love hearts, stars with a white background to ensure it stands out.

The second is a bright pink colour, decorated with slightly darker pink gems. These bows are attached to silver crocodile clips ready to enhance any hairstyle you wish!

Priced at £7.50 from www.coolclobber.com


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LOL pyjamas

One of Livs biggest obsessions this year has been the LOL surprise dolls. She absolutely loves them! 

This super cute LOL pyjama set is definitely going to be one of her new favourites. The pyjama bottoms have an elasticated waist and cuffed bottoms for ultimate comfort while the top features 3 of the many dolls to collect.

If you have a fan too, these will be perfect for their Christmas eve box, I know Liv is going to be thrilled. 

Priced at £8 from www.coolclobber.com 


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Doro easy to use mobile

With the Doro 6520 your Child can have the responsibility of a first phone without it costing the earth and being complicated to use.

This handset allows easier calling, messaging, picture taking and more thanks to widely separated, high contrast keys and a large 2.8" screen, which is an exceptionally large screen for a clamshell style phone. It also combines great sound with soft touch coating and many additional features including e-mail, web browser, assistance button and is Hearing Aid Compatible so a good option for older relatives too.

Available in red or grey priced at £90

Stockist: Car Phone Warehouse, O2, Vodafone, Tesco, EE.

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A wearable phone / GPS tracker

Another option for your child's first mobile phone is the XPLORA gps watch phone.


This smart 1.3 inch LCD colour touch screen device allows your child to call or send SMS messages to up to 12 pre-programmed numbers, send SMS to pre-programmed numbers. 
Boasting a 60 hours standby time, you can feel confident that you are able to contact your child while giving them the freedom they want so much as they grow up.

It is also important to note that this is the only device of its kind which is fully CE certified.

Key features: safe zones, calendar and location services. Available on a monthly plan or sim free, there are price plans to suit all budgets. Available in 3 colours.

I know Liv is going to love hers!


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Disclaimer - some of the above products were sent to me for consideration, however all thoughts are my own.

Gift inspiration from Life with Liv!

If like me you are still Christmas shopping, I have put together some gift ideas for inspiration. This guide consists of things I have gifted or would like to receive (if Santa is reading!) I hope it helps you! 

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For the drink lovers!




Jawbone gin

Jawbox is triple distilled very slowly in a traditional copper pot, with eight of the eleven botanicals infused in the spirit. The final three botanicals are put through the vapour extraction method to preserve their delicate flavour and aroma. Local heather from Black Mountain, which overlooks the city of Belfast, is amongst its distinctive blend of botanicals. Created in 2016, Jawbox Gin takes its name from “when the front door was left unlocked and in the kitchen stood the Belfast sink, clothes, dishes and children got washed there, a lot of craic was heard around the Jawbox. It still is.”


PRICE: From £30.00 for 70cl ABV: 43%


Available in Marks & Spencer, Sainsbury’s, Asda, Tesco, masterofmalt.com, thewhiskyexchange.com, drinksupermarket.com, Amazon & other good retailers. 



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Glen Moray Port Cask finish Whisky.

The Glen Moray Classic Port Cask Finish combines the best of the soft gentle Glen Moray Classic Single Malt with the spicy, plum, wine-like, tannic elements from the port casks from Porto Cruz in which it is matured. On the nose, toasted vanilla and subtle oak is followed by rich dried fruit, along with subtle hints of dark chocolate and leather. This port cask finish has a lemony tang to it which progresses into a caramel-like taste with dashes of cinnamon. Finally finishing with a honey sweetness combined with spices and dark chocolate.

RRP: £25 FOR 70cl ABV: 40%. Available from Majestic, Spirited Wines and Whisky Specialist Retailers.



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King Cobra beer

Unique among lagers, King Cobra is brewed using ale yeast and is double fermented in the bottle, giving it a super-premium, full-bodied taste and pleasant, hazy appearance. This unorthodox approach gives King Cobra its warming, powerful depths. King Cobra is served in a champagne bottle, making it a striking and unusual gift for the festive season, perfect for all beer lovers. My Husband will definitely be popping this after his lunch!

Suitable for vegans and vegetarians, it’s available both online and offline across the UK, and retails for around £5


Available online and at most supermarkets.


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For the little girl in your life.

With Liv turning 7 this year, we decided to get her some more grown up jewellery. These have been sent to Santa ready for the big day!




A personalised bracelet.

This beautiful identity bracelet features a genuine opal and the signature Molly Brown London adjustable double chain design that will grow with her every step of the way. Liv will be so happy that she has a piece of jewellery with her birthstone in, she has been admiring some very expensive and quite inappropriate pieces for her age so we were very pleased to find this perfect bracelet.

This personalised October Opal Birthstone Bracelet is a lovely age appropriate design that can be engraved to create a bespoke gift that is truly hers. Have her name or a special date engraved onto the sterling silver identity bar for jewellery that makes her heart sing. 

All birthstones are available. Priced at £52


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A penguin necklace!

I fell in love with Jana Reinhardt’s lovely handmade penguin pendant as soon as I saw it! It is absoltely adorable! Ever since THAT John Lewis advert, these cute little creatures seem very Christmas-y but also able to worn all year round. The beautiful solid silver penguin measures 15x11 mm and the chain can be worn at 16 or 18 inches (41 or 46cm) and is handmade in the UK . We chose 925 sterling silver, however there a re more precious metal options.

The necklace costs £89 and is available from: www.janareinhardt.com


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For the lucky Lady in your life.




100% Merino wool throw 

This super soft 140cm x 180cm merino wool throw from Made to Last is made in a contemporary animal print design using oxford grey and white wool and finished with a rolled fringe. Stylish enough to add a touch of class to your living room while draped over the back of your sofa, cosy enough to snuggle up under too! I would love to find this under my tree on the big day.

Currently on sale for £79 at www.made-to-last.co.uk


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Stay safe with a dashcam

The Nextbase 312GW Rose Gold Dash Cam records in Full 1080p HD using 6G glass lenses to provide a wide 140 degree view and amazing image clarity. In-built Wi-Fi allows you to quickly view footage on your phone and share it with your insurer or friends with the Nextbase app. The 312GW also comes with the Click and Go Powered Car Mount and GPS and G force recording are also inbuilt to provide important evidence in the event of an accident. Click & Go GPS Magnetic Mount - This allows the Dash Cam to be free from wires and offers easy installation. A stylish way to help them stay safe while driving.

Currently available in Argos and Halfords for £79


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For families - Why gift things when you can gift memories?


Go ape outdoor experience.

Go Ape are firm believers that outdoor experiences make people happy. Whether it’s zipping through the tree tops, whizzing along the forest floor, or bouncing on super springy bounce nets – at Go Ape there’s an adventure for everyone! 

With 33 locations to choose from in the UK, your loved ones are in for one memorable experience when you gift them this day out.

With vouchers from just £10, this idea fits all budgets too, go on, they'll love you for it!


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Red letter days

For those busy Parents, make their gift extra special with a one-night break for two people. 

With a range of mostly of small, independent hotels and inns across the UK, each unique in character and temperament alongside a few chain hotels, this gift is perfect for that romantic weekend break. You can be assured of a solely distinctive and unique stay in every location. Breakfast and a delicious evening meal at the property’s restaurant are included.

You could make it even more special by offering to babysit the kids!

Hotel Escape with Dinner for Two - £149

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Teenagers


If like me you have teenage Nieces and Nephews that are difficult to buy for, take a look at theses gift sets from Nivea.

For the make up lover - Pro make up kit 

Help her keep her skin looking flawless and ready for make up with this Pro Make Up Kit. Containing a selection of NIVEA skin products designed to create the perfect base including NIVEA Daily Essentials Express Hydration Primer, NIVEA Daily Essentials 3 in 1 Refreshing Cleansing Wipes, NIVEA MicellAIR Micellar Water Sensitive Skin and NIVEA 1 Minute Urban Detox Mask Refine as well as a mask applicator and a stylish perspex organizer to keep it all tidy. This gift gets you make-up ready at any time, just like the professionals. My Niece will love this!

Available in Superdrug for £30

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For the sports mad teen - Travel in Style.

For the guy on the go, this travel kit ensures his skin is smooth and cared for skin no matter the destination. Including all the NIVEA favourites for his face and body in one wash bag: NIVEA MEN Active Clean Shower Gel; NIVEA MEN Black & White Anti-Perspirant; NIVEA MEN Sensitive Shaving Foam; NIVEA MEN Sensitive Post Shave Balm;and NIVEA MEN Creme – the kit provides ultimate freshness all day every day. these brilliant products come inside a stylish navy and grey toiletry bag - far easier to wrap too!

Available from Sainsburys for £30


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Disclaimer - some of these above have been gifted to me for inclusion, all opinion is my own.

Travel in style: how to revamp your campervan for your next trip

Thursday, 6 December 2018

If you have a campervan adventure lined up and want to make sure your vehicle is in tiptop condition before you set off, keep reading. 

In this post, we offer some quick and simple tips that can help you to revamp your van and ensure you travel in style.

Have a thorough clean out

From mud, to dog hair, to window mould, campervans can get pretty mucky pretty quickly. So, before your next trip, take a little time to have a thorough clean out. Armed with the right gear, from a vacuum and hard bristle brush to a carpet cleaner, you should be able to get your camper spic and span in no time. If your carpets and mats are beyond saving, why not order replacements online. Specialist van equipment and accessories suppliers such as Van Demon offer carpet and rubber mats that can instantly refresh the flooring in your vehicle. You might also want to get some van seat covers to protect your upholstery from food spills, mud and general grime while you’re on your travels.

Add roof bars for extra storage
Even if you make an effort to pack light, you might find you’re short on space in your camper. One of the easiest and best ways to increase your storage is to add a roof rack or roof bars to the top of your van. These accessories are easy to fit and they give you the perfect place to store large pieces of luggage or other cumbersome items - providing you with extra space on board your camper.

Invest in new window dressings

Comfort is key if you’re to get the most from your four-wheeled adventures, and this means being able to control the light and temperature levels in your van. If you don’t already have them, now’s the time to invest in some good quality window dressings. Blackout curtains can be ideal. Fearing a double layer of fabric for improved thermal insulation and to block out light from outside, they allow you to keep your cabin cosy in winter and cool in summer, and they stop you from being woken up too early in the mornings by the sun. Thermal window screens are another good option.

Make sure your sleeping gear is up to scratch

A lumpy, unsupportive mattress or a duvet that’s seen better days can stop you from getting a good night’s shuteye, so it’s worthwhile getting some decent sleeping gear for your camper. Memory foam mattresses can work well. These sleeping platforms provide impressive support and they can be cut to size to fit perfectly in your van. Make sure you have enough pillows with you too. If you’re worried about them taking up too much room, consider getting compact compressible designs. Meanwhile, when you’re picking out a duvet or sleeping bag, go for one that’s suitable for the season you’re travelling in.

Don't forget the entertainment

Even if you plan to spend as much time as possible exploring your surroundings, there are bound to be occasions when you just want to chill out in your van. Whether you’re relaxing after sundown or taking shelter from a downpour, it’s good to have some in-camper entertainment to keep you occupied. This could be anything from books and board games to your favourite tech. If you’re taking gadgets such as tablets with you, make sure you pack your charging wires too - and to keep your cabin nice and tidy, it’s useful to take a cable organiser.


Making an effort to improve your camper in these simple but important ways will help ensure you get the most from your upcoming trip.

Give the kids something different for their next birthday.

Monday, 3 December 2018

Struggling to find the perfect birthday present for your little ones? 

Why not try something they can’t break or get bored of after a few days? 

Something which won’t leave them glued to a screen or keep them cooped up indoors all day, possibly even something the while family can enjoy.

Here are some ideas I have put together for you.

Ticket to an event

Does your child enjoy listening to music?  Singing along to their favourite song? How about giving your child their first real experience at a concert, a play or a show? 
Let their love for music/dance/performing grow; watch them find inspiration by the uplifting atmosphere, you can find out who’s on tour by visiting sites like Ticketmaster.

Magazine subscriptions

Why not give your child a monthly subscription to their favourite magazine? Allow them to learn more about their favourite hobby, whether it’s an interest in cars or a particular sport etc. Give them the excitement of receiving an envelope with their name on every month, allowing them to feel grown up. 

Classes

Does your child dream of being the next Olympic athlete? How about the future winner of the Grand National? Or how about the next famous Popstar? Classes in skills such as horse riding, singing and dancing give your child the opportunity to improve their ability and become the best they can be. Allow them to feel part of something, enabling them to build friendships which will last a lifetime. 

Outdoor play equipment

Remember the days, when playing at the local park was the only thing on our minds after school or at the weekend? If not the park then riding your bike or flying a kite in a field, everything we did was outside! These between the lack of green space available and trying to keep our Children safe, they don't spend anywhere near as much time outside as they should.



Keep them safe and healthy by installing some outdoor play equipment in your own garden. Hours of fun to be had and plenty of friends coming around to visit no doubt - money well spent!

Musical Instruments

Why not a piano to go with those piano lessons you bought at Christmas? Or a guitar, or a set of drums? Encourage your little one to practice each week and improve their skill. Let them express themselves in a different way, one which they can go to school the next day and show off their improved skill. 

A Piggy bank

Receiving a piggy bank gives your child a sense of independence and responsibility in learning to save and manage money. Why not let your children choose a toy which they have to pay for, encouraging them to save up for it? This gives them a chance to feel like a grown up and will benefit them in future.

Memberships

Why not something which could last the whole year. Does your little one share the same dream as most other kids? To have their own Gorilla? Tiger? Giraffe? Or maybe an Elephant, Rhino or Cheetah? Their are many different adoption packages available now.

These help teach your child responsibility as well as often coming with a cuddly version of the animal and regular updates.

Days out

How about a day out, doing an activity they’ll love? The options are endless, for example, swimming, bowling, skating, have a picnic at the park or go on a bike ride. Being able to create great memories really is priceless.

I hope I have given you some inspiration! 

Talking favourite holidays and being prepared at the airport.

Sunday, 2 December 2018

After a lot of Friends deciding to go abroad for Christmas this year, my Husband and I have found ourselves reminiscing on past holidays.

Our first together was back in 2005 when we had only been a couple for 6 months. We went on a bargain holiday to Bulgaria where it rained for 6 of our 7 days there, all our excursions were cancelled and we only got had enough sunshine for an hour in the outdoor pool the whole week!

However we loved it. We had a great time together, talked got hours, ate/drank too much and still look back on it very fondly. Fast forward ten years and I'm not sure how fun it would be with an almost 3 year old to amuse! Times were very different then though and revolved around bars and restaurants not soft play areas and My Little Pony!

As a couple we have been to a few different places and would sometimes go on a few long weekend breaks instead of an actual holiday.

Once Liv was born we went to Haven in Lincolnshire for her first holiday, along with my Parents. We have been to the Dominican Republic with Family got my 30th Birthday, to Haven with 10 Family members and even to Florida for 3 weeks when Liv was almost 2 - thankfully the internet kept us in the good books allowing us to Facetime the Grandparents on the go - they were not happy we had taken little Miss away for 3 whole weeks I can tell you!



My Husbands favourite holiday with his family was Disneyland Paris. My Mother in Law spent many hours entering competitions back then and was very lucky to win a Family holiday!




The holiday that stands out most for me was Zakynthos in Greece way back in 2002 with my Parents and Brother. It was our only family holiday abroad having always holidayed in Devon and Cornwall as a child.

I remember the weather being amazing and the people being ever so friendly. Some of the views were spectacular. My favourite excursion was out to the Navagio (shipwreck) beach in Anafotiria Village. It is the most beautiful sight. It's an exposed cove which holds the wreckage of the Ship Panagiotis which was wrecked on the beach while allegedly smuggling cigarettes in 1983, giving it the nickname "Smugglers Cove".




Isn't it beautiful? The limestone cliffs and sparkling, clear blue waters surrounding the shipwreck make for a must see if you are in the area. It really fascinated me. I would definitely take my little Family back. It would be interesting to see how it has held up over the last 12 years or so.

Also thinking back, flying has changed so much since all of these holidays. Right from the security checks to what liquids are allowed in your hand luggage. While these things are pretty uniform across all airlines, things like luggage size and weight are specific to each individual airline, so it best to check and follow guidelines before you are held up or even charged extraordinary amounts at check in. Another option I have recently found is storing some items with left baggage, this is a service where you can safely store heavy or precious items while you go travelling, what a brilliant idea!

Below is a handy guideline for luggage across most airlines and also a few handy travel tips. It is definitely worth saving for future reference #KnowYourLuggage





Where was your favourite holiday?

*Disclaimer - this is a collaborative post.