Violet’s First Christmas

They say that when you have children, Christmas becomes all about them, and I can safely confirm after our first Christmas together as a family that this is true, but it is also totally magical experience too. It’s like that childhood magic returns and you see it in their faces, I’m sure Violet is too small to understand fully, but she was so taken by the lights, the presents (of course) and even tried some Christmas foods too. I sat watching Christmas movies with Violet by the tree and had to pinch myself, I couldn’t believe I have my own little girl to celebrate with this year and as she grows older it will only get even more exciting too!

We have never really been much of a festive family, we’ve been away on holiday over Christmas a couple of years and for the last 3 years we haven’t had a tree, but with now Violet here we wanted to go all out with the Christmas traditions and I think we did pretty well!

So, our celebrations started on Christmas eve, which luckily fell over the weekend meaning V had a little bit more time off then she usually would. It was also Violet’s 10 month birthday, so we had to get this cute snap in her elf outfit with the Christmas Tree, of course! At 10 months old she’s SO close to walking, I think she’ll have mastered her first steps within a couple of weeks for sure. She stands unaided all the time, she just needs to take the plunge and put one foot forward, it’ll happen!

We had a lovely family day together and a bit of last minute Christmas shopping (as part of the One4All Giftcard challenge, where I was challenged to kit our house for Christmas – read about this here!). We picked up some fresh vegetables for our roast dinner and fresh ingredients like delicious puddings in Marks and Spencer. I managed to bag some last minute Christmas decorations for the tree which were 50% off already, great time to get everything. I used our One4All Giftcard for all of my Christmas shopping this year which has been SO handy they are totally flexible to use in different shops, meaning you can do all your shopping with one card. An ideal gift as well for someone if you don’t know which shop they would normally buy from.

In the evening, we attended the Family Crib Service at our local church. It was a refreshingly light-hearted service, where there were children and adults all dressed as parts from the nativity scene, it was like something from the Vicar of Dibley. I also enjoyed singing some carols and getting into the spirit of Christmas! Next year, we will be totally dressing up for the service, watch this space!

We got home just in time for Violet to open her Christmas Eve Box and lay down a carrot and mince pie for Father Christmas.

A few last minute decorations added to the tree in M&S thanks to my One4All Giftcard!

Christmas morning came after a rather disturbed nights sleep from Violet- maybe she was just too excited to see what Santa had brought her, or maybe she just didn’t want to give me the only thing on my Christmas list (a good nights sleep!) So, we felt rather jaded in the morning and after a very slow start, we eventually opened presents at midday (the perks of having a little one who doesn’t want to open everything first thing!). We started off with Robbie as let’s face it, he’s the only one of us that can sniff out which presents are for him – from a mile off! He had a stocking full of treats which included doggy friendly wrapping paper, which meant he could take his presents and rip them to his hearts content! That kept him busy whilst Violet got to work on the rest of the pile!

Of course, Violet was thoroughly spoiled – we just bought her a few little wooden toys and books as we didn’t want to go mad, but having a whole hoard of lovely aunties and uncles surrounding her, she was one lucky little girl with all the exciting things she got!  I’m not actually sure she knew what to do with all the presents as it was all a bit overwhelming so we did it in stages so she could actually enjoy and appreciate each gift and spend some time playing with it. She loved ripping open the wrapping paper and seeing what was inside, her face was a picture! By the end of the unwrapping session, you couldn’t see the floor for paper, ribbons, building blocks, toys and games.

It was clearly all a bit too much Violet then got extremely tired so we put her down for a nap, whilst the Christmas lunch cooked away in the oven. As we are vegetarian, we had a Quorn Roast and all the normal roast veg and trimmings, mince pies and Christmas pudding! The only thing we missed out this year was Brandy Butter, a favourite of mine. Doh! Also, following our tradition – Robbie had a full roast dinner for his lunch too. 

It was then time for the Queen’s Speech, so we all sat together on the sofa by the open fire (including Robbie) to tune in. We waded through snacks galore (isn’t that what Christmas Day is about!?)  – a good old fashioned tin of Quality Streets (Strawberry and Orange Creams for the win!), M&S honey cashew nuts and Fairfield Farm Heat & Eat Crisps (warm crisps with dips!) were some of the definite favourite snacks this year! We also had a gorgeous M&S Salted Caramel Pudding, which although it didn’t look exactly like it did on the box, it was so delicious, with a centre of swirls of sparkling salted caramel sauce inside a molten chocolate cake. SO GOOD! 

Our first family Christmas was relatively low-key, relaxed and a quiet day but it was just perfect for us. Violet was so excited by all the new toys, the lights, the movies on the TV and most importantly, spending time together as a family. I enjoyed just having a day to relax on the sofa, eating WAY to much and I even managed to squeeze in an hour of gaming time as I got the new Pokemon Ultra Sun game for the Nintendo DS – I haven’t played a computer game since way before Violet arrived so this was a lovely break and I realised how much I missed escaping into the world of games, just for a short while! I hope to make a little bit more time for it in 2018 as a way to relax, but we shall see if that pans out! 

Boxing Day was a restful day, time to play with Violet’s new toys! We had lunch with some friends in the village which was lovely. They just got a new black kitten, which was so cute.

And just like that Christmas was over. Life went back to normal on 27th, although I clung onto as much festive spirit as possible, keeping the tree up and eating our way through the endless Christmas food (we still have some now!) until a couple of days later when Christmas ended with a large crash and a bang…..

At 6:30am when I was at home on my own, Violet decided to ‘drive’ her car into the side of the tree, causing the entire thing to fall over. That certainly woke me up! She then stood back and casually waved the bauble she snagged on the way at me as I tried to heave it off the floor, the decorations falling off, the lights tangled in the dangling tinsel – basically a giant mess. I tried to put it all back into place but it just didn’t look the same and feeling paranoid Violet would pull it down again, the tree had to go. We packed it up and took the rest of the decorations down. Until next year, tree!

Our NYE was a very relaxed affair, we only just made it to midnight and watched the fireworks on the iPad in bed, before promptly falling asleep as soon as they were over – rock and roll!

So, that’s Violet’s first Christmas in a nutshell, it was a quiet, sweet and magical first Christmas as a family together, just right. I’m looking forward to next year as I’m sure she’ll have more of an idea of what is going on and it’ll be just chaos I’m sure! 🙂 Hope you had a good one too!

 

 

2017 – The year of Ultra Violet

Wow, I can’t believe I’m writing my 2017 review post, already. Where has this year gone? How is Violet nearly a year old? Time has flown by, even more so since having Violet, it seems once you have a baby your life goes in double time. It’s just crazy, but this year has been amazing. Maybe one of the best of my life, it’s certainly been life changing and different to say the least! I’m not sure I remember life without having a baby, what did I do with all that sleep, all that spare time? So, I really wanted to write my annual review so I can capture the memories before they start to fade – it seems my memory doesn’t seem to be as good since having a baby either!

If you fancy a quick jaunt back in time, here are my posts from 2015 (where we bought a house and travelled a LOT!) & 2014 (a year of new beginnings). It seems in 2016 I was too fat and pregnant to remember to write my post. Oops.

JANUARY

In January this year I was 8 months pregnant, so with only a few weeks left of pregnancy I was feeling gigantic, waddling about and as soon as my maternity leave started, I started nesting like a crazy thing too. The freedom of maternity leave was a pretty exciting prospect, I kicked off the first week with coffee with friends, scrapbooking and even a massage at The Grand hotel in Brighton. Shame the rest of maternity leave hasn’t been so luxurious!

We also had our baby shower, which was so lovely. Surrounded by my very favourite people, we drunk tea and ate cake, whilst playing silly games whilst excitedly talking about our new arrival.

FEBRUARY

February was spent getting ready for ‘Baby Peaches’ arrival, putting up the Snuzpod, washing baby clothes, hypnobirthing lessons, NCT classes and such until, on the 24th February….

Violet was born at 02:54, weighing a dainty 6lb 2oz! You can read our full birth story here (things didn’t really go to plan, but do they ever?). From this moment our lives turned upside down and we were parents. We were in hospital for a week with Violet as she had jaundice which was a tiring and difficult time, it’s so horrible watching such a tiny, helpless baby so poorly.

Luckily, she recovered well and we were able to finally go home, taking us into…

MARCH

After the flurry of visitors following Violet’s birth, March looked a lot like this – lots of sitting on the sofa with our new baby, watching box sets as she endlessly cluster fed and fed (and FED). I thought I may never leave the house again. We did however get into town to get Violet registered and celebrated with Afternoon Tea at the Harbour Hotel, which was lovely but our first jaunt into town with a baby was rather daunting, I remember she wouldn’t stop crying and we practically ran through the streets in a panic to find somewhere to sit down and feed her. Thank goodness we are calmer now, those new parent nerves were severe, but we soon relaxed into it all!

APRIL

In April, we had our first family photoshoot, which I’m so glad we did as the photos are beautiful! I started to gain a bit more confidence as a new Mum, taking trips out for coffee with friends on the bus and into Brighton and feeling a bit more like ‘me’ again!

MAY

In May, well and truly on our feet as parents, we did lots of lovely things. We took Violet for her first ever visit to London, we spent the day at the Tower of London and finished with Mexican food at Wahaca, we even made a little video of the day which you can watch here (Violet looks SO small).

I had an amazing Afternoon Tea at The Salt Room with my good friend Andrea and well needed glass of champagne!

We also started Water babies lessons, which we still do now and is one of Violet’s very favourite activities. It’s the highlight of our week, although it took her a while to get used to the water when she was this small!

JUNE

June was a quiet month, Violet practiced her rolling skills at home doing lots of tummy time and eventually mastered rolling from her front to back! For ages she couldn’t roll the other way and would get so frustrated. During this month she also started to ‘chatter’ to herself in a mirror and would spend ages just sitting looking at herself, babbling away. At the very end of the month, Violet tried her first solids, starting with some baby porridge.

JULY

In July, Violet went on her very first holiday! We went to France to visit some of my relatives that live near Bordeaux. It was a lovely trip, but looking back it was a bit too hot for Violet and it was pretty stressful travelling with a baby so young as we drove over 7 hours (broken up into sections) but we did it!

AUGUST

August was a month of fun family days out, we visited the farm, went for Afternoon Tea at Patisserie Valerie and we went to the circus, which I thought Violet would be a bit small for but she LOVED it. Violet also started her weaning journey properly, although the below pictures are not a great example of that!

SEPTEMBER

September was all about the blog events! I went to quite a few, my favourites being the Jo Malone event to celebrate their new English Oak Fragrance and heading up to London with some of my favourite girls to the Ecover Fragrance launch – this photo of Lauren and I sniffing the fabric softener just never stops amusing me!

V also turned 40, so we had a lovely Spa day at the Brighton Harbour Hotel followed by Afternoon Tea at Terre a Terre, which has got to be my favourite restaurant in Brighton!

OCTOBER

Christmas festivities begin early this year with an amazing Secret Santa present of a Kenwood K-Mix! I can’t actually bake so I challenged myself to learn to bake and get busy in the kitchen, actually surprising myself as my first chocolate cake was not that bad, if I do say so myself! So my new years resolution in 2018 is to continue teaching myself to bake and try and to try few more complicated recipes!

Violet and I worked on a really awesome campaign with American Express (which you can see in full here & here). We headed out into town with a photographer (the amazing Kitty Wheeler Shaw, who did our family shoot) and celebrated all things small business in Brighton. It was one of my favourite blog projects so far and I got some lovely photos of us to keep too.

We also had a lovely family day at The SeaLife Centre and Violet LOVED all of the colours, fish and sea creatures!

NOVEMBER

November was a mixed month – usually my favourite of the year as it’s my birthday, but sadly this year my Nan passed away on the day of my 32nd birthday. She was 97 so had an amazing, long, happy life but that doesn’t seem to make it any easier. We still tried to get on with my birthday as I know my Nan would have wanted that, but it didn’t quite feel the same and was a really sad time.

To take our minds from things, we had a weekend away in Odiham which was nice to have a break away from it all and a family day out at Drusillas too.

DECEMBER

December has of course been ALL about Violet’s first Christmas. We put the tree up (which she is fascinated by!) and decorations all round the house. This is the first year in 4 years we’ve gone all out on the decorations so we really went to town for Violet. The weather has been cold and miserable, so we’ve spent lots of days in watching Christmas movies and hibernating.

Violet’s first Christmas was such a lovely day – just a great day of quality time at home with family, lots of food and a LOT of presents (for Violet, not for us!). She was very spoiled by all our close friends and family, lucky girl.

So, that was our year! If you’ve written a post like this, please do leave your link as I’d love to read it, plus you can link up your post over on Lauren’s blog too:

Scrapbook Blog

HAPPY NEW YEAR – BEST WISHES FOR 2018 😘

 

Family Weekend Away in Hampshire Part 2

Welcome back to our little mini-adventure away in Hampshire! You may have read Part 1 (if not, read that first!) we arrived at our little B&B – The Red Lion in Odiham, had a lovely dinner and spent our first night, so this post is all about the next day….

It was a grey and drizzly day so we decided after breakfast head to Little Play Town which is a couple of doors down. I thought this would be like soft-play but it wasn’t, it was actually such a lovely idea – it is a complete mini town for children. It had different sections like a market, shops, construction site, beauty salon, vets and more. In each section children can role play and dress up. Violet was a bit little for it all really as it was aimed at walking babies and onwards but we still went along. She did enjoy exploring all the sections and watching older children playing, she learns so much from older children so I’m sure she was taking it all in. I wish we had something like this in Brighton, it was SO sweet and perfect for helping little ones learn too. Violet would love to go again when she’s a bit older!

After that we had a little explore around the quaint village of Odiham. It was a bit rainy, so we didn’t go far but we got a good feel for the place, I loved the cute shops and tearooms! We went for a spot of lunch at the French Creperie, which had an awesome undercover garden area, so we got to sit outside whilst keeping warm!

I think the theme of this little break away was relaxing and eating as we headed back to our room for a rest before dinner time. Violet chilled out and played with the toys that were provided so we could have a bit of a doze – perfect!

For our dinner on the second night, we headed out to the Duke of Cambridge in Tilford, this took us around 15-20 minutes in the car and is a sister pub to the Red Lion.

The Duke of Cambridge is a gorgeous country pub, the perfect place for sitting in the sunshine in the summer or a cosy evening by the fireplace in the winter. We were shown to our table which had lots of space for the pushchair (which we brought along this time, after Violet’s meltdown the night before!).

For starters, we both went for the Halloumi fries – and no, I don’t mean we shared this dish, we ordered ONE EACH. Whoops, that was a lot of cheese for a starter, but worth it as they were delicious. 

Next up the main courses, I went for a special of the day – the Fishcake, which was presented impeccably and tasted amazing, the green beans were so fresh and cooked to perfection. V went for the Vegetarian Wellington  (are you noticing a pattern here, she loves a Wellington!) – this was a good variation on the one from the previous night, with the lightest, fluffiest pastry that gave me proper food envy.

Onto the best part of the meal…. thank goodness this time Violet kept her cool and let us have pudding as we wouldn’t have wanted to miss out on these….

We went for the warm Chocolate Brownie with Salted Caramel and the Earl Grey Eaton Mess – which we just popped in the middle to share – yum!

After our giant dinner – honestly, I was STUFFED, we headed back (rolled) to our B&B room to snuggle up for the night. Thankfully, we had a much more restful night. Violet was a bit more sure of her surroundings and didn’t seem so unsettled, so we slept SO much better. The bed was so comfy too!

As this trip is all about eating, it wouldn’t be right to leave it without one more food snap. Needless to say the breakfast on our last morning was also amazing.

All in all, going away to Hampshire was a real treat. It wasn’t the relaxing mini-break we had before Violet came along, but we made the most of it – to be honest, just having all our food made for us with no washing up is a mini-break in itself! We had a lovely time with memories I’ll never forget.

** If you fancy a stay at The Red Lion Odiham (I recommend it!) then you can get a complimentary bottle of wine to your room with this code: Fizzypeacheswine (see T&C’s below) **

A Breath of Fresh Air with #MilletsDogs

Sometimes, life can just get too much. In this last couple of weeks I’ve been frazzled to my core. Starting with the bad news of a close family member passing on my birthday to the boiler breaking, a burst pipe and house full of illness, it’s been a tough one to say the least. Things have often felt totally overwhelming.

Sometimes when life gets a bit tough you just have to take a step back and get some space.  One of my favourite ways to do that is to go for a dog walk, come rain or shine. I’m so fortunate to live in such a beautiful area where the downs and the coast are right on our doorstep, just that initial rush of sea air into my lungs takes the edge of the worst problems. In the last couple of weeks I’ve been getting out as much as I can with my first baby, Robbie. Firstly, to reconnect with him as he’s often feeling left out as before Violet he got ALL the attention and secondly, to get a bit of well-needed headspace.

We’ve been making sure to get out and about together every few days. It’s amazing what a gentle walk can do for the spirit, plus watching Robbie bounding through the long grass and being the most fiercely loyal companion certainly helps too.

I wasn’t always an all-weathers kind of girl, but having a dog forces you out into the elements, which can be especially brutal where we live on the seafront. Robbie is so excited to go out – whatever the weather, so saying ‘Oh it’s a bit drizzly today‘ just doesn’t wash with him. I’ve found as long as I keep warm and snug, walks in all weathers can be enjoyable – even brisk and refreshing, and thats saying something, coming from me! So, I have just kitted us out with some winter walking essentials, to ensure our walks are year round – whatever the weather throws at us.

My first winter essential for dog walks is a snuggly but practical winter coat. The thought of wearing some kind of anorak just filled me with dread so I’m pleased to have found this gorgeous winter jacket – it’s honestly one my favourite coats I’ve ever owned as it is SO COMFORTABLE and warm, plus the fact that it keeps me bone dry is essential too and really handy as umbrellas just don’t stand a chance in the blowy seaside town I live in!

A cute bobble on the top and a scarf are musts for me – keeping the chilly wind away from my head, ears and neck is essential as right up on the hill the wind whips up off the sea – it can be so blowy! I love this knitted bobble hat. It’s got a fleecy lining and is so warm, I could wear it all day (at least I’d never have to worry about hat hair!)

I like getting back to nature and away from it all, but not too much – I find as I don’t get much time away from being a full-time Mummy to Violet this can be my limited time to catch up on social media, so I do sometimes take a few minutes break and perch on one of the scenic benches to catch up – Robbie often finds other dogs on his walks so this gives him a time to run about and play too.

When I recently discovered TOUCHSCREEN weatherproof gloves it was a game changer – no more pulling off my gloves and getting chilly hands just to see my phone. I also love a sturdy glove with grips like this as Robbie can tug quite hard on his lead so near busy roads it helps having that extra bit of grip.

Last in my winter essentials has got to be a good pair of walking boots. Forget ruining my glittery Kurt Gieger trainers in the mud, if I know I’m going up onto the downs I need a shoe that is good for all terrain and I don’t mind getting dirty! I love the touch of pink on these boots, they feel more feminine than a lot I’ve seen and tried, plus they are mega comfy too.

Dogs are just the most wonderful creatures, I’m so lucky to have a crazy black mutt to drag me out into the fresh air when all I want to do is mope about the house feeling blue. I always return feeling so much better. Even if it’s cold and wet, I know I can keep warm and always treat myself to a hot cup of hot chocolate when I get home too! 🙂 When things are rough, self care is so important – never forget that.

 

Thanks to Millets for having us on your #MilletsDogs campaign and encouraging us to get out and about this winter!  You can see the other bloggers doggy posts here.

A Family Day Out at Drusillas Park

Drusillas always reminds me of happy memories of my childhood – I’m not sure I could count the amount of times I’ve been there when I was very small, so going back as a Mum with my own little girl was definitely a special day for me.  I’m sure it’s changed a LOT since my last visit (maybe 20 years ago?) as I didn’t seem to remember as much as I thought I would, but that was good as it felt like a brand new place to explore all over again and hopefully Violet will hold the same magical memories of family days out too, just like I do.

So, we decided to head to Drusillas Park on Monday this week. It was the perfect day for a family day out as it was gorgeously sunny but cold and crisp too. We wrapped up warm and headed out – meeting Violet’s bestie Liv and her Mummy too as we thought it would be lovely for the babies to hang out and do something fun together with not just boring adults for company!

As you arrive at Drusillas, you are greeted by the sound of monkeys in the enclosure right by the carpark, Violet was already looking all around to see what the strange noise was, I couldn’t wait to show her!

We headed through the entrance to the first section – The Zoo. It’s clearly marked and signposted all the way around, plus we had a map and guidebook as there is just so much to see we didn’t want to miss anything along the way. There is a large array of animals to see at Drusillas. They are known as the UK’s best small zoo and I can see why as the variety of species is extensive! There is something to surprise you around every corner, with every inclosure immaculately clean (even the stinking bats, they are so smelly!) and creatively constructed to keep animals entertained, protected and comfortable, yet allowing a good view too. It’s not just like a zoo where you walk around each animal and look at them befhind the glass either – some enclosures have ‘secret viewing areas’, little bubbles where you can pop-up and view the animals from eye-level and see-through tunnels for the animals to run through before your very eyes. I imagine for children this must be so much fun and I’m sure Violet will love exploring all the different tunnels when she’s a bit more mobile!

Another thing that really struck me was how many activities, animal facts and interesting displays there were as we went round to accompany the animal enclosures. Violet is a little small for animal facts, but when she’s bigger I can see her being facinated and the trip being far more educational than your standard zoo trip. There are also activities like the Animal Spotters book with little stamps to collect as you walk round and Zoolympics, where you can try and match yourself to each animal in speed, sound, ability to climb etc. Hours of fun!  After a good mooch through the entire zoo section, the Mummies all needed a well-earned coffee break whilst the bubbas both had their mid-morning nap. They were so good and both had at least 30 mins sleep, we couldn’t believe it – must have been all that fresh-air and excitement looking at all the different animals. The Explorers Cafe also serves Starbucks coffee too, so that was a nice touch and much needed!

We then entered the play & rides section of Drusillas. As it was an off-peak day the rides were on a rotation basis so we just had to check the timings and make sure we were in the right place at the right time to hop on, I believe the rides are on constantly in the busier times though! They have a couple of massive play areas that the little ones were a bit too small for yet, like the Go Bananas Adventure Playground and I’m sure by next summer they’ll love the Get Wet! Splash pad too – but we skipped these bits for now but I’m sure on visits to come we’ll get lots of enjoyment out of them! We headed down to the Hello Kitty Secret Garden. Ok, I’ll tell you a secret – I’ve been wanting to come here for YEARS but it felt a bit silly coming without a child – so my inner 15 year old Hello Kitty/Sanrio fanatic was screaming with excitement inside. The Hello Kitty area is suitable for all ages as the little ones loved the bright colours and characters, plus there are two rides you can take babies of any age onto as long as you hold onto them on your lap. So, of course we had to go on them – multiple times so everyone got a go! (Luckily Violet!). You can also visit Hello Kitty’s house and on certain days meet the lady herself, but on the day we went she must have had another commitment! 🙂

The last ride of the day for us was the Safari Express. Running only once on the hour in off-peak season, make sure you check the timings of this one before your trip as you don’t want to miss out! Luckily, we were standing right by the station as boarding began so we hopped on. The babies absolutely loved this bit – maybe more than the other rides, the music and scenery captivated their attention, plus they are able to sit together and even held hands on the way round – so sweet!

We thoroughly enjoyed our trip to Drusillas, there was way more to do than I’d realised – for all ages. I’m sure it’s a place we will return to over and over again as Violet grows up, especially as we are only 20 minutes away.

There are lots of exciting Christmas activities at Drusillas too if you fancy a visit, we saw them all being set up and they look magical! A Winter Wonderland, Santas Cottage, Meet the Reindeer and a Husky Cave, just to name a few of the activities over the Christmas season – we will certainly be taking Violet back for a festive visit – I can’t wait!