Last week has definitely felt harder, we are missing our friends and family and I know you must be too. I had to dig deep to find my five things this time, and at the end I realised the simplest things were those I was hanging onto this week.
We can tick off Week Six of lockdown, it kind of feels like a milestone week. Who knew six weeks ago we would be where we are now?
Businesses and life are changing at a pace that is unbelievably and surprisingly fast, and maybe we are adapting, pivoting, learning and growing. Or maybe we are pausing and taking it all in. Whatever you are doing, make sure it is what's right for you.
We made it through another week in lockdown, I hope you are finding your way within the new normal and enjoying the pause. I have started making notes of five things that stood out for me this week as a way to remember all the positives from these challenging times.
Anyone in the creative field will usually find that their mind runs wild with so many new ideas and find it hard to tame it. Whenever a new idea sparks, my initial feeling is to drop everything else and spend all the time I got on bringing these ideas (some great, some crazy!) to life.
*in collaboration with David Lloyd Milton Keynes
Do you also start the week with the best intention to hit the gym, eat healthy and then spend some time pampering yourself whether it’s a manicure, a new haircut or just some time on the sauna or reading a book?
I do! And then reality kicks in… being a mum of two kids under four and running a business, there is just not enough hours left in the day to attend to that much needed yoga class, or a coffee and chat with friends.
The summer was particularly busy for me in every aspect, on top of everything I had renovations at home and additional projects to prepare for. Then September arrived and if felt like the weight of the world was hanging on my shoulders. I was doing too much and spreading myself too thin. Not being able to cope with the daily demands of my business and family left me in a very emotional state.
It was no surprise that I started having anxiety attacks. If anyone reading this has had them, you’ll know the horrible feeling of helplessness along with all the other symptoms that come with it. Hands down, the worst month I had since I can remember. September also marked two years since I was made redundant from a long-term job and found that I was pregnant with my youngest. In those two years, I haven’t had much of a break and kept pushing myself as if saying no was a failure - BIG mistake!
I have always been quite good at going to the gym regularly and exercising, even it I could only fit in one session a week, I would do it. It didn’t happen in September though, as the demands of my business/life were too high I did not find the time to have any kind of me-time.
It was time for a change…
After a month away, I returned to David Lloyd in October determined to put myself first. If I don’t take care of myself, I won’t be enough help when taking care of my family and business.
Exercising has made a whole world of difference to my mindset and energy levels, and if you follow me on Instagram you’ll know that I join Blaze classes weekly and those are amazing to get in shape and re-boot! (I added some of my IG stories snapshots below)
If you haven’t heard of Blaze, it is a dynamic new workout combining mixed martial arts, intense cardio and strength training, it's a HIIT boutique-style class synced to up-beat, motivating dance music. Everything about the class is prepared carefully for us to have the best experience. There is loud high-energy music (a must when I work out!), mood lights and (the best part!) cold peppermint-infused towels ready for you when you finish. Those towels are always a treat after you’ve worked out hard. When you want to lose weight and shape up, the recommendation is to attend three Blaze sessions per week.
Trust me, those 45 minutes in class fly by, so you’ll definitely be left waiting to come back for more.
I used to take Pilates classes years ago (pre-kids) and I always loved them. I missed pilates! So last month I also decided to go back and now I’m asking myself why didn’t I do that sooner!? I’ll definitely be keeping that up in my weekly routine.
Not just for exercising
It is definitely not just for exercising though, I have found David Lloyd to be a safe place for me when I just need time out from my routine, perfect to re-energise and also to be productive.
I have recently spent a couple of days there working. There is plenty of space to work, a quiet working zone if needed, and everything I need for the day.
The smashed avocado from their menu always ends up being my lunch choice, it’s delicious! Plus the convenience of being already there when I want to work out. Win-win!
Beats every coffee shop I’ve ever worked from…
Our Sunday morning routine is pretty much like this:
-Get everyone ready and out the door by 8am to head over to David Lloyd (it takes a lot of organising and saying ‘let’s go we’re late’ about 20 times but it is all worth it)
-I take a Blaze class or run for 20 minutes, followed by a Pilates class
-In the meantime the girls stay in the play area with the Mr and plenty of snacks!
-He then works out and I order early lunch for the girls. They normally request beans or eggs on toast, that easy…
-We then head back home, and by the time we get back the youngest is ready for her nap, perfect timing!
It’s our weekly ritual, we get to spend quality time with the girls, get a work out session in, and also gets them plenty of play time. My 3-year old is always asking to go to David Lloyd to play, that’s how much fun she has there!
Now that I have realigned my priorities I feel much more in control of my life at home and business. This doesn’t mean at all that I am slowing down, it just means that I am working smarter (not harder!) and making time for the things that matter: ME TIME is finally in!
*This post was written in collaboration with David Lloyd Milton Keynes.
Firstly let me just get the obvious out of the way... I love Mallorca. Who doesn't?! I’ve visited a few times and that is the place where I want to live one day. When it came to choosing a destination to go on our first holiday as a family of four, that’s the first place that came to mind. Plus we couldn't face a long haul flight so two and a half hours away from home it was.
I started looking for hotels with this wish list in mind: great kids facilities for the girls, a splash pool, of course great decor, a gym, near a beach and good food. Oh and within our budget!
When I came accross Fergus Hotels I knew I found what we needed. It has great Scandinavian-Bohemian style with endless facilities for kids and a good selection for adults too.
There are Fergus hotels located around the island and also one in Ibiza (on the wish list for sure, although that will have to be a child-free holiday, adults-only hotel demands) I loved the idea and the look of the Fergus Club Europa for our holiday. Although it is a compact hotel, it is really well planned and equipped to keep kids and parents entertained and relaxed throughout.
It is located in Peguera which was a 30-minute cab drive from the airport. I love this side of the Island, not too far from Palma, with a great local feel to it, access to beautiful beaches and good facilities. If you like doing some local shopping whilst away, it has a great selection of small boutiques in the Boulevard selling trendy woven beach bags that you need in your life, just because you can never have too many.
Nothing better than letting the pictures do the talking though, so here it goes:
There are plenty of lounging areas around the hotel, indoor and outdoor, for whatever mood you are in. We went early June an had a great week weather-wise. I know we won't have the luxury of travelling whenever we want once my eldest daughter starts school next year, but this time we chose the week after half-term and it wasn't too busy but there were still plenty of younger children around for them to play with.
Talking of kids play time, the fantastic splash pool was a hit amongst the girls (and I admit I loved it too!)
The splash pool was great for the girls and great for us as it was also located right next to a bar with unlimited coffees, drinks (including a different cocktail each day), and also unlimited ice cream. The dream!
There were other brilliant facilities for the kids, such as a games room with movies, plenty of games available and also a racing track. For the younger ones there was a kids club which was just like taking them to messy play or spending an afternoon at nursery. They loved it!
And the food... If you love Spanish cuisine, this is the place to be.
The menu is varied and there are different dishes everyday with endless options, and at dinner time there is also a buffet just for kids. The Italian restaurant had a smaller selection, it was so good I could have dined there every night.
Have I even mentioned the endless dessert options yet? Oh and the wine on tap?
Yes, wine on tap!
And there was endless coffee available at by the pools, bars and lounge areas, I was really spoiled the whole week...
After being tempted by so much delicious stuff, I made up for it by taking a spinning class which they offer everyday. There are basic facilities at the gym and just enough to get a good holiday gym session in. I managed a few times in the week and was quite pleased with myself! There are also stretching and yoga classes in the morning if that's your thing.
We had a fantastic time in Mallorca once again, and can't wait for the next time! Have you got your next holiday planned?
*We paid for our holidays and received a 10% discount booking directly with the hotel. I only share places that I would recommend and return to, and we loved Fergus Club Europa - thank you for an amazing week!
We love kids Birthday parties, that's actually how we socialise these days (my 25-year old self would've never imagined this!) and as an interiors stylist amongst many other things I really enjoy planning them!
A few weeks ago my youngest one turned one... The year went by way too quick, there's no doubt. Since we had a special occasion to celebrate and in turn a great excuse for a party, I decided to throw her a party and no better theme than Unicorns to use when my 3 year old is obsessed with them.
Unicorns are everywhere at the moment, there is so much inspiration out there! So my challenge was to put my own stamp on a theme that's so popular with the best mix of decorations I could find and/or make. Challenge accepted... here's what it looked like:
The Table Decor
I used pink, purple and mint green as the main colours, the mint green was great to break up the pink and keep it fresh.
- To create the table skirt, I used strips of coloured crepe streamers cut to size and laid across the table to create this effect. It is a really affordable way to make your table stand out!
- I then used a white table cover on top of it and started placing the sweets and favours around the table. It was fun to play around with the different heights of cake stands to create a table full of surprises.
- I also used props such as the house shelf, the brass letters spelling her name, and pink vases which I used to support a bouquet of marshmallows each.
- On the cake I added tall pastel candles by Talking Tables and I love how it added even more height to the 3-tier cake.
- The sweets placed around the table are a mix of chocolate, caramel and coconut traditional Brazilian sweets which is a must-have in any of our parties. Not only they taste delicious, they are also great to decorate any table.
- I also used macarons and my home-made peanut butter fudge to decorate the table, and the fudge also doubled up as favours as I placed them in Talking Tables cupcake holders and wrapped them in clear cellophane bags. I added custom-made stickers to make them even more special.
- I didn't want to add the typical Unicorn & Rainbows backdrop that seem to pop up a million times when you search Pinterest. Instead, I decided to create our own composition of paper garlands, hanging fans and honeycomb decorations.
- I also used confetti balloons on either side to finish decorating the area where we placed the table. They were a big hit with the guests and also with the birthday girl!
Unicorn Party Boxes
I printed and also laminated them all for a more durable finish.
It was time consuming to cut them and as I chose a Kraft box instead of white I gave up on cutting the eyelashes (as the white around it was too obvious!). Instead, we drew the eyelashes directly on the boxes and coloured them in with a black marker.
Hot Dog Bar
What's a party without food!? The main event was a Hot Dog Bar! I'd been wanting to do one for ages so I finally nailed it. This is how I did it:
The Hot Dog Bar prep before the party
- I used a piece of chalk fabric cut to size to use as a base for the bar, it works perfectly as you can place whatever you want on top of It and write as much or as little as you want. All you need is a chalk pen and this one was really easy to use.
- The pots for the toppings and the chalk board/frame are from Ikea. I spray painted the frame to use as a chalk board for parties, and it comes in so handy!
I hope you like our Unicorn party + Hot Dog Bar! Are you planning a party at the moment? I'd love to know about it, drop a comment below!
*This post is not sponsored - I just wanted to share how I decorated it and help another mama throw a cute birthday party! It contains affiliate links for some of the items used.
When I mention that I go to David Lloyd in person or on social media, I often get asked how it is and whether it is worth joining... The prices are not necessarily the cheapest when you compare to other gyms and health clubs, however I don't think that would be a fair comparison as David Lloyd is much more than that. It's a lifestyle club that also has a gym and much, but so much more to offer.
A few months ago we very lucky to be offered a family membership at David Lloyd Milton Keynes, so we started discovering everything that they had to offer, you can have a look at our first impressions here and here.
As an answer to whether it is worth it, I thought I'd list here the five things I love most about DL!
1. Fun for the whole family
This is kind of the obvious one, but it is so true and the main reason why I love it! Having two young daughters, a business, a dog and everything else that comes with decorating and maintaining a family home, 'busy' is an understatement and the moments we get to spend together are far and few between, so they are treasured!
When we go to DL at the weekends or evenings, we know it's guaranteed fun family time. The play area with a soft play frame is great to entertain the little ones while one of us are working out. And then there's the swimming pool which is the highlight for my 3-year-old, and even my 10-month old baby has a blast. Guaranteed naps afterwards are a bonus...
2- Space to work
I have spent many working days at DL when I just needed a quiet place or a change of scenery to focus. With their awesome facilities it was a no brainer. And even better with their delicious menu and coffee available from the bar only a few steps away.
3- The classes & the gym
Of course this list had to include the fitness side of it. I used to be really active, but with everything that I have going on at the moment, if I can work out twice a week I feel lucky!
So I have been making the most of the classes available at David Lloyd. Their app makes it super easy to book them, as you can save your favourites and then book your classes up to 10 days in advance. The options are endless, although my favourite ones are pilates, group cycling and body balance. And there are classes for the little ones as well...
Their Cardio equipment in the gym with individual screens have always been a hit for me! They are currently renovating their gym area which will be re-opening on the 22nd of March in what promises to be a 'state of the art' gym. I seriously cannot wait to see it! In the meantime, there are temporary facilities for the CV and weight training addicts so no one is let down.
4- The crèche
There is childcare on site. How genius is that?
And the facilities are really well equipped with an experienced team to cater for children of 4 months up to 5 years old. You can book an hour at a time which is just what you need for a workout or a class, or even a quick meeting or a trip to their hairdressers just upstairs (see what I mean about lifestyle? You can literally get everything done there!)
5- The social aspect
There isn't much of a social life going in in this household... when you're working at every spare minute during the day and after the kids go to bed, the next thing you think about is always sleep (how little will I sleep, how long until the next little person wakes up, how soon can I get to sleep and so on).
We barely go out and choose takeaways instead most of the time, so our social life was reduced to catching up with friends at birthday parties. DL has allowed us the place and time to see more of our friends. As some were existing members and others joined after we did, it is so easy to arrange to meet for a coffee and play time for the girls at the weekends. It is also the best option since there is no bad weather once you're in there! No more trying to find where to go on a rainy Sunday!
So my answer is a big fat YES, it is worth it if you are looking for a place that can provide you with all of the above and more. I haven't even mentioned the tennis facilities and many others simply because we don't have time to use them all, but what we do use is fantastic.
These six months of membership have been the best gift we could have had last October, and after this trial would I continue to be a member? I guess you already know the answer - of course I would and I think we just might have to...
*A big thanks to David Lloyd for this great opportunity to experience the club for six months. As always my opinions are my own and I only recommend things and activities that I would do myself.
The Wild Rabbit - Kingham
Happy New Year!
We wish you a fantastic 2018! With a new year comes new goals and dreams, and quality family time is at the top of most people's lists for the new year - especially for working parents. Whether you run your own business or have a job, the juggling of daily life pressures, busy schedules and raising kids can take its toll on anyone.
How about we make more time to create memories with our loved ones?
Sounds good right?
Last Autumn we went to the stunning Cotswolds for a family weekend break, and although just over an hour away from home, it was amazingly relaxing and just what we needed at the time. A weekend hotel break and a change of scenery were perfect to help us switch off from the pressures of the daily routine whilst the girls had a blast. Not to mention the amazing interiors we got to check out at some Boutique Hotels and shops!
To read what we got up to in the Cotswolds, including fun for the little ones and where we got the little treats from the chef below, check the full article in Trivago's Room5.
Recently we have been invited to join David Lloyd Milton Keynes for a six-month membership. A couple of weeks have gone by and I've had the time to discover most of the facilities (believe me there is so much to do there!), I figured it's time to share what my goals are for the next six months. It is always more of a commitment once it's written... and I'll have you all to hold me accountable for it now!
My main challenge over the last six months has been the lack of time to do anything that doesn't involve the kids or the business, so I may be ambitious but one of my main goals is to get back into my pre-pregnancy shape, not necessarily losing weight, although I'd be happy to wave goodbye to 3 unwanted kilos! But mainly toning up and putting things back into place (Mums out there, you know what I mean - toned bum and legs and a flat tummy or as close to that as possible). So I have started running again, weight training, pilates and plan on joining spinning classes soon.
After my first workout, documenting on my Insta stories!
The entrance to the gym and cardio equipment
My second and most important goal is to spend quality family time. With a very intense last year and not much help around, we haven't allowed ourselves to relax much lately, so this is the perfect opportunity! I treasure those moments we can spend together as a family, be it swimming after a class or playing in the DL Kids area, or even having a go at tennis once Lia turns three.
Alongside that, running a new business is a 24/7 thing and with limited time my to-do list is always growing longer! So going to David Lloyd allows me to take that time a few times a week to spend time with the family, without getting behind on my business. There is wifi in the club and also an adults-only work area really well equipped, so I can be on top of things whenever needed.
The first two weeks...
I kick started my running journey and I have managed to run for a whole twenty minutes, admittedly at a slower pace than I used to before, however I am over the moon with that start! I love that David Lloyd cardio equipment has its own screen where you can watch TV whilst working out so I have been catching up on the news (or on X-factor!) and it does make the work out easier in a way. Call it multi-tasking or cheating, whichever way it is working for me!
I have also taken a pilates class and it has definitely pushed me in all kinds of ways, I realised what parts of my body really need strengthening and it also gave me a much needed mind space. Amazing #mummetime and work out - talk about multi-tasking again!
My work station for a couple of mornings last week
Lia ready for a fun swim
We have also taken the girls swimming. Mel went in the pool for the first time and she was a natural! We took some water toys and everyone really enjoyed themselves. I thought getting showered and changed with a baby might be a nightmare - it wasn't too bad though it took some planning... there are showers with baby seats and there are changing tables, a play pen and plenty of seating areas in the changing rooms.
Lia has really been enjoying the DL Kids area where me and the Mr normally sit and take turns to work out or attend classes. My five-month old doesn't take bottles so leaving her at the creche is not an option yet for us (although they do take babies from 4 months old!) but we hope by the end of the year this will change. This is also the area where we meet friends or enjoy a nice and well-deserved post-workout meal. It's a really casual and friendly area.
So far it has been great! This week I am booked into a body balance class and a yoga class and I am looking forward to those. Having a great place to go to where I can take my family is keeping me motivated, as there are great facilities for the whole family so I don't have to miss out on time with them to keep fit, and whilst many years ago I would have never even thought of that, these days it is the main factor we consider when choosing what places to go!
Lia enjoying herself on the play frame
The kids area - it is hard to get little one away from it!
One of the studios
The indoor swimming pool
Disclaimer: David Lloyd has kindly gifted us a six-month membership, as always I would only share activities that we do ourselves and all opinions are my own.
For the past many years we've been really active, when we had no kids we used to work out several times a week, play tennis, take pilates and spinning classes. Plus take the dog out for long walks or bike rides. My first daughter was born in 2014, and seven weeks later I was back at it. We didn't necessarily have the time to continue with all the activities as before, but the gym was still a non-negotiable, and I used to run a few times a week and take the odd spinning class here and there.
Everything changed when my second daughter was born in April this year. Our gym membership was long gone as spare time became nothing more than a distant memory. There. is. no. spare. time. Toughest time of all, as you are restless looking after a toddler and a baby who cannot coordinate their sleep times and have different needs, both my husband and I are constantly exhausted.
When I recently got an invitation to attend an event at David Lloyd Milton Keynes I was over the moon. Partly because David Lloyd is the best health club around here, and partly because it included the magic sentence 'bring your children'. That was it! A solution to my long-lasting lack of fitness activities!
My almost three year old and I attended the event along with other lovely local bloggers and their children, we were given a tour of the facilities, a yoga class whilst the little ones attended a kids club class or the creche, time to go swimming with the littles and a yummy dinner. It was the start of my journey back into fitness and best of all: family included!
It was no surprise I was aching from the yoga class, for several days after! However over the next weekend I was back in there to start off my journey to fitness. The Mr was fully onboard, being as committed to fitness as he is. So off we went, fully loaded family of four to kick start our membership at David Lloyd!
We both managed to work out whilst my eldest one was playing in the soft play frame and kids area and making new friends, and my youngest one was either feeding, sleeping or just looking around being cute.
Enjoying the kids facilities whilst having a break from the soft play frame
The girls at David Lloyd Milton Keynes
There is a vast array of activities for them, especially when Lia turns three in December. She will be able to attend kids club activities and even tennis lessons.
It seems like the perfect way to set back into a healthy routine, school holidays are out of the way and I can pop in there anytime I want to attend a class or do some exercise. All I need to do is book the creche and get my training gear on. I might even take my laptop as the facilities are great and with the little ones entertained I need to make use of all the time I can to get work done these days!
I will keep you updated on our progress...
Recently I got the amazing news that I am a finalist for not one, but two BizMums awards! Yes, me! I had to look again as I was tagged on Facebook to make sure it was really meant for me, and yes, among amazingly strong women there I was.
It's been a tough 11 months in this journey but I wouldn't have done any of what I did if it wasn't for the huge support I get, so THANK YOU to everyone following and supporting me on social media, readers of my blog, and my lovely customers!
I am so happy to be a finalist in the New Business Award and Inspirational Mum Award Categories!
Only a year ago I wouldn't have dreamt that today I'd be where I am. Fast forward one month from that and everything changed. It was bittersweet: I was made redundant from my job of thirteen years and I was also four weeks pregnant!
After many ups and downs - more downs at that point as I adjusted to being a stay at home mum and the necessary financial adjustments - I decided to put my skills to use and started designing my first wallpaper collection. I launched my interiors shop in February this year and my wallpapers went 'live' in April, only the week after my youngest daughter was born!
I don't know where this journey will take me but I hope that it'll be a long and happy one!
I have new designs in the pipeline and other exciting plans to extend my collection to cushions and stationary shortly. I have had to learn so many things so far, and put in many late hours whilst pregnant and most recently after the girls go to bed every night. It's not been easy, but it's been worthwhile!
I wish the best of luck to all the finalists in the BizMums awards and also all the hard working mamas out there!
The award ceremony will be on the 8th of October, I'm keeping all my fingers crossed and I'll let you know what happens! :)
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