Last weekend we were very fortunate to be included in the celebrations of our good friends as they were married, and the next day had their youngest son christened.  The two occasions were as joyous as we expected and we had an amazing time.

There is however a number of things that gets me panicky on such occasions: My constant fear of being late (this was tested by an unexpected road closure close to our hotel – ARRRGH!) and my lack of ANYTHING decent to wear to such events.

The first problem was solved by a very helpful minibus driver who was able to give us accurate directions through the centre of the town which enabled us to get to the hotel in good time (traffic was not kind!).  The second was made very simple thanks to www.zalando.co.uk

Zalando (the UK's largest online wardrobe) challenged me to kit me and my children out in outfits that would suit both occasions, and my budget!  With a wedding AND a christening to dress for I needed something that was formal, comfortable and also travelled well (we don’t go to these posh events often enough to invest in any kind of suit bags!).

With my mouse hovering over the SALE option of the easy to use website I was able to take my pick!
PictureNot quite "church" length!
My first choice for the wedding was this gorgeous red wine wine cocktail dress from their Even & Odd range (£15.00).  This comes in a size small, medium and large and the medium size fit my size 12 perfectly.  Unfortunately, despite the colour and the style being ideal it was not quite “church length” on my 5ft 9 frame!

I had already found the perfect pair of shoes (see my previous post) in their Anna Field Peep toe heels (£19.00). So I teamed these up with an old dress hiding at the back of my wardrobe.  These black shoes complimented this dress beautifully. 

Occasion one – sorted!


PicturePerfection!
The first dress for the christening which caught my eye was this amazing brown Pier One Summer dress (£11.00). Again medium size fit me wonderfully and this was dressed up with a perfect little bronze pebble necklace from Asda (£6). To my joy, the peep toe shoes went really well with this dress as they have a golden edged flower detail on the front.

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My two boys (ages 6 and 4) were
dressed in their shirts and ties for the
wedding, but for the christening I
wanted something a little more casual
yet stylish (and comfortable for them to jump around in!).

For my eldest, to compliment his big brown puppy-dog eyes I chose this vibrant green Penguin Earl Polo Shirt
(£14.00). My youngest with his baby blues carried off this stylish blue

Joules Tom Polo Shirt (13.00 ) beautifully.  Teamed with smart jeans and shoes they got lots of attention from the ladies of the congregation (old and young!). Both shirts sizes were for their age and fitted them well.

The most inportant thing for me during this occasions was to feel comfortable and stylish.  I was able to comfortably perch on a pew in the church without adjusting my dress to accomodate industrial strength underwear. The dress travelled well and was easy to slip on when I was in a hurry to get ready that morning (no zips to get myself into!). My shoes also allowed me to dance the night away without aching feet or blisters!  And the bonus? My whole weekend wardrobe cost just £30, which left plenty of money for more champagne (...hic...!).

Make sure you take a look at www.zalando.co.uk, you really will NOT be disappointed!
This is a sponsored post for zalando.co.uk who provided me with clothing for an honest review of their products.
 
 
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My peep-toe beauties

At the end of this month I am faced with the ultimate style challenge (for me anyway!).  We have been invited to a wedding AND a christening which are not only on the same weekend, but at the same church and among the same guests! 

It is at times like this that I envy the male members of my household.  Their formal-wear decision-making involves holding three ties up and asking someone (me) what colour should be worn for which occasion.  I answer honestly, whilst flinging every item of clothing I own out of the wardrobe and pullng my hair out in sheer panic - "I have NOTHING to wear" shrieks a hysterical voice from under a mountain of (mostly unworn) dresses.

So when the UK's largest online wardrobe Zalando (www.zalando.co.uk) got in contact asking me to review their clothing, I jumped at the chance to add more dresses to my pile (and shoes, and handbags, and accessories!).

My first impression of the website was a good one.  There is SUCH a variety with a price to suit any budget.  Ever the sharp shopper, my eyes were drawn straight away to the "sale" option and deciding that it was best to start from the bottom up, I stumbled across these beauties:

http://www.zalando.co.uk/anna-field-peeptoe-heels-black-an611a06l-802.html

Priced at a very modest £19, these shoes are quite literally perfect for BOTH my occasions.  And seeing as we are staying overnight in a hotel, only having to pack the one pair of shoes is an added bonus.

I have a very high instep, which means I struggle in shoes that are too high.  I LOVE the look of the highest of heels but unfortunately for me, the minute I try and walk in them, I take on a shocking resemblance to a baby giraffe trying to walk across ice. So the heels on these shoes are just perfect.  I am able to stride confidently across a room without the fear of falling or slipping.  It also means I am comfortable pulling myself up to my full 5ft 9inches height without having to duck under doorways or bend down to hold my childrens' hands!

They are comfortable, classic, timeless and extremely well priced. I cannot wait to wear them with my chosen outfits which were chosen from the "Cocktail Dresses" section of Zalando. Can you guess which ones I went for out of the 2,242 dresses to choose from?!

http://www.zalando.co.uk/cocktail-dresses/

Keep your eye on future blog posts to find out which ones I chose, and of course how they looked with these amazing shoes!

Zalando offer free delivery on all clothing and if in stock, your clothes are with you within 5 days.

What has been your recent bargain buy?

This blog post is a sponsored post on behalf of www.zalando.co.uk
 
 
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A perfect solution

There is a great little product hiding at the bottom of my first aid kit (and also swimming about in a very cluttered handbag).  This handy device has saved many a small child this summer and this product is called Splinter Out.

I think it is safe to say that we have had a pretty good summer this year.  I am happy that my two boys have been able to create the memories they deserve by spending their days sitting on slightly burnt grass, chatting with their friends under the gentle sway of a willow tree (sounds idyllic eh? But this has ACTUALLY been happening – British Summertime at last – YAY!).

Of course with lots of outdoor play comes lots of running about barefoot.  This is especially the case when there is an ice cold paddling pool to dip in and out of.

I try and keep my garden as tidy as I can.  The grass is kept short (needs to be with the cricket, football, rounder’s pitch and running track my children use it for!) and the trees are cut back.  But it is not as safe as I would like it to be.  This is why, this summer my children (and their friends) have had lots of splinters, and it has been down to me to try and prise them out.

Typically, many of us would use a pair of tweezers and a bit of cotton wool to do this.  For me, this would mean running up the stairs to my make-up bag, getting the tweezers, running them under a hot tap (not sterile), grabbing some cotton wool out of the drawer and then running back down again.  All the while my child (or someone else’s) screams blue murder in the back garden.

This is where Splinter Out comes into its own.

The 10 individual sterile lancets are packed conveniently into a small plastic case.  This means that they can be stored and carried around easily.  The case is also extremely easy to open one-handed (which is a must whilst having a sobbing little one hanging on to you!).

Once you remove the lancet from its packaging you will then be able to extract the splinter easily with a sterile instrument (not a make-up clogged pair of tweezers!).  The process is quick, clean meaning minimum amount of distress for the child (or the squeamish adult!).

Splinter Out is available from Henleys Medical Supplies and you can order online or over the phone on 01707 333164.

 
 
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This is Krish, doesn't she look amazing?

Its 5am and I am woken by the all familiar sound of the alarm clock buzzing away.

I thump my hand down on the “off” button and roll my way out of the bedroom and pour myself into my gym clothes, wiping sleep from my eyes whilst I go.

Slowly I pad down the stairs, grab a glass of water, 4 of my weights and my work out sheet from the fridge (I find this helps me avoid the wrong stuff if I know how hard I have to work to make up for it!) and head to the living room.  I choose a channel and start my work out. 

You see this has been the start of my day for the past few weeks (give or take a few days where I am able to get to the gym); this coupled with a great nutrition plan has made me see changes in my body that I never thought possible.

You see for a little experiment, and to test my levels of determination, I have enlisted the help of a personal trainer.  No, I have not come into my millions, nor am I punching above my (over) weight to turn all “Essex”, and those who know me, will know that I certainly do not need to be shouted and screamed at down the gym to keep me motivated (though occasionally a friend HAS done this and its helped!).  This is something different.  I have a VIRTUAL TRAINER.  And if you are like me, with minimal time to spare and limited funds, but can also be quite self-motivated, then this option is a perfect one for you.

My Personal Trainer (I love saying that..!) is called Krish.  She has an amazing and inspiring story to tell which is touched upon in her blog (
http://k-lossfitness.blogspot.co.uk) and as an added bonus is super clued up on the nutrition side of things, which is where I have struggled in the past.

So here is what I have been getting:

-          one to one advice about my personal goals

-          personal work outs tailored to my goals and the time that I have

-          recommended nutrition to aid my goals

-          advice and support at my finger tips (mobile, email, text, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Youtube, Facetime, Skype etc)

Firstly I need to add that the 5am starts are my choice.  I work full time and have two children. So that time in the morning is the only time I have where the house is peaceful, there are no text or telephone interruptions and there also happens to be some great re runs of Jeremy Kyle on the likes I haven’t seen since I was up feeding my kids as babies!  I feel that getting up this early to workout not only sets me up for the day, but it gets the exercise done with for the day so that I can have a guilt-free cuppa of an evening knowing that my muscles are using up energy whilst I rest.

My worksouts have been tailored for me so that I can work on all muscle groups (and that all important cardio) within an hour.  If I feel that the workouts are getting too familiar to my body or they need tweaking a little, Krish is always on hand to pop another one on email to me to keep me going.  Or, she will offer advice as to make each exercise harder.  These workouts have enabled me to see major changes to the muscle groups that I have wanted to focus on, and that has spurred me on to want to keep going and determined to “compete” with myself on a set of mini challenges.  Although I will never learn to love a squat – NEVER!

I am lucky in the sense that I enjoy eating well.  But I have in the past fallen into bad habits such as skipping meals, grabbing something “convenient” to eat and grabbing the nearest thing to me (normally biscuits or chocolate!).

Krish has inspired me to “eat clean”, to the point now where anything processed will not pass my lips.  I have realised the meaning of “fast food” in that it doesn’t mean processed rubbish in the microwave.  I can still use a microwave, but rustle up some scrambled eggs.  And with a little bit more organisation I am able to prepare good, lean, clean and nutritious food.  I have also learned to bake my sweet treats but without sugar – how great is that?!

I am still very much in the beginning phases of my goal.  But boy am I starting to see the results.

I have much more energy and enthusiasm for my day.  I am able to complete my morning work outs, lunchtime walks and evening runs without even thinking about it.  My nutrition is helping me keep the levels of energy to sustain this.

I am stronger physically and am starting to see big changes to the major muscle groups I wish to improve on.  With my drop in body fat the muscles are slowly starting to show through and I can now see how the focused exercises are shaping them to be just how I like them.  And for a control freak like me, this is perfect.

So what are you waiting for?  Get motivated, fit, inspired and also learn about the Krishy Krunch (the abs on Krish prove this, the woman looks amazing!), I guarantee you wont find it on YouTube!  All you need to know is right here:

http://k-lossfitness.blogspot.co.uk/

@klossfood (Twitter & Instragram)

klossfitness@gmail.com

Would you like to experience a months worth of Krish's services for free? Krish has kindly donated a months worth of consulting to our local charity event raising money for a chemotherapy suite. To see how you can win, check out the Facebook page
https://www.facebook.com/Letusentertainyou2013

 
 
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Davina and Jackie
As business woman Jackie runs two  successful businesses. One writing and presenting fitness DVDs and one as a  personal trainer. With over 20 years experience as a  personal trainer a large proportion of Jackie’s clients are referrals from  Consultants, doctors and Physiotherapists.
Still finding time to contribute  health, fitness and nutrition related articles for magazines making radio and TV  appearances including one as
the Fitness Expert on The Ester show. Jackie  retains all the passion for fitness which her clients find so infectious.

My fitness journey started many years ago.  And although I have dipped in an out of it when I was having my children, I always knew that it was something I would love to get back into eventually.

My first try at getting back into shape after having my eldest son was helped by Davina McCall.  Not directly I may add but by the aide of her fitness DVD's which I quickly became a fan. This is where I first became aware of the expertise and suppost of Davina's personal training team Jackie and Mark Wren.

I am proud to say that Jackie is a regular stream of support on Twitter and on email to me with any nutrional and fitness questions I have.  Jackie has just recently completed a 12-week challenge for Womens Fitness.co.uk where she bared her soul to us for the goal of getting into her size 10 jeans again!

Please take a look at Jackie and Mark's website and say hello to her over on twitter @jackiewren

Jackie has kindly donated a signed Davina Fit DVD to be used as a raffle prize to raise money for a local charity event. To be in with a chance of winning this and many other prizes, please like this great charity event page https://www.facebook.com/Letusentertainyou2013

 
 
Cakes, cakes and more cakes! This sponsored link is brought to you in association with www.bigmamasbakery.co.uk
Take a good look at the pictures above.  Not only do these character cakes look amazing, the vanilla sponge centre is as mouth watering as it sounds.

For two years on the spin I have tasked Hertfordshire-based Big Mama's Bakery to make my son's birthday cakes.  Not only are their bespoke designs imaginative, they also have a very appealing "give it a go" attitude which is usually missing from the bigger bakery chains.

Their founder Emily Gubby, uses her passion and talents together beautifully, and being a mother of four already she is experienced in what children require of their character cakes. 

The proof lies in the taste of these creations.  Appealing to the children, they are even more appealng to the adults when cut up and dished out at birthday parties.

Although their exceptional talent lies in creating character cakes, Big Mama's Bakery offer many other services including securing a gap in the market to provide bulk order cakes for those birthday office dilemma's where the local supermarket simply will not do.  Surprise your colleagues with some delicious peanut brittle or tasty meringues as a popular alternative to cream cakes.

And the additional bonus? Their prices are extremely competitive.  Seriously, check these guys out.

I would urge you to check out their website www.bigmamasbakery.co.uk as soon as possible and look at their gallery of amazing cakes.