Wednesday, 17 January 2018

A MINI RELATIONSHIP STORY AND OUR WEDDING PHOTOS

On the 25th of November 2017, exactly 5 years after we first started our relationship, Lewis and I said 'I do' in front of our most loved friends and family in, quite possibly, the most relaxed, stress free ceremony ever. Neither of us had felt nervous the morning of the wedding (and considering our ceremony wasn't until 15:15 we had a lot of time to start panicking!) and just took it all in our stride. 








For those who don't know, Lewis and I had a long distance relationship for the first two years of our life together before moving into our first flat together at the ages of 20 and 18. A lot of people thought it wouldn't last. That Lewis would soon be back at his mums house and I would be back in Kent, 300 miles away like I was before. But we did it. Three and a half years later we are still living together, in our third home, and (mostly) loving every minute. 








Five months after moving in together we discovered I was pregnant with Freya, which obviously was a massive shock for two people so young who hadn't even been living together for half a year yet! We obviously made the decision to continue my pregnancy and now she is the most amazing little gir I know. She is kind, inquisitive, caring and the cleverest little thing you'll ever meet, and I am so grateful for being given the privilege of being her mummy. 








Lewis asked me to marry him when Freya was two months old and of course I said yes, but we both shared the view that it wouldn't happen for a good few years as neither of us were in any sort of rush. But then something just changed and in May 2017, 6 months before our fifth anniversary, we booked our wedding. Yep, you read that right. Six months to plan a whole wedding. And it was stressful. Soooooooo stressful, like beyond belief. But we did it. And with a lot of help from our friends and family, we had a really lovely day. 






Our first dance was to 'You and Me' by Lifehouse and we all filled up on pizza and chips from a local takeaway, before tucking into the most beautiful naked sponge cake and matching cupcakes I've ever seen (and they tasted pretty damn good too!). You might be able to tell now that we're not ones for big, traditional weddings. We did things our way and love every second.






Now don't get me wrong, we fight like cat and dog and bicker almost non stop, but I really do love the bones of this man. He may drive me up the wall and I really wish he wouldn't talk about work so much, but that's what makes him, him. And I wouldn't change him for the world.







Monday, 1 January 2018

MY (KIND OF) NEW YEARS RESOLUTIONS

I know, I know. I'm rubbish at writing here on a regular basis. We've just been soooo busy over the festive period (has anyone else felt like this has been the longest Christmas week EVER, by the way?) and I never want my blog to become something forced and unnatural. I love writing and I especially love sharing things on here but if the spark ain't there, it ain't there. 

Anyway, usually at this time of year I would be dicking about on Facebook or Instagram writing about how this year is gonna be the year I change fifty million things about myself and become a completely different person before giving up on the 3rd of January and feeling like crap for the next 6 months. But not this year. Don't get me wrong, I have decided on some resolutions for 2018, but not the whole 'new year, new me' kind. Just a few things to try and make my 2018 a bit nicer. 

1. Make the beds every morning. I am APPALLING at making the beds in our house. Like, seriously. It's horrific. Sometimes they only get made half an hour before Freya's bed time when Lewis comes in from work and does them for me. 

2. Give Slimming World a really good try. I've tried slimming world a fair few times before and although it's worked, I've never been in the right mindset to carry it on long term. So this year I really want to give myself that chance to better my health and see how far I can take it. 

3. Write everyone's birthdays down in a diary and send birthday cards ON TIME. I am notorious for sending birthday cards days late and pretending they must have been held up in the post somewhere but no more! I am an adult now and I must start adulting...

4. Do something nice for myself once a week. Even if that's just have a bath or read a chapter of my book or put some makeup on. Just something to remind myself that I am 'me' as well as 'Freya's mummy'. 

5. Make more of an effort to keep my nails looking nice. I've picked at my nails and the skin around them for as long as I can remember and I'm a bit fed up of it to be honest. I just want to have nice, lady like hands from now on please!

Thursday, 7 December 2017

SLIMMING WORLD MEAL PLAN

Anyone who knows me in person will know that Slimming World and I don't really have the best history. I've joined a group a total of 4 times now, and my previous three attempts have been disastrous. Tomorrow is my first weigh in of attempt #4 and I'm actually excited! This is the first time I've ever stuck to plan 100% in my first week (shocking, I know) but I fee different this time. I feel like I WANT to be making these changes in my life, not like I SHOULD be like every other time. So since I've been loving Slimming World this week I thought I'd share my first week meal plan with you all. Enjoy! 

SATURDAY:
B - Fried egg and bacon wholemeal roll (HexB) with 1 syn of ketchup.
L - Chicken Tikka Subway Salad with 1 syn of Sweet Onion sauce and my Healhy Extra A of grated cheese. 
D - Slimming World Ready Meals

SUNDAY: 
B - Fried egg and bacon wholemeal roll (HexB) with 1 syn of ketchup.
L - Chicken Tikka Subway Salad with 1 syn of Sweet Onion sauce and my HexA of grated cheese.
D - Sunday Roast consisting of chicken, roast potatoes, broccoli and carrots with 2 syns of gravy.

MONDAY: 
B - Cheese on toast in a cafe on my daughters birthday (estimated 15-20 syns)
L -  N/A
D - Jacket Potato with beans, HexA of grated cheese, huge side salad and 1/2 a syn of salad dressing.

TUESDAY:
B - Tinned tomatoes on a wholemeal roll (HexB) with 1/2 HexA of grated cheese.
L - Jacket Potato with beans, 2 syns for a cheese slice, side salad and 1/2 a syn of salad dressing.
D - Creamy Cajun Pasta packed full of vegetables with my HexA of grated cheese.

WEDNESDAY:
B - Tinned tomatoes on a wholemeal roll (HexB) with 1/2 HexA of grated cheese.
L - Jacket Potato with beans, 2 syns for a cheese slice, side salad and 1/2 a syn for salad dressing.
D - Slimming World Ready Meal.

THURSDAY: 
B - Tinned tomatoes on a wholemeal roll (HexB) with 2 syns for a cheese slice.
L - Toasted cheese, ham and broccoli weight watchers wrap (5.5 syns or HexB) with a side salad and 1/3 a syn for salad dressing. 
D - Pasta Bolognese with 2 syns of reduced fat mozzarella and a side salad with 1/2 a syn of salad dressing.  

I haven't included Friday as Friday is weigh day so I probably won't eat much before my session and I'm not sure what we'll be doing for dinner yet. You've probably noticed that my breakfast and lunches are quite repetitive and that's because I find it easier and cheaper to do it that way, although I am probably eating more potatoes than any human needs, haha! 

Thanks for stopping by, hopefully I'll have a big loss to tell you about next week!

Grace x

Friday, 25 August 2017

CO-SLEEPING WITH A TODDLER


Some of you may know that I currently share a bed with my 20 month old daughter overnight, and have done since she was around 9 months old. Our journey to full time co-sleeping probably wasn't how you'd expect it to be. Freya actually slept in her own moses basket or cot from the day she was born and only occasionally came in to our bed if she woke up and wouldn't settle, but when she developed a chest infection at 9 months old, one night of co-sleeping turned into two nights which then turned into a whole year of bed sharing. When I was pregnant I never planned to co-sleep at all, let alone co-sleep with a toddler of almost two but it's lovely: It really is an amazing experience - to know you have the ability to provide every single ounce of comfort that your baby needs is a such a wonderful feeling.  To know your baby feels both the most calm and the most confident they physically can when they're laying next to you can so easily fill your heart in ways that I never even knew were possible.

Putting the lovey dovey parents' feelings to one side, there are actually many benefits to co-sleeping with your children beyond infancy. This article from Natural Parents Network highlights some of the more common benefits. My favourite being that everyone sleeps better. We used to have awful nights when Freya would sleep on her own. We'd be up two, three, four times a night, sometimes for hours at a time, with an inconsolable baby who just wanted to be with her parents. Lewis would end up downstairs on the sofa at 2AM while I waited for Freya to calm down and eventually fall asleep with her in my bed once the birds had started to sing. But now? Freya goes to bed at 7PM, I join her at 10.30PM and I don't see her again until she wakes me up somewhere between 6-7AM the next morning. And those 8 hours of sleep are a luxury I'm not quite ready to risk losing yet! 

It has been hard though, don't get me wrong. There's been numerous occasions I've cried over not wanting to share a bed with her anymore. I've cried over wanting to share a bed with my fiancĂ© like a normal couple, rather than kissing him goodnight outside the spare bedroom before he goes to sleep on his own all night. But every time that's happened, I am reminded by my sweet baby girl that this won't last forever. She won't be seven years old and still clambering into my bed every night. Or maybe she will, and maybe she will still need the comfort only I can provide for her for years and years to come. But I hope not. I'm hoping I will have given Freya enough confidence so that, when the time does come for us to transition her into her own room and bed, she's happy to do so with the knowledge that mummy is right on the other side of the wall, waiting for her if she needs me. That's the dream. 

But for now, we are happily co-sleeping with a toddler and will continue doing so until the time is right for us. Do you co-sleep with your baby or toddler? Or are you experiences totally different to mine? I'd love to know! 

Thanks for reading,



Grace x

Wednesday, 23 August 2017

ALL ABOUT BABY NAMES

I'm a real sucker for a pretty baby name. There's few things I love more in life than finding an amazing name that I can jot down somewhere and add it to my list of potential future baby names. I don't think im particularly traditional in my baby name tastes, but I'm also definitely not in the camp of loving baby names that no one has ever heard before. I've seen this tag floating around the YouTube/blogging world a couple of times and thought I would do it here on my blog, just as a regular post rather than a tag. There are 15 questions in total and before I start I'd just like to say I'm really sorry if I end up offending anyone! I really don't mean to, this is just my personal preferences when it comes to names. I know loads of people who hate double barrelled names, yet Freya's first name is double barrelled and I love it! So please, please keep that in mind when you're reading. Here we go....

1. What is your favourite boy and girl name from the top UK names list (2015)?
My favourite boy name is number 41 on the list and it is Sebastian. I don't think I'd ever have the guts to call my son Sebastian but I think it's lovely, and I ruddy love it being shortened to Seb! My favourite girl name is number 96 on the list and is Orla (Freya is higher up on the list but I've ignored that since I obviously already have a Freya). Again, I don't think it's a name I would ever use but it is absolutely beautiful.

2. What is your least favourite boy and girl name from the top UK names list (2015)?
My least favourite boy name is number 50 on the list - David. It's not that I dislike the name as such, it's just a little bit old for my personal taste. My least favourite girl name would be number 99 - Skye. It's just not to my taste and I can't say much more other than that, haha! 

3. If you had twins, what would you name them? (G/G, B/G, B/B)
This was actually really hard! I did do a bit of cheating and had a little look on google but even that didn't make it much easier! I think for girl twins the names I would use are Addison and Avery. I just think those two names sound stunning together and I'm quite the fan of sibling names starting with the same letter. Sticking with the same initial trend, my boy/girl twin names would be James and Julia. I adore the name 'Julia' and James is such a classic British name without sounding too old fashioned or outdated and I really like how they sound together. Now choose boy twin names was most definitely the hardest of the bunch! I heavily relied on google suggestions for this one, but I think I've made a decision on Jacob and Joshua. Again with the matching initials that I quite clearly have a thing for, and I love that they could both be shortened to Jake and Josh. 

4. If you could change your name to any other name, what would it be?
I don't think I would! I genuinely can't think of another name I would rather be known by- is that a cop out answer?

5. What is your favourite animal-inspired name?
I love, love , love the names Wolf and Fox for a boy and TigerLily for a girl (that counts, right?)

6. You have four children, any gender, what would their names be? 
I think I'd probably go with Ava, Oliver,
Lucas and Emmie.

7. What is your favourite colour-inspired name?
Greyson for a boy and Olive for a girl. I think Olive is such a pretty name!

8. What are your top 3 favourite boy names?
My top three boys names would probably be Hudson, Oliver and Jackson.

9. What are your top 3 favourite girl names?
I'm actually going to keep my absolute number 1. girl name a secret in this post in case I ever get to use it because my heart is SO set on it but my almost top three would have to be Spencer, Niamh and Meredith.

10. What is your favourite celebrity baby name?
It has to be Harper Beckham! I love the name Harper but, like a lot of people, would never use it now because of the association with the Beckham's.

11. What is your ultimate guilty pleasure name?
There isn't one specific guilty pleasure name but I really enjoy old lady names. So names like Ethel, Nora, Edith. I just love them all! 

12. What are your most hated baby names?
I'm hesitant to use the word 'hate' as I don't want to offend anyone but I really dislike the names Lexie, Ronnie, Rhea and names with X's in them like Jaxon, Daxton etc. 

13. Choose a baby name based on a food/drink.
I love Cherry for a girl but I can't think of one for a boy! Please tell me I'm not the only one who struggled with this one!?

14. Choose a baby name based on a month.
June has always been a favourite name of mine, along with May.

15. Choose a baby name based on a film.
Some of my favourite films ever are the Harry Potter films so I'd have to go with Harry for a boy and I also love The Great Gatsby so I'd pick Daisy for a girl. 

So that's it! All 15 questions done and dusted. As I said before, I won't be tagging anyone in this and just using it as a stand alone post but please feel free to use this on your blog as a tag if you should wish to do so! 

I hope I haven't offended anyone too much, and apologies if I have! 

Thanks for reading, 

Grace x

Thursday, 17 August 2017

MY TOP FIVE FAVOURITE SLOW COOKER RECIPES



Now I don't know about you, but purchasing a slow cooker changed. my. life. For real! It's the most convenient thing in the world. I love being able to throw some ingredients together in the pot when Freya goes down for her nap, and not have to worry about dinner again until 5 o'clock that evening. 

I tend to use my slow cooker around 2-4 times a week at the moment, although at the moment I do have a whole week of meals planned using it, so today I thought I'd share with you my top five go-to slow cooker recipes!

SLOW COOKER LASAGNE
Probably my all time favourite slow cooker meal! There's something about cooking a lasagne slowly that makes it so much more amazing, it almost melts in the mouth. I use this recipe from All Recipes and it never fails me. 

SLOW COOKER PULLED PORK
Who doesn't love a good pulled pork sandwich? I serve my pulled pork in a brioche bun with coleslaw, accompanied by corn on the cob, salad and potato salad (my mouth is watering while I type this...). This is my favourite pulled pork recipe from Delish.

SLOW COOKER BUTTER CHICKEN
Freya absolutely loves curry but I find the jars can be spicier than expected, and it's so easy to do a homemade one in the slow cooker! We use this recipe from Damn Delicious (although we leave out the chilli powder and use half the amount of curry powder) and serve with boil in the bag rice (sorry mum), poppadoms or naan bread and mango chutney. 

SLOW COOKER CHILLI CON CARNE
I don't cook this recipe as often as the others because Lewis won't eat it and I'm not about that cooking-two-meals life, but it's perfect for those times Lewis is working late, or has other plans (very rare, haha!) and Freya loves it just as much as I do! We use a trusty Netmums recipe, and serve ours with rice, sour cream and either plain tortilla chips or tortilla wraps depending on what we have in. 

SLOW COOKER PARMESAN GARLIC CHICKEN 
This is a new favourite of mine - I love it! It's pure cheesy, garlicky goodness! This is another Delish recipe, but we use chicken breast instead of thigh and white potatoes instead of red. The biggest thing I love about all of these recipes is how easily they can be adapted depending on your personal tastes or what you have in the cupboard that needs using up. For example, I'd be tempted to throw some broccoli, or another vegetable, in with this recipe if I had some lurking in the back of the fridge that needed using up.

And that's it! My five favourite slow cooker recipes all in one place. I think this post might be more helpful for me rather than you, haha! 

Grace x

Wednesday, 14 December 2016

A VISIT TO MANCHESTER WINTER WONDERLAND

A couple of days ago we were invited to the launch night of Manchester Winter Wonderland and oh my goodness, it was absolutely amazing. I was really struggling to get into the festive spirit this year but Winter Wonderland has completely changed that for me. I tried my best to take some photos while we were there but 1) Freya was so tired, bless her, and was therefore being just a teeny tiny bit demanding and 2) I was just taking in my surroundings and living in the moment. Everything was so Christmassy and exciting. It genuinely made me feel like a little girl who was all excited for santa to visit again. 

 

If you haven't heard of Manchester Winter Wonderland before, it is the UK's largest indoor Christmas Theme Park and is based at Event City. There is free parking with hundreds of spaces, but please be aware that Event City is right next door to the Trafford Centre so expect the roads surrounding to be busy, especially on the weekends, and be sure to leave your home with plenty of time to spare. Our usual drive to the Trafford Centre is only 30 minutes but because of problems on the motorway and congestion as we approached Event City, it actually took us 50 minutes to get to our destination. And that was on a Monday evening! 

 

With over 50 rides and attractions all under one roof, there was plenty for us to be getting on with at our visit. I actually snapped this photo to use as a guide whilst we were walking around so we didn't miss anything exciting, haha! We didn't really pay much attention to the rides as Freya is far too small for the large majority of them but the noise and lights coming from them really added to the festive feel, even for people like us who went nowhere them. 

 

We stayed for a little over two hours and our first stop was for a big dirty burger. I love coming to attractions like this because the food, albeit pricey, is always so, so good. Not the best if you're watching your weight (does anyone really do that in December?) but amazing all the same. The usual choices of burgers, hotdogs and chips were available but there wasn't a great deal of choice for children of Freya's age. I wish I'd taken her some snacks because she ended up with a hotdog which obviously isn't the best choice for a one year old, but oh well. It is Christmas! 

 

Once we all had sufficiently filled tummies, we attempted to sit down and watch the Basil Brush show. I say attempted because Freya did not make this easy. I used to love watching Basil Brush growing up so I was really looking forward to sitting back and reminiscing while he was on stage, unfortunately Freya wasn't into the whole idea of sitting on someone's lap and staying still, so we gave up and let her have a crawl around away from the main stage just a couple of minutes after he appeared. She was quite enamoured with him to begin with though so I did manage to get this super cute photo of her walking towards him. 

 
   

Next up was a visit to see Father Christmas! This was Freya's first visit to Santa and she absolutely loved him. There was a bit of a wait when we joined the queue and it took us about 15 minutes to get to the main man, but we did get to wander through Mr and Mrs Clause's house and see just how beautiful it is. I'm actually quite jealous of the bedroom...how gorgeous is that bed!! Freya wasn't too keen on Mrs Clause and was much more interested in trying to throw her newspaper across the kitchen or crying her eyes out because she was so tired. Because of her pretty rubbish mood, after a quick photo stop we very swiftly moved on and left Mrs Clause with the nice children. 

 

Lastly, on our way out of the venue, we snuck into the Christmas Circus to watch the acts before we made our way home. I'll be honest here, I wasn't hugely impressed with the standard of the acts but I think it was mostly because I'm an adult because the children in room absolutely loved it, and Freya kept being drawn in too so it wasn't all that bad! 

On our way out of Winter Wonderland we spotted a little fenced in area that we wished we'd seen on our way in. A baby chill out area! It was a genius idea. A little patch of land for them to call their own, filled with beanbags and toys and ride on cars and soft, fluffy rugs. We let Freya have a little five minute play but she was far too tired by this point (around 9.20pm) to fully enjoy it so we left pretty sharpish to avoid a meltdown. 
 

As a family we had such a lovely night at the launch of Manchester Winter Wonderland and I'm sure we'll be making this a Christmas tradition and taking Freya for years to come, but I do think Freya was perhaps a little too young to fully enjoy it this year. If she was another 6 or so months older I think she'd have been in her absolute element with the sounds and the lights, but if your children are around 2-3+ (the most suitable age for this in my opinion) they'll have an absolute whale of a time. 

We'd like to say a big thank you to Manchester Winter Wonderland for our invitation to their launch night and for really marking the start of our festive period. Winter Wonderland will be at Event City, Manchester until the 1st January 2017 and tickets cost £18.50 (plus £1.50 booking fee) and under 3's go free.

I hope you're able to make the visit and experience some of the magic that Manchester Winter Wonderland has to offer! 

Thanks for reading, 

Grace x