Friday, 16 June 2017

La Redoute Haul

I have lusted over the La Redoute website for months and as soon as we started shopping for baby clothes I knew I wanted to treat our little 'Blob' to a few items. So to my delight I logged on to their website and I saw they were having a 40% off sale, so I took the opportunity and stocked up on slightly more than a 'few' bits but with such a fantastic sale I couldn't help it. 

This year we've got lots of friends and family that are due to have babies (in fact I become an Auntie for the first time in a matter of weeks!) so we seem to be spending most of our time in and out of baby shops and attending baby shows looking for gifts. My in laws have found out they are expecting a baby boy so it's been really easy and fun finding baby boy clothes but as we aren't finding out the gender of little 'Blob' we've found buying unisex clothing really tough. Everything is either pink or blue, so I was so pleased to see La Redoute had a huge selection of baby suits, outfits and baby grows that would suit either a boy or a girl. 

7 Pack Long Sleeve Bodysuits 100% cotton
3 Pack Organic Cotton Short Sleeve Boysuits

Star Sweatshirt & 'Super' Sweatshirt & Trouser set
Mini, Striped & Cloud Crossover Tops
La Redoute currently have another sale on so I highly recommend going on to their website and checking out their huge range of children's clothing. One word of warning though, as the sales are so popular delivery times can take a while. It took about 6 weeks for all the clothes I ordered to come through, which although it sounds a long time, I wasn't in a huge rush as long as they got here before baby was due.

I can't wait for baby to get here so that I can try some of these outfits out!


Monday, 12 June 2017

My five top tips for planning a wedding

I can't believe it's been nearly a year since Dan and I stood up in the church in front of all our family and friends and said I do, where has the time gone?! Planning a wedding is one of the most exciting times of your life but it can also be so overwhelming and there are also times when you want to pull your hair out when you are sat, surrounded by seating plans, lists of people you still haven't received RSVP's from and up to your eyes in emails that you need to respond to.

I wanted to share with you my five top tips!

Accept help from friends and family
The one thing we weren't really prepared for was how much friends and family wanted to help us out. We knew it before but our wedding proved it even more, we're surrounded by some incredibly talented people. Dan's lovely Auntie asked if she could make our stunning wedding cake, my 'uncle' printed all of our wedding stationary for us and of course my incredibly talented make up artist big sister brought in a whole team to sort me, the mums and bridesmaids out for the day. The inner control freak in me was a little hesitant to accept help but actually as time went on not only did it relieve stress it also made our day that little more special knowing everyone was helping to make it the wedding we had dreamed of. So when someone says 'Is there anything we can do to help?' say 'YES!' whether it's folding the order of service, picking up the bridesmaid dresses or even helping find local suppliers. Trust me, you'll thank them for it!

It goes without saying this is the most important thing about planning a wedding. Putting a budget in place is such a good starting point and will give you the best idea of things you can afford and things you need to look at coming up with cheaper alternatives for your bid day. I turned into the biggest geek when we started to plan the wedding, working in admin you can imagine my wedding spreadsheet was a thing of beauty! It was colour co-ordinated, tabbed, and auto populated every time we spent money......other spreadsheet lovers will appreciate my efforts here. The first thing Dan and I did was sit down and work out how we both envisaged our wedding and what we would like to do/have there on the day. We were then able to apportion our budget to the different items, for example as Dan was a photographer we knew this was something that was really important to us so we were able to put in a budget that we felt happy to pay.

Personal touches don't have to cost a fortune
The other thing to remember is that you can create some really brilliant finishing touches for little cost. One thing I'm really proud of is that our guests now tell us how personal our wedding was and that they could all walk in and know it was our wedding. Ebay is a fantastic place to pick up some personalised extras. Here are a few things we did that costs very little but made a our day that little bit more personal.
  • We had these gorgeous thank you tags that we asked our caterers to attach onto the forks of our wedding tables that said 'Thank you for sharing our first meal with us as Mr & Mrs Panons.' They cost around £15-£20 so a complete bargain for something that really added that little extra touch! 
  • The hangers the dresses were placed on were made by my mum for little cost. My Mum did a fantastic job by painting hangers white, carefully bending the wire to spell our each bridesmaids name and adding some teal ribbon and a sparkly heart to really give it that personal touch.
  • We went for Prosecco as a cheaper alternative for our welcoming drinks and then I put together a 'Pimp Your Prosecco' bar that our guests could use and a wheel barrow of beers for the guys, which went down a storm! We kept an eye out (especially around Christmas and New Years) for offers and deals on drink so we were able to really save some money on this.
  • The ushers, Dan and Dad's were all given as part of there 'thank you' bags football socks that related to their favourite football team. The guys absolutely loved them and were such a fun way of adding a bit of their personalities into the day.

  • Our table plan is something that to this day I'm really pleased with. When I first thought about our table plan I spent a lot of time on Pinterest (as all brides to be do) and I thought I wanted a huge floral framed piece, but after a meeting with our florist I realised that was a little out of our budget. The next thing I found was this gorgeous wooden pallet design that I instantly fell in love with. We picked up an old wooden pallet for free from a local business that was having a clear out. Then we placed lots of items and frames on this that shared lots of memories of our time together. Our lovely florist also added some flowers that really made it look apart of the whole room.

  • Cars were something that I was really shocked to see how expensive they were. Dan had his heart set on driving an old classic mini which we would drive his brothers to the church in and then drive the two of us to the reception once we were married. So I looked around for two cars to take me and my Dad and another for my bridesmaids to go in. The church was only 15 minutes down the road and I was quoted around £800-£1,000 for the two cars. I couldn't believe it! So me and my Dad came up with the idea of him driving me to the church. As soon as he said it I just knew that was what I wanted to do. Having spent years being my taxi service growing up he was then going to drive me to the church to begin the next chapter of my life. 

Make sure you plan in your timings right up until the big day
This is something I wish I had put more time into, not because I forgot anything to do with the actual wedding it was because I forgot to allocate time for myself in the run up. About 2 weeks before the wedding I looked at my diary and realised there was no time to plan in some time to go and have a bit of a pamper so I thought I'd just do it myself. Then about 4 days before the wedding (as the stress was starting to kick in) I realised I would never do this again so I wanted to take the time out to enjoy myself. I left it a little late but managed to book in for a manicure the day before. Unfortunately the day before our wedding turned out to be one of the worst experiences of my life, it involves me throwing my engagement ring out of a moving car 3 hours before the wedding rehearsal, obviously not on purpose, but I might save that story for another post!

Remember why you're doing it in the first place!
Lastly and most importantly, when things are getting stressful and your starting to bicker with your other half over little things like, your first dance or who sits where....just remember why your doing this in the first place. As wonderful as the actual day is the main thing is your getting married because you love each other. After Dan and I got married two of my best friends and also my brother and sister in law got married within about 3 weeks of each other and I remember telling them, at the end of your wedding evening when all the guests have gone and your finally spending some time together to reflect on the day, none of the things you were arguing about in the lead up to the wedding will matter. You'll just look back on your day as one of the most incredible days of your lives.

What would be your top tip for a bride to be? 


Thursday, 1 June 2017

Hello Fresh Review

About a month ago Dan and I got into a bit of a rut with our dinners and felt like we were cooking the same meals every week. One evening I was sat on my phone scrolling through social media and noticed Sarah Barnes from one of my favourite blogs 'Taming Twins' had a HelloFresh haul on her Instastory. I've been interested to try HelloFresh for a while now and as she was giving out a really generous voucher code I thought 'why not?!' So I logged on to their website and signed us up. Dan and I picked 5 meals for the two of us and a few days before it arrived we chose our meals. I have to admit it was so difficult to pick just 5 as we wanted every single one, they all looked delicious! 

One of the things I was most interested in was how the box would arrive as we had chosen had lots of different meats and fish dishes which would surely need to be kept cold? As soon as the box arrived we both brought it into the kitchen to open it up and see what was inside. When we opened the box we were immediately put at ease as all the fridge goods were placed in a separate bag with the coldest cool packs to keep it nice and cold. The cool packs are just plain water so we've kept these and already used them again!

Looking through the box the first thing I noticed was how organised everything looked. Each meal came in a bag with a correlating colour to the recipe so all I had to do was pop all the brown bags on the side and put the cold items in the fridge and when I went to cook a recipe I just had to pick up the correct coloured labelled brown bag and get cooking.

Obviously I couldn't wait to give it a go so we started off with what has become one of our favourite meals Mexican Broth! All the ingredients were fresh and from local sources. I served up the mexican broth and to our delight we were immediately in food heaven. We've gone on to have this meal atleast 4 times since we tried it. It's so easy to make and full of flavour. I normally make a huge batch of this so that there are leftovers for lunches the next day.

Some of the meals we tried that week:
Mexican Broth
Gnocchi Bolognese wtih Cheesy Broccoli
Nutty Crusted Haddock with Roasted Carrots and Mash
Honey-Walnut Halloumi with Roasted Butternut and Broccoli
Prawn & Chorizo Spaghetti with Fresh Vine Tomatoes

What I loved most about HelloFresh was how there was absolutely no waste, if anything some of the meals were big enough for us to have as leftovers the next day.

It was really great to have this box to give us a bit of a shake up with dinners for a week. We'll definitely sign up again if we feel like we need a change.


Monday, 8 May 2017

First trimester for a first time Mum

I can't believe I'm in my second trimester, where has the time gone? During the 12 weeks of my first trimester the baby, also known as 'Blob' in our household, grew from the size of a poppy seed to a plum.

As a first time Mum I had no idea what to expect, although once we had announced we were pregnant we were automatically inundated with stories of our parents, grandparents and friends telling us all about their pregnancies so we had a little idea. It's lovely to hear everyone else's experiences but it's completely different going through it yourself. As soon as I found out I was pregnant I just expected that I would be sick every morning, want to sleep all day, strangle Dan, be uncomfortable, look like I had been dragged through a hedge backwards and eat EVERYTHING.

Now some of those are true but I have to say, I loved my first trimester! I was so lucky not to get any sickness, although I struggled quite a lot with nausea I was never actually sick, so I was incredibly lucky. I managed to work out when my nausea kicked in so I would take snacks around with me which helped immensely. Fatigue wasn't too bad, I did find that I would come home after work and need a bit of a cat nap before having dinner. As far as my mood and strangling Dan, nothing changed there...although Dan may say differently! As for food I found this was the biggest change for me, I completely went off of meat which became a bit of a pain. The thought of eating it or seeing it made me feel sick as a dog. Dan, bless him, soon got tired of jacket potatoes and vegetable soups as at that time it's all I could manage to eat. Other than the daily struggle to work out what I wanted to eat, I really enjoyed being pregnant.

Don't get me wrong, the first trimester had it's down moments. I don't think I ever fully relaxed as there is always that niggling voice in the back of my head to not get to carried away until the 12 week scan. Seeing our little 'Blob' with a healthy heart beat on the screen is one of the best moments of my life and at the same time is when I think I have let out the biggest sigh of relief. I'll be honest, I did have a moment just before my 12 week scan where I found I got completely overwhelmed, there are so many leaflets, appointments, blood tests, booklets and decisions that I didn't think I would have to think about until further down the line. I think this may have also been nerves in the run up to my scan but I'm so lucky to have Dan that's there to support me and tell me that no matter what we're in it together. As I suffer from PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome) it's meant that I'm being monitored a little more. I have regular urine tests, and at about 28 weeks I have to have a diabetes test which I'm a little worried about but I'm trying to pop it to the back of my mind.

Happily 'Blob' is doing really well, he/she has a healthy heart beat and all our tests came back clear so after that 12 week scan we've been on cloud nine. I instantly felt so much more relaxed as soon as I walked out of the ultrasound appointment clutching onto the photos of Blob. It's so hard to get your head around the fact your body has created a little baby with a heart beat, 10 fingers, 10 toes and a very cute button nose.

I'm now 22 weeks pregnant, Blob is the size of a coconut, I feel the size of a hippo and things are changing everyday but I'll save that for another blog post!

If you're expecting how are you finding your pregnancy? Any tips for a first time Mum?


Monday, 13 March 2017

A new chapter.

I can't believe I'm actually writing this......I'm pregnant! It feel so surreal to say that out loud now. I'm nearly 15 weeks and baby is the size of a pear with a healthy heart beat and two extremely in love parents. It's been the most amazing, scary and exciting 15 weeks of my life and I still don't think I've fully wrapped my head around it. I'll never forget the feeling seeing our little 'Blob' at our 12 week scan moving around and waving at us as we looked on in awe. So far my pregnancy has been going really well. Lots of nausea and fatigue but so far no sickness which I'm incredibly grateful for as I know some women can really struggle. I've started to feel little flutters, almost like I have a goldfish swimming around in my tummy. Everytime I feel 'Blob' my heart just wants to burst. We've still got a long way to go and I'm currently making my way through about 5 pregnancy books so hopefully I'll know what to expect over the next 5 months.

Blogging took a bit of a back seat this time last year in the lead up to the wedding, I really tried to blog but things got so hectic that the wedding planning almost became a full time job. I always said that after the wedding I would get back into it but shortly after our honeymoon we suffered a devastating fire at work so things were extremely stressful and hectic which has meant I haven't been able to give my blog the it the time it really needs.

In a way it's been nice though as I've been able to think about the direction I want to take my blog and the things I want to write about. I really don't want to put my blog into a category. I don't want to have to say I'm a specific blogger, whether that be a Food Blogger, Beauty Blogger or a Parent Blogger, I want to be a bit of everything. I'll obviously share my journey through my pregnancy as a first time Mum, my favourite recipes whether that be Slimming World or naughty treats, the odd review and what ever else takes my fancy. I'm hoping to put on my creative hat over the next week or so and give a little blog makeover as it's a little dated now.

I'm really excited for this next chapter in my life and I hope you enjoy the journey with me!


Sunday, 25 September 2016

Caketoppers Cupcakes Review

A few weeks ago the lovely Caketoppers got in touch with me to ask if I would like to try some of their personalised cupcakes, after a lot of thought I said 'Oh if I have too'....who am I kidding as soon as I got the email I replied within seconds! You all know I love cake and cupcakes in particular are my favourite so I was so excited to try their personalised cupcakes.

After a few days a cute little parcel landed on my doorstep and too my delight the cupcakes had arrived. I opened the box and two cupcakes were staring back at me both personalised with my 'Aimee Dot' logo. I always worry with things like this coming in the post as I've tried a few before that have been bashed around a little in the box but these were packaged so carefully that they arrived in perfect condition.

Now onto the fun bit, the taste. I couldn't wait to give these a try as they looked so good. I was so excited to see that I had been completely spoilt with a chocolate AND a vanilla cupcake. I had to cut these in half as I made the epic mistake of leaving these in the kitchen for Dan to see which meant I now had to share them with him. **Note to self, in future hide the delicious cupcakes from prying eyes.**

These really did taste amazing, they were so light and fluffy and the icing on top wasn't too sweet so it went perfectly with the sponge. My favourite was the vanilla which is so weird for me as I'm a huge chocolate cake/cupcake fan but the vanilla tasted so delicious.

I love things like this as it's such a perfect gift for anyone of any age, whether it's for their birthday, seasonal holiday or just to show someone that you care then I would highly recommend Caketoppers.

And to top it all off I have been given a discount code to share with you all that will allow you 10% off. All you need to do is add 'ADOT10' at the checkout.

Although the lovely Caketoppers sent me these gorgeous cupcakes, all the views I have expressed in this post are my own.

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

My Slimming World Story

Back in March last year I met up with my two best friends for celebration drinks to toast our engagements as all three of us were now engaged and getting married in 2016. We got together for an evening of drinks, food and lots of talk about weddings!! I don't even know how we got onto the subject but myself and Sophie started discussing how we wanted to lose weight but we didn't think that we would be able to by the time we got married. I had already signed up to Slimming World online for a month trial and although I was getting on with it I was useless at weighing in at home. My other friend Sally was going to the groups and was telling us how well she was doing and how she really recommended it. So by the end of the night Sophie and I had agreed to join a Slimming World that week!

I still remember the night we walked into our local Slimming World group, both nervous and no idea what to expect. Whenever people talk about Weight Loss groups you expect lots of mature ladies all sat around like an AA group confessing to the naughty food they have eaten that week, lots of clapping and someone knitting in the corner. This was nothing like that! There were ladies and gents of all ages cheering each other on, swapping recipes, food tastings, celebrating each others losses and if anyone didn't get the results they wanted they all came together to support that person. You got a real sense that you were becoming a part of a team.

After the meeting was over we stepped on the scales. I was completely shocked by my weight. I weighed 14 stone 9 pounds....which I'm embarrassed to say wasn't my biggest. As I previously said I joined online in January (on another 'New Years Resolution to lose weight') and weighed in at over 15 stone. I couldn't believe I had let myself get that big. I've never been 'skinny', for want of a better word, I've always had curves which I love. When I met Dan I weighed about 10 and a half stone and was comfortable with how I looked. I was never 100% happy with my body but then who is?!

Then came the biggest task, setting my goal weight. I discussed this with my new leader Ness and she told me not to worry too much about it as I could re-set this at any point, so with that being said I just picked the first number that came into my head...11 stone. I remember going home and talking to Dan about my goal weight and how I thought it was never going to happen in a million years let alone a year and a half but I was so determined to at least give it a go. I studied my books that night, joined our Slimming World Facebook group, set a meal plan and ordered a food shop full of speed food and Slimming World friendly foods to be delivered the next day.

The first week went really quickly and having done it online already I had a rough idea of what to do. Although I will say the diet is better explained when you go to group than it is online. Having the books, Facebook group and my leaders number there to text or message if I need help is absolutely priceless. My first weigh in came around so quickly! I joined the queue ready to weigh in and my brain went into overdrive. Did I eat the right food? Did I have enough Speed Food? Will I have lost any weight? So I stepped on the scales and to my delight I lost 3 lbs. Ever since then the weight slowly but surely started to come off me. Weighing in still continued to be a daunting prospect but that nervous feeling gave me such determination throughout the week to stick to the diet and do the best I could to get the results I wanted on the scales. Having one of my best friends with me really helped. She would text me for moral support when I needed it, let me know of any good recipes to try out or send me great low syn treats!

By week 4 I had reached my half a stone award which I just couldn't believe, then week seven I got my stone award. From then on the weight just dropped off me. Now I'm not saying it was a walk in the park. There were times when I just wanted to pop to the shops, head towards the chocolate aisle and binge on chocolate but I didn't. I think having an end goal is what kept me going. I kept picturing myself on my wedding day and kept thinking I didn't want to look back at my wedding photos in 10 years time and wish I had looked different. People go to Slimming World for all sorts of reasons, health, fitting into a wedding dress or getting ready for a holiday. Whatever the reason is you have to do it for yourself and be 100% committed to your end target, whatever it is.

The months went on and slowly but surely managed to lose the weight. Slimming World never felt like a chore it just became a part of my day to day living. I enjoyed the recipes, the fresh fruit and vegetables and all the naughty syns when I wanted, obviously staying within my daily limit!

I seemed to get into a routine with my diet. I would sit down on a Sunday evening, read through the Slimming World magazines and do a meal plan for the week this would stop us getting in after work and discovering there was nothing to eat on the fridge and reaching for the takeaway menus. Planning ahead really seemed to work for us. We would then do our food shop online, which I know sounds incredibly lazy but it meant we didn't stray down the chocolate aisle in the shops!!

The best bit was planning my syns. There are so many choices and a great way to find new things is instagram. I got so many ideas for low syn treats from there, Twisters, chocolate weetabox muffins and curly wurlys are all great treats.

I really got into cooking again. I loved coming home and spending time in the kitchen putting together a home cooked dinner. Not all the meals took ages to make. Some of the recipes I found took 20 minutes to put together, others took a little longer and some were even made up the night before.

By November 2015, just 8 months after I had joined, I reached my target of 11 stone. I still remember that feeling. I never thought that I would get to that weight let alone then have the time to lose more. I then went on to lose another 12lbs bringing my weight on my wedding day down to 10 stone 2lbs.

On the day of our wedding I felt a million dollars and that's all thanks to Slimming World. Without Slimming World I wouldn't have fit into the dress of my dreams or had the confidence on the day of our wedding to stand there in front of all our family and friends and marry the love of my life!
I will always recommend Slimming World to anyone that is thinking of losing weight. It's a great way to lose the weight without feeling you're on a diet. I've gone from 14 stone 9lbs to 10 stone 2lbs and I honestly couldn't be happier with the results. That's 4 and a half stone loss in 15 months!

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