If you are looking for something to do in the last few weeks of Summer Holidays then why not go down to The Mall at Cribbs Causeway and join in the fun as part of their Summer Unleashed event and see exclusive sculptures from Gromit Unleashed 2

Summer Unleashed, Cribbs Causeway, Bristol, Gromit Unleashed, Gromit Unleashed 2

The Mall at Cribbs Causeway located in Bristol, are hosting fantastic fun activities to help celebrate and raise money for The Grand Appeal. In total so far The Grand Appeal has raised over £50 million for Bristol Children’s Hospital.

Previous trails have been Gromit Unleashed in 2013, and Shaun In The City in 2015. We only managed a few Shaun In The City finds, but we do own some sculptures. My favourite figure we own being Sparkles The Unicorn, the sculpture of this was sold in auction for a whopping £25,000.

This year the trail is Gromit Unleashed 2 which Gromit is the headlining star, but this time he is also joined by his good friend and cheese loving owner Wallace and the criminal mastermind Feathers McGraw. I love the fact this time the sculptures aren’t limited to one character.

The trail runs from 2nd July to 2nd September, and you have over 60 sculptures to find. You can log these on the Gromit Unleashed app like we have been doing, which we love as the app also acts as a map for you to find more sculptures for those selfie opportunities. This is super fun to go on a Gromit Unleashed hunt during the holidays and trying to find your favourites.

If you do visit the fun of Summer Unleashed at The Mall then you will be lucky enough to find 3 exclusive sculptures, we had great fun following the footsteps to find each of the characters. Our favourite on the day had to be Gromit P.Sullivan, we love Monsters Inc. and the fact he is also furry was fantastic. You can also locate Wallace as Spock and Feathers McGraw as In-cog-nito which is very special indeed as he has moving cogs. Remember to mark these down on your Gromit Unleashed 2 app to add to your collection of finds.

Summer Unleashed, Gromit Unleashed, Gromit p.Sullivan

Gromit P. Sullivan

Also you can find a special Feathers McGraw in one of the stores, keep an eye weekly on The Mall social media pages for clues where he may be. You can go in a draw to win £100 and win tickets for the Gromit Unleashed 2 Exhibition which is being hosted by The Mall. The exhibition show is called ‘The Greatest Dog Show on Earth 2’ and is on from 15th-30th September. You will be able to see all of the sculptures under one roof. Perfect for if you have missed a couple on the trail. This is the last chance to see the sculptures before they head off for auction to raise further funds. Tickets are available for the exhibition here.

In addition to finding these 3 exclusive sculptures, during the Summer you can visit the outdoor pop up cinema. This is located outside the TopShop entrance, but in the event of the weather taking a turn for the worse you will be able to find the cinema on the lower lever outside M&S. The day we went was typically raining, so we headed inside to watch the first showing of the day.

The cinema showing free screenings is open throughout the summer holidays on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays between 11am-4pm. Each show is 30 minutes long and shows classic Aardman animations. The kids loved this as you have headphones, so you can listen and not get distracted by people shopping around you. There are beanbags for the kids and chairs so parents can also sit and enjoy a few minutes peace before going on the search for more Gromit Unleashed 2 sculptures.

Before you enter the cinema you are greeted by Cinemama and Poppacorn characters, Rowan not being a people person wasn’t sure, but Josie who is a social butterfly absolutely loved this. The characters were involving all of the kids, even unsociable Rowan which as brilliant (he did come round to enjoying this). The kids learnt how to walk down the red carpet and pose like a hollywood star, then you can enter the cinema and get comfortable on the rainbow selection of beanbags.

Cinemamma and Poppacorn

Not only that, you can also ride the Summer Train which children are £2 each and accompanying adults go free, proceeds go to The Grand Appeal. The train runs Tuesdays, Thursdays and the weekend. The kids have been on the train other times we have visited and absolutely love this. Plus what a fabulous way to bribe them to be good with the promise of a train ride, plus you are helping to raise money for such an amazing cause.

Plus outside the TopShop entrance is the popular vintage carousel which is £2 per child. The kids love this when we go to The Mall for the Winter Wonderland at Christmas to see Santa and go Ice Skating.

There is so much to do at The Mall Summer Unleashed event, then after you could go searching around Bristol for more Gromits. We are off searching for more sculptures on Friday and then hopefully will get along to the exhibition as we really want to see Marshall, Wallace in Wonderland and Sprinkles if we don’t manage to find them before the trail ends. Plus there is the Gromit Unleashed Store located on the upper mall level which we always visit. They have some fabulous artwork designs of Feathers McGraw and lots of figures and other fantastic memorabilia to purchase. I hope they do the figures for Gromit Unleashed 2 like previous years as Josie already as her eye on her favourites and I know Rowan would love Marshall for his room.

The Mall, Cribbs Causeway

Seeing the sculptures and going to the pop up cinema was indeed the kids favourite activities that day, they love watching all of the Aardman Animations. We all love watching them as a family and they never get old to watch, my personal favourite character has to be Shaun The Sheep. We had a fabulous day out and the fact the fun activities made a shopping trip for mummy to also be very enjoyable for the children. I like the fact they have incorporated the fun of Gromit Unleashed 2 and extended the fun of finding the sculptures, while also helping to raise further funds for The Grand Appeal.

Have you been on any of the trails? Which is your favourite sculpture to date?

Simply Stacey, Grow your Pinterest

*** The Mall, Cribbs Causeway invited us to the event. All words and review are all honest and my own. You can follow The Mall on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter using @MallCribbs
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July has been eventful hasn’t it, we have had World Cup, heatwaves, the start of Love Island and more importantly I have had some fabulous days with my babies. See what we have been up to in Siblings Project July

Siblings Project July, Dear Beautiful

The Siblings Project July

I can’t believe we only have a couple of weeks until the schools break up for summer holidays. I honestly do not know where the time has gone. Josie will be going into year 5 in September, and then comes the hyperventilating as next year I am going to have to put Josie down for which secondary school and put Rowan’s name down for starting school.

Being a parent in the holidays is completely exhausting. Being a working mummy consists of juggling childcare and fun. Rowan is still at nursery so this gives me some time with Josie, plus I need to also work. I am lucky in the respect that I can mix up working form home and myself and Antony will share looking after the kids. The juggling of 6 weeks of childcare does have it’s advantages as the days you do have together are even more special. The last few years Josie has gone to summer day camps but she is at the age she doesn’t want too. She loves me working from home as she can have a chill day as she calls it.

I really do cherish the moments I spend with the children, memory making at every available opportunity. I am going to try and do a plan of activities as August is an awful month money wise as we also have Josie’s birthday, plus days out also Josie is like a dustbin and in the holidays she eats me out of house and home.

So this month we finally went to the Chilli and Cheese Festival at Lydiard Park in Swindon. We wanted to go last year as Antony is like Wallace from Wallace and Gromit when it comes to cheese but we missed it as we was away. This year we braved the heatwave and attempted to go. It was a lovely few hours, but not even being dramatic it was way too hot, the kids weren’t coping with the heat so we decided to call it a day. You can catch our day on my recent vlogging episode below:

However we did get some fabulous photos in this time, one being the main feature photo above. I absolutely loved this picture as this captures both of their characters perfect. With their vast height difference, getting a photo of them together is fun and games. But this was one of those moments which I wasn’t expecting to capture such a beautiful photo of them both.

Josie-Ann

This past few weeks, you can really see Josie is growing up and her features are all changing again. Josie absolutely loved doing Josie-Cam on our day in the life (I did have to cut 20 minutes off) that girl can chat! We have had tons of school events, again another tricky time when working, plus working 45 minutes away from her school so it is not easy to just pop in to an event.

Sibling Project July, Cheese and Chilli Festival, Lydiard Park

We have had Josie’s KS2 School Play, which she was a monkey. Obviously she was my favourite monkey by far. She also has had her sports day and school fair. During the fair she showed off with her peers their cheerleading skills, they have been doing this as an after school activity which Josie has really enjoyed.

Coming up we have Josie-Ann’s birthday next month, she was just before the school cut off so she is the youngest in her year. We are taking her to the Harry Potter studio tours in Watford on her birthday, which she is so excited about. I love how she is still as excited about her birthday as she was at Rowan’s age.

Rowan

Surprisingly Rowan has also changed in character, both good and bad. The terrible two’s has certainly kicked in and he has been extremely testing at times, but he has the most adorable mischievous face just as he is about to do something naughty and the cheesiest smile when he is doing something in which he is not meant to be doing.

sibling project july

The biggest change has been, finally Rowan has been coming out of his shy shell. Before he wouldn’t make eye contact or talk to anyone other than us or nanny, this is why I love vlogging especially as people can see he can talk and smile. But recently he has come on leaps and bounds. At home he is talking in full paragraphs, but he has also been saying the odd work to people. We went this weekend to do Rowan’s favourite weekend treat of going to the bakery for a cake, and he even said ‘bye’ this was a big deal for Rowan. He even gave mum’s friend a kiss and cuddle…see this has been a massive improvement.

I hope you have enjoyed reading our Siblings Project July, and would love to hear of any days out recommendations for the summer.

The Siblings Project - Dear Beautiful

 

 

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Hayfever and random days out in Wiltshire…..this is what we got up to in June as part of The Me and Mine Project.

Days Out in Wiltshire, me and mine project

Finally we have all been germ free! Apart from suffering with hayfever, as I write this I am sneezing away and trying to refine from scratching my eyes out. I have not suffered this bad for ages and have seen this year pollen is high due to a delayed spring. It also turns out that Rowan (aka my sickly child) also is suffering from hayfever. Anyone who suffers with this will know this can put a strain on enjoying the warm months of the year. I desperately want to plan exciting days out, but also know I will suffer for a few days after the event.

Yesterday we went out for the day, my hayfever was already at an all time high as Antony cut the grass the previous day (I am seriously contemplating astroturf this moment in time)so thought might as well just go for it, plus to make the most of the sunshine and some quality family time with the children.

Recently we purchased a family New Zealand Heritage pass as recommended by my lovely blogger friend Emily at A Slummy Mummy blog. I recently downloaded The National Trust app for ideas of places nearby, as we want ideas for days out and some beautiful places for me to practice improving photography skills. I was surprised that the app had so many beautiful places and not just houses, which is what I thought The National Trust was to be honest. We looked at passes but couldn’t afford the amount for the family pass, then Emily said about an awesome tip of purchasing New Zealand Heritage as the passes work over here and are a fraction of the price, the only thing not included is car parking.

Days Out in Wiltshire

We are lucky living in Wiltshire, how many places are near so we don’t have far to travel. We went on our first trip and went to Avebury, I was amazed this beautiful village is only half an hour away from us. We went to Lockeridge Dene first and the kids went jumping around like wild feral animals in the field of sarsen stones. Then we wanted to go and get some pictures and have a picnic near the stone circle in Avebury, unfortunately so did a huge number of other people and parking was literally impossible.

Days Out in Wiltshire, me and mine project

So with two ravenous children moaning in the heat, we headed back near home and went to the beautiful Lydiard Park and sent up a picnic, played football and blowed bubbles. Sometimes you forget how memorable cheap days out are and how you don’t have to go spending a fortune on an exciting day out. Randomly we done a similar thing last week, we had tea and the kids were arguing, so we all went on a dog walk, kids on the bikes and went to the park. It was brilliant as we had this to ourselves and the kids got to unload a load of steam before bed. The kids had such a lovely time, and just shows spending time together, no matter how or cost wise has such an impact on memories for you children to remember. I am sure the past couple of weeks they will remember the fun we had and do the same with their children in the future….oh gosh I just had a vision of me as a granny!

We are hoping to do some more local events and days out, maybe even fit in some geocaching as the kids absolutely love doing this. One thing I want to try as on my Slimming World diet and the kids are obsessed with fruit is going to a local ‘Pick Your Own’ farm, it is one of those things we keep meaning to do but never get round to this for some reason. So hopefully this will be the year.

The Me + Mine Project - Dear Beautiful

 

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It has been a couple of months since I took part in The Siblings Project, so here is The Siblings Project May.

Grab a cuppa and a biscuit to dunk at lets have a catch up….

Sibling Project May

 

This past couple of months has flew by, and both of my children have come on leaps and bounds. I have noticed changes in both, Rowan understandably more noticeable as he is now just over 2 and a half so every day is something new with him.

As a family we have been fairly busy, Antony done a super job updating the garden. We decided to get rid of the big play area that was here when we moved in. I could trust Josie outside but Rowan was an accident waiting to happen as the play slide was too big for him. Josie has fallen off the slide into the bak numerous times and both kids hurt themselves falling on the bark. Then add a puppy who wants to carry the bark and put all over the grass.

We decided to pull it all up and  gave the play area away to someone we know. Underneath the bark there was concrete, which Antony and his Dad have pulled all up. Antony used to do gardening in previous jobs which was handy at this precise moment and added the top soil then eventually due to weather got to lay the new turf The garden looks huge now and so much more room for the kids to play.

Next step is to paint the shed and fence and add some pinterest style touches to make it beautiful. I fancy grey fences, I have a thing for grey at the minute and in the garden it looks very effective. We had a lovely BBQ in the garden to christen the new area, which led to me getting stupidly burnt. We also have set up an area at the bottom of the garden for a vegetable patch. We enjoyed growing these last years and Josie loved picking the food and cooking, which Rowan will love this year too.

Sibling Project May

Josie-Ann

Josie is still growing at a rapid rate, she is over my shoulder now. She has being doing well at school and we have her class service this week which we are looking forward to watching. I noticed last weekend when filming a ‘Day In The Life’ which you can see here, how much more grown up she is looking. I can’t believe how quick time has gone as she will be 9 in a few months. We have booked to take her to Harry Potter for a birthday treat in Watford which she is super excited about.

Josie has really got into reading recently and has been reading a book a week. She loves the Tom Gates books and her most recent read was Family, Friends and Furry Creatures. The books are brilliantly designed and lots of doodles and hand lettering, which has made Josie starting to do her own lettering designs.

Sibling Project May

Rowan

Rowan is getting such a funny character, unfortunately not many people get to see this as he is still not a social butterfly. Nursery mentioned he doesn’t speak much there, Josie was the same she was more comfortable around people they know well. Here however he is saying full on sentences now.  Every morning he will tell me what the weather is and he is becoming obsessed with Fireman Sam. We have took him to a couple of theatre shows which he loved, so far he has seen Milkshake Live and Teletubbies.

For a treat near his birthday we are planning on going to the Emergency Services show near us as he loves anything with a siren on. He will love getting to sit in a fire engine especially. He goes so excited when he sees a fire extinguisher, he did however have a stress moment when we lit the BBQ and was calling for Sam and got his little fire engine out.

The Siblings Project - Dear Beautiful
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Linking up with Dear Beautiful, welcome to this months Siblings Project

Siblings Project, dear beautiful, SimplyStacey

 

Considering how long January dragged on, February has zoomed by so quickly. We are already at the end of half term and back to school next week. This month we have not done anything exciting due to weather and having a poorly Rowan. I wanted to do this months Siblings Project out and about but this was not possible due to Rowan having chicken pox, so luckily I had some nice photos from a mini photo shoot a couple of weeks ago.

Josie-Ann

Josie has been on half term and since we were stuck in she has had the chance to play at home, which I think she has enjoyed. We are so busy and after school clubs means most of the time Josie doesn’t get to chill and play much so this has been a nice change. My proud moment this month was the hard work she put into creating a Harry Potter PowerPoint Presentation. I had to work from home one of the days during half term so whilst working she sat next to me watching Harry Potter and doing a presentation on my laptop.

 

Rowan

Rowan has not had a good month, he got struck down with chickenpox. Josie was never that bad with them, but poor Rowan was covered and poorly with them. He wasn’t sleeping, which we are not used too as we have always been lucky with both kids sleeping patterns. The spots started Sunday/Monday and it wasn’t until the Saturday that he was feeling like playing and organising his toys again. My proud moment with Rowan is definitely his speech, he is saying full sentences now.

We have signs of colds, but after the chickenpox we can certainly deal with those germs. Hopefully Spring weather will start kicking in soon. I am fed up of the cold, wet weather. At the end of the month we are planning on deciding how to decorate the kids rooms and making a start on updating the garden. We also want to try and have a nice family day out somewhere some point, as we haven’t had the chance since before Christmas.

Yes we have been stuck in the bulk of half term, but you don’t have to go out each time. The kids love time at home and they had great fun for hours getting the play dough out (mummy didn’t as soon as colours started getting mixed) and playing games. Sometimes these are indeed the best days, spending quality time together.

How was your half term?

 

 

The Siblings Project - Dear Beautiful

 

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Hands down my favourite Social Media App has to be Instagram, but why am I having a love/hate relationship with it?

Instagram algorithm love hate marmite

Most bloggers you speak to about Instagram, will all agree the main problem is the change of algorithm. This has caused many pictures in your grid to go missed on others feed, and I certainly have noticed the struggle to get views.

As a blogger/vlogger any way of reaching out to potential viewers is a must, and increasing your numbers to branch out to new followers is all part of reaching out and promoting your content. With most of my social channels, I have a steady following and find these slowly increase over time. Instagram however changes with the weather regarding followers.

Arguably there are ways of increasing your following, such as paid promotions. These have caused more views, but not a large amount follower wise. Other way is the popular trend of a perfect looking Instragram feed, I love the look of these, and admire the time it must take to achieve the pictures for the desired theme. For me personally, it would mean I would end up leaving out pictures that I originally want to add, just to achieve a themed feed. I have decided this is not the way at this current moment that I want to run my grid.

Instagram blog blogger

HATE

The part of Instagram that annoys me and really leaves myself deflated is, one second I will go on and I can have fifteen extra followers, go on again and twenty less. The drastic rollercoaster of followers is so noticeable every time I log on. Majority of the follows seems more for numbers, which undoubtably what we all would like. Out of all the available media’s I personally find Instagram is extremely fickle, the amount of followers that unfollow if I won’t follow them is unreal. The same time you want to support everyone, but same time I would miss my favourite Instagrammers posts on my feed.

I am trying not to check this as much as I was becoming obsessed checking. I try to limit this to once a week, when I write down my stats. I did have an app which shows you who has followed and unfollowed and this is where I could see the people who was after numbers solely. I had to delete the app, as again this became an obsession.

I personally prefer organic views, people who want to see my feed and I can interact with. Everyone wants to increase their followings, but you don’t want this forced, You want followers that want to follow you for your content, not just follow you for their own benefit.

 

LOVE

Not all changes over time on Instagram are negative. Hashtag Tracking is brilliant for following regular hashtags you may search. These will appear on your feed, for brands and shops this is ideal as you can follow your own hashtag and track.

Instagram Stories for me was one of the best updates, this has increased my confidence in front of the camera dramatically and along with inspiration from other vloggers this helped me start my YouTube channel last month. I have recently tried to be more creative with posts for my stories. Plus with the added Highlights, so you can save longer your favourite stories and group these. I have done covers for these to keep with my branding which you can see on my page.

I still need to experiment with the LIVE function. I haven’t really found the need for this, but I may try and add this in soon. Maybe for when brainstorming and looking for ideas. Or coming up with questions for a Q&A. Again another function is you can split screen and have other people join you so I am planning a live session and linking with my Blog Network co-founder Estelle.

Instagram blog SimplyStacey

I do hope one day I get to the 10,000 mainly so I can put a ‘swipe up’ link on a story. I am not holding my breath on anytime soon. Plus knowing my luck, you can guarantee when I eventually get to 9999 that Instagram will change it’s rules, or I will lose drastic amounts from the rollercoaster effect.

I have tried so many tips on improving your Instagram game, from number of hashtags, to style of pictures. For now I am just going to not stress about what I should post and post pictures I like. Some tips give them their dues do work, for example:

  • Add locations where available as you reach a wider audience
  • Search hashtags before and look for the ones more beneficial to your photo
  • Add hashtags in your story can boost views
  • Upload regularly, I notice my most views are in the evening
  • Spend time interacting, not only you will find great new feeds but you are helping others

Trying to be like everyone else just gets you lost in the feed. My mission is to keep my page as my style, mix of lifestyle, family and the odd instagram favourite of a pretty mug with the stragically placed biscuits and flowers distorted in the distance.

Looking on, I will still use the app. No matter how much the bots following and numbers annoy me, I won’t stop using the site as this is one of my favourites. Instagram is the first and last app I will use in a day. I love checking stories and catching up with everyone. Overall the algorithm is here, it is happening and there isn’t much we can do to change it. Yeah this sucks, but don’t let it stop you creating your Instagram how you want your profile to look.

I am contemplating on being more creative, I love watching clips on Instagram, along with looking at everyone’s photos. I want to start trying to do these once a week, a short video of an event, or something we have been up too. If you are thinking of starting a YouTube channel but are nervous or not sure of editing, Instagram clips such as this or doing more Instastories will certainly improve your confidence.

How do you find Instragram? Do you have a love and hate relationship with the site?

Stacey

 

I have seem some great posts also on the subject of Instagram, check them out below:

Once Upon A Blog

Eldeeable

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We are finally at the end of January, which means it is time for our first post for Dear Beautiful family photo project…Me and Mine Project

Me and Mine Project

We enjoyed taking part in The Sibling Project and have been looking forward to The Me and Mine Project as we had to try and get a family photo, rather then just the kids together.

As I mentioned in my previous Sibling Project post, these challenges are fantastic for you t o make the effort to get a photo. Wether you go out for the day or even take a selfie at home, getting a family photo to cherish is great. You don’t always have the time or think of taking a group photo. But these challenges make you do this.

We tried a picture at home, but Rowan was having none of this, so we went off for a wander round Lydiard Park. We took the scooters which I was also filming for a Day In The Life vlog post. Rowan is normally always in his buggy but he absolutely loved having the freedom on his 3 wheels.

Typically the weather turned whilst we was there and rain came. We only stayed for about an hour but had some chores at home to complete. We are going to do this again soon, and when the weather is nicer we will take a picnic and make a day of it. Normally we would take Bibi, but she has just started her first season and is not very happy about this, so she stayed at home in the warm for this adventure.

January has been a blur, the comedown from Christmas and getting back into routine has been tricky. Also with my birthday in the middle, we have been extremely busy. You can see what we have been up to in my latest upload Snapshots and Scenes above.

Josie-Ann

Josie has really changed in the last month and we have noticed her grow up dramatically. She has started taking a lot more responsibility and we have been getting great feedback from school about her behaviour. Last week she even received an award from her headteacher for doing work without being asked.

Rowan

Rowan has also changed, he has really come on leaps and bounds speaking. He absolutely loved making our first Day in The Life vlog. Rowan has learnt to put his photo in the post box when leaving nursery and is still as OCD about tidying as ever. He has suddenly gone into the toddler phrase, and I am missing a baby around now. We won’t be having anymore though which I have been trying to come to the fact of this and how fast time flies way too fast.

I am looking forward to February and taking part in Me and Mine Project. We also have half term fun in the middle of February. We haven’t many plans for February apart from planning for the end of the month to start on decorating the children’s bedrooms. We have been luckily since moving end of 2016, that we had a blank canvas and Josie room is pink, so both bedrooms have been fine for the kids, but we really want to get these sorted for them over the next couple of months.

 

The Me + Mine Project - Dear Beautiful
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In a mission to make our house feel like a home, I have been shopping and have an exciting Home Haul to show you..

home haul, dunelm, homesense

On my birthday a couple of weeks ago, myself and Mum went on a shopping spree to Dunelm and Homesense. I received money for my birthday and decided I wanted to buy some home accessories to make the house more cosy. As my birthday is only a couple of weeks after Christmas, I don’t really need or want much for myself and have been wanting to buy stuff for the house for a while but have never got round to it, or know what to get to be honest. Finding inspiration and different looks online has become a new hobby.

Quite often I like to browse Instagram and Pinterest for Home Inspiration and watch other videos doing a home Haul. I have recently got into more interior posts. Ranging from house renovations to adding a soft furnishings like a throw to the sofa. I love browsing other people’s pictures and getting ideas and thinking more out of the box.

We only brought our new corner sofa from DFS the beginning on January and love the comfort from all snuggling on the huge sofa. We only had our previous sofas a year, but we have struggled getting comfy and as they were two seaters, it was hard to get comfortable. The corner sofa now, is perfect for families. This is the small version but it is so huge and perfect for our needs. We wanted grey this time too, previously we had green. I had seen numerous pictures of grey, blush pink and copper together and adore these colours.

The sofa came with matching cushions, but I wanted to brighten the sofa up and make more feminine and add extra comfort. I opted for fluffy cushions and found the most amazing blush pink Mongolian wool large cushion in Homesense. Mum brought me this as an addition for my birthday present. I am obsessed with my cushion. It compliments the grey beautifully and is perfect for the large corner section and as duck feathers the cushion is extremely comfortable. I decided to order online at TK Maxx matching smaller cushions to spread along the sofa.

For the lounge I brought a collection of small items in a Home Haul, such as an artificial succulent which adds colour to the sideboard. Homesense is amazing for candles, they have such a large collection. I went for a Mountain Air candle in the sale when I went back again with Antony. The candle is a double wick, and grey colour wax with a copper lid. Perfect for the colours of the lounge. The fragrance is an aftershave type scent, not too overpowering but leaves the room delicately fragranced.

I recently uploaded my first Home Haul on my YouTube channel which you can see below the items I purchased in more detail. If you like my video then please subscribe, it would mean the world to me

 

I can’t believe how just a handful of decorative items added to a room can make the house feel so much more cosy. You know when you play The Sims and add extra decorations to their homes and it will lift their mood, I am feeling the same.

We were lucky when we move to our home in 2016, as our house was decorated in neutral colours and we have the perfect blank canvas. We are going to be decorating this year and I will document the changes. Long term we want to look at extending to make more room and possibly converting the garage.

For now though, having a Home Haul has been productive and certainly added a home feel to our house. Plus this has given me a new hobby going on the search for new items, prints, and frames.

Have you recently purchased anything for your home? Have you plans to decorate this year?

Stacey

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#SmearForSmear | 22nd-28th January is Cervical Cancer Prevention Week, and the theme this year is ‘Reduce Your Risk’. This is my story of my experience

Cervical Cancer Prevention

In all the years I have been blogging I have wrote a post about this subject 3 previous times but I have never posted them, until now. This is my story of my experience with abnormal cells and now I feel ready to share the experience.

There is one simple answer to ‘Reduce Your Risk’ which is make sure you keep up to date with your smear tests and knowing the symptoms. Cervical Cancer can be prevented and you can reduce your risk by calling your local surgery and booking in.

When I was pregnant with Josie, I became friends with a girl from Nottingham who was also pregnant but with her second child. We met on a forum page on facebook about our babies being due in August. There was three of us that started chatting and comparing our pregnancies. All three of us had girls within a few weeks of each other. I was actually due first but gave birth last out of us. We even met up around the girls 1st birthdays. Sadly three years later in 2012, she lost her life to cervical cancer, leaving behind two small children and husband.

This made me think about the smear test reminder that came through a few months previously, and in November 2012 booked in for my smear. It is one of those things that you mean to book, but taking the time to do this can be an inconvenience, but it can also save your life. I was told I would have the results back in a few weeks. I was surprised when they came back in less than a week, and in shock to see I had abnormal pre-cancerous cells which if left untreated can result in cervical cancer. Even now writing this, I remember the worry, the feeling of not knowing what was going to happen.

Just under two weeks later I went to the Colposcopy Unit at our local hospital. The colposcopy showed I had CIN 1 -Mild Changes. During the colposcopy I found this very invasive, as any one would but was put at ease by the team. You see your cervix on the screen as they insert the camera. I was shown where the abnormal cells was located and you could see a mild whiter change from the rest. A biopsy was took and then quaterized which was similar to period pain. The Nurse was very friendly and throughout my time I always saw the same nurse. She confirmed the cells wasn’t cancerous and explained about if left untreated they can form into cancerous cells. I was checked for the HPV Virus which was clear around this time.

Cervical Cancer

I was asked to go back again to keep an eye on these changes and maybe we would look at a LLETZ treatment, which involves burning the cells away. To cut a long story short I had this go on every 6 months until in June 2014 I went for my colposcopy and by this time I even knew the routine, cough when they take the biopsy etc. This time before the nurse even said I could see how different the cells looked. She said it looked like it has got worse, and to prepare for a Cone Biopsy. She had sent the biopsy and met with the consultants to discuss my results which was done each time to confirm the treatment plan. The results come back and as the Nurse thought the changes had gone to CIN 3 -Severe changes which is called High Grade Dyskaryosis, treatment was needed soon as the time for the cells changing to cancerous had halved. Within 2 weeks I was having my operation to have a cone biopsy. This is were a section of your cervix is removed to ensure the cells are no longer there.

After the operation the consultant explained they removed the cells successfully and I had lost a large part of my cervix. The Consultant stated we can have a baby but advised after the 6 month smear test to check if all clear. I did get the all clear and had a few compl;citations with delivery, mainly due to incompetence on the ward previously. It was noticed during labour that I couldn’t dilate due to scarring and on the second consultant trying, she was able to stretch the cervix and I went straight from 0.5cm to 8cm dilated. I had been having the urge to push and at 0.5cm dilated which was where Rowan wanted to come but couldn’t. I managed to give birth naturally and Rowan was absolutely fine.

The recovery was 2 weeks of me being bed bound, I also had issues with bad side effects to one of the tablets and getting numerous infections. Plus being bed bound and on your own was hard as I was feeling sorry for myself. Antony and mum was excellent helping with Josie and if I needed anything. The pain was bad for a week or so and similar to after having a baby. Again I was worrying of another 6 month wait, and then was when I realised how much the previous 2 years since I first received the letter had taken a toll on myself. That smear 6 months on was the longest wait for the results it seemed, I was ecstatic the results was clear.

Even now this still plays a part in my life. You still worry, I had my 3 year smear check in December since the all clear, which was the beginning of December. It wasn’t until after Christmas that I found I had the all clear this time. I was over the moon at the results as the same feelings previously had come flooding back. Panicking each time the post arrives, worrying over Christmas. In between the 3 year check, every year around December I used to think 2 years to go, next year to go. I am glad this is out the way and I don’t think I will be as bad worrying in the lead up to the next one, well not yearly. But it is the waiting game that is extremely difficult. Either way the best thing to do is get yourself checked. I am so thankful I did, and that even after the not so pleasant experience and long time waiting, the fact of knowing if these cells were left they could have resulted in cervical cancer is overwhelming. I am in the statistic of reducing the chance of having cervical cancer by 95% since having treatment. It is important that I keep up my routine checks, for anyone this is important. Even if you have not had any symptoms, which I hadn’t, you still need to get checked.

I cannot stress enough how important this is to have your smear and also look on Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust as they state the further symptoms to keep an eye out for. I hope one day they lower the smear test ages from minimum 25 years old as this is such an important preventive test. Please go ahead and book in for that smear, yes it is not the most pleasant procedure, but it can save your life. I know I was extremely lucky and there is a huge number who suffer from cervical cancer which is much worse than pre cancerous cells, but I wanted to share my story of how this can hopefully be prevented and hope it will encourage yourselves to book in if you haven’t already.

Stacey

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I have been blogging since 2015, yet still this has took me this long to find myself and to start achieving my goals regarding my blog. Read below for how I have got past The Blogging Blues

Blogging Blues Simply Stacey Blog

I am finally more confident to stand up and say…

I LOVE BLOGGING

I started blogging in 2015 and at first this was a blur of hashtags. There was so much to learn as a new blogger; setting up the blog, going self hosted, templates, blogging styles, hashtags, social media, branding, no follow links, alt tags to name a few. I was lucky as I can work my way round pretty easy anything technology based, plus with the help of good old Google and YouTube you can research help in an instant. I also have a Social Media Marketing Diploma and update the work website which helped when I first set up my blog.

As stated in previous posts I have changed names 3 times, mainly due to the learning curve from blogging. Finding my path I wish to take has been tricky… do I go Parenting, do I go Lifestyle. I have been both and now decided I am just going to do both. Why limit yourself to one genre. There is no rule book about what subject you should blog about. This is your space to say what you want to say or show.

Re branding before Christmas, which you can see more of here, has made a dramatic difference to my blog. Not just my blog name has changed, but also my layout, blog colours and more importantly my blogging routine. I have never had a routine and this has been the ultimate aid to helping my blog grow. Already 22 days into 2018, I am just under 50 views for beating my total views for the whole of 2017. For me, when I saw how much I have improved looking at my statistics, this gave me an almighty boost and made me see that I have got a passion for blogging.

I have always liked blogging, and at times it has seemed more of a chore. Since I made my blog my own by using my name, something has given me a drive to start really pushing myself to achieve set goals in where I want to take my blog. Now I have 100% got a passion for this and building up my YouTube channel. I got given a Blog Planner for Christmas, which I will be going in depth to show you in the next couple of weeks. This has helped tremendously, keeping this separate to my everyday planner means I can focus on my blog and channel solely.

I am sure most bloggers can relate to the blogging blues and most of us have thought about quitting at some point or having low morale.I nearly have closed my blog a couple of times and last year I got to the point that it was really getting me down being unable to fit this in, but last summer I gave myself a break. I say a break but I was only doing about 1 or 2 uploads a month at the time. This helped me take the time to decide I am going to try one last change and really take my blog seriously and that is when I decided to re brand. Blogging can produce such a love and hate relationship. From the moments you get writers block, to where you don’t seem to be growing any new followers. You notice other bloggers that have made themselves a large following and a success and feel you can’t live up to that level then start to doubt yourself.

The biggest advice I can give, is don’t compare yourself to others. Yes, you can research editing in videos, research writing styles. But be your own person, don’t feel you are not good enough and when you stop worrying and plan at your own pace. I am sure you will notice a difference, not only in views, but more importantly for how you feel.  I am still trying to implement this to my way of thinking but so far this has helped enormously. I do have the slight wobble thinking I am not good enough, but with support from the blog community and pushing myself, I am good enough. My personal battle is being a perfectionist, I over criticise myself and this is a personal hurdle to overcome. But I am getting there. For once I can actually feel proud of my blog and feel now is the time to push myself to regular uploads.

I am pleased my YouTube channel is slowly growing, and I am learning so much each video. My new lighting has made a complete difference to the quality of my videos. I will be shortly trying my first ‘Day In The Life’ vlog. But in the meantime, I am really enjoying building both this and my blog.

Also planning my routine further to include any home matters, such as cleaning, homework, cooking dinner etc. Plus then there is also mine and Estelle’s venture of The Blog Network, growing, which we have our first Twitter chat on Wednesday 31st January. Plus then you have the background work as a Blogger, scheduling social posts, photography, planning, joining twitter chats and threads etc. I am trying to improve my photography which I am happy with the results so far, to even take some self portraits of myself shows how much my confidence has grown. Part of this is from some great people from the blogging and vlogging community.

Another change I have implemented is, I have given myself set days for uploads. This has made me push myself and made me be organised. There is going to be times this will be impossible, like last week I was struck down with a nasty cold and then toothache and it threw all plans out. But if I can get ahead and plan, this shouldn’t be too much of an issue … I am hoping.

BLOG UPDATES : Every Monday and Thursday

YOUTUBE UPLOADS : Every Sunday and Wednesday

I know I am not the best writer out there, I never have been and never will be. I am not one for gargantuan words (yes I googled big words for ‘huge’). Yes I get excited over a new notepad of a fluffy cushion makes me do jazz hands, but I am also not ashamed of this and am not letting this stop me producing more posts and documenting on my channel. In a way I have started to think if people get to know the real you, your writing style, the way you produce uploads then they will warm to that person if they choose too. I am pleased to say this moment in time I have beaten the blogging blues and am thoroughly enjoying my journey. I hope this doesn’t wear off and change, but for now I am happy and content with how I have progressed, even if this has took me 3 years to find my blogging passion. I am in no way a blogging expert, but this is what I have found that has helped myself. I really hope this post helps boost yourself if you are suffering from the blogging blues.

Stacey

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So today is 18th January, today is also my Birthday….here goes to being officially in my mid thirties. To celebrate this occasion I have complied a list of Birthday Goals

Birthday Goals Simply Stacey Blog Wiltshire

My Birthday is a funny old day, one it is a pain a few weeks after Christmas as money is always tight from the festivities. I can’t get anything in between Christmas and my birthday in case I have been brought it. Quite often it will snow on my birthday and is always freezing cold. Your birthday is always (apart for the few days before) next year.

I do struggle on the day emotionally sometimes, as I used to share my birthday with my Bampi (Grandad) who I very much adored. I loved phoning and comparing how many birthday cards we had received, he always beat me as was a social butterfly down the Royal British Legion. Every year we would always have a birthday cake together that mum would have crafted. Every year I do find myself emotional, though it is getting easier as time passes and now rather than being sad, I remind myself of happy times and my childhood as they are some of the best birthdays I had.

I remember the year I got a pilot pen set for my birthday, being obsessed with stationery from a young age, meant I thought I was the dogs doodahs that birthday whilst at school. I even had a new pencil case to parade the mixture of colored pens, highlighters and ball-pens. For many years I always had the surprise of a big present after school. Then the parties, oh my days the parties…the year of the picnic in the lounge with Ali Du Lali the magician was a birthday to remember. I even remember watching Land of The Giants beforehand, being so excited at the thought of my friends and cousins coming round to tuck into a splendid spread put on by Mum in Happy Meal style boxes.

Birthday GoalsTo make myself happy and positive on reaching the age of 35, I have decided to make a delayed New Years Resolution list, but this instead will be my classed as my Birthday Goals which I am going to try and achieve before I am 36. To make this tricker I am going to have 35 goals, to celebrate my new age…

  1.   PRODUCE A BLOGGING ROUTINE
  2.   SCHEDULE A ROUTINE FOR BLOG PHOTOS, SCHEDULED SOCIAL POSTS, TWITTER CHATS
  3.   PUSH FOR SUBSCRIBERS TO MY BLOG | Goal at 50 Subscribers
  4.   LOSE WEIGHT | Goal at losing 4 stone
  5.   BECOME FITTER
  6.   BETTER MY PHOTOGRAPHY
  7.   DO MORE AS A FAMILY
  8.   BE MORE CONFIDENT
  9.   READ MORE | Goal on my GoodReads is 20 books
  10.   GO TO NEW AND DIFFERENT PLACES
  11.   PRODUCE A YOUTUBE ROUTINE
  12.   STOP COMPARING MYSELF TO OTHERS
  13.   PUSH FOR SUBSCRIBERS TO MY CHANNEL | Goal at 1000 Subscribers
  14.   DO MORE ON DAYS OFF WITH ROWAN | Don’t feel guilty that Josie is at school
  15.   TWITTER | Goal at 5000
  16.   INSTAGRAM | Goal at 2500
  17.   HAVE MORE ME TIME
  18.   SORT HOME ROUTINES
  19.   LEARN SOMETHING NEW
  20.   LOOK AT BOOKING A BIG HOLIDAY IN 2019
  21.   MAKE MORE TIME WITH ANTONY
  22.   SPEND MORE TIME WITH FRIENDS
  23.   GET MY TATTOO COVER UP
  24.   PAMPER MYSELF ONCE IN A WHILE
  25.   DECORATE DOWNSTAIRS
  26.   SORT FINANCES | Goal at save £1000
  27.   DECORATE KIDS ROOMS
  28.   GARDEN MAKEOVER
  29.   FILM DAY IN THE LIFE VLOGS
  30.   STOP BEING SENSITIVE
  31.   DELEGATE MORE | Not everything has to be perfect and done by me
  32.   STOP BEING ANXIOUS
  33.   STAND UP FOR MYSELF
  34.   TAKE TIME TO WATCH NETFLIX OR FILMS
  35.   THE BLOG NETWORK | Goal of 500 Followers

I am planning a check in of how this is going in halfway through, and then a full catch up to compare when I am about to turn 36 next year. The majority of my goals are about self care and myself which is something I always tend to leave, to the point it is non existent. I am going to try and change this in the coming year.

Have you made a list of goals? Can you relate to any of mine?

Stacey

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