It’s taken me a while (understatement of the year) to get this blog post up as I ummed and ahhed about whether to do it or not. This is probably more of quick recap of our time in Croatia rather than a ‘review’ so to speak. I do feel like holidays are so person specific that you can’t possibly please everyone (reason 101 why I should not spend hours on Trip Advisor) for example; something that I find really important in a holiday may have no relevance to someone else. However I have had a lot of questions about where we stayed in Croatia since I obviously instagramed the hell out of our first family holiday so I thought I would share a few details for those who have asked.

We stayed at the TUI Family Life Bellevue Resort in Rabac, Croatia. We chose Croatia because I’ve heard amazing things (the scenery did not disappoint!) and because the flight is just under 2 hours from Manchester! We booked through Thompson, something we had never done before. I am obsessed with booking holidays, it genuinely becomes a full time job and I research for hours, days, weeks and months. In the past I’ve always booked our hotel, flights and transfers separately so to book a package holiday was a new experience for me. Danny and I have only visited one all inclusive hotel before which we both hated . . (Okay it was just me who hated it). In all honesty I’ve never seen the appeal of eating in the same place every night as I love getting dressed up and going out on holiday (as it’s such a rarity at home). However with a 9 month in tow we figured AI would be our best bet as it meant no cooking or cleaning (if we did self catered) and as Evie does mostly BLW we thought it would be easy to eat from the buffet and also the added benefit of it being a family life hotel meant we weren’t worried about making a mess or being nosey at meal times! 

As it got closer to our holiday we became slightly sceptical as this was a brand new hotel and the opening had been delayed by a few weeks so when we arrived it had only been open for 10 days. I stupidly joined a Facebook group as I wanted to keep up to date with what was going on however it was just a page for everyone to vent their anger and issues which in turn worried me even more so I quickly unfollowed that group! Thankfully when we arrived apart from a few expected teething problems everything was pretty much perfect! The hotel was stylish and modern, the location was stunning and the staff were lovely especially with Evie! 

I’m not sure whether I’m a knitpicker (Danny would say yes) or that these issues we faced would annoy everyone but there was a shortage of highchairs so every mealtime became a bit stressful! We had to hover near someone who looked like they were about to leave in hope we could swipe their highchair which became extremely tedious by the 4th day. I know it was only the second week of them being open but you would think with it being a family life hotel they would have expected a lot of kids!? Also we stayed in the main reception block which was brand new (beautiful stylish and very modern) but their was only ONE lift in a block of 6 floors. Again, a family life hotel where the majority of people are bound to have prams and strollers and there was ONE lift!? Seems absolutely crazy to me! On a few occasions we ended up lugging a 22lb baby, a changing bag, a stroller and inflatables up 5 flights of stairs as the queue for the lift was ridiculous. Hopefully they will be able to address these issues as you do have to give them the benefit of doubt with it being such a new hotel. 

At the hotel there were so many day beds as well as regular sun beds which I think made our holiday so much easier with Evie. Her and Danny spent a lot of time napping (winning at life when Daddy day care takes place in the shade and I can sunbathe) which meant we didn’t have to try to get her to nap in the pram very much.

We honestly had such a wonderful first family holiday and I really want to return to Croatia as it was so so beautiful! I hope this answers any questions I’ve had but please do feel free to drop me a comment or message on Instagram and I will get back to you. 

Ella’s Kitchen 10 month goodies

We are huge fans of Ella’s Kitchen here in the Manchester household. As I’ve mentioned before; weaning Evie was one of the most daunting things I’ve ever done. Mostly because I didn’t have a clue where to start, what to do? How much? How often? Plus the fact your baby has just drank milk for 6 month so moving onto solids is scary! So when I came across the Ella’s Kitchen app and their Veg for Victory campaign it helped me massively! It had a plan of action and a ‘structure’ so to speak plus it was full of information which is exactly what I needed! Once I found my feet and I felt confident in what I was doing then we were away and weaning became so much fun! I genuinely believe focusing on veggies in the beginning has played a massive part in Evie’s weaning journey and she is now pretty open to all foods and enjoys the majority of things which in turn makes my life a lot easier.

Ella’s Kitchen recently sent us some new goodies to try out now Evie that has hit the 10 month mark as this coincides with their products going up a stage. Their 10 month meals have a lot more texture to them and are bigger in size and the snacks are also aimed at babies age and their development. For example the melty puffs (which have always been a massive hit with Eves) now come as melty hoops which are a lot smaller and encourage babies to start using the ‘pincer grip’ to pick up food.

We also received a chicken casserole, cheesy pasta, tomato-y pasta and cottage pie. As Evie has gotten older wherever possible I do try to give her whatever we are having for dinner (or a similar variation) but these meals are so handy to have in the house for when you just don’t have time to whip up a full meal. Sometimes you walk through the door at 5pm and Eves has the patience of a pea when it comes to being hungry (I do wonder where she gets that from . . ) so I need something super quick but still healthy! The thing I love about Ella’s Kitchen is there are no hidden nasties and the ingredients are clearly labelled on the back. Also they send their products in the best brightly coloured boxes full of shredded paper which Evie thinks is just the best thing ever.

Evie’s 10 month ‘update’

It’s hit me like a tonne of bricks this week. Ten months old. It feels like some sort of milestone because it’s double figures? Not only that but she’s come on leaps and bounds within the space of 4 weeks. Now its all ‘is she crawling yet?’, ‘When do you go back to work?’, ‘Is she talking much?’ And I’ve entered panic mode. Panicking that I go back to work in 8 weeks . . . am I soaking up every second of her?, are we having enough fun?, is she stimulated enough?, will she miss me?, will she remember me? . . You know all the normal daily crazy Mum thoughts. Of course she’ll remember me but from being with her for (pretty much) every single day for a whole year to suddenly handing her over to a stranger at nursery is a daunting thought. But for now I’m going to try and focus on the present and not the future. We will cherish every day and when we get to the next hurdle that’s when we will overcome it. There’s no point wasting today worrying about tomorrow!

We have entered 10 months old with 4 teeth! We’ve gone from none to 4 in the space of a few weeks; 3 on the bottom and one on the top. I won’t lie we didn’t even realise she had 3 bottom teeth, we just felt them one day and there they were, 3 little toothy pegs. But that top tooth. Wow. You my friend are a little bitch (in the voice of Kim from Kim and Aggy of course). You hear people talk about teething but when you experience it first hand it really does make for hard work. Thankfully we are out of it now and she’s back to her sassy little self . . Until the next one makes an appearance!

We have started to move! Finally! My little lazy lady has started to finally shift her bottom and make her way round the room. She’s not crawling yet but she is doing this hysterical bum shuffle roll and shimmy Lara Croft style to get from one side of the room to the other. I’m not exactly encouraging her to crawl because let’s face it once she starts moving she’ll have my life. All in your own time little one, there’s no rush.

If you watch my Instagram stories you will see she’s become quite the dancer. Not so much moves like Jagger but more like moves like Mummy (after a wine). She’s an absolute hoot and has us (and everyone else around her) in hysterics every time she does it. I honestly don’t know where she gets her rhythm from.

We are still being very screechy. Think high pitched. Think loud shrieks. Think sore throat roars. However we’ve started to actually ‘chat’ a lot more and Dada is still her favourite word. But it’s okay baby because we save the best till last don’t we and when you say Mama we will shout it from the rooftops!!

Don’t get me wrong when I see a squishy little newborn I get all sorts of broody however I adore her at this age. She’s so much fun, so responsive, so cheeky, so smiley, so mischievious and just a proper little character. 

Evie’s holiday wardrobe

Long gone are the days where I am obsessing over my holiday outfits months in advance. It’s now all about Evie! I was panic buying clothes for myself 2 days before we flew as I really didn’t give it a second thought until I began to pack. Whereas Evie’s holiday wardrobe had been building since March! I thought I would do a little blog post on her holiday essentials and outfits.

(Hat from Sunshine and Shade, costume from Monsoon)(Towel hoodie from Baby Gap)(Costume from Monsoon)(Sunsuit fromHatley)

(Top from Zara, sandals from Baby Gap, shorts from Matalan)

 (Jumpsuit from Primark)

(Dress from Zara)

(Dress from Zara)

(Dress from Next)

The things they don’t tell you about

So it’s 26th September 2016 and we have had our tiny little human being that belongs to us in our lives for two whole weeks. Two weeks of crying every day with happiness (me and Danny), two weeks of floating on cloud 9, two weeks of feeling utterly blessed and surprisingly two weeks of feeling confident. I felt like I was born to do this, it came naturally to me and I didn’t feel these ‘baby blues’ that people spoke of! The general rule of thumb is that the baby blues hits you a few days after getting out of hospital however I felt nothing but sheer joy. That was until I woke up near enough two weeks to the day after giving birth and BAM I was hit with all emotions you could ever contemplate feeling all at once. Sadness, happiness, fear, jealousy, anger, love. All at once. I freaked out big time. I cried non stop for 48 hours. I genuinely believed I had post natal depression as I could not stop crying and I couldn’t see how I would ever stop crying. My mind was hazy and I couldn’t think properly. I constantly worried I was going to drop Evie or fall down the stairs holding her and I couldn’t watch the news because every time I saw something I immediately thought it was going to happen to my baby.

At the time I couldn’t see how I was ever going to overcome these feelings, they were such strong thoughts and emotions that I believed they would be with me forever. Now I realise that my hormones were all over the place (I had also just been diagnosed with PUPPS but that’s a story for another day!), my body had just had to cope with a hell of lot and it was totally normal to feel this way! You now are in charge of another human being, a human being who you love like you have never loved before; of course you are going to be all over the place! Anxiety + wild hormones = a little bit cray cray and that is totally okay! It’s okay not to be okay! You’re not alone. I could not have got through those few weeks without Danny and my Mum they were incredible. Post partum anxiety is probably the most normal and natural thing that can happen to you I just wish I knew this at the time! 

I doubted myself so much when I was pregnant, would I be a good Mum? How would I cope? is Motherhood really for me? But from the second I met my baby girl my whole world just shifted. Everything fell in to place. No one had me down as a ‘natural’ mother and I’m okay with that! Even I knew that pre baby Emma didn’t come across as an overly ‘maternal woman’ (what ever that may be). Pre baby Emma was lazy, selfish, highly strung and stubborn. I make myself sound like a wanker, I probably was bit! I’ve never had confidence in myself with regards to anything, but surprisingly I doubted myself more during pregnancy than I did once I actually had Evie! Of course I still do doubt myself when it comes to parenting but at the same time I know I’m capable of making the best decision for my baby more than anyone else and that I was meant to do this. A lot of people say they lose themselves when they have a baby, well in fact I found myself and I’m not ever going to shy away that. Evie has changed me in more ways than I could have ever imagined and I am eternally thankful for that.

Where memories are made | Ribby Hall Village

I love a staycation, don’t get me wrong going abroad is still probably top of my list but now with a baby in tow it’s a totally different ball game. Holidaying in England now means it’s like home from home, things are a lot easier and potentially more relaxing! Luckily for us when we visited Ribby Hall for the weekend temperatures hit highs of 19 degrees so it was like we were holidaying in the French sun anyway!

When you enter Ribby Hall it’s like driving into a cute miniature village they have their very own Spar, a Starbucks and Papa Johns! It feels really homely and family orientated from the moment you get there. 

We stayed in the Sapphire Cottage which sleeps up to 6 people and includes one master bedroom (with en suite), one twin bedroom and a bedroom with bunk beds. It is situated next to Fisherman’s Reach and the cottage has bi-fold doors which lead to your own patio where you can look out onto the fishing lake.

There are so many things to do for the kids from sensory adventure, archery, nature trails, miniature golf, rock climbing, soft play . . The list goes on!

They’ve recently had a huge renovation in their leisure pool which now includes interactive water features, children’s splash lagoon, thrill slide, hot tubs and a sauna and steam room. It was completely baby & child friendly and the new shallow pool area (pictured below) was great as we could just sit down with Evie whilst she had a little splash around. 

As our cottage was situated by the lake we were constantly visited by the ducks which Evie absolutely loved! The ducks are so friendly (is that even a thing? Friendly ducks?) but seriously they come over to you and stand right next to with no fear whatsoever. It was so cute seeing her interact with them and follow them around! 

Whilst we were there I visited The Spa Hotel which is situated within Ribby Hall’s grounds where I had the most amazing facial ever! I had the 50 minute Ishga Anti-Ageing Rejuvenating Facial and it was complete and utter relaxation! The hotel and spa facilities looked amazing and as soon as went back to meet Danny I told him we would definitely be returning without Evie (soz babes) for a spa break!

Whilst we were there we also visited the wild discovery petting zoo. It’s currently in he middle of renovations and they are adding more animals this year to their ‘Safari Walk’ which is exciting! It’s an interactive animal experience and they do daily talks and you can take part in activities. Evie absolutely loved being able to get really close to lambs!

I had heard of Ribby Hall before we visited but I didn’t even realise how close it was to where we live and we will absolutely be returning again! I think we’ll make it a family affair and invite Nana and Grandad next time too. We seriously crammed so much into 3 days and made so many memories and I would recommend it to anybody with young kids as there is just so much for them to do whilst catering for the adults too. Thanks for having us Ribby Hall!!!

BMW 2 series Active Tourer

One minute you’re 17 years young and jumping into a tiny little Corsa with only your purse and your keys in tow . . next thing you know you’re a Mother and you’re lugging the pram, the changing bag, a spare outfit, a baby and the kitchen sink into your family car.

Bowker BMW were kind enough to lend us the 2 Series Active Tourer which we had the pleasure of driving to Ribby Hall Village for a family weekend. 

If you hadn’t of noticed I am no car expert. I don’t know any of the fancy lingo and I can’t tell you what half of the buttons do. Let’s be honest here, Danny and I drive my Mum and Dad’s old Ford Focus that was gifted to us because, well it’s free and I am on maternity leave. And for that we are super grateful! However, I am no Jeremy Clarkson but what I can tell you is that this car was an absolute dream to drive and as a Mum it genuinely did make my life that little bit easier! I mean any car that has an auto boot is a winner in my eyes. When you’ve got your hands full with a baby, 10 shopping bags and a pram to put in the boot then auto boot is the one. The boot was big enough to fit our pram in without taking it apart and for those of you who have a Joolz you will understand what a momentous occasion this is! In fact I managed to fit a Joolz Day, a Bugaboo Chameleon, 2 car seats, 2 babies, 2 adults and a lottttt of shopping bags into this car!!!

Whilst we had the car we fitted our isofix car seat in it which is the Britax Dualfix. Definitely not a small car seat but it was the perfect fit in the Active Tourer and it’s always a bonus when the passenger doesn’t have to sit with their knees touching their chin because of a car seat in the back!

We had an absolute ball test driving this car and I will be so sad to give it back! I never really thought about BMW as a brand that makes ‘family cars’ but they have managed to merge the practicalities and needs of a car for families with the sleek design of a classic BMW and I love it! 

Thank you to the guys at Bowker BMW for lending us this car for our family weekend adventure! Keep an eye out for my Ribby Hall review coming very soon. 

Play that funky music 

I’ve never known life without a TV in the kitchen (saying it out loud sounds a bit ridiculous) but that’s how I grew up. We always all sat down at the dinner table every night and ate together as a family but we still had a TV in the kitchen and it would usually be on in the background. Now that Danny and I are hardcore Netflix addicts we decided to have the TV in our bedroom rather than in the kitchen. Of course we could go out and buy a new TV for the kitchen but I rather enjoy it this way now! However what I do miss is background noise. I’m just one of those people, I need a bit of background noise and 9 times out of 10 I will opt for music! I’ve been going on and on about getting a radio for the kitchen and then I came across a radio that dreams are made of! Not just any radio but an Emma Bridgewater radio from VQ Radio!

I mean c’mon just look at it! I wouldn’t even care if it didn’t play music as it’s just so beautiful! But boy oh boy does this play music . . It’s a DAB digital radio and also has a bluetooth speaker meaning you can play music from any smart phone. As well as that it has a USB port meaning you can charge most devices from it too! If you choose to purchase the additional battery pack you can get up to 25 hours of playback so it’s perfect for on the go.

I chose the Hepburn Mk II design in the Emma Bridgewater wallflower print but there are so many other designs and prints to chose from! 

If you can’t tell I’m pretty obsessed with my new kitchen addition! So I’m super excited that there is going to be a giveaway over on my Instagram where you can be in with a chance of winning your very own VQ Radio. Keep your eyes peeled this Friday!

Tuna & broccoli fish cakes 

Evie has really took to the baby led part of weaning so much so she doesn’t really enjoy to be spoon fed unless it’s porridge! However she does love a fruit purée straight from the pouch! We are not technically “baby led weaning” as she has purées also but more often than not she will feed herself. So where possible I am trying to make as much homemade finger food as possible for her because if you watch my Instagram stories you will see (lots of) videos of her picking food up and feeding herself and really enjoying it! Tonight I *kind of* followed a recipe/*kind of* made it up as I went along and ended up with some delicious fish cakes! I got my inspiration from the Baby Led Weaning Cookbook Facebook page however I altered it slightly and swapped and removed certain ingredients.

You will need;

  • 1 can of tuna
  • 2 slices of bread (grated into breadcrumbs)
  • 1 egg
  • 150g(ish) of broccoli
  • 100g mashed potato
  • 40g of cheese

To begin with I cooked a baked potato in the microwave for 8 minutes and kept checking until it was soft (as I wasn’t making a lot of mashed potato I found this way the quickest and easiest way to do it) and then I prepared the mashed potato and left it to cool.

Whilst that was cooling I cooked the broccoli and then blitzed it up in a food processor and added it to the mashed potato along with the drained tuna, cheese, 1 egg and half of the breadcrumbs.

I then used my hands to shape the mixture into fishcakes (or whatever shape or size you like). For Evie I made them into a thin fishcake shape and once cooked I cut them into sticks so they were easy for her to hold.

Then I coated them in the remaining breadcrumbs before frying in a hot pan with a splash of oil. I did mine until golden and they were honestly delicious and a huge hit Evie! (P.s. these are definitely not just for babies as they are so tasty and also slimming world friendly if using the cheese and breadcrumbs and your healthy extras!)

Evie’s Bedroom Tour

I remember spending hours and hours on Pinterest when I was pregnant looking for nursery inspiration, it’s one of the most exciting things in my opinion!! Absolutely everything I pinned was white and grey . . quite the opposite of the pretty pink super girly room Evie has ended up with! I was so ‘anti pink’ when I was pregnant but since she was born I have no control over my pale pink obsession!

Throughout the whole of my pregnancy we were still living with my Mum and Dad as we were waiting on the completion of our house which awkwardly happened to be a few weeks post due date! (Turns out there was nothing awkward at all about it because living with my Mum and Dad for the first six weeks of Evie’s life was the best thing ever!) The only reason I was actually so desperate to move in before she was born was so we could decorate her room! As a first time Mum the prospect of decorating your baby’s room is beyond exciting! You have all these ideas and dreams of what it will look like and it’s so easy to get carried away. The funny thing is for the first few months of their lives they don’t even spend any time in there (well Evie didn’t anyway, I never even dressed her in there) and during that time it just becomes a dumping ground for clothes, nappies, toys and everything else! 

Now that we are totally settled into our home and Evie is sleeping in her own room we have finally completed the finishing touches and I have to say I am in love with her bedroom! It’s exactly how I pictured it would be and it makes me stupidly happy every time I go in there.

The first things I purchased for Evie’s room were the 3 prints above her cot from Sweetheart Foils. I wanted these to be the main focus and knew, even at 20 weeks pregnant, I wanted these to sit above her cot. Simone was so helpful and even designed the ‘you are so loved’ print from scratch for me as I had seen something similar on Pinterest! 

As we are in a new build it is recommended that you don’t wallpaper for at least a year howver I’m kind of glad we had that restriction as I’m prone to jumping into decisions quickly and then changing my mind! (I’m the girl that ended up with two wedding dresses) With having no wallpaper and just using accessories to add colour it has made the room feel really light and fresh even though it’s not the biggest of rooms.

When we moved in we settled in really quickly and managed to get everything ‘decorated’ and all the furniture built within a week or two. It’s the finishing touches that took a bit of time and making a house a home can’t just be done overnight but we are finally there (with Evie’s room anyway!) and it was definitely worth the wait.

I absolutely adore everything about this room and it really did turn it just how I imagined! I will list below where everything is from . . now to start adding some life into our bedroom which is currently a blank canvas!!!

  • 3 piece furniture – Mamas & Papas
  • Changing mat – Mamas & Papas
  • Ballpit – Misioo Handmade
  • Foil prints – Sweetheart Foils
  • All frames – IKEA
  • Hot air ballon – Somewhere Only We Know
  • Snuggle up cushion – Pretty Little Home
  • Star knit cushion – Zara
  • Dream big cloud – Fox and Weave
  • ‘Mummy’s girl, Daddy’s world’ print – Foil Prints UK
  • Piggy bank – TK Max
  • Letters – Matalan
  • Rug – IKEA
  • Chandelier – Argos
  • Curtains – Next
  • Footprint cast frame – Memory Makers at Mothercare
  • Bookshelves – IKEA