Top tips for setting up your kids' first bookshelf*

In a world dominated by technology and screen time it’s more important than ever to create good reading habits from an early age. While developing your little ones’ minds, imagination and language skills, sitting down with a book has also been proven to boost focus and concentration. Here’s just a few top tips for setting up a bookshelf that will inspire a life-long love of reading.
Get creative
From narrow, open facing ledges to statement bookshelves in the shape of trees, a creative and imaginative space will not only encourage your little one to lose themselves amongst their favourite stories, but can also add some serious flair to your home decor.
When designing the space, put some thought into what your child likes. Do they prefer curling up on a cosy chair or would they rather a bookcase enclosed by a canopy and filled with soft floor cushions? Whatever style you go for, make sure their favourite books are accessible and easy to reach.
Give them incentives
Perhaps your little book worm requires no incentives and will gladly spend hours flicking through the pages of their favourite picture books – or perhaps you have to tear them away from the iPad kicking and screaming. Either way, a little incentive will work wonders at keeping them motivated and rewarding their good work. Younger children work well with the classic reward chart, receiving a treat when they’ve collected enough stickers. In the same way, older children will gladly finish that lengthy chapter if it means a night out at their favourite restaurant or a trip to the movies.
While regular day trips could get quite pricey, try to incorporate themed outings on completion of particular texts. Having finished the first book of the Harry Potter series together, why not take a day trip to the Harry Potter Studio Tour and watch the whole family delight as you wander through Hogwarts? There’s plenty of special features to explore, including Wizarding Wardrobes which takes guests behind the scenes to observe some of the films favourite costumes. Swashbuckling adventure days are a great choice for pirate enthusiasts, while the Roald Dahl Museum comes recommended for fans of The BFG or James and the Giant Peach.
Fill it with favourites
It’s important that your kids’ first bookshelf is bursting with the books they love – from classic easy readers to a handful of more challenging reads. Mix it up with a variety of fictional stories and non-fiction on topics they’ve shown an interest in, from pop-up hardbacks about the animal kingdom to lift-the-flap tales about space.
If you’re going to be doing a lot of the reading yourself, its also important to throw a few of your own favourite childhood books in for good measure. Children love to observe and learn from their parents’ behaviour, and hearing the joy in your voice as you flip through the pages together is sure to inspire and excite.
Switch it up
Children can quickly become bored of the same old paperbacks, but regularly replenishing bookshelves is an expensive affair. Joining the local library is a free and easy solution, giving little imaginations instant access to a multitude of books. Incorporate a trip to your local library every few weeks into your family routine, adding some fresh and exciting reading material to your kids’ reading corner as you go.
So there we have it – a few tips to get the kids’ inspired and willing to escape into their own literary universe. Have I missed anything from the list?

Everything You Need to Set Up a Study Space*

 Chair // Calendar // Pedestal // Dressing Table // Bin
The summer holidays are almost over, which mean I will be going back to college, which I'm obviously excited about as I get to buy stationary! Something which is slightly more important than pretty pens/notebooks is a decent area inwhich I can study.

You'll need a desk with enough space to make sure everything is within reach. Although technically this is a dressing table, it would still makes the great desk. Oak Furniture company has some of the best oak furniture around.

You could team up the desk with a comfy office chair, not only stylist but designed with a scoop back and foam cushioning for long-lasting comfort and support. Having a bad back will cut your work productively, your mood and ultimately affect your health.

To stop you losing your mind when you've lost your notes, grab this useful 6 drawers pedestal and file like a pro. Not only will this free up a lot of desk space, it will always give you the opportunity to organise things together.

Like most people I used to use my phone calendar to keep my schedule, however now I find it is easier to keep up to date when i can see it in front of me. This chalkboard calendar planner will make sure you will never miss another deadline.

And rubbish shouldn't rule your study area, make sure you clean up behind yourself with a bin. I wouldn't be a lifestyle blogger if I didn't have a touch of rose gold would I?

So those are a few of my suggestions on what you will need to make the perfect study space. What tips/hints do you have to create a study area?

How to style trainers outside of the gym*

In the last couple of years, humble women’s trainers have moved up and up as fashion accessories, meaning they’re no longer resigned to the gym or sports field. If you’ve seen fashionable ladies on the street rocking trainers with skirts or smart outfits – but aren’t quite sure how to pull it off yourself – here are my ideas for styling trainers from the office to the bar.
Casual but stylish weekend look
You’re heading out for a big day of shopping and need some comfy footwear, or want to look your best to see the in-laws and know there’ll probably be a walk involved. Take the lead from Rosie Huntington-Whiteley on how to make trainers look chic with a weekend outfit. Here she teams a pair of tight jeans and a plain T-shirt with some pale grey trainers that she’s coordinated with her fedora. I love the fact she’s gone for a pastel blazer draped over her shoulders and a matching pastel bag to make everything a little bit girly.
Smart workwear
If you have to walk to work or are out and about at meetings all day, the last thing you want on your feet is heels. Most of us have to look groomed for the office though, but fortunately there are plenty of options out there. Take a look at the PU knot skaters in the trainer selection from Tu available at Sainsbury’s – they’re ideal as they’re a smart black and have an oversized bow on the front to make them more dressy. Plus they also look seriously comfy. Wear them with a suit or a skirt and a smart top to give your outfit an edge. 

Comfy date night 
You’re not a girly-girl, that’s ok, don’t feel like you have to wear heels just because it’s date night. Your other half will want you to be comfortable and feel yourself anyway. A look that’s really elegant with trainers is palazzo pants and a camisole. Keep the trainers more streetwear style than sporty for it to work – a chunky sole is best.
Dress it down
When you have a cool new dress and you can’t wait to wear it out, but you also don’t want to feel overdressed, in step the trainers. If the pleated midi skirts trend was anything to go by, it’s definitely alright to dress down even the girliest of looks with a pair of daps. And good for us, trainers go just as well with this season’s skirts and dresses, like your favourite off the shoulder dress.

Everyday wear
Still not sure about wearing trainers? If Kate Middleton can do it, so can we. You might be the kind of girl who likes to be dolled up, but if practicality comes calling follow Kate’s lead and wear your trainers with some classic slim jeans and a smart jumper or top. Keep trousers ankle length to stop the whole look from being dowdy. You really can go with whatever trainers you like for this everyday style.

Which look is your favourite?

Num Noms Series 4 Dessert Tray & Lights Mystery Pots Unboxing*

Whoa, Num Noms series 4 out. The adorable collectibles that we have grown to love are back and better than ever. Series 4 includes glitter lip gloss and nail polish. If you read our last Num Noms unboxing you would know that Darcy is obsessed with them,and she couldn't wait to review the new series. So you can imagine how excited she was when we were kindly gifted a Dessert Tray and some Light Mystery Pots to review.

The Dessert Tray comes with 12 Num Noms in total, including a mystery Num Nom and two lip glosses. Our favourites from the Dessert Tray are Pumpkin Spice, Mint shake with a cute little straw on the top, Goldie Cake which smells of the sweetest vanilla and Candy Karma which opens so you can put your lip gloss inside. I especially love Mocha Frappe as I'm such a coffee addict. As usual you can stack them up to create your own scent combinations. We've used the packaging that they came in as a storage case as it is really sturdy cardboard and even has a cute spoon carry handle.Priced at £16.99 it's a perfect addition to anyones Num Noms collection.

Num Noms Lights series 2.1 pack comes with a scented Num, a light up Nom and a cool ring to display and wear your collection. They light up by pressing their head and switches off by doing the same thing. We unboxed a special edition Carole Candy Cane that reminded me of Christmas as it just smells like a candy cane. Darcy could not wait to show off her brand new bling. Num Noms Lights series 2.1 retails at £3.99 each.
Num Noms Series 4 are available now in all good retailers or you can find out more here. It issafe to say that series 4 is our favourite so far! Are you a fan of Num Noms?

Lalaloopsy Babies Potty Surprise Doll Review*

Darcy being Darcy she has so many toys she could open her own toy shop. She has now added a new addition to her toy shop with a Lalaloopsy Babies Potty Surprise Doll, which we were sent to review.

I'm going to be completely honest now and say this is not the type of doll I would generally buy Darcy. I mean c'mon a doll that poop surprises!, but I'll put my hands up and say this is actually a really fun doll and I'm really glad we had the opportunity to review the doll. As Darcy has fallen in love with it and plays with her all the time.

Along with baby Jewel Sparkles, you get a potty, a bowl with a spoon and three jars of baby food. Jewel Sparkles head, arms and legs are movable and is wipe able and she has her trademark Lalaloopsy button eyes.

First off you have to twist the dial on her back to one of the four positions, this will create the four different potty surprises. The baby food is actually kinetic sand, pop one scoop of carrot, apple or grape baby food (any more than one scoop at a time will clog up the doll) twist her belly button. Don't forget to take her nappy off! Simply place her on the potty and watch her go! Baby Jewel Sparkles magically poops a surprise shape, each poop is a different shape.  One of the good things about this doll is you never run out of baby food, you can even introduce new food to her diet with different colour sands.

Even though this doll is for age 4+ Darcy was still able to play happily with her and the fact that I even had fun playing with her shows it's perfect for all ages.

Lalaloopsy Babies Potty Surprise Doll retails at £20 and can be found at all good retail shops. Is your little one a fan of Lalaloopsy?

Paw Patrol Live Review

As it's the summer holidays, I've been finding fun things for Darcy to do. I've seen adverts for Paw Patrol Live for ages, but was umming and arrhing over the price of the tickets. Then wonders of wonders, I saw Wowcher had a deal, so I had no excuse and booked tickets for the SSE Arena, Wembley show.

I decided to keep it a surprise, even being on a tube with a whole load of children dressed head to toe in Paw Patrol clothes and costumes!!. Once we were outside the venue, I handed her our tickets and told her what we were seeing. Her little face lit up with excitement, and my eyes started to well up. (please note this will not be the only time I get emotional).

Darcy took advantage of my emotional state and I ended up spending  £15, yes £15 on some flashing light thingy that she wanted. Once I composed myself and we got to our seats, the fun began.
The show opens with Ryder hyping up the crowd more before Marshall, Chase, Rocky, Rubble, Zuma, and Skye introduces themselves with their own personal song.
Everest is seen during a scene later in the show. If your child is a hard-core Paw Patrol fan, be forewarned that the newest pup Tracker does not make an appearance.

Not to spoil the show for you, Adventure Bay are losing the Great Race to Foggy Bottom's Mayor Humdinger because Mayor Goodway sprained her ankle chasing Chickaletta over pumpkins. So Ryder and the pups step in for an action-packed adventure to find three clues hidden around Adventure Bay to make it back to the finish line before the sunsets. After all no job is too big and no pup is too small!!!!

The show is around 60 minutes long, with a 15 minute interval in the middle of the show, which is a good time to go for a quick toilet break.
The show is very interactive, with lots of set changes and use of the pups famous vechicles.The pups costumes were fantastic, using  Bunraku puppetry, which really helped bring the pups to life. I have to say the actress who pays Mayor Goodway was fantastic, she really brought her character to life. Darcy made friends with the boy next to us. They were so excited together hugging and high fiving each other. Half way through the show she shouted this is the best day ever, you're the best! (cue emotional break down number 2)

I have to admit Paw Patrol Live was actually really good. We sang, cheered and danced all throughout it, and left with big smiles on our faces and a even bigger Chase balloon. Which made our journey home on the tube in rush hour rather interesting to say the least!

The rest of the tour dates are below, tickets range from £16.80 - £39.20. However I would suggest checking out Wowcher to see if their deal is still on.

Barclaycard Arena, Birmingham – August 12th and 13th
Echo Arena, Liverpool – August 16th and 17th
Metro Radio Arena, Newcastle – August 19th
First Direct Arena, Leeds – August 23rd
Motorpoint Arena, Cardiff – August 26th and 27th

Family Festival #FamilyFestQuiz

Music festivals have undergone something of a transformation in recent years. It's no longer about the young, wild and free. Now music loving parents can shake their leg at music festivals thanks to the rise of family based festivals such as Camp Bestival and Latitude. If Chris Martin can take his family along, why can't we?
You can tell we are newbies to the music festival scene by our white trainers!!

This year we have dipped our toes, with a few London-based family festivals,  including not 1 but 2 days at Lambeth Country Show  . I wasn't sure how Darcy would cope with all the excitement and hustle and bustle of a festival. It turns out my child is a right little raver and I had nothing to worry about. So I'm already planning on going to a festival with her next year, but I was unsure which one would be best for us.

Luckily Travelodge has created a fun quiz to find out which family festival suits your family best, it only takes a few minutes to complete. Not only does it tell you which festivals are best for you, it also finds a Travelodge hotel which is nearest the festival site. You can check out the quiz here.

Our results shows that our festival personality was ..... foodies, shock, horror!! And matched us with Jimmy's Festival which unfortunately we have missed this year. 

We used Travelodge a lot, not only are they great value for money. Their family rooms are  spacious, they come with the most comfortable king size bed, two pull out beds and their all you can eat breakfast is free for kids. We are actually heading off to Bournemouth this week for a few days, fingers crossed the weather is good so we can paddle our feet in the sea.

So have you taken the #FamilyFestQuiz yet? which festival personality is your family?

Win a Project Mc2 H20 Nail Science Lab

If you have a tween you will know all about the popular Netflix show Project Mc2 (pronounced Project MC-squared). A team of girls who use their love of S.T.E.AM subjects (that's science, technology, engineering, art and maths) and spy skills to undertake missions for top-secret organisations

As seen on the show, Adrienne Attoms’ next mission is to use her cosmetic chemistry skills to formulate the perfect look for saving the world. And now your child can do the same cool S.T.E.A.M. experiment at home using just household ingredients.  They can create one-of-a-kind nail designs by using a scientific process called hydrographic printing to create amazing and unique marble designs! 

It can be applied directly to their own nails or provided press-on nails with any rainbow array of polishes from your beauty cabinet.  Each set includes a multi-LED light up station with built-in nail dryer, three stands with holders for your nail polish, three discs with blank nails to design, adhesive stickers, four science pipette, one design stick, and one clear beaker. 

We are giving away a  Project Mc2 H20 Nail Science Lab, simply complete one or more of the entries on the Rafflecopter below.


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