A weekend in Amsterdam

A weekend in Amsterdam

Just after moving to the UK, Mel, Ryan, and I headed off to Amsterdam, which is a city that’s been on my travel bucket list for a long time.

Amsterdam is easy to explore on foot, and we covered a lot. Below are my recommendations based on what we saw.

Accommodation
We stayed in the Urban Lodge Hotel. This hotel is across the road from Sloterdijk Station, where you can take a 10 minute train ride to the city centre.

The hotel was quiet, the staff were fantastic, and the room was really cozy, a great place to relax after a full day of walking.

Shopping
Dam Square
Walking distance from Amsterdam Centraal Station is Dam Square, a shopper’s paradise. Here you’ll find restaurants, buskers, high street retailers, Bijenkorf and Magna Plaza department stores, and even a Madame Tussaud.

Amsterdam Centraal Station

Magna Plaza Department Store Amsterdam

Situated off the main street are alleyways. Make sure you walk through them as they lead to more shops. An alleyway that Mel and I stumbled across was Beurspassage, which led us to Primark, bakeries, restaurants, and homeware stores.

Amsterdam Dam Square Beurspassage

The Nine Small Streets
The Nine Small Streets are located in the Old Town, which you can get to by walking from Dam Square. This shopping area has trendy small boutique type shops where you can buy vintage clothing, books, or jewellery. You can also eat at one of the few restaurants, go to a hair salon, or like Mel and I, get coffee and something small to eat at Ree 7 café.

Amsterdam canals

Markets
Albert Cuyp
Albert Cuyp Market is fantastic and so large! It has everything from fruit, vegetables, fish, cheese, spices, ready to eat food, make up, bedding, flowers, clothing, cameras – you name it, it has it.

With over 300 stalls, this market is the busiest in the Netherlands, and the largest daytime market in Europe.

Allow a few hours to visit this market and its surrounding shops. It’s open Monday to Saturday 9.30am – 5pm, and is located at 1072 CN Amsterdam The Netherlands.

Waterlooplein Market
Waterlooplein Market is Amsterdam’s oldest flea market and sells mostly pre loved items including antiques, homewares, toys, books, shoes, bags, artwork, and clothing.

I’m not a lover of flea markets so didn’t really enjoy Waterlooplein as much as I hoped to. If I were to visit Amsterdam again, I’d skip this market and spend the extra time at Albert Cuyp.

Waterlooplein is open Monday to Saturday 9.30am – 6pm, and is located at Waterlooplein 21011 NZ.

What to see
Zaanse Schans Windmills
I’ve saved the best for last. If I only had one day in Amsterdam then this is the only thing I would see, I loved it that much.

Zaanse Schans Windmills was the only place we couldn’t walk to from the city centre, but it only took 40 minutes by train from Amsterdam Centraal Station to get there.

The closest station to this attraction is Zaandijk Zaanse Schans station. The walk from the station to the windmills doesn’t take long, and you get to see houses on canals and a colourful town centre on the way.

Zaanse Schans Windmills Amsterdam nearby town

You’ll know when you’re near the windmills as soon as you see a bridge with people taking photos from it. Once I saw the windmills from the bridge it’s where I started to really enjoy this trip. Along with canals, windmills are what I associate with Amsterdam, so it really made me feel like I was there.

Zaanse Schans Windmills Amsterdam

Zaanse Schans Windmills is free to enter. It’s an outdoor park with housing, souvenir shops, a bakery, museum, cheese factory, mills, barns, clog makers, farm animals, and of course waffles!

Zaanse Schans Windmills Amsterdam home

Zaanse Schans Windmills Amsterdam animal farm

This attraction is located at Schansend 7, 1509 AW Zaandam.

Canal boat cruises
Mel and I did a night cruise on the canals, but there are also daytime ones. You can get tickets from any of the many vendors around Amsterdam Centraal Station.

Amsterdam canal boat cruise

I didn’t get to fully enjoy the cruise as Ryan decided to make a big nappy mess at the start of the journey. So I spent the majority of the cruise wishing in my head for it to finish.

If I get the chance to visit Amsterdam again, I will definitely take the same cruise, but at a more Ryan friendly time.

Food to try
Stroopwafels
Stroopwafels are two thin waffles that have a layer of caramel in the middle. They’re chewy, delicious, and very moreish. You can find them everywhere.

Waffles
When we were at the Zaanse Schans Windmills the smell of waffle was in the air, making it impossible to resit. Mel and I shared a chocolate covered waffle, it was so good!

Amsterdam waffles

Hot chips
There are hot chip shops in Amsterdam everywhere (does anyone know why?) Chips are one of my favourite foods, so it was a given that Mel and I were going to get some. We got our mayonnaise covered ones at Manneken Pis, and they were worth the wait.

Herring
I grew up eating herring at my grandparent’s house in Australia, it’s an acquired taste, but I love them. For this reason I couldn’t pass up the chance to get some from one of the many vendors around Amsterdam. There are many varieties to choose from so there’s something to suit everyone.

There you have it, my Amsterdam adventure. I loved Amsterdam, and I’d definitely go back.

Do you have any favourite places to visit in Amsterdam, or yummy food to try if I were to revisit?

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5 monthly log ideas for your bullet journal

5 monthly log ideas for your bullet journal

Last year I started bullet journaling, and it’s by far the best planning tool I’ve used in a long time.

Whenever I stumble across anything I love, I spread the word about how great it is to anyone who will listen.

In order to spread the love I have for bullet journaling, I’ve started a series on providing inspiration on how you can set up your future, monthly, weekly and daily logs.

The first post in this series was for setting up your future log, this one’s all about setting up your monthly log, which as the name suggests, helps you to organise your month.

Just like the future log, there are many different ways that bullet journal users have set their monthly logs up. Here are five that I’ve found, which I’m hoping will provide inspiration for your own bullet journal.

1. Official bullet journal monthly log

1. Official bullet journal monthly log

Image source

How does it work?
This is the layout the creator of the bullet journal Ryder Carroll suggests for your monthly log.

The left hand side of the page lists each day of the month. Here you can write events, appointments, or even to dos against their relevant date. You can go into greater detail about them if needed on their relevant weekly/daily log (which you’ll create later).

The right hand side of the page is where you list tasks that you’d like to accomplish that month. It acts as a running to do list. If you have a date that they need to be done on you can add them to the left hand side of the page. Or, you can migrate them to the next month if you’re unable to complete them.

Pros

  • You can see at a glance what you have going on in an entire month
  • Easy to draw up
  • Events / appointments are listed chronologically

 Cons

  • You can’t break the days down by time
  • May not appeal to you if you’re used to a calendar grid layout
  • There’s no space for goal setting, or general notes

2. Official bullet journal monthly log plus goals

2 Official bullet journal monthly log plus goals

Image source

How does it work?
This is the layout I use for my bullet journal (this image isn’t from my bullet journal though).

This layout combines the official bullet journal monthly log, with space for goal setting.

The left hand side is where the official bullet journal monthly log layout happens. This page works exactly the same way as described above.

Where this layout differs is on the use of the right hand page. Instead of just listing tasks for the month, this layout allows you to set out goals that you have for the month, which can be broken down by category. You can tailor the categories to what areas of your life you have set goals for. Or if you’d prefer, you could even list to dos that you need to do that month by category.

Pros

  • Customisable to your needs, as you choose categories of your life you want to focus on for that month
  • You can detail non-goal related items on the right hand side of the page if you’d like. For example, you may have to dos to complete by category, or general notes, even inspirational quotes you’d like to refer to later on
  • You can see at a glance what you have going on in an entire month

 Cons

  • You may feel compelled to fill up the entire space on the right hand side, which means you may not achieve all you set out to do
  • You can’t break the days down by time
  • May not appeal to you if you’re used to a calendar grid layout

3. Calendar grid monthly log with goals

3. Calendar grid monthly log with goals

Image source

How does it work?
In this layout, the majority of space is taken up by a grid style calendar, where a box is dedicated to each day of the month.

To the right of the calendar there is space to list your goals for the month, in the same way as the previous layout. However, on this layout, there’s also space for a habit tracker.

A habit tracker lists habits you’d like to achieve for the particular month down the page, then across it has every day of the month, so at the end of the day you can tick off whether the habit was achieved or not. Examples of habits you may like to keep track off on a daily basis include exercise, water or vitamin intake, social media posting, etc.

 Pros

  • Uses a calendar grid layout that many of us know how to use
  • Ability to list and schedule goals and habits that you’d like to achieve for the month
  • You can see at a glance what you have going on in an entire month

 Cons

  • Three different elements means this layout will take a bit of time to draw up
  • There isn’t a lot of space to detail events in the calendar grid section
  • There isn’t a lot of space to list a variety of habits you’d like to track. If you have more habits then space, you will need to draw up a larger habit tracker elsewhere

4. Time tracker monthly log

4. Time tracker monthly log

Image source

How does it work?
This layout uses the same vertical day and number layout as the official bullet journal monthly log, however that’s where the similarities end. To the right of the dates a page and a third of the next page are divided by three, where each division allows you to list the events / to dos for the month by the time of day they happen / need to happen.

At the end of the right hand side there’s space to list goals, and even draw up a mini calendar if required.

Pros

  • Less cluttered as entries are broken down by time, so they’re less likely to take up more than one line
  • You can easily see when your busy periods are
  • There’s a lot of room to go into detail if needed 

Cons

  • There’s not a lot of space to the right of the page to list down goals, notes, or to dos
  • The mini calendar only shows what day a date falls on, which you can see on the left hand page. This may be wasted space
  • If you want to use the mini calendar on this layout, you may need to colour code dates to remind you of entries (which has been done on the above image), which takes time

5. Calendar wheel monthly log

5. Calendar wheel monthly log

Image source

How does it work?
A wheel is drawn, with each box on the wheel representing each day of the month.

Once drawn up you enter any events, appointments, birthdays, to dos, or anything else you need to do for that month on the wheel by linking them by a line under their relevant date.

Pros

  • It’s aesthetically pleasing
  • If you’re artistic there’s plenty of space to get creative
  • It only takes up one page

Cons

  • There isn’t much space to list more than one thing per day
  • Takes some time to draw up
  • You’ll need a compass to draw the circle

Conclusion
Just like the future log, there are many different ways to design your monthly log. Your choice will depend upon how efficiently it meets your needs.

Like always, the best advice I have is to try what’s best for you, and if it doesn’t work try something else until you find a design you’re comfortable with, and that suits your needs.

Other posts in this series
For more inspiration on how to layout your logs so they suit your needs perfectly, please visit these posts:

5 future log ideas for your bullet journal

Have you stumbled across a monthly log that suits your needs perfectly? If so I’d love to hear about it.

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My 2018 goals and one little word

My 2018 goals and one little word

I love setting goals, however, I feel like I talk about them more than actually achieving them.

So this year I’m making a concerted effort to actually achieve the goals I’ve set for 2018.

I’m so serious about this that I purchased a copy of Your Best Year by Lisa Jacobs. It’s a workbook you work through every quarter, month, week and day to break your goals up into smaller tasks, so you stay motivated to achieve them.

As well as setting goals, in the past I’ve also used one little word to set the intention for my year. This year I decided to do both, so this post is a two in one. It outlines my 2018 goals, and discusses how the one little word I’ve chosen for this year will be used to achieve them. (I told you I was serious about this!)

The goals below are a general statement on what I want to achieve this year. I’ve gone into greater detail on them, and made action plans for each in my bullet journal. I’m thinking of writing another post detailing what these action plans are. If you’d like this type of post please let me know.

My 2018 goals

Financial
Stick to a £40 budget per week, which includes online spending, and extra grocery items.

Mind
Stop focusing on the negatives, appreciate all that I have, and be someone others want to be around.

Blog
Set blog goals and yearly editorial calendar, and post in advance.

Body
Everything in moderation.

Family
Book monthly UK overnighters, and bi monthly overseas trips, to create long lasting memories and strong bonds.

Friends
Build a circle of friends with likeminded attitudes and similar interests.

After setting these goals I wondered if I still needed to set one little word for this year. After some thought I decided that I did.

What is one little word?
One little word is the reason why I started this blog. In fact, one of the first posts I wrote was on this very topic.

One little word is a word that drives your intention for the year. So far my words have been create, focus, and action. If you’d like to learn more you can read the first post I wrote on this topic here.

I decided to do one little word this year on our way home from Stratford upon Avon. On the drive home it just popped into my head that I need to set a word this year. I realised that I needed something extra to guide my actions towards actually achieving my goals.

How does one little word assist me in achieving my goals?
My goals are the big picture things I want to achieve this year.

My one little word is something I can say in my head everyday. It’s the word I will use to guide me towards making decisions that will assist me in achieving my goals.

This sounds a little confusing, so before I give an example to clarify this I should let you know what my one little word for 2018 is.

My one little word is…

BETTER.

Definition – “More desirable, satisfactory, or effective.”

It didn’t take me long to choose this word, as all my goals are aimed towards making this year a better one than the years before. For instance,

I want to be better with my spending
I want to have better moods
I want to be more appreciate of what I have
I want to think of the positives in everything
I want to be a better partner
I want to be better organised with my blog
I want to treat my body to better foods
I want my family to have better times together
I want to better my friend situation in the UK

An example of how my goals and my one little word work together is as follows:

Goal
Stop focusing on the negatives, appreciate all that I have, and be someone others want to be around.

I really want to stabilise my moods this year so I can be someone others want to be around. So, from now on, whenever I feel a bad mood brewing I’m going to stop and think “how can I act better to stop this mood from happening? What do I need to realise, or do, so I act better in this situation?”

Better will be my mantra for the year. It’s how I’ll alter my actions to ensure I’m working towards achieving my goals.

I’d love to know what one little word you’ve chosen this year, or in previous years, or what goals you’ve set for 2018.

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Life Lately January 2018

Life Lately January 2018

January was a month where I tried to get motivated. Motivated to get things done around the house, motivated to set goals, and motivated to improve my moods. More on this soon!

For now, here are some other things that happened in January;

Eating:
Despite the season, I’ve been eating lots of Maxibon icecreams. I love them, especially the biscuit side. I used to eat these all the time in Australia, even though they were double the size there compared to here. So at least now they feel like less of a naughty indulgence.

Reading:
This month I read Revenge Wears Prada by Lauren Weisberger. It was an easy and enjoyable read and finished in a way that you felt good about the decisions that Andy made, post working for Runway. One of my goals this year is to expand my book choice, as much as I love chick lit, I really need to get into books with more grit.

Watching:
Nick and I are still watching Homeland. Season 6 just started on Netflix, which was fantastic timing as we just finished season 5. I will be happy once we’ve finished this season so we can catch up on some other shows we’re behind on.

Buying:
Ryan smashed the glass on my mobile phone on Christmas Day, just as I was telling Nick how fantastic a babysitter it was being so we could eat lunch. It cost £80 to fix (ouch!!) but whoever fixed it smudged the camera lens making photos very blurry. As a result I bought another phone, and the one Ryan smashed has become Ryan’s babysitter during times of dire need.

Visiting:
One of my goals this year is to do monthly overnight UK stays. Our first one for this year was a stay in Stratford upon Avon. I’m aiming to do a post on this location soon, but as a summary I loved this town. We did the Shakespeare attractions, and as we didn’t do them all we will definitely be coming back.

Feeling:
Thankfully I’m feeling much better than last month, where I was in a bad mood for a lot of it. I’m working hard on stabilising my moods, making the UK home, and looking at the positives.

Loving:
Just before Christmas we bought a second car, which I love having as it means I’m no longer spending two hours of my day dropping and picking Nick up from work. It also means Ryan and I can get out everyday.

Hoping:
I hope that the coldest part of Winter is over (although I’ve been told that February in the UK can get rather nasty.) I prefer Winter over Summer, but being able to take a walk without a frosty breeze would be a good relief.

Planning:
I’ve just finished working my way through Your Best Year by Lisa Jacobs to finalise my goals for this year. I’ve also started scheduling activities into my bullet journal to reach them. More on this soon.

Parenting:
At nearly 18 months Ryan still can’t walk, but I’m okay with that. He does however crawl super fast, so fast that I sometimes can’t catch him. He does take my hands and walks around the house any chance he gets, so maybe this time next month he’ll be walking on his own?

Well that was January. It was pretty relaxed but filled with a lot of time to make plans to get more motivated.

I would love to know if you have any non-chick lit books that I could read. I’m desperate to expand my horizons.

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6 UK day trips we’ve recently taken

6 UK day trips we’ve recently taken

Sunday is family day in our household, and we try to spend as many of them as possible going on a day trip.

As we moved to the UK last year, there are many places we have yet to explore. So we have heaps more adventures ahead of us.

But for now, here are 6 day trips we’ve taken so far. Each of them is easy to get to, have great town centres, and have attractions for all ages.

1 & 2 Salisbury and Bristol
Mel offered to babysit Ryan in August for an entire weekend. So Nick and I took an overnight trip to Salisbury and Bristol.

Our first stop was Salisbury, where we visited the magnificent Salisbury Cathedral. This Cathedral is one of the nicest I’ve seen. Its ceilings are crafted to precision, the windows are stencilled beautifully, and the outdoor garden is expansive. It also has one of only four original Magna Cartas that you can view at an interactive exhibition.

Salisbury Cathedral

After Salisbury Cathedral we visited the Old Sarum, the site of the earliest settlement in Salisbury. It was great to walk around and get a sense of the town’s origins.

To end this jam packed day, we had dinner at Baroushka, a Turkish and Lebanese restaurant. It was great to eat without Ryan trying to grab food out of my mouth.

The next day we explored Bristol by foot. Bristol was much larger than Nick and I expected, we both agreed that we could easily live there.

We walked around Millennium Square, which has many shops and restaurants dotted around its waterfront. We also visited Bristol Cathedral, and Clifton Suspension Bridge, the bridge had amazing views of the city.

Bristol Millenium Square Waterfront

3 Bath
In September we went to Bath. It was my second visit, but on my first I didn’t go to The Roman Baths so we made this our first stop.

I loved The Roman Baths, it was really interesting to read about each area’s history and construction, and surreal to think about the people that bathed here many, many moons ago.

Bath Roman Baths sculptures

We spent a couple of hours walking around the Sacred Spring, the Roman Temple, the Roman Bath House, and the Pump Room.

After all our walking we grabbed a burger at Smashburger. Ryan of course had his own, which he wouldn’t share with anyone.

4 Brighton
This was mine and Ryan’s second visit to Brighton, but Nick’s first.

We went to Brighton Pier, where Nick was just as impressed with its size and variety of rides and food as I was when I saw it for the first time.

Brighton Pier

We also visited the Royal Pavilion, which was built as a palace for King George IV. It’s interior is very oriental, and whilst the Palace is expansive, it doesn’t feel like it as you enter its many rooms.

Brighton The Royal Pavillion

There were many people eating a picnic out on the gardens, but we decided to eat at one of the many surrounding restaurants. We chose Wahaca as Mexican is one of my favourite cuisines. Ryan had the best looking nachos I’ve seen in a long time, and my burrito was amazing.

5 Winchester
In October we visited the medieval town of Winchester and checked out its Cathedral as well as Wolvesey Castle.

Winchester Cathedral is one of the largest cathedrals in Europe, but it doesn’t take very long to get around. It’s also walking distance to Wolvesey Castle, which we visited as well.

Winchester Cathedral

Wolvesey Castle was fantastic. It was great walking amongst its ruins and imagining the events that were once held there. Whilst we were walking around Ryan said his first word – oh no, when he dropped some food.

6 Warwick Castle
Another day, another castle, however, this time the castle wasn’t in ruins.

Warwick Castle

There’s so much to do at Warwick Castle, including Princess visits, dungeon tours, and amazing views of the Castle and its grounds from various towers.

Warwick Castle Tower views

We still need to visit so many areas, so if you have any day trip suggestions I’d love to hear about them. In particular, do you know of any beachside towns, or towns that are baby friendly?

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Combing a bullet journal and Google calendar when planning

Combing a bullet journal and Google calendar to plan

I recently started bullet journaling to plan my life, and I love it! (If you’d like to read more about this then please click here).

As well as using a bullet journal, I also use Google Calendar to plan out my days. However, lately I’ve been wondering if I really need to use both.

The more I think about it, the more I realise that I do need to use both, as they each assist me in different ways.

Here’s how each planning tool plays its part in planning my life:

Google Calendar

Prior to starting a bullet journal I used Google Calendar to remind me of everything. This included birthdays, events, to dos, and shopping lists.

As a result my phone was constantly going off to remind me of something. In addition, I deleted entries once they were completed, so I never had a record of anything.

Since starting a bullet journal I’ve changed the way I use Google Calendar. My phone is always with me, my bullet journal isn’t. Therefore, I still have a need to use Google Calendar, I just don’t rely on it like I previously did.

Instead, I now use Google Calendar as follows:

1. To provide location information
Birthdays, appointments, or anything my sister needs to attend are recorded in my Google Calendar along with their location. These items are also in my bullet journal, minus the location. Once the event has passed I delete it from my Google Calendar, but keep it in my bullet journal.

2. To make appointments on the go
I put any appointments made whilst out straight into Google Calendar, and then copy them into my bullet journal once I’m home. I keep them in my Google Calendar until they’ve been completed.

3. To remind me of out of the house to dos
If there’s something in my bullet journal that needs to be done out of the house I’ll put it in my Google Calendar and delete it once done. For example, any groceries I need on a particular day are written in my bullet journal. Once that day comes I’ll put the items into my Google Calendar to remind me to get them when I’m out.

These are the only things I use Google Calendar for. I no longer put every to do, every reminder, or every thought into Google Calendar, that’s what my bullet journal’s for. In doing so, I’ve minimised the amount of disruption my phone has on my day.

Bullet journal
Any date related items are in my Google Calendar and bullet journal, and that’s where the relationship ends.

My bullet journal goes beyond listing date related events. It also keeps information on anything I’m thinking about, goals I’m working towards, and most importantly lists yearly, monthly, weekly, and daily to dos.

An example of some of these items include:

  • To watch, read, and buy lists
  • Moving list
  • Holiday packing list
  • Weekly chores
  • Yearly schedules
  • Ryan’s baby book to dos
  • Blog post ideas
  • Blog content plan

The biggest chunk of my bullet journal is dedicated to planning out my days.

Every Sunday night I plan for the week ahead. I list any to dos that need to be done, and then go to my Google Calendar and enter any events that are happening that week.

During the week I’ll add to dos or events that arise into my bullet journal. I also make notes of conversations I’ve had with suppliers, or record anything else I need to remember. My bullet journal has much greater detail in it than my Google Calendar ever will.

I love using my bullet journal to plan my days. I like the physicality of crossing something off once it’s done. Plus, I have everything recorded, so if I need to refer back to a conversation I’ve had, or find out when I purchased something, it’s there.

Google Calendar, for me, is used as a reminder tool. It reminds me of an event and gives me the location. Or it reminds me to put something into my bullet journal.

My bullet journal has the same date specific information in it as my Google Calendar, but records all my thoughts, and plans out my year, months, weeks, and days. It handles the bulk of my planning needs.

Both of these tools assist me with my planning needs, but in different ways. And I’m happy with that.

Do you have a preference on whether you use analogue or digital tools to plan?

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Ryan’s toddler favourites Winter 2018

Ryan’s toddler favourites Winter 2018

Ryan is starting to show a preference for certain items, including TV shows (I’m talking to you Duggee!)

So, I thought it would be fun to list eight items that are currently in high demand in our household.

Just as an FYI, the above images are not my own, they’re taken from the supplier’s website, and are linked against their corresponding number below.

Also, I’ve purchased all of these items. I don’t have any affiliate relationships with any of the brands mentioned in this post. They’re all 100% Ryan’s current favourites (some are actually mine!)

1. Leapfrog count along till (£22)
This toy comes with 10 plastic coins and a credit card that you use to buy food, the prices of which are relayed to you by the till. Ryan loves putting the coins into the slot, and pressing all the buttons. When he’s old enough I’ll teach him how to listen to the cost of each item, and how many coins he needs to buy them.

2. Fisher Price hippo projection soother (£23)
This soother plays music for approximately 30 minutes, which lasts through Ryan’s bedtime routine, and finishes after he’s fallen asleep. The soother can play either lullabies or white noise, and it has a light function that projects stars onto the roof.

3. Little People swing and share tree house (£53)
Ryan loves this toy, he knocks it over and puts the little girl, boy, and dog through the tree house door. I also find the girl, boy, and dog in shoes, other toys, in the couch….. The toy plays songs about sharing, and has the flexibility of growing with Ryan as it can be attached to other Little People products.

4. Fuel bento lunchbox (£31)
Ryan knows that this lunchbox means snacks, so as soon as he sees it he giggles and opens it to get a snack out. This box is so versatile, you can stock it with or without the boxes it comes with, which means it will grow with Ryan’s food needs.

5. Marks and Spencer sleeping bag (£18)
Another part of Ryan’s bedtime routine is getting into his sleeping bag. This sleeping bag is thick, soft, and opens right up so it’s easy to get Ryan in and out of it.

6. Bonds wondersuit ($18)
Bonds is my favourite Aussie brand, and I especially love their kids clothing range. The range is colourful, comfortable, and practical. This wondersuit has two zips, so if I need to change Ryan in the middle of the night I can unzip the suit from the bottom so it’s less disturbing. Bonds offer free shipping to the UK if you spend over $100, so future Bonds purchases are definitely on the horizon.

7. JoJo Maman Bébé rabbit comforter (£10)
Ryan knows that bedtime means bunny time. When he sees bunny he gets so excited he giggles. If he’s really tired he puts bunny’s ears in his, it’s very cute. We have four bunnies at home, just in case we loose one.

8. Baby Jogger City Mini GT pushchair (£359)
This is more my favourite than Ryan’s. In November I bought this pushchair to replace the one I had, which I hated. I chose this brand because I see it everywhere, it was the first pushchair brand I saw after having Ryan. It’s small, easy to push, and has a wide canopy. I love it.

I’m really interested to see how much Ryan’s favourites list will change next season, when it’s not as cold and he’s a bit older.

Does your toddler have any current favourite items that they, and you, can’t live without? I love hearing about the items that these little humans treasure.

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Life Lately December 2017

Life Lately December 2017

December wasn’t as hectic a month this year as it usually is in our household.

By this time of year I’m usually wrapping presents, baking, and packing for Christmas at Nick’s family’s house.

However, now that we’ve moved to the UK, the lead up to Christmas is much slower paced.

So, here’s life lately in December;

Eating:
I worked my way through my first advent calendar ever. I don’t know why I waited so long to get one. It’s the best excuse to eat chocolate everyday ever (like I really need an excuse!)

Reading:
I’m currently reading The Dying Game by Asa Avdic. It’s about 7 people who have been put on a remote island to compete for a top-secret intelligence job. Part of the selection criteria is to see how they handle a staged murder, but from what I’ve just read it looks like a real murder has been committed. I’m very intrigued.

Watching:
I finally watched the movie Lion, based on the book I read back in May. The movie was fantastic, and even though I knew what would happen it was still a tear jerker.

Buying:
I still love online shopping. This month I’ve purchased items for Ryan’s new buggy, a griddle pan, a bookcase for Ryan’s room, and a book called Your Best Year, which I’m hoping will set me on a better mood track then I’ve been in this month.

Visiting:
Due to our Munich Christmas plans falling through, we decided to do a road trip around Oxford and Birmingham instead. We visited Blenheim Palace, and the Frankfurt German Christmas Market and Magical Lantern Festival in Birmingham. It was good to get away as just the three of us.

Feeling:
For the first half of December I felt really crappy. I started each morning in a really bad mood, and it wasn’t a good feeling. I have no idea what was making me feel so rotten. All I can think the cause was is the time of year. It’s been a hectic year with moving from Australia, moving within the UK, Nick being away a lot, and missing my friends terribly. Christmas is the time of year where you spend time with your loved ones, and this year I couldn’t as they’re in another country.

Loving:
I love the idea that I can start fresh next year and perhaps shake off this bad mood of mine. In the past I’ve used one little word to set the intention for my year, in fact it’s the reason I started this blog. My previous words of the year have been create, focus, and action.

Instead of one little word, next year I’m going to base my goals on a new book I’ve just purchased called Your Best Year. I’ll let you know how this goes.

Hoping:
To treat my body better next year. This always seems to be a hope at this time of year. I don’t believe in diets, but everything in moderation. However, moderation hasn’t been my friend this year, so it’s time to incorporate more fruit and water into my life.

Planning:
This month was about planning our Christmas meals, which was quite last minute. We managed to get bookings in Birmingham, wherewe all ate ourselves crazy.

Parenting:
Ryan is throwing little tantrums, which involve putting his head on the ground and crying whenever we take something off him, whenever another child tries to play with a toy he has, or even if another child just comes near a toy he has. It’s kind of cute, but I feel like these tantrums are going to grow in size the closer to two he gets.

Well that was December; it wasn’t too hectic, which I’m thankful for.

I hope your December and holiday period was just as peaceful.

Have a fantastic 2018, see you next year!

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My top 5 favourite moments of 2017

My top 5 favourite moments of 2017

Lately I’ve been feeling very, very blah. And by blah I mean irritated, annoyed, and generally sad.

I think I’ve been feeling like this because the emphasis on this time of year is to spend time with those you love, and the majority of those that I love are in Australia.

In order to get over these feelings and appreciate the good in this year, I’ve decided to take a look at my top 5 favourite moments of 2017.

1. Watching Ryan grow

I’m very lucky to have a healthy, happy little boy (I hope this never changes!) This year has seen Ryan grow from a five month old baby who hadn’t started eating solids, to a 16 month old cheeky, adventurous, eating machine little human, who is the love of my life. I’m very lucky that I’m able to spend as much time with him as I do, and I’m excited to share with you our adventures in 2018.

2. Mel saying yes to the UK

There’s no way that I could have moved to the UK if Mel didn’t say she’d join me. Having her here was the biggest help I could have received in adjusting to this new life.

3. Checking out Amsterdam

Still on the topic of Mel, we got to spend some sister time in Amsterdam in March (well, sister and Aunty time as Ryan joined us). I’ll be doing a post about Amsterdam soon, but the highlights of this place were chips, chips, more chips, and windmills.

4. Living in Windsor

I was extremely lucky to live in Windsor for the majority of the year. Its shopping packed town centre was a massive drawcard. I also made a really close friend there, and I’m hoping that we, and our sons, will be friends for life.

5. Blogging – properly this time

Moving away from friends has given me a lot of spare time; time that I’ve decided would be best spent re-energising this blog. This year I realised that I needed to do something just for me, something apart from motherly duties. So, I’ve redesigned the blog a bit and will focus on four categories, which are life, parenting, organisation, and travel.

I still can’t believe that another year is nearly over, and what a year it’s been!

I hope I’m in a better headspace in 2018. Usually by now I would have set one little word to drive my intention for the year ahead, but I haven’t yet. (If you’d like to learn more about this then please visit here, here, here, or even here).

I’m still undecided on whether to set goals for 2018 or take it as it comes, so stay tuned for this one.

I’d love to hear about your favourite moments of 2017, and if you have any ideas on how to be more positive about the year ahead please let me know.

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Stay, see, and eat in Salt Lake City

Where to stay, visit and eat in Salt Lake Cityå

In April Ryan, Nick, and I went to New York, Washington and Salt Lake City.

I’d never thought about visiting Salt Lake City before, so I was intrigued when Nick suggested we add it onto our US itinerary.

I’m glad we added it, as it was unlike any other US city I’ve been to. It was spacious, quiet, and had enough to keep us entertained for the week we were there.

So, here are my recommendations on where to stay, what to see, and where to eat in Salt Lake City.

Where to stay

Hyatt Place Downtown/The Gateway

This hotel was fantastic. We were lucky enough to stay in one of the high floor rooms, which was like an apartment. There was a bedroom with its own bathroom, living area, and kitchen. At the time of this trip Ryan was two months into eating solids, so the buffet breakfasts were prefect. The hotel is walking distance to public transport, restaurants, downtown, and The Gateway and City Creek shopping centres.

What to see

Shopping – The Gateway

The Gateway is a less than 5 minute walk from Hyatt Place. I love shopping centres that are laid out in a way where I can systematically visit all the shops, and I couldn’t do that here. The layout was weird, plus it is predominantly outdoor, so on the days it was raining Ryan and I had to seek shelter in Barnes and Noble until the rain stopped.

Where to stay, visit and eat in Salt Lake City The Gateway Shopping Center

The Gateway doesn’t have the range of shops that City Creek has, but it has a lot of entertainment options including a Megaplex, Planetarium and even a Day Spa.

Shopping – City Creek Center

City Creek Center is about a 15 minute walk from Hyatt Place. It’s a large undercover shopping centre, which has over 100 stores and even a creek running through it (hence the name).

Stores and restaurants include Anthropologie, Apple, Macy’s, Michael Kors, Nordstrom, Tiffany & Co, West Elm, Sephora, and H&M. There’s even a food court with a children’s play area.

Where to stay, visit and eat in Salt Lake City City Creek Center play area

What I loved the most about City Creek was its layout. It was so easy to visit all the stores. It’s split into two buildings, which are divided by a pedestrian bridge. Plus, all the food is in one area so you have a lot to choose from when hunger strikes.

Attraction – Temple Square

Where to stay, visit and eat in Salt Lake City Temple Square exterior

This is Utah’s most popular tourist destination, and I can see why. The Temple and its grounds are stunning.

You can spend a good couple of hours here admiring the Temple’s architecture and perfectly sculptured gardens. You can also learn about the Temple’s construction at the visitor’s centre, and stroll around the Assembly Hall and Tabernacle.

Where to stay, visit and eat in Salt Lake City Temple Square garden surrounds

Temple Square is located in downtown, so once you’ve finished here you can spend the rest of the day shopping or eating to your heart’s content.

As a tip, make sure you drive past this attraction at night, it’s all lit up and looks gorgeous.

Attraction – Gigal Sculptural Garden

Nick is not a shopper, so trying to find something we both like to do when we travel can be challenging.

Where to stay, visit and eat in Salt Lake City Gigal Sculptural Garden

I stumbled across this little gem when I was trying to find something Nick and Ryan friendly. It’s a free to enter garden located on a street in amongst houses. If you blink you’ll miss it.

The garden has 12 sculptures including a birdhouse, cave, eagles, and even a sphinx.

Where to stay, visit and eat in Salt Lake City Gigal Sculptural Garden The Sphinx

Each sculpture has a quote, poem, or other type of description written to provoke further thought. To find out more about this garden please visit here.

Attraction – Park City

Park City’s website describes this attraction as “one of the premier skiing destinations in the world”.

Where to stay, visit and eat in Salt Lake City Park City

This is the first place we visited when we arrived. It was off peak ski season, so many of the shops and restaurants on the main street were closed.

However, it was still worth visiting as there were a couple of places open, and the view of the mountains was fantastic.

Where to eat

Eva’s Bakery

Eva’s Bakery was one of the few shops open on the Sunday we were walking through the city centre.

From the entrance it looks like this is just a small bakery selling a handful of cakes and loaves of breads, but just past the counter there is a large seating area where table service is provided.

We came here for lunch. I had the tuna melt and Nick had the steak sandwich. Both were filling enough to keep us going until dinner.

Squatters

Nick has been to Salt Lake City a few times, and each time he always eats at Squatters.

I loved it here, it had a great vibe. On the night we ate here there were work parties happening, families were eating at the tables, and people were drinking at the bar whilst watching sport.

The menu is extensive covering nachos, pizza, spring rolls, sandwiches, burgers – the list goes on. Nick always orders buffalo wings when we’re in the States so he had this here too. For mains Nick had Jambalaya and I had a burger. The food was fantastic, as was the service.

I highly recommend this place.

The Bridge Café and Grill

Whilst in Park City we ate at The Bridge Café and Grill, another place with a great menu. I had fish tacos because they came with chips and I normally do whatever I can to eat chips! The tacos were amazing! Nick had the Carioca (pork, Swiss cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, and chimichurri sauce in a baguette). I also recommend this place!

Where to stay, visit and eat in Salt Lake City City Bridge Cafe and Grill

I would definitely go back to Salt Lake City. In fact, whenever I think about this trip Salt Lake City is normally the part that I think about the most. Maybe because we were there the longest, or maybe because it wasn’t overcrowded and everything was easy to get to.

Do you have any other great Salt Lake City gems that I can visit if I go back?

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