baby · home

Tidy Home, Tidy Mind – IKEA Trofast hack

Hi All!

So Christmas has one again came and gone and the only thing that’s left is a slowly decreasing stack of biscuits and chocolates and a ton of new toys that need to find a home. We knew that we would need some new toy storage because we previously just had two large plastic boxes in the corner and some bigger items to the side. With us getting her a play kitchen this year and family getting her a range of new toys both big and small we knew we needed to look at what storage we had and make some changes.

I have always been a fan of IKEA storage and we have IKEA Kallax systems in both Eleanor’s bedroom and my office and they have served us well. We considered getting another Kallax system but one problem with her old storage is that smaller toys fell to the bottom where she couldn’t reach and forgot about them and the bigger ones sat at the top. This meant that many of her toys were forgotten about and unused.

I then looked at the IKEA Trofast systems and thought this could be a great solution to our toy troubles as you can purchase different sized storage trays and customise it to your needs. You can also buy different colours to match the room. This was definitely the best fit for our needs and so we planned to head up to IKEA. Before we went to IKEA I had a sort through Eleanors toys, rehomed anything that was broken, unused or missing pieces and just kept what she loves/plays with. I was quite brutal with it but I needed to be as she had so much new stuff.

My cousin kindly offered to watch Eleanor and even have her overnight the night before and we headed up on a Saturday. IKEA is around a 45/50 minute drive and we jumped in the qashqui bright and early and managed to get there for around 10:15 which was great as it wasn’t super busy. We navigated our way around IKEA and found the Trofast we wanted which was the pine 3×3 and the pine mini 2×3 to go on the wall above. We also wanted to do an “IKEA hack” and bought spice racks to screw to the sides to house books as welll as a huge roll of paper and two rails – one to hold it and one to feed the paper through to keep it neat.

For the boxes we got clear mini boxes, then 3 small clear drawers and 3 orange medium drawers. These have worked so well and all her toys are split into categories so she knows exactly where everything is.

When we got home we quickly assembled the Trofast which were very easy to put together and then painted them with the same grey paint which we have on the walls. The paint has a matte/chalky finish on the wood and has tied them into the room beautifully and made them look more luxury. We then redecorated and finally installed our Trofast system onto the wall. We screwed on the spice racks which were also painted and added the paper roll and fed it through a second metal bar to keep it from rolling loose.

This is the finished product and honestly I couldn’t be more pleased with it! Not only does it look really nice in our living room and go well with the decor, it works so well for Eleanor and she loves it. It’s so easy to scoop everything up on a night and hide it away ready for the next day. Eleanor has really been loving the drawing table part and spends hours creating masterpieces and forcing me and Adam to go over and draw with her. She pulls us a tiny chair up from her little table and insists that we join her and make some artwork.

We have had a ton of compliments from friends and family and it’s a huge conversation point with visitors who come into our home. I love that Eleanor has her own space in the room and it almost makes the room have “zones” so that it’s not a complete and utter child explosion. I do think it’s good for my mental health to be able to relax and with the toys contained on a night me and Adam are able to have time that feels more adult and really switch off and just enjoy spending time together without bumping into something loud and plastic.

I always love a good trip to IKEA and my house is pretty much full of IKEA furniture, a lot of which has been painted/changed in some way. It has stood the test of time and still looks great. Cheap doesn’t always mean low quality and you can get some really pretty things from there. Plus even if you don’t end up getting something big IKEA is always a fun day out. I always end up with a ton of candles, some random kitchenware that I probably don’t need and leave with some extremely low alcohol ciders that taste of apple juice and possibly a hot-dog.

I hope this has inspired you to really think about how you can take a piece of furniture and make it work for you. I couldn’t be without Eleanor’s little toy station now and really love how it looks in our room. Now it’s time for the next project!

Thanks for reading!
Hannah x

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family · food · parenting · personal · plus size · travel

Bears At Butlins – Round Two! Part 3.

Hi all!

This is the third and final segment of our time at Butlins. You can find part 1 here and part 2 here.

Day Three –

We headed out early for breakfast as we planned to go out for the day. As I knew we were heading to the seaside with lots of walking I put on my favourite boohoo turn up cuff trousers. They’re high waisted, fit perfectly on my short legs and are a jersey crepe fabric with lots of stretch. I have them in black AND pink and love them! I wore them with a long sleeve cold shoulder striped top from New Look (no longer available) and my New Look longline blazer which I wear to death as it’s SO comfortable and goes with everything. We had our breakfast and then me and Eleanor had a walk through the arcades whilst Adam went and got the car which we had already packed up with our swimming bag for when we returned.

We got the the aquarium as it opened and managed to park in a fairly cheap car park just a short walk away from the aquarium and the town centre. It was well located for the pier too but we didn’t visit there this time.

We entered the aquarium and apart from one other group behind us it was pretty quiet! We had a photo op (which came our awful as we both just had glasses glare) then went through a small room with a video playing which was set out as a ships cabin. The video explained that we had to answer questions we’d find along the way to work out the secret word and win some treasure.

Then we were pretty free to roam! We moved through the aquarium taking it all in whilst looking for the secret questions.

As we thought, Eleanor was pretty taken with the “fishies” and her and Adam spent great time watching the various fish and going into all the little spaces.

I on the other hand was determined to find all of the questions and spent most of my time reading all of the display information to find the answers.

Halfway through the aquarium there was a crafts area which was totally empty apart from us!

I’m pretty sure that Adam had more fun decorating his seahorse. Eleanor and Adam coloured in the seahorses and added strips of tissue paper.

Then we went and finished off the exhibition. The last room featured a huge full wall view of the main aquarium tank with benches to sit down.

In this tank you can actually book to swim along with the fish and sharks however we weren’t feeling that brave!

After the aquarium there’s an upstairs cafe with some pretty beautiful views and a built in soft play area. Adam and Eleanor had the run of the place and enjoyed the different slides. We were going to get some food in there but it was pretty overpriced so we decided to wait until we headed out into the centre.

We left the aquarium via the gift shop where we handed in our treasure map and found that we had got the word correct. We received our treasure which was gold chocolate coins.

We walked over the road from the aquarium and we were straight into the centre of Skegness. We had a look in a few shops as we were on the look out for new towels and had intended to get some from Fantasy Island but all the rides were closed so we decided to go to the aquarium instead. There isn’t a huge amount of shops there but there’s enough for a wander around and Adam managed to get some new dust brushes for work. Exciting ey?

Whilst waiting for daddy to finish picking brushes me and Eleanor had a look around and I found some ear muffs which I put on her as a joke expecting her to hate them. Well I was surprised to see that she loved them and didn’t want to take them off so we bought them. She had them on five minutes and was flat out to sleep.

Next we headed towards the sea front to find somewhere to eat as Adam fancied some chippy chips. Well we were at the seaside! We found a decent place and grabbed some lunch whilst Eleanor napped. We had another walk around and headed back to the car with Eleanor still asleep. As we headed back to Butlins we stopped at a garage with a shop as Adam wanted to top the diesel up and we grabbed Eleanor some snacks so she could have a car picnic! She’s obsessed with babybel, sandwiches and cocktail sausages so was in her element.

When we got back to the resort we headed straight to Splash! for an afternoon swim. Once again Eleanor was in her element and loved going round and round in the lazy river. Me and Adam took it in turns to go on the slides and I made the mistake of going on the rapids which is a ride that goes outside and is slides that go into little pools with lots of waves. As I’ve lost weight recently my bikini bottoms were a bit big on me and I had to cling onto them all the way. I eventually splashed down into the last pool with my boobs spilling from my top and my bottoms rolling down.

Very awkward.

 

We eventually headed back to the room and got ready for dinner. I decided to wear my New Look velvet dress I got for Christmas over a year ago. It was perfect for the slightly colder weather and it’s such a beautiful colour.

We headed down to dinner early as we wanted to go see a show at Centre Stage after and it gets very busy.

The line actually stretches back to the arcade some times although if you buy the b-line passes you get priority entry.

We did not.

Surprisingly we managed to get in fine without queuing and although we didn’t get a table, we managed to get seats with a great view and we settled down to watch the show “Cinderella Rocks”. It’s a spin on Cinderella in which she wants to audition for a talent show. The best character was easily the evil stepmother – they were fantastic and in the tradition of panto this was a dame. We sat and watched the full show, wandered around the arcades and headed back to the room to pack ready to leave in the morning. We were surprised how quiet it got on the Sunday night, however we did see a lot of people packing up the cars and leaving on the Sunday not Monday, and on the Friday night a lot of people arrived at tea time with kids in school uniforms so I figured that people went for the weekend but left early for school/jobs.

On our way back we noticed quite a lot of people smoking away from designated smoking areas. In fact, this was a common occurrence throughout the whole weekend and was something that really annoyed me. This is a place primarily aimed at families with children and so it was pretty annoying when people were walking down to the skyline/restaurant with a fag in their hand at times which were quite busy. If you want to smoke, that’s cool. Do what you want, but please use the designated areas and don’t smoke over my child! It’s not fair on her.

 

The next day we were up and ready early as ever. We had to be out of the room by 10 but we were allowed to use the park for the rest of the day but we didn’t hang around. We wanted to take a detour to York outlet on our way home so we wanted to get out early.

We packed up the car, had breakfast and then practically ran back to the car as the heavens opened. I drank two coffees for breakfast and was like the energiser bunny!

We drove to York outlet and spent a few hours there. We got a few bits for Eleanor and Adam bought some t-shirts in the Vans store but on a whole we found it a bit disappointing. We found that places were still quite expensive and the shops were quite repetitive. We stopped half way through to go to the food court then headed back to the car.

It wasn’t a long drive home from York and we managed it in around an hour, maybe less. We were happy to be home and in our own surroundings again and within the hour we were unpacked, washing in and suitcases away. We’re really like that though – we plan things and are super organised when it comes to things like trips away. We’d rather get it sorted and done with then be able to relax!

All in all we had a lovely family trip away but some of the magic of Butlins has certainly gone for me. If we went again I’d request an upstairs room and probably go in the warmer busier seasons and may even consider self catering or even premium dining (which wasn’t actually available as they only had one restaurant open).

It was good for the price and worth it just for a weekend, but any longer and I think I’d get bored!

Thanks for reading!

Hannah x

family · fashion · personal · plus size · travel

Bears At Butlins – Round Two! Part 2.

Hi all!

This post follows on from part 1!

So we had returned to the room to go to sleep and we were watching tv and then around quarter to ten to noise started. Thud. Thud. Thud. It was coming from the stairs next to our room, from the room next door (separated by an adjoining door) and from above. We fully expected some noise but it was SO loud. There was kids just running around upstairs until nearly 11 and we had to contact the reception who sent somebody to ask people to be quiet. I’m surprised that Eleanor didn’t wake up because it was so loud. We finally managed to sleep after 11.

We woke up the next day early as ever and got ready for the day. We headed down to breakfast pretty early and we were glad we did as it got pretty busy towards the end of the allotted time.

After breakfast we walked down to Splash which is the onsite swimming baths. I’ve always loved going to Splash since being a kid and so was really excited to head back. Last time we went Eleanor was still tiny and in a swim ring but this time she was armed with a pair of armbands

Safe to say Eleanor was obsessed! She swam independently and didn’t even want us to hold her going around the rapids.

After swimming we headed to the pavilion to eat lunch and then watch a show. Adam being the big kid he is was sat on the floor too. The show was great and Eleanor sat for the whole thing totally hooked!

After the show we had a wander through the site and decided to take some pictures on the giant beach figures!

Eleanor was quite content sitting on her huge beach ball.

We also took a quick detour to play on the penny machines before heading back to the room to get showered and ready for the evening.

  

I actually had time to put makeup on and make more of an effort and wore my lovely In The Style Curve shirt dress (you can find similar here) which I added the patches to.

 

We headed down to dinner which was quite disappointing and pretty much the same as the previous night. Every night was a fish/chips dish, meat dinner, vegetarian option and pasta. Got quite boring and I don’t think we had a cohesive “meal” the whole time we were there.

That night we hit the arcades, watched a Mr Men show in the pavilion which was pretty good and had a few drinks. The good thing about the pavilion is you don’t have to buy from the bar. They have a shop which sells a good mix of things, including food and alcohol. We kept buying a few ciders or my guilty pleasure – smirnoff ice – and sitting in the main area watching the shows. You couldn’t take them into centre stage or reds (as Adam found out when they were confiscated) but we only went in one night out of three.

We headed back for the night and thankfully after complaining it wasn’t as loud as the first night, although from 9:30-10 with everybody arriving home and running up the steps it was still quite loud. I am quite hypersensitive to noise so definitely think it bothered me more than it would bother most people. Thankfully it died down after 10 and didn’t wake Eleanor.

We made our plans for the next day and headed to bed. We had a look to see what was on in the area and found cheap aquarium tickets on groupon and so decided to head there.

I’m going to leave this post here. The next post is going to feature quite a lot of pictures so don’t want it to be too long!

Thanks for reading,

Hannah x

 

family · fashion · parenting · review · travel

Bears At Butlins – Round Two! Part 1.

Hi All!

If you’ve been following me for a while you’ll know that I’ve been with Adam for like, forever. Well maybe not forever, but it was 6 years in January and that’s like a quarter of my life so seems like ages! For our anniversary my mum suggested we went away and even gave us money for a trip away at Christmas but we didn’t book anything. Around mid January we started to entertain the idea of going away again just the two of us but we couldn’t agree on a place and honestly I didn’t really want to leave Eleanor for a couple of days. Sad I know.

Whilst scrolling through social media I saw an advert for the Sun Holidays and remembered one we went on many years ago to Cayton Bay and decided to see what destinations were on it. I was pleasantly surprised to see that Butlins Skegness was one of the holidays on offer and so I got the 10 code words from the internet and decided to get booked. We wanted to book for the middle of February just after Valentines Day and thankfully this date was available. I think with dining and housekeeping/towels included we paid just under £250 for the three of us in a silver two bedroom chalet and food which I thought was such great value.

For the trip I just wanted to be comfy so I popped my hair up into the mummiest of mum buns and popped on a boohoo chiffon shirt with floral embroidery. It has a slip underneath and I wore leggings and slip-ons for comfort.

We packed up the car and headed out on the Friday around 11. Travelling with toddlers isn’t always the easiest and I was honestly dreading the car journey. We decided to stock up on car snacks, my mother in law bought us a back of the seat organiser for Eleanor and we managed to sit her iPad on it with some pre-downloaded films on and she was pretty happy!

I sat in the back with Eleanor and was really comfy in our Qashqai +2. It was a fairly straight forward drive and we only stopped once at a service station to use the facilities and grab a bite to eat. We sat outside on picnic benches and introduced Eleanor to her first ever lunchable. She didn’t really get the hang of one piece of cheese/ham at a time and pretty much just bit into the full stack.

We arrived on site quite early and decided to check in and explore. We went through the drive through check in, found a parking space near our chalet and went for a look around. We headed towards the fairground which Eleanor really loved. Most of the rides are actually free and there’s also a playground.

Eleanor ran straight for the slide and was happily climbing up herself.

Next we went to find a ride that Eleanor could go on. She was slightly too small for most of the kids rides but we found a little train she could ride on with us and she loved it. Not sure if she enjoyed it more or if Adam did!

After checking out the Arcades we headed back to our room. We unpacked, pushed the two twin beds together and build a pillow fort for Eleanor then got ready for dinner.

For the first night I decided to go for something quick and comfortable as we weren’t allowed into our rooms till 4 and so we were a bit pushed for time. I kept my hair up and added a flicky pony I had previous bought from a small independent shop in Middlesbrough Town Centre. It’s one of the drawstring types and it super easy to put in.

For my outfit I wore my favourite stripy culottes from New Look Curve with a hook and eye top which was also New Look and ankle boots from Primark wide fit range. The whole outfit was bought on sale and probably cost around £15-20. Bargain!

Eleanor wore her new unicorn dress from H+M which was a steal at 2.99 with a pink fluffy cardigan she’s had quite a while.

We headed down to dinner which was quite busy as they only had one restaurant open. It was pretty standard food and honestly not as good as last time we went. Each night there was a fish meal, “dinner” style meal with a different meat, some form of pasta and a vegetarian option. We didn’t go hungry but most dinners were kind of pieced together rather than proper meals.

 

After dinner we headed to the skyline pavilion and of course Eleanor had to sit on every ride we could find. After a brief stint in the arcades we decided to find some seats, get some cans and watch the entertainment.

Adam was quite pleased to see that the evenings entertainment was wrestling. The company was NGWUK and they were pretty entertaining. Eleanor seemed to really enjoy herself and was shouting and pumping her fist in the air. I think she enjoyed the popcorn more though which was being sold by attendants going around with trays.

We headed back to the room tired after a long day and put Eleanor to bed who had fallen asleep in her pram on the walk back. With Eleanor safely tucked up in bed we chatted, planned the next day and watched a little tv. We ended up upgrading our wifi as the signal was so poor on the site and so we couldn’t contact anybody or even each other.

We made plans to watch some shows and go swimming the next day after breakfast and headed to sleep.

I’m going to break these posts up as they’re quite photo heavy and will finish this chapter here! Please keep an eye out for part two and let me know below if you’re a fan of Butlins, or if you prefer elsewhere!

Thanks for reading,

Hannah x

baby · family · parenting · personal

A letter to my daughter for International Womens Day

Dear Eleanor.

On international women’s day I can’t help thinking about what kind of a woman you will be when you are older.

As any mother would, I have all these hopes for you. I hope you grow to be clever, courageous and kind. I hope you grow to be strong, smart and generous. I hope you grow to always love your family, to help your friends and to always find the good in the bad. I hope you laugh lots, I hope you know it’s safe to express yourself, I hope you follow your dreams and know it’s okay if you don’t always achieve them.

I want you to know I’ll always love you, never judge you and you always have my support. I’ll hold you up when you’re down, I’ll laugh with you when you’re happy and cry with you when you’re sad. I’ll be there to embarrass you when you bring your first love home – no matter what gender they are, all I’ll be there with a box of tissues should they break your heart.

I’ll always be your best friend and help you see the beauty in being a woman – if that’s what gender you feel you are.

You are incredible and one day you could change the world, and I’ll be there by your side.

I can’t wait to see the woman you will become, but for now I’m just enjoying my wonderful toddler who always makes my day and amazes me with her intelligence, her spirit and her loving nature.

Eleanor Bridie Lister you are my greatest piece of art and I love you dearly.

Happy International Women’s Day! 

food · review

Mam VS Food. Middlesbrough’s Man VS Food Grill House Review.

Hi All!

Me and Adam are always looking for new places to head out for food, and one of our favourite places to head to is Linthorpe road as they are always opening new places. On Linthorpe road there is a huge range of cuisine from greek to italian, chinese to turkish and many more. It feels like they are constantly adding to it and it’s stretching further and further along the road.

One place we haven’t had until recently is a real “smokehouse” place such as the likes of Reds True BBQ, a place we have been to before and really enjoyed. When we heard that one had opened in town (Man Vs Food Middlesbrough) we kept saying that we would visit but didn’t get round to it. One night after running some errands in town we decided we would just head out for tea and agreed that we would finally go in and try it out.

The interior is very retro american with an industrial twist. We were quickly seated and given menus. It was a Friday night we attended and we had no wait for a table as it was pretty empty.

We ordered some drinks whilst we decided what we were going to eat. They had menus with various deals on but we pretty much looked at the main menu. Adam was pleased to see they served Iron Bru which came in a kitsch jam jar style glass.

We decided to go for the sharing BBQ smoke tray which was £25.95 and contained brisket, pulled chicken, half a chicken, beef ribs, wings, spicy lamb sausage, pit beans, nachos, fries and a side of your choice. We chose mac and cheese bites as our side and waited for it to arrive.

The food came pretty quickly. Almost too quickly! We soon tucked in and honestly, it was pretty average. Some bits were great such as the mac and cheese bites but some of the meat was quite tough. The worst part though was when Adam pulled a long black hair from inside of his beef ribs. Thinking it was mine, he just tossed it to the floor but then I quickly reminded him that I had dyed my hair auburn literally the day before – guess he didn’t notice! We called the manager over and told him what we had found and he informed us that all of their meat is shipped down and is pre-cooked and then grilled to order. That was why it was so quick then! Honestly I think this is a bit of a cop out and really they should be doing things on-site. I can warm food up at home.

After finding the hair we were offered an apology and a free dessert. Adam got a peanut butter cheesecake which was pretty huge. This picture doesn’t do it justice at all, it was bigger than a fist!

I went for a banoffee waffle which was delicious but I just couldn’t finish it all.

The dessert was definitely the best part of the meal and honestly I would probably go back just for dessert but I don’t think I will be going for food anytime soon. It wasn’t the greatest and for the price I expected more from them. I have heard that some people really love the place but it’s just not for us.

Have you been to Man Vs Food Middlesbrough? Let me know your thoughts!
Thanks for reading,

Hannah x

home · personal

New Year New Living Room! Getting Geometric Whilst Redecorating.

Hi All!

When I first got together with Adam I thought “Great, he’s a painter and decorator – I’ll never have a boring house!”. I mean he did have some other great features too but that was definitely something that won him a few brownie points. Little did I know that because he does it all day, decorating is NOT something he wants to do in his spare time. Pretty much I have to wait, nag, then wait some more for Adam to do some DIY around the house and it is always on his terms.

When we moved into our current home almost two years ago we rushed to pick wallpapers and I slowly went off what we had in the living room. It was pretty, but it was only on the chimney breast and it didn’t have a lot of impact. I wanted something a bit more “modern” that would be a feature point in the room.

Earlier in the year Adam did a job for a friend and worked up at the Graham & Brown shop in Dalton Park. Afterwards he took me up there for a day out and I fell in love with a geometric white/grey/orange wallpaper called “Tarek”. I ordered it a few months after and sadly it sat in the box for many months after that and just after Christmas it was finally time for it to be put up.

We actually got the paper up in a few hours and it went up quite easily. We peeled off the old paper in full strips to stop it coming through the new paper and got to work. The match wasn’t too bad and we did the chimney breast and the rest of the wall in just over 2 rolls.

We also painted the stair wall at the same time in the same grey as the living room. Our stairs are in the living room and the wall was previously painted orange but we grew to dislike it. After painting it grey it now seems so much lighter and airy and has really opened up the space.

We have photo frames going up our stairs and also found this macrame wall hanging from Matalan for only £3. It hangs on the small patch of a wall between my bathroom and window and just adds something interesting to my stair landing. It also ties in (get it?) with the geometric/triangle theme.

  

I then went onto eBay and bought this copper wire geometric lampshade…

..and a matching lamp.

I have been obsessed with triangle shelves for quite a while now and knew I definitely wanted some for the room. I again found some on eBay but I’m not going to link them because honestly up close they’re not the greatest. I get that they’re reclaimed wood but there is quite a lot of holes and craters in them and they feel quite rough. I put our lightbox on one, a frame I made for Adam for Fathers Day on the second and a mini cactus from Primark with a geometric tealight holder on the third.

The last decoration I bought is this copper geometric decorative piece with a faux cactus inside. It sits on my shoe cupboard and I love it! I picked this up from Primark but I’ve seen them in New Look and a few other places.

I’m really pleased with my living room. It HAS been a long time coming but now it’s finished it’s beautiful. It’s a great mix of child friendly space as well as a real grown up adult room  and is perfect for just relaxing after a long day. I love to have guests over and really enjoy having my home looking beautiful and I feel like we have really achieved this with what we have chosen. This was the last room we had to do though and I am slightly sad that we don’t have anywhere else to decorate. I’m addicted!

Let me know what you think of our choices!
Thanks for reading,
Hannah x