Win A Squirrel Play Wooden Coffee Machine

Having 3 children on the autism spectrum means we have always placed a heavy focus on functional toys, toys that you can learn from and especially toys that encourage role play. My 3 struggle with role play and the concept of shared play. So we have a whole host of toys for this purpose and any play we can get the children to engage in is a positive. 
The Squirrel Play range from Smyths Toys provide the perfect choices for imaginative and learning based play. A stunning range of wooden toys that have been designed and crafted with little ones in mind. They are brightly coloured and the range spans from little wooden cars to a 100 piece train table. If you are shopping for a preschooler you can't go wrong with the Squirrel toy range, they have something for all budgets too.
I have teamed up with Smyths Toys to offer one of the lucky readers the chance to win the fab Squirrel Play Wooden Coffee Machine.

The set includes wooden toy coffee maker, 2 mugs, 3 felt coffee pods, 2 spoons, milk, and a sugar bowl
 Use the colourful pods to make delicious pretend coffee. This real-life coffee machine will let your little ones feel like they are making real coffee. The lid opens and closes, dial turns, and button can be pushed, so the perfect interactive play toy.

For your chance to win this prize courtest of Smyths Toys just enter via the Gleam widget below, please do read the terms and conditions before entering.
Wooden coffee machine
Terms & Conditions.         

1. One prize for one winner.
2. Winners email will be sent to PR who will arrange delivery.
3. Competition ends Midnight 19/09/18.
4. Incomplete entries will be disqualified.
5. UK entries only.


Weekly Weigh In 5

One thing I know from previous attempts to lose weight is when I fall off the wagon I struggle to get myself back on again. Coming off the back of a 1.5 gain last week I knew I needed to be on point. I started the week fully on plan and made sure I tracked what I ate and kept my water intake up. I discovered the Tetley cold brew teas and fell in love, I don't mind plain water, but having it taste of a little something is perfect, plus its caffeine free! 

At the weekend I fell off the wagon a little, but I was really proud of the fact I didn't binge, which I would normally do. I over synned on both weekend days though, massively, but I was still accountable for my syns, even if they were massively over. I even had a kebab on Saturday night and synned it. For me its all about being in control, so even though I went off the rails I still made my self-accountable by writing it in my food diary. Seeing it written down and how much you have gone over helps me and prevents me from doing it again.

So this week I was hoping to scrape a maintain but was fully expecting a gain, but I actually still lost half a pound! Bringing me to 8lbs lost in total. I'm ploughing on ahead now for that stone award and hope to have it in 2 weeks. Its only 6lb away so it's completely do able! I have already pre-purchased my next countdown and I activate my 12-week countdown at weigh in on Monday night. I would love to lose 3lb every week of my countdown, that would be an amazing 36lb! 

As usual I have written a meal plan and I am loving cooking out of the new Take 5 recipe book, all of the dishes are so simple, we tried the cauliflower chicken tikka curry last week and it was so nice. I have 3 meals planned out of the book this week to so I will let you know how they go.

See You Next Week
Mandy 

Anti-Aging Options for Forehead and Under Eye Wrinkles

There are numerous cosmetic treatments and procedures available to help rejuvenate the face. The eye area and forehead especially are prone to sagging skin and wrinkles due to aging. This leaves a sad, tired, and even angry appearance at times. A brow lift or eyelid surgery can fix these problems and give you a desirable aesthetic outcome. Brow and eye lifts can help you look more youthful by brightening your eyes. Before deciding on these procedures, it's important to understand the facts and benefits of both. Below are some answers to the most common questions regarding a brow lift or blepharoplasty.

What Is Blepharoplasty? (Eyelid Surgery)
Drooping skin around the eye area may not only be unattractive but can interfere with your vision. Blepharoplasty is an eyelid surgery procedure that will rejuvenate the face by removing excess fat and skin in the upper and lower eyelids. Generally, the procedure is separated into lower or upper blepharoplasty, although, many patients prefer to have both surgeries done at the same time. Your plastic surgeon will remove the excess fat and adjust the muscle tissue to achieve a youthful appearance to the eyes.

Good Candidates For Blepharoplasty
To be a good candidate for blepharoplasty, you should have excess sagging skin in the upper or lower eyelids. Those with hooded eyes where their vision is partially blocked are also excellent candidates. Eyelid surgery is very straightforward, involves light sedation, and takes only 30 minutes. Recovery only takes about a week for the bruising and swelling to go down with little pain. Your surgeon will remove stitches shortly after that.

What Is A Brow Lift?
A brow lift addresses the wrinkles and sagging areas of the upper face. There is a difference in male and female eyebrows, so it's vital you choose an experienced professional who knows how to raise them appropriately. An eyebrow lift can be done using an endoscopic approach or through a modification of the coronal lift technique. An eyebrow lift will result in the forehead lying smoother and the brows appearing lifted naturally.

Good Candidates For Brow Lift Surgery
Good candidates for a brow lift are those who have excess skin that extends beyond the corner of your eyes. The natural shape of your eyebrows is another indicator. If they are flat or the end is lower than the central portion of the brow, a lift will restore the youthful arch. Aging can also lead to upper eyelid hooding, and a brow lift can reverse this. During a brow lift, a cosmetic surgeon will create small incisions above the brow to tighten and lift the skin above the eyes. Some individuals may benefit by undergoing a brow lift and eyelid surgery at the same time if they have both hooded eyes and drooping eyebrows.

Most physicians agree that a blepharoplasty and brow lift surgery is entirely safe. Most of the risks are cosmetic results where the brows may appear asymmetrical. Significant risks may include nerve damage, infection, and bleeding which are rare.

Are There Non-Surgical Alternatives?
While surgery is your best option, you may be able to enhance the appearance of your eyes by:
  • Using sunscreen and moisturizer regularly
  • Refraining from smoking and drinking alcohol
  • Using chemical peels
  • Dermal fillers
BOTOX Cosmetic is a popular option to raise the brows non-surgically. BOTOX relaxes the muscles that pull the corner of the eyebrow down. Dermal fillers can make a patient look they have had a surgical lift, while others only produce subtle changes.

If you are considering an upper face rejuvenation procedure, contact The Glasgold Group for an informative consultation. Based in New Jersey, The Glasgold Group specializes in facelifts, neck lifts, eyelid surgery, fat transfer, and injectable fillers. Dr. Glasgold believes that rejuvenating the face is both a science and an art.

*This Is A Guest Post

3 Great Budgeting Strategies to Try This Year

We all know that budgeting is a great way to get control over our financial situation.

Unfortunately, budgeting plans don't always work straight away. Whether it's an unrealistic goal holding you back, or simply a poor strategy, the most important thing to remember about money management is that everyone can regain good financial health, all they need to do is find the right plan.

The way you handle your money will depend on numerous things, including where you are in life, what your current goals are, and what your income looks like. Remember, there's no one-size-fits-all budgeting strategy.

Here are a few options that you can try if your first attempt at budgeting doesn't work out.

1. The Envelope System
The envelope system is probably one of the most popular, and well-known budgeting strategies out there today, but it's also one of the most effective. With the envelope system, you simply do most of your spending using cash. You can set your monthly mills like your mortgage and utilities to come out of your bank account automatically, but every day spends like grocery shopping and clothing purchases come from cash only.

The cash envelopes system works well for people who are already in debt and need to figure out how to control their spending. It's all too easy to over spend when all you need to do is flash a contactless card or type in a pin number, because you don't see the cash physically leaving your possession.

Sorting the exact amount of cash you have each month into envelopes for different spending requirements also means that you're less likely to overspend and dip into your savings. When you only have a certain amount of cash to use whenever you spend, you're likely to be more careful about how and when you choose to buy things.

2. Digital Budgeting
If you're a tech savvy person, then you might be attracted to a budgeting strategy that helps you to make the most of your smart phone and computer. With a digital budgeting strategy, you decide at the start of each month how you want to spend your cash. This means that you initially take the "must have" expenses out of your wages, like rent and gas bills, then sort the remaining money into categories like "entertainment", "clothes" and "savings"

There are apps available online where you can allocate certain amounts towards each expense, then track the money that comes out of your bank account to see whether you're keeping yourself on the right track. The great thing about digital budgeting is that it allows you to keep highly accurate records of your spending. The more you learn about your spending habits, the easier it is to change them.

Keep in mind that some budgeting apps are free, while others can be quite expensive. Check your options carefully before you commit to anything. If digital budgeting isn't right for you, you can still manage your money in a similar way without the apps. Simply set aside a certain portion of your cash for savings, bills, and expenses each month, and use bank statements and regular mini-statements to track your expenses. The idea is to make sure you're as informed as possible about your financial situation.

3. The Multi-Bank Strategy
The multi-bank budgeting strategy is a lot like the envelope system - only more secure. It asks you to separate your money into different bank accounts depending on how you're going to use it. For instance, you start with a single over-arching bank account where all your monthly wages go into. You can also use this initial bank account to pay essential bills that can automatically withdraw money each month.

Once you've finished paying for all your bills (hopefully in the first week of the month). You pay yourself a certain amount of cash into different bank accounts. For instance, you might send 20% of your remaining income to an account dedicated to savings, and 30% into an account that's for entertainment, clothes, and other irregular expenses.

Some people have even more bank accounts set up to help them pay for essentials like food shopping. It's important to make sure that if you're taking this route, you know how many accounts your bank is comfortable with you having at any given time. It will also be useful to set up online banking, so you can keep track of your balance in every account. Make sure you talk to your bank about setting up an account with the best returns for your savings too.
Thanks For Reading

*This is a guest post

Win Googly Eyes With University Games

I mentioned there would be 2 giveaways from University Games and here it is. The hilarious Googly Eyes is a game for the whole family to enjoy. This is definitely going to one of our family boxing day games this Christmas.
Hilarious drawing game that challenges your vision and leaves you googling for more! Put on the zany, vision-altering google eye glasses and start to draw while your team tries to guess what you’re drawing. Is that an igloo or a turtle? A birthday cake or a fortress? Take turns drawing and guessing, so everyone gets a chance to wear the glasses. A fun game that lets players of different ages and skill levels compete on equal terms since the goggles make it fun and challenging for everyone. Suitable for ages 7+ and up to 4 players.
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For your chance to win this fab game, just enter via the widget below (reload the page if it doesn't appear) None of the entry options are mandatory, enter as many or as few as you like. There are daily options available so make sure you come back every day to claim them, shares on social media are always welcome too, just hit the share buttons at the bottom of the post. Do read the terms and conditions before entering.
googly eyes

Terms & Conditions.         
1. One prize for one winner.
2. Winners email will be sent to PR who will arrange delivery.
3. Competition ends 13/09/18.
4. Incomplete entries will be disqualified.
5. UK entries only.

Weekly Weigh In 4

I headed in for my weekly weigh in on Monday evening as I always do. If you read last weeks post you will know I was heading for weigh in off the back of a 10-day hospital stay.

I found it pretty easy to stick to breakfast and lunch slimming world style whilst in, but as dinner time rolled around I found options rather limited. Well unless I wanted jacket potato every day. As I was alone once Miss S was asleep there was nobody there to save me from my greedy self and tell me not to eat the chocolate! But on the whole for 10 days 50/50 on plan, I was pretty pleased with how it went. I definitely think that keeping breakfast and lunch on plan 100% helped reduce my inevitable gain this week.

I headed into weigh and was pleasantly surprised with just a 1.5lb gain. I had in my head that anything less than 2 was a win in my book. I stayed for group, I always do, I don't see the point in going if you're not going to stay. I find image therapy a massive help, its a chance to hear recipe idea, have a chat, a giggle and find out how everyone is doing. 

I'm relieved to be home and able to eat well again and actually eat from my own fridge. I have the new Take 5 cookbook that I won a few weeks back and it is packed full of some fab recipes I can't wait to try.

My aim for this week would be a 3lb loss, I have my meals planned and no going anywhere significant so keeping on the plan should be easy.
This Weeks Result = +1.5lb
Total Weight Loss = 7.5lbs


See You Next Week
Mandy

Win Bunny Jump From University Games

I've teamed up with University Games to give one of my lucky blog readers the chance to win the fab Bunny Jump. If you have a birthday coming up it would make the ideal gift, or if you are crazy like me and have made a start on your Christmas shopping then it would be perfect for putting in the gift cupboard.
Safely sitting on top of his burrow, the Bunny watches his carrot field. Pull out the carrots, but be careful not to frighten him! Stay focused and be ready to catch him when he jumps in the air! Be the player who’s collected the most carrots when the game ends. Suitable for ages 5+ for between 2 and 4 players.
For your chance to win this fab game, just enter via the widget below (reload the page if it doesn't appear) None of the entry options are mandatory, enter as many or as few as you like. There are daily options available so make sure you come back every day to claim them, shares on social media are always welcome too, just hit the share buttons at the bottom of the post. Do read the terms and conditions before entering.
Terms & Conditions.         
1. One prize for one winner.
2. Winners email will be sent to PR who will arrange delivery.
3. Competition ends 13/09/18.
4. Incomplete entries with be disqualified.
5. UK entries only.

Back To School Guide 2018

I can't believe its only a few weeks until the children go back to school, these holidays have flown by. We actually started on the back to school supplies in the 2nd week of the holidays, when you are buying for 4, 2 of which are in high school it can be expensive! It's not just uniforms and shoes though, there's lunch bags, backpacks, stationery and coats! I've been working with a few brands and they have sent us over some back to school supplies that you might need September.
Sushi Lunch Boxes - Find Me A Gift - £6.99
This year will be the first year that Miss S will be having packed lunches, she hates her food to be touching so these sushi lunch boxes from Find Me A Gift are perfect. The stack neatly inside each other for great space saving when not in use. I love the bright and funky sushi design and the 3 different sizes are perfect for putting her snacks and main lunch in. They are hand wash only, so not to mar their cute design.
Hedrin All In One Shampoo - £9.99
In the primary year's headlice can be a nightmare, we have been quite lucky and only had to deal with them once or twice. Hedrin all in one shampoo kills lice in just 10 minutes. It's so gentle that you can actually use it as part of your daily bath routine. Its allergy certified, gentle and doesn't have a strong nasty odour. Hedrin all in one shampoo doesn't contain pesticides, so lice cant build up a resistance and it works every time.
Kleenex Pocket Packs - £1.50
Most definitely a coat pocket essential for Mums and kids this back to school season. For us Mums its to wipe away the tears of sadness as our little ones start school for the first time, or in my case the tears of joy that the long 6 weeks holidays are finally over. For the kids, it's for those inevitable snotty noses and colds that they seem to catch from October through to February. You can't go wrong with a pocket pack stashed in their pocket, they and you will never be caught short. 
 Biocare Back To School Essentials - From £16.95
BioCare have put together a Back to School survival kit for the whole family to make those morning errands that little bit easier by supporting your immunity, encouraging relaxation and giving you the energy boost needed to make you feel you can tackle anything. The BioCare Children's Red Berry BioMelts are delicious, natural red berry flavoured powder melts and come as individual sachets of unique live bacteria with vitamin D. The Children's Complete Complex (Multinutrient) is a comprehensive vitamin and mineral formula for children in a pleasant tasting, easy to use powder form. Suitable from 6 months of age and ideal for young children, this product easily mixes into milk, juice, yoghurt or pureed foods is dairy-free and formulated with the intolerant individual in mind. Methyl Multinutrient is a superior, high potency multivitamin, mineral and antioxidant complex, providing nutrients in metabolically active, bioavailable forms. Methyl Multinutrient contains folate as methylfolate or 5-MTHF. 5-MTHF is the natural form of folate found in food such as leafy green vegetables and is already active and ready for the body to use. NT Complex is a unique, high potency combination of L-theanine, lemon balm, chamomile, lavender, magnesium taurate and B-vitamins to support a balanced nervous system.
Magical Sequin Notebook - Find Me A Gift - £7.99
I love a good notebook, as a Mum of 4 and a blogger I live by to do lists. I love how tactile the outside of this notebook is and I'm not convinced that Miss S will try and steal it from me if I don't hide it well enough. There are 80 pages inside and each page has a mermaid tail at the bottom and the lines are wavy, like the waves in the sea.
Huggies Wipes - £1
My youngest child maybe 7 years old but we still use wipes on a daily basis. You can guarantee once everyone is washed, fed and dressed for school that someone will spill something, not have washed to toothpaste from around their mouth or have a dirty coat! I do love wipes, perfect all-round family cleaner!
Nims Kids Fruit Crisp - 89p
If like me you have a child who is mad on crips then you will appreciate this healthy alternative. Miss S is a crispoholic and isn't that keen on fruit. Nims have the same crunch as a potato crisp, minus the salt, oil, artificial flavours and preservatives. They are basically thinly sliced fruit that's been aired dry. The full fruit is used as Nims have a zero waste policy, so they are packed full of fibre and vitamins, plus at 50 calories per bag, they are a good all-round choice for pack lunch bags this term. 
Personally Presented - Personalised Backpack - £17.49
A backpack is an essential part of any back to school kit, but you find that all the children tend to have the same backpack. Its easy for their bag to get lost in a crowd. This personalised backpack is the perfect antidote to that, it's bold and bright. You can have the backpack personalised with up to 12 characters of your choice. The rainbow motif is super cute and it's a really roomy backpack.
Smiggle - Prices From £12.50
Show me a child who doesn't get excited when they walk past the Smiggle store, it's so bright and inviting. They have all your back to school needs covered. From scented pencils to lunch bags, the children are chuffed to ribbons with this little haul. The 2 youngest boys are arguing over the pencil case already! Miss S is excited to use her new double layer lunch bag loads of room for all her snack selections too.
They aren't going to get their pencils mixed up with these beauties from Gift Pup. You can have them personalised with your child's name in a lovely golden text. A full set of their own colours in every colour of the rainbow. These would also make a lovely birthday or Christmas gift.
 Silver Water Bottle - £12.99
The children are encouraged to take water bottles into school. I love this silver named bottle for Mr C. He can use it with the sports cap and take it to school and he can use it with the screw lid and clip for when he goes to his Beavers group. With his name on it hes not going to lose it or get it mixed up. Saves the environment to by not using plastic bottles.
These are the perfect go-to snack and each bag has a 40g serving of 6 soft apricots. They are low fat and ideal for sending for the kids break time snack. They are in bags so ideal for popping into their coat pocket for them to grab out. They are so soft and juicy and fit perfectly into our school healthy snacking policy.
These are a fab option for getting some fruit and veggies into your reluctant little ones. With fruit and vegetable options availble there is plenty of choice. The crunchy red apple where a hit in our house and Miss S demoished them. I can see them being a lunch box staple for her. Bonus being she doesnt see them as any different to normal potato crisps.
Thanks For Reading
Mandy
XX
*This post features press samples

Weekly Weigh In 1, 2 & 3

After a long spell away and attempting to do Slimming World from home I admitted defeat and hauled my slightly larger ass back to class! From the moment I stepped through the door, I felt like I was at home again. Its such a lovely sized group and some of the lovely ladies are still there. I always loved Mondays when I was at Slimming World as it was my 90 minutes of the week with no kids, no chores and time with a lovely group of people all in the same boat working towards to same end goal.

I am about to go for my 4th weigh in on Monday, so thought I would catch you up on how the previous 3 weeks have gone for me. As I've been on the plan before I already know the drill and did a big shop, rid the house of syns and made a meal plan. This is something I have always done its a great money saver. I also find that it helps to keep me on plan as I know exactly what I'm eating and when.

In previous Slimming World attempts, I was quite rigid, I never used all of my syns, I only ate carbs once a day and I never synned food, my syns were for actual treats not meals. This time I decided to scrap my ridioulos restrictions, the point of Slimming World is that it is easy to follow. So for my first week, I concentrated on sticking to plan, making sure that a 3rd of my plate was full of speed and using my syns for whatever I needed. I used al 15 of my syns every day, drank 3 litres of water per day and tried to be active for a good portion of the day. My first weigh in resulted in a 5lb loss and I was chuffed to bits.

Week 2, I stuck to the same as the previous week, I did over syn on 2 of those days, not by much but it was all written down so I can be accountable. I definitely find that writing things down helps me, I literally write as I eat it. I didn't have as much water as the week before, but week 2 still brought a 4lb loss, I was happy with 9lb in 2 weeks. 

Week 3 came around and I was stuck in the hospital with Miss S, I was actually headed there straight from the end of weigh in on week 2. I don't think week 3 would have been a fantastic result, eating in a hospital is tricky. The ward provided me with breakfast each morning, which was Slimming World friendly. Lunch was salads from M&S and Subway. it was always dinner where I came unstuck as the choice was limited after 5pm. To be honest with the stress of being in the hospital all day trying to make Miss S drink a putrid bowel cleanser sticking to plan was the last thing on my mind. So in hind site, I am glad I couldn't go as we were still in the hospital. We were allowed home from the hospital on Wednesday after a long 10-day stay and I have been bang on plan since then. I am doing 4 days on SP before I head to week 4 weigh in on Monday. I am hoping that the SP will help counterbalance the bad and maybe means I can scrape a maintain for week 4. This means I can power on for a 4lb loss in week 5 and get my stone award. Then I can add it to the fridge with this!
Thanks For Reading
Mandy
xx

Life Update

My regular followers may have noticed I haven't been seen for the past 3 months! Life got a little bit hectic and when you're spinning plates something has to fall and it always tends to be the blog as it's easiest! I mean I can't drop one of the kids lol. Things have settled and we are finally back into a good routine so I have some time to carry on with my blog!

I have spent most of the past 3 months homeschooling Mr D, after a 3 year battle with his school we came to the decision that that school wasn't the best place for him. He was just 9 short weeks away from completing year 6, but as it was at the time him being in school was damaging his mental health and making his anxiety so much worse, so we pulled him out.

Homeschooling didn't come easily if you throw in balancing life, a house, other kids and a boy whos educational confidence was rock bottom it was tough. I think me and him both were relieved when the summer holidays came around and we could call it a day! He is now enjoying his free time until he starts high school in September. We have chosen for him to go to the same school as Mr L, as he has made amazing progress since starting there 3 years ago, so we hope the same for Mr D. 

Mr L is going into year 10 and GCSE terrority, scary to think that we have to start thinking about colleges etc this year! I have no idea at all how we are going to jump that hurdle! There is going to be some big changes for him going back next month as his whole care team is changing and he's not happy about it. We will do as we alwys do and deal with issues as they arrive, we just need to teach him to do the same!

Scarily it was also time to make a high school choice for Miss S, we made the decision to move her to the local specialist high school. She has attended her current school since she was 4 years old and it's going to be a big transition if she gets a place. We think it will be a good change for her though and for the first time ever we will actually be able to take her to school ourselves as it is within walking distance of our new house. Its rated good by Ofsted to and it all seems positive, so fingers crossed.

Mr C has enrolled in the local scout group and loves it, he has even done his first camp away from home and stayed away for 2 nights. He starts in KS2 in September, my youngest child is going into juniors, he will be leaving before we know it too.

Mr RTR has a new job, he finally got tired of the ridiculous conditions he was made to work in and resigned. He went straight into a new job which he loves, its nights so I only see him 2 nights a week now, but he loves it, so that's what matters. As for me working in the conventional sense is not an option with 4 kids and 3 different schools, add in doctors visits, school phone calls and early collections my place is at home. We are fortunate that Mr RTR job pays enough for us to survive on one income, but I needed something for me apart from my blog, some real human interaction. Thanks to his new job I have been able to rejoin my local Slimming World! I have missed it so much, his old job meant I couldn't make the meeting time. He now starts at 10pm, so I can actually go. I am 3 weeks in and 9lbs down already, but I will update you on that separately and I will be sharing what I eat in a day vlogs and of course the weekly weigh-in posts.

I think I have covered all my 3-month absence, I am currently sat on a hospital camp bed, its out 8th night here and we go home tomorrow! I never thought I would miss the madhouse, but I can't wait to go home. I will update you on details of our stay soon.

Its good to be back, I hope you loyal readers have stuck around, do leave me a comment below and let me know your still here!
Thanks For Reading
Mandy
xx
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