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The Best of Mimi Rose & Me in 2019

It’s almost the end of year and the end of the decade. But before we move into a fresh new era I just wanted to take the time to thank every single person who has read my blog over the past year. I will be forever grateful that I have a place for me to share snippets of my life as a work from home mama and that many of my posts are met with such positivity. 

Starting this little ole blog back in 2015 has to be one of the best decisions that I have ever made, and I never imagined how much it would change my life for the better. Starting my very own business was something that I only dreamed of, and now I have been girl bossing it up as self employed for two years now. It’s been an amazing adventure so far and I want it to continue with much more success.

To close out the end of the year, I thought I’d do a best of Mimi Rose & Me in 2019 and share some of the highlights and most popular posts! Are you ready?
  1. In one year my little ole blog has had over 264,000 page views, that’s pretty insane!
  2. The lovely Franca from A Moment with Franca has kindly asked me to co-host her lovely link ups. I love taking part as it always makes me feel good and coming across so many amazing writers is real privilege.
  3. The beautiful Becky from Cuddle Fairy has welcomed me into her amazing community and has shown me that in a time of need there is always someone somewhere willing to help you when you need it.
  4. I have worked with some amazing brands this year such as Jessops, Desenio, Rydale, Petplan and Sodastream who allowed me to continue making an income from my blog. I think it’s pretty incredible to work alongside brands who have to same vision as me and I’m forever grateful for every single opportunity.
The Best of Mimi Rose & Me in 2019. 

Yes, I Know My Daughter Needs a Sibling - my personal blog posts are always my most popular and this year we have touched on fertility struggles a lot more than in previous years. I have always found it cathartic to write about your emotions and feelings. By sharing some of my struggles and worries during our fertility struggles has been like a kind of therapy and will hopefully resonate with someone.

How I Lost a Stone in Four Weeks - In 2019 was the year that I decided to make some lifestyle changes and feature a lot of healthy living and weight loss recipes on my blog. It’s hard not to see why this one is so popular and you really can lose a stone in four weeks without even trying.

Can We Keep Our Children Safe on YouTube - A story in the media encouraged me to write this post and delves into the issues of screen time and asks whether our children are safe anymore. 

A Letter To My Sister on Her Wedding Day - This one was a bit of an emotional one and I was pretty much crying all the time. Why have I become so emotional over the years, but still if you fancy a little blub then head on over. I proudly stood by my sister as she married her best friend and it made me the happiest sister in the world.

How To Support Someone with Fertility Problems - This year marked a big milestone in our second fertility journey and it was something that we kept close to our hearts. After the birth of our daughter we started to tell people and the whole world through this blog about our fertility problems, along the way felt some kind of comfort knowing that it can happen to anyone.

Memories for Life with Jessops -So this one was an AD but this was a brand that I enjoyed collaborating with. As a blogger I love taking photographs and was able to showcase them in such a beautiful way in this blog post.

5 Years of Amelia Rose - This post was all about my baby girl turning five years old! Five years of amazing adventures, five years of moments that I will remember and cherish as if they happened a moment a go. Five wonderful years of loving my little miracle.

Four Reasons to Set Achievable Goals - There just seems to be something about these posts that so many people love. As much as I love blogging, at times it can really knock your confidence and self worth. With the constant pressure to do this, to do that became too much and I even questioned whether I am enough. It was at this point that I realised that I needed time away and spending time with my family was just what I needed. It was time to set some goals and action them. 

Things I've Learned in My First Year as a School Run Mum - In 2019 my daughter completed her first year of school and I managed to make it through to the end of my first year as a school run mum. It was a big learning curve for the both of us. Now that she is in year one we are pretty much bossing it, but this post shares things I have learned. 

Styling a Farmhouse Kitchen - As many of you know we have been wanting to renovate our kitchen for some time, but for one reason or another we never seemed to get around to actually beginning. So over the summer we decided it was time to bite the bullet and begin our kitchen renovation, this post shares how we styled a farmhouse kitchen.

What's in store for 2020? 

Well, expect some big things for 2020! There is going to be a big focus on changing my mindset, self-care and productivity as well as sharing some of our personal moments. I want to try and leave my comfort zone with my blog and make some genuine connections to help and empower others to be the best version of themselves. From the bottom of my heart, thank you for supporting Mimi Rose & Me. I really appreciate every single one of you who is taken the time to come on over to support us. You are the best. See you in 2020!!!

Christmas at The Combes Household.

Happy Christmas everyone! We really hope you all had a wonderful Christmas spending quality time with family and friends filled with lots of laughter, good food and way too much fizz! We kicked off our Christmas celebration with just the three of us. We love those special mornings to ourselves so we can relish in all moments of excitement and happiness as our daughter sees all the gifts by the tree.

This year, like every year we went a little over the top with gifts, anyone else ever promise to stick to some kind of budget but never really do? Our daughter didn't ask for anything big this year and we managed to get most of the toys she asked for and she was delighted to see all her gifts. Most of her gifts were either things to do with Frozen 2, Harry Potter, How To Train a Dragon or Sylvanian Families. All were greatly appreciated.

This year my husband had a bit of a tough year so we both wanted to make him feel a little special and we got him a couple of gifts from his girls. I decided to get him a Samsung Galaxy Tablet as it's not something he has and I know that he will use it. I was also pretty chuffed as it's the first gift that I have got for him that he didn't either know about or figured out. A gift from our daughter has to be personalised as they are so much more than a gift. It can truly express what someone means to you and this year we wanted to create something that my husband will love and cherish for years to come. However, we've already done cups, prints, cushions, wallets and no end of key rings so this year we wanted to get him something that he wouldn't expect. My daughter and I created a personalised book together for my husband from Hooray Heroes and it made him cry! That's a winning gift.

So after gifts were open it was time to make our breakfast as we had my husband's Mum and Step-dad coming to ours. Breakfast was amazing as usual with my husband going all out with the croissants, cream and berries with a glass of Buck's Fizz. It was really lovely spending some time with them but they couldn't stay for Christmas lunch which was a shame. 

Our Combes Christmas lunch was sooooo good, we had Turkey with all the trimmings minus the pigs in blankets! WE FORGOT THE PIG IN BLANKETS! We didn't realise until we had dished up but it was still delicious. We did have a Bacon, Brie with Cranberry on Ciabatta for a starter and a deconstructed one on a slice of toast for the little lady because she hates her food mixed. 

After lunch it was time for a sleep! It's like Christmas day law isn't it to have an after dinner snoooooze. Then we needed a quick shower to freshen up as we headed to my Mum and Dad's house to see my brother and sister and their families, we absolutely love this madhouse at Christmas time. We then had a couple of nibbles, drinks and play a few board games. It was such a wonderful day full of lots of fun and laughter but wayyyy too much food. Happy Christmas!!!!

Little Lady's Christmas Eve Basket 2019

Can you believe that Christmas is next week! Anyone else think that December has literally flew by so quickly? By now, most people have finished work and are getting into the festive spirit, or making last minute dashes for presents. Whatever you do, don't attempt to go to the supermarket the week before Christmas - it's going to be absolute carnage. However, apart from a little wrapping we are done so we can finally crack open a bottle of fizz and enjoy the festivities and begin the traditions. We have been getting crafty, dabbled in hot chocolate making and Christmas baking and now it's time for our special tradition. The Christmas Eve Basket.

A Christmas Eve Basket has become somewhat of a family tradition now, this will be my daughter's fifth basket and every year she gets more excited about them. We never really found a box we liked or was sturdy enough, but you can cram so much into this little baskets as it doesn't actually have a lid. Now that our daughter is beginning to understand all the excitement that comes with Christmas, it seems so special.

Every Christmas Eve Basket should include a cute little selection of Christmas themed books. As you know we have the book advent calendar now, something that all parents should do for their little ones. But I did include a couple of extra books in her Christmas Eve Basket such as this Amelia's Secret Elf. 

Christmas DVDs are always a hit with the little lady and over the last few years we have added so many great ones to our Christmas collection. But this year we have Netflix and Now TV and they both have so many great family Christmas films on there. The Christmas Chronicles is such a laugh and I cannot tell you how many times I have seen Arthur Bloody Christmas. But like always on Christmas eve we all love having a little 'cuddle wuddle' on the sofa with hot chocolates, whipped cream and so many marshmallows and watch Miracle on 34th Street. Let's hope that this year she doesn't cry when Santa gets arrested! Honestly, she was uncontrollable. 

Christmas Pajamas. Yes, everyone should have some special Christmas Pajamas to wear on Christmas Eve. I remember doing this every year since I could remember. So this year we have all gone full on Christmas and only got matching ones for each of us, I cannot wait to go full on matchy match. We picked up our matching pajamas from Primark at an absolute steal for £30 for all three of us. No Christmas Pajama set is complete without some brand new Christmas socks and this year my daughter seemed to have gone a little crazy for Flamingos so I know that she will love this sock set. 

Christmas activities and crafts are also something that I like to include in her little basket. You can pick up some really cheap craft sets anywhere, we even got some from pound-land which have occupied her for hours so they are great value for money. I also picked up some a cute mini colouring Christmas pad from Home Bargains that was like 69p, you can't really go wrong with that. 

Not forgetting the little treats, candy canes, coins including a huge medal and a cute Rudolph hot chocolate cone. We also included a handmade chocolate gift set that I picked up at a wax melt party, and some reindeer food and chocolate covered marshmallows from my daughter's school Christmas fayre. So what do you think of my daughter's Christmas Eve Basket? What else would you add? With that, I want to wish you and your family a very Happy Christmas.

My Cosy Christmas Night Essentials 

Yep this time of year I love cosy evenings covered in blankets, the heating whacked up to full and hot chocolates. What’s not to love right? I thought I’d share my cosy Christmas essentials with you, as I recently have been trying to up my game to ensure that my cosy nights in were definitely as exciting as going out.

Pyjamas:  I love more than getting home and getting straight into my pyjamas, whether it’s after the school run, or 9pm, there is nothing better especially on a cold dark night. But for the most indulgent night your pjs have to be super comfy, am I right? And as usual this time of year I love to buy pjs. You know the Christmas kind. Red flannel, reindeer or fluffy white jumpers. I like them all. This year I have picked up a couple of pairs from Primark; a cosy fleecy set and a flannel set. They just scream Christmas to me. 

Blankets: First things first, when it comes to blankets you can never have too many. We have autumn blankets, blankets for beds, blankets of illness and blankets for Christmas. Now I have to say I love Primark and B and M’s for my go to blankets. You will always manage to pick up some super cosy blankets for a few quid. Winning! I will pop them on the sofa or on my daughters toy boxes so if we have visitors then they can get snuggly too.

Candles: You can’t have a cosy night in without candles. My ultimate go to candle for Christmas is undoubtedly The Wickford & Co gingerbread candle. Whether used as decor pieces or strictly for fragrance candles are always a great for a cosy night in. You can keep to a budget and get some of the most gorgeous fragrances, or you can get some gorgeous luxury styles that range in price. My favourite candle by far are this Gingerbread Candle from Home Bargains, it's actually amazing. This candle is a great dupe for the Yankee Candle and the glass pot is also of a similar shape with the lid to match. They feel really luxurious in terms of weight and smell soooo good. I will always recommend this candle to everyone. 

Films: You can’t have a cosy Christmas evening without watching a Christmas film can you? When I took these pictures, I was watching Arthur Christmas with my daughter. With all this festive excitement I thought it would be a great idea to share our favourite Christmas films of all time, and there are so many fantastic ones to choose from. I have been asking all my family and friends about their favourite Christmas films and there seems to be quite a few popular ones in this list. Ever since I can remember this has been a sort of, tradition in our family. My parents would settle us down with blankets, hot chocolate and sweets in preparation for our Christmas Eve film and this would always be our choice. The Muppet characters tell their version of the classic Charles Dickens novel, A Christmas Carol which is a tale of an old and bitter miser's redemption of Christmas Eve. A must see for all families especially because in this adaption there are some modern songs, who doesn't love a good sing-a-long? Oh Home Alone. A timeless favourite! In my opinion Home Alone 1&2 are the best films out of the sequels and they would always get me excited about Christmas. 

Snacks: Who needs extra podge for the festive cold nights? Me? An excuse hey! However this Christmas, I have been making an effort on the snack front. I’m all about popcorn, gingerbread men and Lebrucken this year. But there are always times for some chocolate in there somewhere and these cute little chocolate pizzas are perfect for a cosy night in. What are your favourite snacks? 

Cosy Lighting: Now when it starts to get darker after the school run the first thing that my daughter and I will do is going around and switch all the cosy lighting on. I have a vase of sticks, two gorgeous jar domes with fairy lights inside and various other bowls of lights. Not forgetting the tonnes of other lighting we have with the Christmas tree, window lights and fairy lights. I love seeing all the twinkling lights. 

So what are your cosy Christmas essentials?

Making Christmas Magical with Hooray Heroes

Christmas shopping can be a stressful time, the town centres are filled with people and with so many options available online, it can all be a little stressful. If you want to get a unique gift they’re guaranteed to love, why not go for something personalised? If you're anything like me, opening a gift from a loved one that is a little more personal means such much more. It shows that they have put a lot of thought and love into a gift for you. That’s exactly why I love going down the personalised route for my husband from our daughter.

A personalised gift is so much more than just a gift. It can truly express what someone means to you and this year we wanted to create something that my husband will love and cherish for years to come. However, we've already done cups, prints, cushions, wallets and no end of key rings so this year we wanted to get him something that he wouldn't expect. That's why this personalised book is THE gift that my daughter and I can create together for my husband this year. 

Hooray Heroes is a company that has come up with a pretty unique way to share a little magic with loved ones through sweet stories about a special little person in their life. There is nothing more magical than a child’s imagination. It is limitless, glorious, and incredibly precious. Hooray Heroes and their personalised stories spark both imagination and self-belief. They are so simple and easy to customise to members of your family and friends that will sure bring a smile to their face when they lay their eyes a gift they may not expect. 

At Hooray Heroes, each child becomes the hero of their own story, who doesn't want to be a Hero? These personalised books that star your little one as the hero of the story, will whisk parent and children off to a land of endless imagination. Every Hooray Heroes book is an inventive challenge in itself and we had so much fun getting involved with designing process that each and every story included are really personalised to our individual characteristics. It's like nothing I have ever come across before. 

As this personalised gift was going to be from my daughter to my husband it only felt right that she got involved in the designing process with the 'When Amelia Rose Grows Up'. The reason why I adored this Daddy Edition book was that it has been designed to completely dedicate the stories from the child to their father. Each creator can choose up to ten stories featuring their little hero such as becoming a football player, a ballerina, a vet or even astronaut. Just to name a few. 

The personalisation of our book was simple and straightforward. We were able to make changes the names and features of the Dad including skin colour, hair colour and style, eye colour, and include extra features such a freckles, a beard or glasses. So you can really cater to individual characteristics and style. We then moved further down the page and did the same for our little hero! 

After you have changed the characteristics of each character, you then got to choose up to ten stories to include in your personalised book. There is even a place for you to write a small dedication to your loved one where you can write a special meaningful message or write some well wishes. Hooray Heroes have included prompts to help you come up with a dedication for that special someone or prompts for different occasions such a birthdays or Christmas. One the very first page shows the small dedication with a really sweet cartoon Daddy you have created looking into a baby cot 

It's beautifully written and the illustrations immediately grab you with every detail and marvel at how stunningly gorgeous they are. As we turned page by page my daughter slowly began to notice the all the different things that she could become as she gets older, she was absolutely captivated by the adventures of discovery with professions. The illustrations become a big part of the book as the readers can point out certain things in the different stories. These brilliantly bright illustrations are a great way for smaller children to learn about different jobs, different places and animals as they read through the book. It’s a delightful book full of wonderment!

* The book featured in this post has been kindly gifted to us, but all thoughts are my own. *

My Dream Horse with Petplan Equine

Like most girls, my daughter is obsessed with horses and ponies. When I was a child I always wanted to own my horse, the dream was to keep my horse in our small shed and ride him to school everyday. However, my dreams of owning a horse and keeping him in our small shed were completely shattered. So my dreams of owning a horse now live through my pony obsessed little girl. 

We live in the beautiful countryside of Norfolk and are surrounded by an abundance of fields full of horses. However lucky enough for us my mum actually has a horse with his own field. Meet Harley. It seems strange to think that we have had this beautiful boy in our family for over four years and it has been an adventure to say the least. It just wouldn't be the same without our cheeky Welsh cob, he just has the best personality.

As much as we love Harley nothing beats having your own horse, but unfortunately for us it's an impossible dream at the moment, so what's the best best thing to having a real horse? A handmade fluffy one of course. With a little help from Petplan Equine Horse Insurance's and their 'My Dream Horse Campaign' we got to design our very own horse and unleash a little creativity. My daughter has a great imagination and it really didn't take much encouragement for her get involved in the designing process. My daughter was so excited to find out that one of her horse drawings would be turned into a real cuddly toy.

As she was drawing her dream horse it was a good opportunity for us to talk about all the things that we would need to take into consideration if we were to become horse owners. First we spoke about where we would keep our horse whether we would choose a field with surrounding fencing or sheltered accommodation. Taking on the responsibility of regular feedings, replenishing their water and ensuring that their field or stable is poop free everyday. Having equine insurance was a very important part of being a responsible owner, as well as ensuring they have the best care possible at all times.

The Petplan Equine Horse Insurance is specialist insurance for horses to help get them back to health after illness and injury. Their vast experience allows them to offer a range of policies that can be tailored to suit the needs of horse owners. From first time owners and casual riders to top Eventers, Petplan Equine will provide the essential cover in the event of the unexpected.

My daughter really loved the opportunity to unleash a little creativity with her dream horse but she was very clear of what she wanted during the designing stages. The horse would be a white cob with a yellow star cutie mark just like in My Little Pony, however her horse would have a bright pink mane and yellow hooves to make sure she stands out in the field. After putting her imagination to paper we then send a picture to be turned into a plush version. Meet Twinkletoes!

We honestly couldn't have been any happier with our new friend, it was such a great campaign to get involved with and now we have a little friend for life. What do you think about Little Miss Twinkletoes?

** This post has been written in collaboration with the My Dream Horse Petplan campaign. All words and opinions are my own. Images are subject to copyright **

How My Fertility Lifestyle Program is Working for Me

There is always so much to look forward to and plan when conceiving a baby. And although it might happen quickly, it could take longer than expected. As you know, my husband and I have been trying to conceive a second baby for nearly two years. Every single month seems to become a vicious cycle of emotions and we are left wondering, will this be the one? If not, when will it happen? 

We have been trying to conceive for some time, those ups and downs have been really hard. Fertility is never easy to predict, after all we do already have a beautiful baby girl. Over the last year my husband and I have been trying to make big changes to our lifestyle, keeping a positive mindset and getting healthy. We even signed up to a new program with MyBuBelly in a final bid to try and conceive a baby, naturally. 

For those who are not familiar with the MyBuBelly, it's a fertility boosting program that is a natural and ethical way to choose the gender of your baby. It's a simple and straightforward program to help nature in the right direction. By making simple changes to your diet, taking supplements and boost your overall well-being can help determine the gender of your baby. The MyBuBelly plan seems to have changed my outlook on fertility and help me change my focus and that preparing my body for a baby is what I need to be doing right now and now we are three months down the line. It hasn't been an easy change but it seems to have fitted into my daily routine very easily. 

For the girl method, the food supplements include sticks of calcium, sticks of magnesium and B6 vitamin and folic acid and vitamin D3. The food supplements have been specially designed to make the MyBuBelly method and the dietary programme more effective. At the start of the day I need to have 1 calcium stick and 1 folic acid tablet and that calcium stick is still not something that I look forward to, however I don't forget it! I think it's because I dread it every morning. During the evening I need to have 1 magnesium stick around 7pm and because that is around my daughter's bedtime it is something that I tend to forget, unless I set myself reminded in the MyBuBelly app. 

With the cycle monitoring my ovulation is getting easier and easier to pinpoint, I am noticing the signs a lots quicker and rarely have to use all ten tests. Before the MyBuBelly plan my cycles would be pretty irregular, however they are becoming more regular between 28 and 30 day cycles. As part of the MyBuBelly plan I have to undergo regular pH measurements for 5 days, three times a day so it's long enough to get a good monthly average. Last month I had an average of 6 and I am really happy with my progress as this month it's 5.7. There is still a little way to go but it's really important for me to focus on my pH stablising. I am a little apprehensive with this month being Christmas and temptations is all around. 

So that brings me onto the next part of the program the diet, and this has been something that I have struggled with this month. The dietary balance is absolutely essential to guarantee good fertility, the program has been designed to provide the right nutrients, vitamins and minerals to avoid any deficiencies. Since starting the program I have been spacing my mealtime, giving myself three hours in between and so far it has worked really well. I am eating more food than I have before and the fruit and veggie intake has tripled. The plan really has showed me that I was depriving my body of so many minerals and nutrients, but it has been fun trying to create healthy delicious recipes. 

On a typical day, my breakfast will consist of fruit and yoghurt, porridge, or toast with unsalted butter. My lunches are normally salad based where I like to poach fish, sear tuna or use chicken to compliments my salad with a drizzle of a home made dressings, spices or herbs. My dinner is based around the carbohydrate with some sauteed or steamed vegetables and protein if it's not something I had for my lunch. Snacks are also some kind of fruit, egg cups or yoghurt. One of the hardest part I have found is the amount of milk that I need to consume, it's a lot! It is mandatory to drink around 750ml dairy and I have been struggling to consumer this amount on a daily basis. I did ask Eve for a little advise with the calcium intake and so I have been having a small cup after each meal and alongside my snacks, it seems to be making a difference.

Being stressed is something that can really effect fertility and so I have been introducing little ways in which I can keep those feelings at bay. Every morning after the school run I will go for a little walk to try and get some fresh air - it's good for the soul but it's also the perfect to indulge in a little photography too. As a work from home mama you could say that life can be pretty stressful and so I have been taking lots more time our for myself for a little pamper session, there is nothing quite like a little pamper session to help battle those feelings of stress.

The MyBuBelly plan is fitting into my lifestyle very well and I have finally got my head around the regular pH testing and ovulation. I have a better understanding of the natural signs of ovulation, something that I didn't before the MyBuBelly plan. It seems as if I am actually ovulating each month, so the next month I need to focus on the diet and begin to experiment more with recipes. 

Don't forget to read our other posts with the MyBuBelly plan

~ This is a partnership post with MyBuBelly ~

We're Off To Find A Unicorn By Eloise White & Cory Reid.

If you're the lucky owner of a five year old girl I am pretty confident that you have come across something to do with unicorns. My daughter was very young when got into unicorn obsession and it's not hard to see why. Unicorns are unique, mystical and are pretty cute which is why I want to tell you about a book we have been reading 'We're Off To Find a Unicorn' by Eloise White and Cory Reid.

My daughter loves books and every single night we make time to read a book together. It's so important for children to get into a habit of sitting down to read a book before bed and have moments of calm before bedtime. So whether we get lost in the wonderful world of fairies or unicorns, or follow a Knight in a quest to find his princess we will always make time together for a book before bedtime. 

We especially love those stories that have a special meaning behind them, that's why we love 'We're Off to Find a Unicorn' as it teaches children to appreciate diversity. The story follows a mixed race family with one family member in a wheelchair which is not something that we see often in children's books. But definitely something we should see more of.

The family explore adventures seeing different environments and coming across many endangered animals along the way in search of a unicorn. It's beautifully written and the illustrations immediately grab you with every detail and marvel at how stunningly gorgeous they are. We’re Off To Find a Unicorn is a charming take on We’re Going on a Bear Hunt with a magical and mystical twist. 

"We're off to find a unicorn.
A mystical magical unicorn.
We're off to find a unicorn.
Wherever can it be?"

As my daughter and I were were reading the book we soon discovered that the animals that appeared in the book were in fact endangered and these are not animals that you would normally come across in our stories. Coming across these animals was definitely a talking point between the two of us. 

As we turned page by page we slowly began to notice the cheeky little unicorn had been with the family the whole time, my daughter was captivated on their journey of discovery of endangered animals in the quest to find a unicorn. The ending of the book was totally unexpected. 

The book includes brilliantly bright illustrations so any child can pick out different places and animals and even begin to learning places, animals and their colours as they go. The illustrations become a big part of the book as you have to spot the unicorn on each page, my daughter loved trying to find the hidden unicorn before I did. 

It’s a delightful book full of wonderment! It was very simple and easy to follow and was a great book for beginner readers and encourages lots of exploration and questions.The book includes brilliantly bright pictures so any child can pick out different objects and even begin to learn their colours as they turn the pages making it great for younger children too. 

This would make a great stocking filler for little unicorn fans and the book is now available at Owlet Press and Amazon. If you would like to WIN a copy of We're Off To Find A Unicorn by Eloise White and Cory Reid then please head over to our pinned post on our Facebook page like our post, follow our page and tag a friend. 

~ The book featured in this post has been kindly gifted to me, but all thoughts are my own. ~

Cranberry, Brie and Prosciutto on Ciabatta with Balsamic Glaze

Looking for perfect starter recipe for Christmas lunch? What says 'It's Christmas' better than cranberry, brie and prosciutto? We have been having this starter for years and it's always such a great hit with our guests. So I thought that it was about time we shared our recipe with you to try yourself, or if you're just looking for some inspiration for a Christmas lunch starter. These could be made in smaller portions as a simple appetiser or a party snack. They are so super easy to make with a few ingredients and will certainly be polished off in a matter of minutes – that’s my kind of recipe.

To make these you'll need:

230 ml balsamic vinegar
115 ml of water
36g of brown sugar
1 ciabatta, cut into one third slices.
2 tbsp of olive oil
120g of prosciutto
200g brie cheese, thinly sliced
130g cranberry sauce
30g chopped walnuts (optional). 

1. Preheat the oven to 200℃/Gas Mark 4 and line a baking tray with baking parchment or a silicone liner.

2. For the balsamic glaze place balsamic vinegar, water and brown sugar into a pan and slowly simmer until it reaches a thickness of a glaze. Remove from the heat and allow to cool, stir frequently as the sauce will thicken as it cools. 

3. As the balsamic glaze is simmering, cut the ciabatta into one third inches slices at an angle. Lightly coat with olive oil, place on oven and bake for 2 minutes until lightly toasted. 

4. Slice the brie into thin strips and place on bread. Top with prosciutto and a generous teaspoon of cranberry sauce. Sprinkle chopped walnuts, if using, and drizzle balsamic glaze over assembled ciabatta. Serve immediately.

Gift Guide: Little Girl Edition

It's our final gift guide of the year with our little girl edition. I always look forward to sharing this one because who doesn't get excited when buying toys for little ones. However, this year we have tried to stick to some kind of budget with our daughter and didn't overspend. We searched every corner possible to try and find the best deals around and so here is our little girl gift guide for ages five to seven. 

We have had five wonderful years of Christmas with my little lady and she is more than happy to let us know all the toys that she would love to see under the Christmas tree. However this year she has not given us any clues, whatsoever so we are officially stumped. Our daughter is a real girly girl and loves princesses, fairies but over the last few months her likes have expanded into dragons, dinosaurs, LEGO and Harry Potter. We have been sent some extremely lovely things that are making their way under the tree for her this year and I wanted to share them to maybe help some other parents with gift ideas for their little ones. So without to much rambling on keep reading for some little girl gift inspiration.


Named one top 10 toys for Christmas 2019, the Toniebox is a easy, fun way for little ones to listen to their favourite audio. Simply place a Tonie audio character on top of the box, and enjoy as the content from the story or song begins to play. Children will love interacting with stories and songs on this soft cube. The stories and songs have already been downloaded and the Toniebox has a seven hour battery life, giving children the chance to enjoy their favourites stories or songs on the move. 

The Toniebox is coated in a durable, sustainable fabric making it perfect for little hands – and the volume and tracks can be changed by simply moving the rubber ears on top of the box. You can choose from green, grey, red, purple, light blue, and pink. The Tonies are adorable hand printed figures each with their own story that you place on top of the Toniebox. These audio characters include Ariel, Cars, The Gurffalo, Zog, Little Red Riding Hood and other fairy tales. 

 Sylvanian Families. 

We started our Sylvanian families collection last year and they all have been a fantastic addition. Last year our daughter got the Red Roof Cosy Cottage, Beechwood Hall along with lots of Sylvanian families. Ever since then she has been captivated with these woodland creatures and wants to keep adding to her collection, she even saved her weekly pocket money to get bathroom set. So even though she wants to collect every set possible, we decided that this year we would stick to a couple of Sylvanian Families, accessories and the baby nursery bus. But in this gift guide we had to share the adorable Kangaroo family that comes in a set of four including Bruce Springer, Shelia Springer, Joanna Springer and Joey Springer. Oh the names! I know that my daughter will absolutely love these especially the baby Kangaroo.

Cook & Serve Set

Now I must admit when it comes to picking the best toys to help and encourage my daughter, it can sometimes be a little tricky. We have all been down the toy aisle overwhelmed by choices. My daughter tends to make a bee line for the flashiest, noisiest, most colourful toys, and in her pursuit she tends to overlook some of the classic wooden toys. Now I can't say that wooden toys have climbed their way up into the list of most wanted toys, but they have been enjoyed by many children over generations. With a little help from Hape Toys we are able to encourage a creative play with this great cook and serve set equipped with wooden pots, pans, plates and accessories, children will have everything they need to cook a delicious meal for friends or family. 

Harry Potter

We have always been big potter fans in this house, however over the summer we introduced our daughter to the wonderful wizarding world and she loves the magic and the fun. Have you ever wondered what it would be like to disappear with a flick of a cloak? Well, muggles! It's finally time to feel like a real wizard and join in the magical fun with this WOW! Stuff Invisibility Cloak. This one is just like Harry's invisibility cloak when it made its first appearance in the Philosopher's Stone when Harry received it as a Christmas present. Who remembers the first thing Harry did with the cloak? I can only imagine my daughter's excitement to finally be able to feel like a real wizard and disappear. We have also collated a few gift ideas that every Harry Potter fan needs to read. 

A Board Game with a Twist

Who doesn't love a good board game at Christmas? Our choice for a board game this year is nothing like we have ever had before, this is a board game with a twist. The Living Things: Predators and Producers Board Game uses active learning that involves lots of fun as you make your way around the board. By climbing up the producers and down the predators to try and rescue Rainforest Rob and winning cocoa beans and bananas as you go along is a great way to reinforce classroom learning. Now even though this will be a little advanced for my daughter we will be taking this board game to play with my nieces and nephews over the holidays. All of the packs on Oakabooks are curriculum based and with the colourful, fully illustrated and clearly laid out designs they are ideal for visual learners and those with Dyslexia. They include memory maps, glossaries of key words and terms, as well as Oaka Active Learning Maps or Games.

LEGO Friends Emma's Art Studio

This LEGO Friends Emma's Art Studio set is ideal for young girls. It contains over 230 pieces, including 2 mini-doll figures: Emma and Andrea, a mini cat toy figure, plus a turning potter's wheel and mini easel stand with water-reveal function. This girls LEGO set is for 6 to 12 year olds, although younger children will enjoy it with a bit of help from parents. It comes with easy to follow instructions, so even girls aged 5 years old should be able to build some parts alone. After the set is built, it will provide hours of playtime fun which is ideal for young girls who love to play with doll and animal figures. The LEGO Friends set is compatible with standard size LEGO, making it an excellent addition to any young girl’s collection.


With the release of the highly anticipated Frozen 2, of course, comes a new set of toys and merchandise for children to add to their Christmas lists. With the popularity of the sequel, it's safe to say that instead of hearing “Let It Go” on loop, you can now prep your ears to listen to “Into the Unknown” on repeat. A Frozen 2 Elsa Singing Doll will be on every girl's list! However, you can't possible have Elsa and no Anna. So this Frozen 2 Anna Singing Doll that plays a snippet of 'The Next Right Thing' ideal for little ones so they can relive all of their fave movie moments. If your little one is itching to get into your accessory collection, try gifting her one of these cute hair accessories sets. A jigsaw puzzle is the perfect way to prolong their Frozen 2 experience, helping to fuel their imaginations while honing their problem-solving skills. This is just a snippet of all the Frozen 2 toys and games that we got for our girl. If the first film craze is anything to go by we are in it for the long haul. 

 How To Train Your Dragon: Light Fury

The fantasy trilogy set in era from long ago follows the exciting adventures of the dragons and their Viking friends. We are massive How To Train Your Dragon fans and our love just keeps growing with every new release. For her birthday we got our daughter the Toothless and Hiccup figure and getting her the Lightfury with Hiccup set would definitely make her smile, as it's been something that she has asked for since her birthday in June. Lightfury has movable legs and her wings can be turned up and down. Hiccup’s arms and legs are movable and his head turns from side to side. 

Disney Princesses

There are so many Disney toys out there, it’s hard to decide what to get for your little one! You may even be buying princess toys for your child or someone else’s child. Should you buy a Belle or a Cinderella? A Tiana or an Ariel? We have a couple of Disney Princess idea for you to help make your choice a little easier. The Disney Princess Mini Toddler Gift Set is the best place to start which include 6 of your favourite Disney Princess friends! Each doll has poseable, moveable arms, legs and head. Features Rapunzel, Belle, Ariel, Cinderella, Aurora, and Merida. If you feel like getting bigger ones then the Disney Princess Petite Set is a great option as they are small enough for little hands but they can still change their outfits and brush their hair. This set includes three Petite Princess Cinderella, Belle and Ariel and cost £5! Absolute bargain -  got to love TK Maxx. As you all know my daughter loves Rapunzel and has done ever since I can remember  and has been asking for these Rapunzel figures which in previous years were hard to come by or were rather expensive.  This five pack of figures includes all your favourite characters from the Tangled: The Series including Rapunzel, Eugene and Maximus. 

 A Unicorn Journal & Washi Tape

Girls love to create and add their own special touches to pieces of paper. I know that it's not just my little girl! Over the summer she seemed to get a real passion for stationary, she's just like her mama. So we thought that a cute little journal equipped with stickers, washi tape and a notebook with a pen would be the perfect gift for my little doodler. 

It really doesn't matter what type of five year old girl you are shopping for, you can find a least one great idea in our gift guide. We have taken some of the leg work for you by scouting out the best deals to help make your Christmas shopping a little easier. Happy Shopping. 

~ Some of the products featured in this post have been kindly gifted to me, but all thoughts are my own. ~

The Ultimate Christmas Gift Guide for Women

Wow we have a great post for you today! It's our biggest ever gift guide for women and we cannot wait to share our gift ideas with you. The holiday season is always so busy, but there's no need to add unnecessary stress to your life thinking about the perfect gift for the women in your life. If you're running low on gift giving inspiration, don't fret! We've rounded up plenty of present ideas that you can buy for the special woman in your life. Whether it's the gal pal who always has your back, your wonderful wife, doting daughter, or your mum these decadent gifts will be sure to make her smile on Christmas morning. 

A Tipple...

Right, I'm just going to put this out this out there - is it even Christmas if you don't enjoy a tipple or two over the festive season. So to ensure that all the festivities get off to a good start why not get those special women in your life their favourite tipple. Whether you're wrapping it up and popping it under the tree or bringing it as a contribution to the dinner table, a stylish bottle makes an excellent Christmas gift. A beautifully designed bottle of gin, rum, whiskey, vodka or liqueur won't just make someone smile as they open pour - it will also make then happy and merry whilst tucking into turkey. 

Mermaid Gin? Is this the most beautiful bottle of gin you've ever seen? It's certainly up there for us and not your typical bottle of gin. The sea-green mermaid inspired Gin from Isle of Wight Distillery will certainly bring delight and smiles on Christmas morning. If you weren't in love enough already, this mermaid gin is presented in a sustainable, recyclable and biodegradable packaging to help preserve the environment by supporting marine conservation projects. As for the gin itself? It's a delight - a smooth yet complex blend of the freshness of organic lemon zest, the peppery notes in grains of paradise and a hint of sea air from rock samphire. 

What better way to compliment your Gin that with this book 'How To Drink Gin' by Sue Telford. Discover how gin is made, get familiar with key botanicals, learn how to taste gin, `build' your own go-to gin cabinet, and create simple but amazing gin cocktails. This has to be the perfect gift for those who love gin, but don't necessarily know a lot about it. At only £12.99 you can't really go wrong. How To Drink Gin is available from Red door Press, Waterstones, and Amazon

For the Beauty Girl

While a bottle of wine is nice, a palette of shimmery nude shadows is the real way to a beauty lover's heart for the holidays. And whether she is a makeup expert, candle hoarder, or eco lover, there's something for every type in this gift guide. Just be warned that you may feel inclined to buy some for yourself too and that's totally normal. Just like this really great Manna Kadar Costmetics Lux Shadow Palette that came my way. The Luxe Eyeshadow Palette contains endless colour combinations to create the perfect subtle or dark smokey-eye. With deep browns to soft and subtle beige, these creamy and highly pigmented powders are perfect for a day look or a night time look. What better way to go all glam over the Christmas period that with a gorgeous set of eyelashes to compliment a smokey eye. Kiss Lash Couture Naked Drama, Lacey that feature a split-tip false lashes that offer full, fluffy volume once applied.

Now I love nails and always add a bright pink, red or nude shade to my naked nails when I can, and I'm good to go. However, after a couple of days they begin to chip and reapplication becomes the bane of my life, going through tonnes of nail polish and remover in the process. So as you can imagine I'm always on the look out for some decent nail polish and for this time of year on the hunt for a gorgeous berry shade and a little sparkle. Leighton Denny always have the best colours this time of year just like these Vintage Chic and Free Spirit which are a matched made in heaven.

For Those Who Need More Relaxation...

Us girls need a little more of TLC and what better way to make sure they do than buying her something that will make sure she has more time to relax and recuperate in 2020. Indulge in ultimate relaxation with African Orange Aromatic Infusions from Evolve Beauty which includes a indulgent body wash and a moisturiser that leaves you silky smooth and smelling amazing. However, what makes this aromatic duo even better is that its all natural, vegan friendly, cruelty free that has been hand crafted with non toxic chemicals, making it the perfect gift for those who want to help the environment. 

Candles, wax melts and fragrance are always a winner. Sassy Shop Wax Melts is the place to go as they have a wide range of products available to suit all. You can choose from sweet seasonal scents like gingerbread, pumpkin spice, and toffee apple or perhaps  floral scents like Rhubie Rose, or Snow Pixie are more your style. Sassy Shop Wax Melts have everything you will need. When it comes to the actual was melts themselves you can choose from wax melt bars, segment pots or small tubs especially if you're like me and love to keep a stash under the kitchen sink. 

For The Girl Who Loves Her Skin...

'Tis the season to gift and glow. Lucky for you we have something extra-special for skin care that are the golden tickets to both gifting and glowing. No matter who is on your list, these brightening, hydrating, and nourishing serums are bound to put a smile on their face. Comprising of three serums that have been especially designed to target specific skincare issues that can be mixed and matched where necessary. In this gift guide we have Pure Collagen Biphase Serum, Pure Caviar Biphase Serum and Pure Hyaluronic Acid Biphase Serum that all focus on specific need that help plump out the skin, help retain water and strengthening the skin and it's natural oil barrier leaving our skin feeling hydrated and super smooth. 

Sanctuary is always on my list! My husband always manages to get me some of the most beautiful sets and I'm sure that this year won't be any different. Sanctuary Spa Wet Skin Radiance Jelly has actually been a bit of a game changer for me and has helped my skin no end this time of year. this product was a little strange at first but I have used it for the last 3 weeks and cannot tell you how amazing it really is. It has saved me 10 minutes at least in a morning, soaks up so well and throughout the day I have faint smell off watermelon. 

For The Stylish Gal...

If you really want to turn their head and give them something a little luxurious like this gorgeous Fiorelli Windsor Floral Purse which is perfect and handy to just pop into your bag. It's textured, not smooth or rugged but in between the two textures and it's surprisingly light, which I didn't expect. This design comes is a part of a gorgeous collection that I would love one of each. There are quite a few different pieces available in the Windsor Floral range so it would be hard not to get the woman in your life a matching handbag, we love to match. 

A personal touch with a little sparkle. If you didn't know rose gold is a bit of a thing right now, lots of people are adding rose gold hues to their hair, make-up and even décor. So it comes to no surprise that people want to add a little rose gold into their jewellery collections and what a better way to say I love you than with a little jewellery. Sometimes the simplest styles can be the most striking, as this gorgeous rose gold knot initial bangle demonstrates. A stylish addition to any jewellery collection that doesn't cost the earth. With copper hues and warmer tones it's sure to make a statement and they won't ever want to take it off. If you want to WIN one for yourself then don't forget to enter our GIVEAWAY on INSTA. 

For The Girl Who Loves a Sweet Scent...

Is it even Christmas without receiving a fragrance or two? And I have seen a couple of fantastic deals online and out and about in town. Fragrance is always a winner. My favourites this year are Jimmy Choo Fever and Calvin Klein Obsessed for Women. They both smell incredible and are long lasting which can be hard to find sometimes. A fairly new discovery for me is Jimmy Choo Blossom which is a floral fragrance that opens with bright and sparkling top notes of red berries blended with a citrus cocktail. A delicate heart of sweet pea and rose complements rich and sensual base notes of white musk and sandalwood.

For The Cosy One...

No Christmas is complete without a set of comfy pyjamas and fluffy socks. Am I right? These luxurious soft cotton fabric from Blackspade are super comfortable and so lightweight, it really does feel as if you don't have anything on. We have a pair of lilac and grey check bottoms that have an elasticated waist band to ensure you can eat as much turkey as you wish. These bottoms have been paired with a long sleeved grey tee that is actually long enough. 

For The Girl Who Likes Lace...

So I guess the place we need to finish is lingerie and let's be honest, you can't go wrong with this one. Whether you're looking for something feminine, sexy, or lingerie that provides figure flattering appeal on your curves this beautiful lace underwear is always a great choice. The Net Effects Short from Knicker Locker features a subtle floral embroidery in a soft Rose Dust colourway for an elegant style. It offers a seamless finish under your clothes and co-ordinates with the Net Effects Bralette. Not only do they look elegant and super sexy they are very light and super soft to touch despite the intricate detailing of the lace. 

The holiday season is always so busy, but there's no need to add unnecessary stress to your life thinking about the perfect gift for the women in your life. If you're running low on gift giving inspiration, don't fret as I'm sure you have a few ideas now. 

~ Some of the products featured in this post have been kindly gifted to me, but all thoughts are my own. ~

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