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A FAMILY LIFESTYLE BLOG

Watermelon Ice Pops

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The weather has been glorious hasn’t it? What better way to try and cool down on a scorching day than with an ice pop. However, being on slimming world in the summer and trying to make the right choice isn’t always easy. There are sweet treats around every corner, ice cream everywhere and the sound of the ice cream truck really makes me feel very nostalgic but resisting the temptation is hard. Well until now where I made a little discovery. 


My daughter adore watermelon, or water lemon as she likes to call it! Honestly she loves the fruit. However buying her a whole watermelon every week can leave waste, so I have been creating recipes that can help reduce the waste with these slimming world friendly watermelon ice pops.



These watermelon ice pops are 3 syns each, making them the perfect way to cool down during the summer, all whilst staying on plan. A win win really.

To make these ice pops you only need three ingredients:

500g of seedless watermelon, chopped
3 tablespoons of maple syrup
½ cup of plain greek yoghurt

1. Chop the watermelon into large chunks and one tablespoon of maple syrup in a blender and blend until you have a smooth liquid.

2. Pour this into your ice lolly moulds making sure you don’t fill them all the way. Place on lid and then pop in all the ice pops into the freezer and allow this layer to freeze.

3. Once layer is frozen, remove from freezer, take off lid and then you can do the second layer. Mix the Plain Greek yoghurt with 1 tablespoon of maple syrup and then add this to each mold. Place back in the freezer until this layer is frozen. 


4. Once you have completed the freezing process you can remove the ice pops from the mould and store in freezer bags to make them easier to take out when needed. 

A lovely refreshing and delicious healthy treat in the summer. Would you try these watermelon ice pops? 

A Family Break at the Luxury Oak Cottage in Buckden.

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The end of last month saw us pack up our bags and head to a quaint village of Buckden in North Yorkshire for seven glorious nights. Oak cottage was situated in one of the most remote locations with only a few houses as neighbours at the end of a gated road. It was perfect. We arrived at the cottage on a Saturday afternoon so we could all unpack and get settled before planning adventures for the next day. 

With Oak cottage being such a remote location really did make it one of most relaxing accommodations that we have stayed in, and we have stayed in many locations within this area. The cottage was surrounded by many trees, shrubbery and plants making it the perfect location for a morning walk or run. 




The gardens were open and included a bird table and many bird feeders attracting an abundance of wildlife throughout our stay. We saw hummingbirds, woodpeckers, sparrows and not forgetting some very cheeky red squirrels, rabbits and we fell in love with the neighbourhood cats.



Oak cottage offers cosy and welcoming accommodation spanning two floors and offering superb views with the picture window in the living room. The barn conversion has been carefully designed and furnished offering a spacious location for up to six people. Styled to its beautiful countryside surroundings. Oak cottage brings nature into the interiors with topiary pots, rustic wooden furniture and neutral coloured walls and soft furnishings.


Country home decor would not be complete without bringing themes of nature into the home, referencing inspiration from nature throughout the interiors. There are three bedrooms, one bathroom and open plan kitchen fully equipped for every eventually you could possible imagine during your stay, including a breakfast bar and a rustic farmhouse dining table and teamed with a patchwork rugs and a vintage-inspired fireplace.



At the heart of the home is the living room. As soon you enter the cottage you are met with a beautiful living room equipped with an open fire, entertainment system and the beautiful picture window. The whole style of the cottage is elegant country chic with hints of vintage and the decor just adds to the feel of the cottage. 



The kitchen was more than spacious more than ample for the five of us and the cupboard space was a second to none. The cottage owners have really prepared for everything you could ever imagine including a slow cooker, a picnic set and extra supplies that we may need during our stay. In the kitchen there was an electric oven, electric hob, microwave, fridge/freezer and washing machine. The breakfast bar was a great place to make plans for the day. It was so easy to socialise together as you could cook and still be involved with the conversation. 



The kitchen also led to the first bedroom which included a double bed and a single bed, being more than ample for my parents as they had adequate space for their belongings. The decor was simplistic and modern with rustic touches in the furniture paired with pales green walls and neutral hues in the linen. 



On the first floor there were three bedrooms; a king size room, a single room and a small bathroom in between that included a shower over the bathroom. The decor on the stairs and landing was vintage inspired with a antique mahogany bookcase at the top of the stairs. The king size bedroom was very spacious with a slanted ceiling and a large window. Even though slanted rooms are often difficult to work with the ceiling really stood out adding to the over appeal of the room. This bedroom was ideal for my husband and I as there was more than enough room with large wooden wardrobes, bedside units and a dressing table with more space for our belongings. Again the decor was simple and elegant with lilac walls and lilac tones in the furnishings. An extra thought for guests during our stay as each room included a bin and basket with room linen spray. 



Our daughter had the single room and absolutely loved her room, the best part of the room according to her - the star pillow. So much so my mum has promised to make her a special star pillow for her. This room is best suited for a little one or a teen with a single bed, chest of drawers, a large mirror on the top of the unit and hooks for you to place coats and dressing gowns. 




The bathroom was small size for the five of us, but alright for what we needed. A bathroom can either make or break your stay and the left hand L shaped bath really made our stay as we could indulge in a big bubble bath after a day of adventures. The bathroom included an over the bath shower, toilet, sink and a large industrial wall mirror with a mini shelf. The bathroom curated a contemporary style with decorative glass paired with a country oak furnishings making the perfect combination. The only downside with Oak cottage that we found was that there was only one toilet. For families of up to six this can be difficult to get around during the evening, the ground floor bedroom would be the ideal place to add in an en-suite to make this accommodation ideal for busy families.




Oak cottage was just 7 miles from the bustling market town of Hawes where there is a large selection of individual country shops, pubs, restaurants and tea rooms, together with the Wensleydale Creamery, home to Wallis and Gromit’s favourite cheese. Further afield lies a view behind every corner with places like Dentdale, Malham and you can get one of the most amazing cream teas in the Village of Kettlewell. The large market town of Skipton which boasts a Norman castle standing proudly at the head of the wide cobbled high street full of shops places to eat and is home to one of the best reserved castles in Britain. 



Oak Cottage is a superb location that has been fully refurbished to a very high standard in the heart of the village of Bucken. Offering quality accommodation, Oak cottage is well located for all with the surrounding villages having so much to offer including shops, bars and restaurants. The cottage is situated in one of the most remote locations offering stunning views across the Dales making this a place to enjoy the sunsets across the views in the evening. As soon as you walk through Oak cottage you feel warm, welcomed and cosy from the spacious living room with the log burner and amazing picture window, a large kitchen that is fully equipped for every eventuality with breakfast bar and rustic solid oak dining table. The living spaces offer something for everyone whatever the season that would appeal for families and couples alike. The gardens are surrounded by trees, shrubbery and plan that also includes a patio set, a place to play with an abundance of wildlife to watch out for, it really oozes peace and tranquillity. If you're looking for a great place to rest and recuperate then look no further than Oak cottage. 

Blueberry & Lemon Oaty Breakfast Bars

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As a work from home mama to a five year old life can get a little crazy, especially when it comes to getting that five year old out of the door for school. Our mornings normally consist of running around the house making sure than my daughter has the correct uniform, her lunch is packed and she has everything she needs for her day ahead. That's all before I even start work. So you can imagine that sitting down and actually managing to eat my breakfast can be somewhat of a task. You have probably heard me say this before, but I am not a person who likes to eat breakfast. I know that breakfast is one of the most important meals to have to help kick start your metabolism, but I cannot face anything until mid morning.



That's where these blueberry and lemon oaty breakfast bars come in, they are perfect for those mornings on the go. They are a great alternative to other cereal bars that can be overloaded with calories and sugar. We really like these Blueberry & Lemon Oaty ones because they are slimming world friendly and packed with antioxidants from the blueberries as well as fibre and slow releasing energy from the oats. You can choose to use two of these bars as part of your healthy extra B or they are 1 syn each.


Blueberry and lemon is a sweet and tangy flavour combination making it perfect pairing to start your day. The refreshing and fresh citrus compliments the rich fruity berry goodness making it a dynamic duo that can certainly packs a punch. With this powerful flavour the possibilities are endless. These bars would also make a really nice snack in between meals or even a lovely post meal treat.



You will need some breakfast bar moulds to cook these Blueberry & Lemon breakfast bars, you can pick one of these from a Supermarket or Amazon. With the silicone moulds you are able to achieve a perfect breakfast bar. Just add porridge oats, nuts, almonds, dried fruits, honey, etc. The possibilities are endless so you can enjoy experimenting. This recipe is for 12 cake breakfast bars which equates to 2 days worth of Healthy Extra B or you can syn them if you prefer.  Hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we do. I’d love to know how you got on and what you thought of it if you make this Blueberry & Lemon Baked Oaty Breakfast Bars Recipe if you like it, why not pin for later.





Ingredients

80g Oats ( 2 days of Healthy Extra B)
2 Muller Light Greek Yoghurts (160g pots)
1 tsp of Skinny Syrup or 1/2 tsp of vanilla extract
100 g blueberries
Sweetener, optional. 
Fry light spray

Instructions

1. Preheat oven to 180°c/Gas Mark 5, spray your breakfast moulds with low calorie spray and set aside. 

2. Mix your yoghurt, oats and syrup/vanilla extract together until combined. 

3. Stir in half of the berries and spoon the mixture into the moulds. Add the remaining berries evenly into each mould. 

4. Bake for 15-20 minutes until golden

5. If you would like top with a spoonful of yoghurt, a couple of whole berries and a drizzle of honey, just try and syn accordingly. It is a tasty and healthier alternative for a sweet treat. 


Back To School Must Have Essentials

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As summer is drawing to close, so are the summer holidays. We have had the best summer that has been full of adventures, family and friends. Honestly I think we are all a little sad to get back to normality in this household and as much as I would love to holidays to continue we have to start preparing for a smooth start back to school. I don’t know about you but I always have mixed feelings when the my girl goes back to school. It is pretty great getting ourselves back into a routine but I do miss my little shadow. Whether you’re just beginning your school run mum duties or you’re a pro with back to school one thing that is essential is preparation. 


School Uniform.

An absolute essential for the start of a new school year. This summer my daughter has had a really big growth spurt and doesn't fit in any of her clothes at the moment, so ideally we would like her uniform to last as long as possible. So if your children are like mine they tend to do a lot of growing over the summer, you may want to check the fit and invest in some new uniform. 

Our favourite supermarket for school uniform are Sainsbury's TU as they are very competitive in price and they have a wide range of sizes and styles available. More importantly you can't fault them on the quality! Plus their 25% off promotion helped us save a bit. Honestly, if my daughter didn't do so much growing over the summer she would have been able to use her uniform again. You really don't have to spend crazy money. 

My Top Tips: Always try and wait as long as you can before the uniform shop, as they can do a lot of growing in a few weeks. Always look around for promotions, sales and deals. 

School Shoes.

The school uniform shop wouldn't be complete without finding the perfect pair of school shoes. The best kind of school shoes need to offer a combination of modern contemporary style, be hard-wearing, comfortable, and of course, fit school uniform guidelines. It is essential to get a pair of durable shoes, especially as feet will continue to grow and they will be wearing them for five day a week. There is nothing worse that wearing ill fitting shoes. 

For school shoes you cannot fault Sainsbury's TU and their toezone range. They are durable, fashionable and are long-lasting. We really like these leather butterfly ones as they have a charming embroidery design, finished in a scuff resistant coated leather upper. These have been designed to ensure its lightweight and flexible with instant comfort features. The rip-tape fastening also makes it easy to take on and off. 

My Top Tip: Don't always assume that cheaper shoes are better value. Coming from someone who used to work with shoes quality outweighs prices, every time. For our shoes you cannot fault Sainsbury's TU and their toezone, and they really stand the test of time.

Name Labels. 

An essential to ensure your children's belongings don't end up in the lost and found box. Even though they are pretty important they are something that is often overlooked in the hustle and bustle of prepping for back to school. So don't forget the labels. You need labels for EVERYTHING as you can imagine from clothing, books, bags, bottles, pens and footwear! 


My Name Tags are by far one of the most popular brands for school labels, they come highly recommended with their custom labels where you can choose from iron on, or stickers. With these custom labels you children will be able to get involved with the many designs that you are able to create There are also some different ranges that you can choose from the choice is endless.The iron on labels attach very easily to clothing. I have used these on all her clothing items and even her coat, hat and gloves. The stickers that I was kindly sent through are very good and we will be using these for her uniform, shoes, lunchbox, and her backpack. 

My Top Tip: Most people use iron-on labels as they have great staying power, but last year we used stickers and they wash so well and can make the labelling process so much quicker. 

School Bags.

Whether a child is just four years old and fresh out of nursery, or about sixth form or college, their school bag is an important part of their daily routine. My daughter is going into year one and so she will start getting pieces of homework, so we thought that this year getting her a little backpack will help her keep all her belongings together. It is also important in terms of her development as it encourages them to take responsibility for their things. It is worth asking the school whether there is a need for a school bag though. Our school allows the children to have a string bag as there isn't a lot of room for their belongings, we decided to get our daughter a personalised string bag so her new teacher will be identifying my daughter's bag and belongings quickly. 

Our choice this year was a personalised unicorn drawstring. It's practical, abides by our school guidelines, big enough for her PE kits and everything else she needs and has her favourite mystical creature. Well if you're a unicorn fan. 

My Top Tip: Try and opt for something that can be personalised on the front or where you can hang something that you are able to add a name or class. 

Lunch Bags.

My girl loves a picnic so we always have a stash of lunchboxes or a bag available, however with the start of the new school year everything has to be new, right? When it comes to choosing a lunch box or bag there are so many different types from bento boxes, bags or coolers. We love smash lunch bags and this cooler bag is available in a navy blue and pink design and is quite a generous in size. It is equipped with a main zip fastening, padded handle and insulated bottle pouch. Last year we got a unicorn bag with a mesh bottle pouch that she ruined in the first week as she dragged it along the floor so we wanted something a little more solid. 

If there is one thing that I hate when you have a lunch box is smushed food, so we also like to get a bento box to go inside to ensure all her food is protected and keeps cool fresh. The Sistema® Bento Cube To Go™ is perfect for transporting your lunch and snacks on the go. Simply place your food into the container and close with the easy-locking clip to seal.

My Top Tip: Always get an insulated nylon lunch bag they are great throughout the year. 

School Supplies.

Remember the feeling of having a fresh set of pens, pencils, and rulers at the start of the year? I still get a little excited when I open a new notebook or a new set of pens. My daughter can be the same and even though she doesn't necessarily need to be kitted out with lots of pens, pencils, highlighters and rubbers. She does love a new pencil. 


Practical and pretty, this twelve pack of sparkly pencils are sure to brighten up any day. These 12 personalised pink glittery pencils come in a personalised box. The perfect set of unique stationery for the start of school and the box is embossed in silver lettering with your chosen name. My daughter was very excited about her 'new piggy pencils' and loved the fact that they were personalised with her name. 


Pens! If you're anything like me you are always misplacing pens so what better way to write those lists for back to school that with some shiny new pens. BIC have launched a new range of Gel-ocity Quick Dry gel pens that are perfect for list writing, marking or just doodling. The new range doesn't leave any smudges in beautiful colours, coming a pack of six these medium (0.7mm) point gel pens use fast drying ink that won't drip or leak.


My Top Tip: The stationery you buy for them is going to be used every day by your child so it makes sense to get them things they actually like. Be firm regards budget but getting them involved in the decision making process. 

A Little Summer Learning.

Even though summer holidays are a time for fun, family and lots of adventures, it is very important to continue learning and create activities to keep them engaged. Over the summer we have be taking part in a reading challenge and using a variety of apps to keep her mind in learning mode. We have made a little discovery with Poio the Norwegian app that helps children learn to read through play, which has recently launched in the UK. 


Poio works unlike any other learning method before it, by focusing on play and encouragement, ensuring that every child can proceed in the game rather than getting stuck on mistakes and feeling demotivated. Parents can also receive email updates which show how their child is progressing. The game encourages the child to explore the magical universe, inhabited by a troll, named Poio, and discover reading through linking the sounds of letters to actual words. Progress is made by collecting the phonetic letter sounds which make up the words within the book.

There we have it, my must have essentials for going back to school. I honestly can't believe that the summer holidays are nearly over, yes they have been a few crazy moments over the last six weeks and I have had zero time for myself. But I know that as soon as she goes back I shall miss her so much, at least I know she will be fully prepared with this must have back to school essentials. Are you ready to go back to school?

*Some of the products that featured in this back to school must have list were kindly gifted to us, however as always my words and opinions are my own*

Don't Forget The Labels for Back to School

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It's all about back to school for us this week and we are finally getting somewhere. We have just about managed the uniform shop after my daughter has had yet another growth spurt, we wanted to wait for as long as we could to ensure that her uniform lasts for as long as possible. The school uniform shop wouldn't be complete without finding the perfect pair of school shoes, that task wasn't as bad we just needed to find a pair of shoes that has a contemporary style, be hard-wearing, comfortable, and of course, fit school uniform guidelines. So whether you’re just beginning your school run mum duties or you’re a pro with back to school one thing that is essential is preparation, and in the midst of the back to school madness one thing that is seems to be overlooked are the labels. 


When it comes to looking for those all important labels there are so many different types you can choose. When I was at school my mum would spend hours sewing them into my school shirts and skirts, however us mamas don't have time for that. We all want a quick and easier solution when it comes to the dreaded labelling. Are you with me? That is why when it come to labels Petit-Fernand is the only choice.

Petit-Fernand are company who specialise in creating unique personalised labels for EVERYTHING you could imagine from clothing, books, bags and even shoes! As my little girl is heading into year one she needs to take quite a lot of stuff with on a daily basis so we needed quite a few labels. And so it made complete sense for us to get a bumper value pack to ensure that we are able to label all her belongings. This school pack has been specially created for the little ones heading off to school! You will find all the necessary to tag quickly and easily their clothing and belongings. 

The School Value Pack

For clothes:

- 30 stick-on labels
- 20 iron-on labels

For objects:

- 30 Mini item stickers
- 40 item stickers (1 line)
- 10 item stickers (2 lines)
- 5 item stickers (4 lines)
- 10 shoe labels

My labels arrived through the post within days and I couldn't wait to open the envelope to see our creativity in label form. I honestly could believe how quickly ordering, dispatching and delivery was. The delivery is free and they are shipped world wide. When I open the envelope I was surprised that my labels arrived in a lovely little booklet, with no loose sheets so you are able to keep them neat and tidy for another time. Each type of label was clearly marked inside the booklet with a set of clear instructions on how to use them. All labels are washing machine and tumble dryer resistant and stick onto garments withing 12 seconds or so. It really didn't take any time at all.


The School Pack contain 20 iron-on labels and 30 stick-on labels to stick on the care labels and 95 stick-on objects labels to stick on every object with a smooth surface to identify easily all the school supplies like the books, note books, pencils, pens, scissors, glue sticks… and even shoes! The School packs incudes over 145 labels that that vary in sizes and from stickers and iron-on for £30 - great value if you consider how quickly you'll label your child's uniform and belongings. 

** We were kindly gifted this school pack from Petit Fernand, however as always my words and opinions are my own**

How To Get Pretty Summer Feet

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Isn't the weather absolutely glorious? Are you summer ready? I have seriously neglected my feet and even if we are in the first week August it's never too late to get those feet ready for bare feet season. If I am being completely honest I have always been incredibly envious of women with lovely feet. As they walk by with their super smooth, french tipped toenails I am trying to hide my chipped and dry feet. So it's time to get my feet summer ready and make them smooth, soft and beautiful thanks to a selection of great products on the market.


For those feet that need a little care pop them in for a soak with a few drops of tea tree oil grab a book or catch up on one of your favourites on Netflix. Then rub you feet with a clean, soft towel and make sure that you don't overlook the spaces between your toes, where dirt and dry skin can linger. For anything troublesome that goes beyond the odd bit of hard skin or unloved cuticles, head to for a professional pedicure. Your feet will feel revitalised and fresh in no time. Treat yourself to a soak a couple of times a week to keep them nourished and super soft during the summer months. 


Now is the time to get into the habit of exfoliating your feet. As my feet are super dry and can crack a daily foot file is an essential in my everyday routine. The best thing for this in my personal opinion is to remove any hard or dry bits off skin by using a hard skin remover before your bath or shower. The Body Shop Vitamin C Glow Revealing Liquid Peel is a great alternative to traditional face scrubs. It is more gentle as it doesn’t contain any abrasive particles or enzymes. It gently peels away dull and tired skin to unveil healthy looking and happily glowing skin. If it does amazing things for my face, surely it can do the same for my feet. Honestly, it did feel odd at first but the peel left my feet feeling super smooth and smelling amazing. I have been using this as a hard skin remover for just over a year and won't use anything else. 

Once my feet are dry I also like to use an electronic pedicure file which works wonders on my dry heels feet. If you aim to buff your feet twice a month to help prevent the hard skin building up, you won’t have to panic come next summer. A generous dollop of foot Intensive Foot Balm which has a proprietary blend of eight moisturising extracts, exfoliating acids and a deodorising ingredient to transform feet. It’s particularly effective on cracked heels.


It’s a lovely light, non-greasy formula that absorbs really quickly. It has a lovely herbal scent but in no way overpowering and a little certainly goes a long way. My feet are so dry and a little cracked and I have been using this just over month and it's made a difference. I love using this balm at night and pop my socks over them, by morning they are so smooth and soft. 

For the day I have been enjoying using this Nourishing Daily Therapy which contains a blend of rejuvenating coconut, olus and tamanu oils, that hydrates, soothes, and protect the skin against infection. You apply a light mist all over your feet making sure you pay attention to your heels and dry areas, then you simply massage into the skin. Even though it is a lightweight oil I did find that it took a little longer to absorb into my skin than the foot balm. 


Your toes need cuticle work, too. So a good conditioning nail treatment is something that you should do with your toenails. This Nail Treatment contains sodium thiosulphate to help combat hardness, antimicrobial Dermosoft® decalact again to enhance appearance, and a blend of castor, grapeseed and sunflower oil to condition and improve brittleness. A healthy nail bed is the key to healthy, happy nails that feel strong and look great. If you have wider feet, or are fond of rather narrow shoes, invest in one of these slightly strange-looking jelly toe separators. Pop them in for twenty minutes every evening to relieve the pressure between your toes. The treatment is designed to soften hard, thick or brittle nails, reduce thickness and make them easier to cut, strengthen them and help prevent ingrowing toenails. However, even though my nails are pretty healthy anyway I don't think I will be able to tell you the benefits of the nail treatments on unhealthy toenails. However, if you're anything like me you like to add a bright red or hot pink polish to their toenails during the summer. My favourite shades are Opi Nail Lacquer in Hotter Than You Pink, or this Flock You Duo from Nail Inc.  



I have been using this little routine for my feet for a little while and I will have to say that it has made a dramatic impact on the look of my feet. My two favourite products by far and the ones that I wouldn't be without now are The Body Shop's Vitimin C Glow Liquid Peel and the Dr Ander's Intensive Foot Balm

When it comes to finding great products for my feet it has been a bit of a trial and error but seeing as most of these products have been created and designed by a podiatrist, it makes complete sense as they know a bit about feet. Dr Judith Anders is a podiatrist of over 20 years standing and has spent her working life being fascinated and inspired by how incredible our feet are and how they function. Our feet work so hard for us every day, but foot problems are common and not all feet are perfect. Dr Anders has set up an online community, Feel Your Feet, aimed at sharing stories to raise awareness of foot health and reduce preventable foot problems and #feelyourfeet. I never realised the utmost importance of looking after your feet, but now I shall be making sure that changes. 

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