Baking, general, hosting, lifestyle, party, party ideas

Our Sunday Superhero Party with Baking Mad

If there is one thing I love, it’s a party. But I’m more of a party goer than a host. I’ve only ever hosted one at home party before, and that was for my daughters 6th birthday last year. However Sunday gone I hosted a party for friends, family and their little ones, with no other reason than to pretty much showcase my baking skills.

Ok, I will admit, I have never made a cake before. Not from scratch anyway. Sure I’ve bought a ready mix and added an egg, but that’s as far as my baking skills go. I’ve always imagined it to be too much stress and too much mess.

However, when this beautifully packaged box arrived from Baking Mad  containing all the ingredient needed to whizz up a cake (except the eggs and butter), I was more than prepared to get stuck in and give it a go.

The box contained a booklet containing very easy to follow instructions and I had the ingredients thrown together and ready for the oven within minutes and just over half an hour later, I had three layers of a cake to throw together and decorate. (Apologies for the untechnical baking terms. I’m no Nigella). Ok, within an hour as when I went to check after 20 minutes, I realised I hadn’t turned the oven on

From a variety of themes which included Peter Rabbit, Pirates, Unicorns and Princesses, we opted for Superheros. My daughters love an opportunity to dress up as a Superhero, and let’s be honest, so do I.

After decorating the cake with buttercream, and a variety of superhero coloured sprinkles which I added (Halloween sprinkles), and finishing off with cake toppers, I then had a further task of making cup cakes. Which was actually again a doddle and mainly left upto my daughters age 6 and 9 to do.

Once cooked and again, decorated with buttercream, sprinkles and cake toppers, we were all set for our Superhero Party.

A few brightly coloured Superhero decorations also from Baking Mad, added an extra touch to the living room where I was to host my party, and at 1pm, my guests began to arrive.

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We had a fab two hours playing pass the parcel, musical statues, having a mini disco and of course enjoying the party food and the star of the show, the cake, which I have to say  was delicious. As were the cupcakes and went down really well with my guests, even my hubby who is often harsh with my kitchen skills. I did good.

Each child left with a superhero goody bag, again supplied by Baking Mad which I’d filled with sweets and pocket-money toys. The adults a Baking Made goody bag containing oven gloves, a tea towel and donut fridge magnet, kindly supplied by Baking Mad. I did also buy chocolate to add, but sorry guys, I ate it.

Although I will probably stick to a shop bought birthday cake in the future, I enjoyed having the opportunity to make my own cake and bake with my two girls. The kit is brilliant if like me you’re not familiar with baking, but wanting to give a homemade cake a go, as it was definitely so much less stressful than I imagined.

The kids retail at £44.99 but are currently 25% off  and can be snapped up online for £33.74.

The bunting and accessories (including paper plates, napkins, party bags, party masks) retail at between £4 – £10 but again, are currently 25% off

This is a sponsored post and I was also gifted the products, however opinions are completely honest and my own

Contact me at loualexa77@yahoo.co.uk to work with me

 

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excercise, general, lifestyle, parenting

Meet Julie of Puddle Ducks North East

 

Tell me briefly a bit about yourself and Puddleducks?

I live in Whitley Bay and I am the Head of Teaching & Technical at Puddle Ducks North East. I have two children (age 7 and 3) who are also Puddle Ducks veterans!

Puddle Ducks runs baby and pre-school swimming classes for little ones from birth to four years old. We also offer swimming lessons for primary school aged children age four to ten years old and aquanatal classes for Mums to be.

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Where is Puddleducks based?

We have seventeen different pools throughout the North East of England.

What  was it which made you choose swimming instructing as a career?

I have always been a keen swimmer and when I had my first baby in 2010 I wanted a job with the flexibility to fit around her. I took her to a Puddle Ducks class and loved it so much I decided to re-train and start a whole new career. I left the corporate life soon after and have never looked back.

How do you market Puddleducks?

Mainly through social media and word of mouth. We also network with local parenting groups such as the NCT and the birth and baby network.

What if anything would you say is unique about Puddleducks?

So many things! The ‘Puddle Ducks difference’ as we call it: we have our unique building block programme from birth to independent swimmer and through to technical skill, developed by our very own swimming experts who have dedicated their lives to teaching swimming and ensure that Puddle Ducks remains at the forefront of baby and child swimming.

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We teach children to love swimming, respect the water and swim beautifully. Our teachers are trained to the highest standards using programmes that have been specially developed and tested over a period of fifteen years.

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We focus on water confidence, not ‘wow’ factors. With bespoke music composed especially for our classes and free catch up lessons so that your little one never misses out, we are more than just a swimming lesson.

How long has Puddleducks been about?

We launched on 1st November 2010

Could you describe a typical day at Puddleducks?

There isn’t one! Every day is different but here’s what I did today (Friday). I dropped my children off at school then headed to the Puddle Ducks office to catch up with Carolyn, our franchisee. We planned some training sessions for our teaching team to develop their skills and to make sure their knowledge is up to date. Then I updated our website and social media accounts before heading to Woodlawn school pool to teach my classes. I taught six classes this afternoon with a mixture of little ones from birth to four year’s old. After packing up the equipment at the pool and saying goodbye to all my customers I headed home to update all my little swimmer’s records. I ticked off everything they had achieved so that their Mums and Dads could order their badges and certificates for them. Finally, I checked and responded to all my e-mails before finishing in time for tea!

What do you enjoy most about the job you do?

The fact that it doesn’t feel like work. I have taught hundreds of little swimmers over the years and I love watching them grow and progress from nervous toddlers into graceful, club level swimmers. I am very lucky to love what I do – not a lot of people can say that!

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What do you find the most challenging thing about your job?

Probably the same thing as any working Mum – trying to fit everything in and achieve a work life balance. Life is always hectic but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

How would you describe Puddleducks in 3 words?

Passionate, child-led and unique

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Where would you like to be in 5 years?
Watching my first swimmers compete for team GB 😉

For more information about Puddle ducks and to find classes in your area, check out their website or Facebook page

 

 

Blogmas, christmas, general, lifestyle, parenting

Santas Grotto @ Kommunity

We’ve decided against a Panto this year. Panto was a tradition I always enjoyed as a child, however, I’ve realised it’s not something my kids seem to particularly enjoy. They like to be up singing and dancing preferring a more interaction and participation.

So, with that in mind, last weekend I took them along to a Santas Grotto a theatrical experience ran by Big Red and The Little Greens instead, held at Kommunity in Newcastle

I’d been told to use the phrase ‘Santa is expecting me’ upon arrival, which I prompted my two girls aged 6 and 9 to say, just to get them into the spirit of being about to embark on a festive adventure.

We were greeted by three elves, Poppy, Cookie and Merry played by Hildy Harland (the lady behind the idea, along with Kim Tate), Ashley Waugh and Catherine Muckle, who chatted to all of the children before the mini show even began, asking if they were excited for Christmas and if they thought they had what it takes to be one of Santas Elves. My youngest daughter said she couldn’t be an Elf, as she didn’t like the idea of cleaning up Reindeer poo.

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Poppy, Cookie and Merry then entertained us with singing and dancing, encouraging the children to join in throughout.

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Before being led on a hunt to find Santa as they entered a winter wonderland behind a big curtain, which was truly freezing cold and beautifully decorated.

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The children also had an opportunity to meet Santa in his Grotto, and were also presented with a Cookie and bell to hang on the christmas tree, which my children loved.

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There was a good selection of refreshments and snacks on offer from Wildflower Creative Kitchen, and my girls enjoyed a cookie.

The event lasted about an hour, and was £15 per adult, adults free. My children throughly enjoyed it, and it is definatley worth a visit if the Grotto returns next year.

You can find out more about Santas Grotto Big Red and Little Greens and watch out for future events here

 

Blogmas, christmas, general, lifestyle, review

The Inventors’ Ball @ Enchanted Parks 2017

Tonight was the night myself and my two girls Jessica and Emily, have been really looking forward to. The opening of Enchanted Parks.

This annual 5 day event, once again sees the already beautiful Saltwell park come to life in another after dark adventure.

Last year was the first year we visited, being too late to purchase tickets previously. I was surprised to see feedback that it didn’t meet its usual standard, we thoroughly enjoyed it. So this year I expected they may have upped their Enchanted Park game

This years ‘Inventors Ball’ themed event tells the story of Ursula – the eldest daughter of William Wailes and Heiress to the Saltwell Estate.

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Ursula greets visitors upon the start of their magical adventure, and using image projection, Ursula is brought to life. Ursulas’ wandering mind reminds us all that ‘the body is a machine, a fleshy container for the intellect’, and whatever she thinks she is, she becomes, which she then goes on to demonstrate.  I was impressed already as I truly believe that, too.

Whilst mesmerised by the beautiful Ursula, thunder could be heard in the distance, along with lightning in the trees – and we could see electrical sparks and crackles projected upon the façade of Saltwell Towers.

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This was probably my favourite piece this year. We spent a good while just watching and taking in the atmosphere felt by the excitement of both children and adults.

We then continued our adventure through the park, meeting many characters on our way which my children loved and stopped to speak to every single one of them.

Throughout the park we winded our way through many more beautiful installations, including giant illuminated bunnies, and night creatures down by the stream.

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My girls particularly enjoyed walking up the winding path alongside flower stems which when we shook, fariesreleased a fairy.
My husband however, wasn’t impressed one of our girls was a little over enthusiastic and he suffered a few bumps on the head as Jessica gave it a shake shouting ‘Come on out, fairies. I want to see you’!!

Singing and dancing also filled the park, as we saw silhouettes of beautiful ballerinas, whilst enjoying the tones of a very cheerful pineapple.

The lake at Saltwell was lit up this year with the moon which Ursula cleverly managed to capture with a lasso to dazzle us all.

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After walking thorough the Apothercarist’s Garden full of enormous illuminated plants full of healing properties, an animal menagerie of a string quartet playing by the waterfall and the flowers for Ursula,

we’d reached the end of our Enchanted adventure, and joined a crowd of visitors gathered together, anticipating what was about to happen as a clock in the trees displayed a countdown. Then as the timer hit zero, a character appeared and began to pace up and down with a machine producing smoke. And then, we watched as the Spirit of the Cyclone appeared before us.

This was spectacular and happens every 15 minutes. We had just over a minute to wait, which was fine. But please don’t be put off if you have to wait much longer. It really is worth it and would be a shame to miss and it ends the magical experience just perfectly.

Well done NewcastleGateshead Initiative and Gateshead Council. You completely blew it out the water with this magnificent event. My two girls aged 6 and 9 loved every single second of it as did I. My husband although tired after a long and cold day at work and hungry, thoroughly enjoyed it too.

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Excited for next years already, although I have no idea how you can top this.

Thank you so much to Rachel Horton of Gateshead Culture Team, for the opportunity to blog about and share my experience of this fabulous event.

Tickets are still available for this event, running until sunday 10th December, and purchased here http://www.shopnewcastlegateshead.com/tickets/enchanted-parks-2017/

dance, excercise, general, health, health and fitness, lifestyle, parenting, wellbeing

Clubbercise Mush Event

I know I should’ve written this way before now, but with it being the summer holidays and having two children to entertain, it’s often hard to find the time

But, as I mentioned in my previous blog, to wrap up the two weeks of promoting Mush – the free app for mums, I’d planned another Clubbercise event. I’d chosen the same venue as the previous one, as Flares as it is just the perfect venue for what I was looking for.

So after weeks of first of all getting myself in a right panic nobody would turn up, deciding what to wear and spending a small fortune on accessories and decs for the venue, the night was just brilliant. 

Along with Mel I arrived early to set up the venue. We thought having an electric pump, 45 minutes before the doors would open, would be more than enough time to inflate a variety of animals, palm trees, sharks and lilos and even a giant donut. However, the pump failed to do it’s job and I think we had our work out before it even began, by inflating them ourselves.  However, once done and put in place the venue looked ready for us to rock a Caribbean Neon party.

I think there was around 30 of us ravers who turned up in the usual neon, but this time with grass skirts, garlands and even flowery bras, to go with the Caribbean theme. 

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We were all just as rowdy and excited as the last event, and did our dance workout for around 45 minutes (I spent a lot of it taking pics/videos. Dancing wasn’t easy, and far too sweaty under a lot of pink and purple clip in hair pieces, a flower hairband and sunglasses)

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The girls were awesome, with their smiley faces, singing cheers and whoops. Seeing that alone made the night for me, as this is what it was all about – having fun with friends. And I know it’s always gonna be a good night with this crazy lot

The event itself definately ended on a high, with some of us even getting frisky with or riding on the ‘Dophin of Clubbalove’. You’re right Mel, Dave the Dolphin should to be your mascot and join us in every class.

We all stayed around for drinks afterwards, (like we were ever gonna just go home). My lovely friend Jeannie was lucky enough to have won us a VIP booth so there was 2 bottles of fizz and a giant Partini and a booth for us to sit and chat afterwards. We also decided rather than keep going to the bar, we’d all just order a cocktail jug for ourselves. So I was classy as always sat drinking 2 pints of Woo Woo, straight out the jug.

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We also found ourselve having a bit of a dance off with another group of girls in the VIP area, which is always fun. 

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I said from before I started my 5 weeks of marketing with Mush, I wanted to host an event which was all about forgetting about parenting duties for one night, letting our hair down, having a laugh, and remembering us mums can have fun too. Smashed it. Thank you girls all so much, for helping me do just that.

Thank you to Melanie once again for leading (and putting up with my often outlandish ‘Lou, we can not do that’ ideas), and Flares for their hospitality. The guys at Flares really are ace and could not do enough to help make us feel welcome, and the event a success. And they do awesome cocktails.

If you’re looking to make new mum friends, check out the app which can be downloaded via Play Store, and if you’re still to try Clubbercise, and think it may be the work out for you, click this link to find your nearest class.

Please excuse the poor quality of the video, but it’s from a Facebook Live

 

anxiety, birth, depression, general, health, lifestyle, mental health, parenting, post natal depression, pregnancy, wellbeing

July and why and what’s next

So, just briefly, around 8 weeks ago I noticed a post on the Facebook page of a free app, Mush, looking to recruit mums around the UK to market the app in their area.

The app works similar to Tinder (I don’t even know if this is the best comparison) but without the creeps, and the sleeze (no offence if you’re loved up through Tinder and views/opinions my own). But it’s similar in how it connects mums with other mums in the area.

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The reason I wanted to get involved is I know too well how social isolation feels and it ain’t nice. I saw this as an opportunity to help mums sat at home feeling like I did for so many years, with hope of helping them turn their life around.

Over the last 4 weeks I’ve dropped flyers off at local childrens centres, maternity units, handed them to Teachers, Childminders, Midwives. I’ve felt like a super sleuth quickly dropping them in baby change/feeding areas (do you know how weird that looks without a baby?!), changing rooms and even ladies toilets (yes, I know – living the dream). I’ve stuck stickers on park benches, pic-nic tables, bus stops, attached posters to park railings, school gates. I’ve done interviews over the phone for Smooth Radio, The Chronicle and had an exciting morning at Metro Radio, sharing my experiences of how life changes once you have a baby. I wanted to highlight that as expected, you are filled with love, you do feel complete, you do feel blessed, you do feel joy, but you also lose yourself as you put this new little person first. You completely forget who you are and what you like. It takes forever to get ready to go out anywhere, so often don’t bother. You lose contact with friends, or turn down any invites to nights out, to the point your friends stop asking you. The days are long as they start super early, the nights are late and sleep is broken. These are the negative aspects we don’t seem to hear or read about and the devastating affect they can have upon your emotional wellbeing. So basically I progressed from wanting to promote an app, to highlighting issues in parenthood we tend not to talk about. The more taboo subjects if you like. I don’t do taboo. I’ll talk about anything and everything

Moving forward, I knew as part of this role I’d be expected to plan an event. This event would be an opportunity to bring more mums together and to mark the end of the 5 weeks as part of the Mush team. I knew I could organise a coffee morning at a local soft play, or a picnic in the park. But I decided I wanted to do something different. I wanted this event to be all about the mums. I wanted an event where the babies stay at home with Dad (you don’t see dads giving up their social life once baby arrives, right?) and the mums get some much deserved ‘me’ time. And I thought I’d throw an opportunity for a well deserved cocktail or two

So it’s in a pub. Out of the 50 Mush recruits, pretty sure I’m the only one to be hosting a piss up. But in my defence,  we’re not just meeting up for a Saturday night sesh in town. We’re Clubbercising first for an hour. We’re throwing on our gym gear and trainers, grass skirts (Caribbean theme) and coconut bras (not me, but my friend is) painting and glittering our faces and doing a dance work out, with our glow sticks, whistles and whoops to 90s to current day tracks on the lit up dancefloor of Flares. I can not wait and loving the prep I’ve been doing this week. I’m currently sat on the sofa with a blow up dolphin to the left of me, and giant banana and crocodile to the right. And a pile of lilos and rubber rings on the table.

We did this in May in aid of Radio Lollipop where I volunteer and it was such a good night, I could not miss and opportunity to do it all again.

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I want music, I want dancing, I want laughter and I want a night to hopefully remember. But most of all, I want a fun night with my friends. The girls who mean more to me than they probably know. It’s only Wednesday and I’ve already seen three of them this week. How awesome is that. I want other women who feel alone to realise that it’s never to late to rediscover yourself. To remember what you like, what makes you laugh, how it feels to have fun. But most of all, how important it is to have friends, as they could be a lifeline.

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And I was about to share some more exciting info, but I’m keeping that for a future blog. I’m keeping this one all about the Mammys, how awesome they are, how hard it can be and how they don’t ever have to do it alone.

For more info about my event click on this link

https://www.facebook.com/events/102859490355781/

And to download the Mush app

https://mushapp.app.link/zeSiqqr4mE

 

 

general, lifestyle, parenting

A little girl and her Random Act of Kindness

The most beautiful, heartwarming thing happened to me yesterday afternoon, so special that I know I need to share with the world.

I was walking through Whitley Bay town centre with my daughter Jessica yesterday, when I heard someone shout ‘Excuse me’, I turned around expecting someone to tell me I’d dropped something, or ask who my energy supplier is – the norm in my home town
But instead a young girl aged around 8 or 9 handed me a bunch of daffodils, a chocolate bunny and a note and said ‘These are for you’ completely thrown I asked ‘Oh my goodness, why’? and she replied ‘Because you’re special, and people need to be told they’re special. And we all need to be kind to each other. So these are off me and my Grandad’
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Completely gobsmacked and amazed by this kind gesture, I thanked her and told her she’s extremely kind and that makes her special too, and wandered home, abandoning what I had went out to do. I needed to get home and tell my son, and share the story on social media there and then, when full of emotion.
Reading over the note again, I saw the little girls, name is Cassidy. I have since found her parents on Facebook and my post has gone viral and full of compliments Cassidys mum and dad can read to her to let her know what a special little girl she is.
Of course I was not the only person to experience this amazing act of kindness yesterday, I have heard from at least five or six others too.  One my friend Jo who runs local homeless charity Making Winter Warmer and it’s great to see her on the receiving end of kindness for all the good work she does.
This little lady and her Grandad completely made my day, if not my year and I’ll keep the note forever and look at it every single time I feel I’m having a difficult day.
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On the note Cassidy states we need to be kind to others, and she’s right, we absolutely do, and as parents, we need to teach our children to do the same ❤