family · fashion · parenting · review

Once Upon A Christmas @ Durham Gala Theatre

Hi All!

With the Christmas season approaching I have actively been looking for festive events to take Eleanor along to. I’m such a huge fan of the whole Christmas season and thoroughly believe that doing fun festive things together in the run up is just as much fun as, if not more fun than the actual day itself. With that in mind my mum booked a few shows for us to go see over Christmas period and I kept my eye open for any other shows that popped up.

One of the shows we had booked up was Snow White at The Gala Theatre in Durham. We chose this because it’s one of Eleanor’s favourite films and I knew she would love it. A few weeks later a blogger opportunity came up for both Snow White but also an under 5’s interactive Christmas show called Once Upon A Christmas. With us already having tickets to Snow White for January, I decided to request tickets for the under 5’s show. I asked for four tickets so we could bring our friends Tina and Albie along as Tina has also been looking for things to do in the lead up to Christmas.

 

So looking back at my outfit choice it probably wasn’t the most practical but I didn’t think I would be sitting on the floor in the front row!

Outfit details –

Mesh top – New Look

Longline Vest – Primark

Cord mini skirt – ASDA

Tights – New Look

Boots – Matalan (not pictured)

I plaited my hair when still wet the night before and brushed it out into soft waves, then I went for a simple make up look using my new HUDA beauty liquid lip from my Glossybox.

We made the drive over to Durham (and spotted llamas on the way!!!) and parked in the Walkergate car park. This was super convenient as the lift brought us out literally across from the theatre and the parking charges aren’t bad at all. We picked up our tickets and headed up two floors to the studio to see the show. The show had just started as we entered (we got a little bit lost in the building) and so we quickly took up a space on the mat.

The story focuses on a mother and son. The mother has a list of things to get through before Christmas and so the son decides to “help” without her knowing. The was some great audience participation with some actions relating to wrapping presents and baking biscuits. We were on the present wrapping side of the room and my little girl picked up the actions super quick. In fact, she still knows all of the actions now.

The son then went on to read a book to highlight the spirit of Christmas. The book was about a woman who owned a toy shop which was failing and only had a few materials left to make toys. Very much alike the story “The Elves And The Shoemaker”, elves came and night time and made toys which sold – thus building the toy store back up to its former glory.

The kids both absolutely loved the show. They’re both a little reserved and don’t tend to join in with interactive things or even with baby groups but they both joined in and had huge smiles. Eleanor loved shouting out to answer the questions and waving at the characters as they came into the audience. It was nice that children were encouraged to go as close as they liked and it was a really relaxed atmosphere.

 

 

On our way our we had to stop for pictures of the Elf Village. It was beautifully decorated and even had a bridge! We loved all the lighting, the snowy areas and the toy shop windows.

Our final stop was on the landing. As an extra little touch there was a couple of child sized tables and chairs set up with festive sheets to colour in. Eleanor and Albie pulled up a chair and made themselves comfortable whilst they did some colouring in.

Thank you so much Durham Gala Theatre for having us. It was such a sweet show which both kids loved (and Eleanor still talks about) and we all thoroughly enjoyed attending. Me, mum and Eleanor will see you in January for Snow White!

Have you been to any shows/pantos? Or are you attending any? Let me know below!

Thanks for reading

Hannah x

 

**Tickets gifted for review purposes, however all opinions are my own**

 

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fashion · personal · plus size · review

Jumping on the trend. Featuring THE eBay dress.

Hi everybody!

It’s been a hot minute since I’ve blogged and honestly I’ve missed it. Long story short is I’ve had a few different bouts of illness, I’ve been super busy at home as well as stressed because – I’ve bought a house! We complete today and get our keys and I’m so excited. It’s going to be so cool to be in our own home and be able to do anything we like to it – you all know I LOVE to decorate. I’ll post lots of pictures on here because we have a few DIY’s we’re going to do and I’ll be posting before/after pics of how we decorate. We’re even going to be installing our bargain lino flooring ourselves!

Speaking of bargains, it’s no secret that when it comes to clothes I love a bargain. I generally buy everything either on sale or with a discount code. I hate paying full price and I will shop around for the cheapest version of something before I commit to a purchase. It’s something I’ve always done as I’ve grown up with not a lot of money, then I was a student with zero income and lately we’ve been saving for a house deposit so haven’t really been spending as much on ourselves that hasn’t been essential.

As it got to summer this year I looked at my wardrobe and realised there wasn’t much casual stuff I could wear day to day which wasn’t shorts. I started looking at options and loved the look of the strappy summer dresses with buttons down the middle. I saw loads of people getting them cheap from Primark but being plus size Primark cuts off at a size 20 and I figured I’d never get into one. I did find a few plus size versions in places like New Look but they were around £23 for a plain dress and I really wanted something with a print.

My friend Tina added me to a facebook group called Mrs Gloss & The Goss which is a group centred around hair/clothes/makeup and I saw these eBay dresses popping up on everybody. There was a ton of prints and people were saying they were generous sizing so I decided to see what size they actually went up to. When I looked they went up to a 3XL or a size 20 but the size chart was quite high and I’d read that there was a lot of stretch in them and so I decided that cause they were only £7.49 each I’d just go for it and order the two I was really lusting after.

  

  My first was this beautiful navy sunflower dress. I’m pretty obsessed with sunflowers and they’re my favourite flower so when I saw this print I just had to have it.

The second dress I bought was this pineapple print dress which is just the cutest thing ever. I love anything kitsch and pineapples are definitely one of my favourite prints.

I tried them on straight away expecting them not to fit at all and was pleasantly surprised when they not only fit but really looked nice. I’m a size 24 and the ones I’ve bought have been a size 3XL/size 20. I initially tried them on with no bra but have since worn then with a normal strap bra which does show the bra straps slightly and a strapless bra. I did also worry about the buttons gaping but they’re actually just for show!

I went on to purchase 3 more, white/black/pink stripes, blue/white stripes which I haven’t pictured and a plain khaki one. Now the khaki one never arrived and so I was refunded but I’m almost glad because I’ve read the plain ones are a completely different material and have no stretch. So be mindful if you do order one that plain ones have zero stretch.

These dresses have been a godsend this summer and each one has been well-worn. From family days, meals out and even nights out the dresses have been perfect for different occasions and have been easily dressed up or down.

 

I even wore the dress for a beer garden date with one of my good friends Claire. It was perfect for sitting in the sun drinking hooch.

I’m tempted to buy more of these dresses because there’s just SO many prints and I know I’ll wear them not only in summer but also autumn with boots and a cardigan and even winter with tights and a t-shirt under for a more 90’s look. Such a versatile dress and for the money they are SO worth it. I couldn’t recommend them enough and I know a few people on my instagram have since purchased them because I do bang on about them so much!

Thanks for reading,

Hannah x

family · fashion · food · plus size · review

Mothers Day Bottomless Brunch @ Hope & Union

Hi All!

I’ve never really been one for going out on Mothers Day as I find that it is generally over priced and too busy and so I tend to do something with our mums before/after Mothers Day or cook a meal at home. This year however we decided to change it up and actually went out just the three of us. We had planned to do something at home but when one of my favourite independent pubs announced a Mothers Day bottomless brunch then how could I resist?

There was two options for the brunch. You could go non-alcoholic for £15 or you could include bottomless cocktails for £30. We decided to go non-alcoholic as we had plans for the rest of the day. I messaged to ask if it was okay to bring a 2 year old and I was assured it would be fine to bring her and they would provide a highchair and that she would be free of charge. We booked up and got excited.

The day came around and I got ready to head out. I put on this dress from New Look Curve which I managed to grab in the sale for about £9! I wore it with nude flatform sandals from ASOS and my handbag from Primark.

We drove over to Hope & Union for the first sitting starting at 12pm. We took our seats and started to look at the menu. This is where our confusion started. We were expecting to be able to order as much as you like and that it would be small versions. We were wrong.

Whilst we viewed the menu we ordered a coffee each and Eleanor drank milk.

We both ordered the Union Breakfast with the thought that we’d also try the H&U Eggs Florentine.

And then started the waiting game. We waited for an hour for food which was ridiculous considering there was only four tables in there – it was by no means busy! Eleanor was getting super bored and she was hungry. We then asked if we could order the H&U Eggs Florentine too as we were concerned our 90 minutes time slot wasn’t that far from ending and we were told we had already ordered. We said that we thought it was bottomless but were told this only applies to the drinks.

We were a little annoyed at this. It wasn’t super clear on the online posts and as much as we were fine just having one meal we felt that £15 for a cooked breakfast with coffee and orange juice was really steep. The food quality at Hope & Union IS amazing but £15 was definitely too expensive for what we got.

They agreed to bring us a H&U Eggs Florentine to share which actually came before the meal we had ordered and we were happy for it to come as we were all quite hungry by this point. The dish was delicious and they put a twist on it by serving them in puff pastry cups.

Our actual meals came and we thought they were a little on the small side for the price paid. They were really delicious and again the quality was fantastic but they were small (to us) and they had taken an hour.

 

Eleanor was happy enough with a sausage and some toasted brioche.

We finished our meals and after over an hour and a half we were ready to leave. Eleanor had 2 sausages, a glass of milk and toast off my plate and the person serving tried to charge us £5 for her meal. I was a bit taken back! I explained that we had been told we wouldn’t need to pay for her and so the bill came to £30.

Now I don’t think £30 for two meals is unfair by any means, however I do think that it wasn’t worth it. To wait for an hour for food when there’s only four tables in, to be promised on their online posts “you will not be left hungry” and to then be served two small breakfasts and a couple of coffees I just felt like it wasn’t great value for money. I’ve always had a great experience in Hope & Union and you can’t argue about the quality of their food as it is fantastic and this is what attracted us to attend in the first place – however on this occasion we felt a little frustrated. Having said that, we’ll still be back in the future as we like to support smaller local businesses and their food is fantastic. We love their Yorkshire pudding wraps and they have a grapefruit beer which Adam is obsessed with. I’ve always found their staff welcoming and knowledgeable when I’ve asked for gin recommendations which is great for me as I like to try as many new ones as possible.

Thanks for reading,

Hannah x

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

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!