A truly magical Christmas in Efteling

Oh Efteling! Where to start? This place was just about the most magical place to visit for our Christmas and I have been itching to share these pictures with you since we got back home. I hope they do them justice as honestly it was one of the most incredible places I've ever been.

I first heard about Efteling over on the travel site Globalmouse Travels and made a mental note of how close it was to Amsterdam. I love that city and I knew it wouldn't be long until we returned (we've actually managed to visit three times in the last three years, I would move there in a shot, although that's another story!). So when we were kind enough to be invited to spend a couple of days at the park I knew that I wanted to plan it over the Christmas break. Tom and I had talked before about getting away from the madness but couldn't really justify as trip away, until the idea of Efteling came to play. We decided to make a week of it and spend two nights here and three days in Amsterdam so I'll post where we stayed and what we did there in a post shortly.

We stayed over in the village attached the park. Guests can chose between the hotel or the village (photos of the hotel below). We chose the village which is a ten minute walk away because it felt a little bit more festive and also because when we travel with the kids we love to have a bit more space and also a kitchen. We met families there who had booked for the whole week and brought their Christmas trees with them, you could see them twinkling in the windows and made the walk through the trees to the park even more festive. Honestly I could take pictures every 5 minutes but I did try and reign it in a little ;) The village also had a really lovely swimming pool as well as things like a pizza delivery service, resteraunt and fresh bread and pastries you can order to arrive at your door. I think you could really fill so many days there without it getting dull in the slightest. Two nights did feel like a good amount of time for us although that being said Wilf was sad not to spend another full day at the park (I doubt he really would have been happy to leave at all to be honest!).

We arrive late afternoon so after settling into our house we headed out for a couple of hours as the light was fading, this was our first experience of Efteling and seeing it in the moonlight with the street lamps and fairy lights sparkling felt even more enchanting. We wondered around taking everything in before deciding on our first and only ride of the evening before we headed to bed. We stumbled upon Droomvlucht without knowing what it was about at all. I'm really glad we didn't though as it was such a surprise! You can see a little of it in the video below but all of us couldn't stop saying 'wow!' at every twist and turn. I wish I could have recored Tom's reaction as we got off as I don't think I've ever heard him say anything was 'epic' before!ha!

We had decided in advance that as Wilf didn't know the difference we would pretend that Christmas was the next day (we were there over the 21st-23rd although the park is open all year round). So we hung out stockings for the kids and the next morning (fake Christmas) we strolled to the park for a full day. There was something even more special about this being our Christmas day especially as we left the park watching the light show and drinking mulled wine!

Our favourite rides (apart from Droomvlucht) were Fata Morgana and Carnaval Festival which were all perfect for young children. Apart from that we mainly spent the day walking through the Enchanted Forest and recognising the characters from fairytales we knew and loved and also ones we had no knowledge of (especially the donkey that poos gold coins, wish I'd recorded that one!).

If I'm honest Wilf at just-turned-five was at time apprehensive of the animatronics but as long as he was holding my hand he was OK, they've definitely had a impression on him as we've chatted about them a lot since. Although we've done a fair bit of travel whilst Wilf was littler we took a bit of a break last year when I was pregnant so the trips we've taken this year are ones I think he will really remember.

Wilf chose to go on this boat ride and we were initially worried he would get bored and want to get off (it takes around 20 minutes) but he was so interested in viewing the park this way and I'm so glad we did it as the scenery was just stunning.

Mabli slept through it ;)

Typical holiday snap ;)

We were also given a tour around the hotel and some of the themed rooms. Our favourite was definitely the Northen Lights suite, you can see a few more on the video below!

 We've already been talking about returning when Mabli is old enough to appreciate it too and I can't even explain what a incredible experience it made our christmas this year. One we'll all never forget!

We were guests at Efteling but all thoughts and picture are my own and we would return in a shot, we loved it!

All clothing Boden Clothing apart from my Boots which are from Seven Boot Lane


Me and mine December

It's almost the new year (and my Me and Mine is only a few hours late ;))

We took these silly pictures a few days before Christmas when we were away at the Dutch theme park Efteling (post to come). The place was so christmassy that we decided to have 'fake Christmas' just a few days earlier as we figured that Wilf was at an age were we could get away with it. The hats the kids and Tom are wearing were at the holiday cottage as it's themed around sleep and the sandman so they wore them on our fake Christmas morning. It was such a magical trip and so nice to have this festival period with my complete family and with Mabli having just turned a year and coming out of the baby stage and into a toddler its been even more special.

Even though I'm often late and they are not always the 'perfect' family pic I'm so thankful for taking part in this project as I know I'd have barely any pics of us all without it.

I thought I'd share some of my favourite below!

Our first picture as a family of four! Mabli was just days old and you can see how tired we all were haha but I will cherish this pic forever.

It's weird for me to look at pictures when Mabli isn't in them, it's like we didn't know she was missing! This is me at around 5 months pregnant with a little watermelon in my tummy.

So many of our pictures this year have been taken in bed haha!

This was taken just days before we realised that Mabli was in my tummy!

So here's to 2017 lots more family pics and I hope you join in with us too, it doesn't have to be every month but I assure you you'll appreciate it when you can look back on even a few pictures together at the end of the year!

Don't forgot to visit the other Me and Mine hosts Lucy, Katie, JennyAlex and Lucy. I can't wait to see all your posts!



Conflicting thoughts on consumerism, giving to charity ...and a SALES wish list! ;)

Hello! I hope you all had a lovely Christmas! I'm currently debating taking down the Christmas tree this morning (the day after Boxing day, which apparently is something that results in very divided opinion) whilst simultaneously filling sacks of toys and clothes for the charity shop and muttering 'I just want to get rid of it!' (Grinch much?). So it might seem odd that I'm writing a post about buying MORE things. Things you most certainly don't really need and yet..I love clothes, and I feel like the one in one out rule is a good way to combat this..even if at moment I'm feeling more like ten out one in..

I also wanted to mention in this post that the idea of encouraging spending and material stuff is something that I definitely struggle with. I really hate the idea of people desperately searching for gifts for people that don't need or want for the sake of it. Tom and I agreed to no presents for each other this year (as going away for Christmas was a gift in itself) however we both broke this rule and bought each other one item of clothes each and Tom also bought me a thoughtful book I really wanted. It's a little harder with Wilf but we both only got him the one gift as we also knew he would be throughly spoilt by Tom's family and I feel OK with that as long as we're also getting rid of some of his old toys.

ANYWAY something that has helped me come to terms with my conflicting thoughts on the matter is also using this holiday period to GIVE. We donate throughout the year too and I'm not writing this to be preachy or show off but I thought I would mention some of the places we donated to this holiday season and why.

Now that Mabli is a year we are carrying her in a sling less and also really only had need for one (but somehow ended up with four!) we donated three to Carriers for Kos and will donate the last one when we are finally done with it. I simply cannot imaging how hard it must be to be escaping the horrors of war and carrying a baby at the same time. Being able to baby wear must be a great help so if you have one knocking around then I'd defo just them a shout. You can see what they do here or they also have an Amazon page Kos Kindness where you can give anything from £1 to help with food and clothing

We also donated what we could to ICRC..I want to say the money we would have spent on Christmas cards but lets be honest..I am no way organised enough to send Christmas cards! Our thank you cards from our wedding are still lying around the house waiting to be send (with stamps on too!) two years later.. I'm never sure who is 'best' to donate to but I know that they are finalising the evacuation of 35,000 people from devastated Aleppo. They said that the scale on the crisis is greater than anything they have faced in 15 years time. Its just completely heartbreaking to even imagine.

We also gave a little to group 'phone credit for refugees and displaced people' it was something I hadn't really thought on too much but when I saw the FB group pop up on my feed made so much sense. You can text 70070 with the text CALA85 with the amount you want to give.

We also donated all the coats we didn't need (scratch that..half the coats..I have an addiction) to a cause a little close to home, Keep Bristol Warm (you can see a little in this vlog here).

I actually watched a documentary on Netflix the other day called Minimalism which was really inspiring. It really made me want to declutter but it also made me realise I can minimalist whilst still loving fashion. Putting together items of clothes is something that makes me feel immensely happy, I dress for my mood, or who I want to pretend to be that day. It's creative and something I take great joy from and I think as long as I'm adopting a policy or giving some away when I get new pieces I'm ok with that.

And now on to some sale pieces that I hope some of you buy..so I don't! ;)

THIS skirt from Hobbs is now down to £49, I love yellow, incase you didn't know ;)

The Bethesda Flannel blouse from Anthropologie, it reminds me of my childhood oddly enough. My dads parents lived in an area of Wales with the same sounding name and the colours are like that used on an art project I did with my dad!

Another yellow number sorry! This jumper is a firm favourite in my wardrobe and is now £33 you can see how I styled it in this post.

I couldn't do a sale post without mentioning my old favs Boden. They currently have 60% off so if you enjoyed Mabli's Baby Boden shoot here then all those bits are currently discounted. If I were to pick three things it would be, these slippers (I have a pair and they are like a hug on your feet), this blazer and this dress (worn below) from this post.

Cath Kidston have 40% off and I love this cute little kids duffle  or what about this dress? so sixties!

The lovely people at People Tree have 50% off and you can get 15% off full priced items with TLQ15

A few people have asked me about the scarf I posted on IG here and you can find on sale here and this dress looks so cosy!

I think that's it for now! I hope you all had a lovely break and I'll be back soon with tales from our Christmas in Amsterdam! x


My morning rituals

I'm really really precious about my morning routine. I think it's because often the night times are pretty unpredictable. Often with a one year old they can feature very little sleep and so if I don't have a semi peaceful start to the day it can leave me feeling really crabby. I always ALWAYS start the day with a cup of tea, it's like a little comforting hug before I face everything that a day with two little kids involves, school runs and play dates and keeping tiny little one year old hands out of places they shouldn't be. Having that first cup of the tea of the day is something I never miss out of our morning rituals because I feel like it sets the tone for the rest of the day.

I'm lucky that although we wake early because of the kids Tom actually starts work pretty early so despite the 6.30 start he is always the first one up and he will make me that first cup of tea before he jumps in the shower. On a weekend I allow myself the luxury of drinking this in bed but on a weekday I need to incorporate this with all the other bits that need doing at that time in the morning.

I'm working with Twinnings in this post to celebrate their English Strong Breakfast blend and the importance of that first cup of tea of the day. Having kids it's often more common than not that I won't get round to finishing a cuppa before it goes cold so Twinnings invented the 'forget-tea-not' cup. It's specially designed to not let you forget about drinking your cuppa before it gets cold! With an inbuilt speaker and thermometer at the bottom sensors will tell you when it's the tight temperature to drink by playing the song 'bing bang bong' (oh my gosh did that make me jump the first time I heard it because I had actually forgotten my tea!).

The first thing I do once I'm out of bed is washing and cleansing my face, I often have Mabli in the bathroom with me at this point and I keep a box of toys in there to occupy her whilst I take time for a little tinted mascara and blush to feel more awake and alive.

I take my tea with me to the bathroom incase the song goes off to tell me its ready but it didn't get to the right temperature whilst I was in there.

I'm thankful that on school days we divide which child we get ready in the morning so whilst I'm upstairs with Mabli, Tom will be wrestling Wilf into his uniform and sitting him at the breakfast table whilst they eat their cornflakes together.

After I've popped a bit of make up on I head back into the bedroom and grab something from our wardrobe. Tom has been building me a walk in wardrobe which is amazing, I can't wait to share it with you. It's made finding outfits so much easier.

After grabbing something (usual school run default is currently jeans and wooly jumper despite all the pretty dresses in my closet) Mabli and I head downstairs to get some breakfast. At this point my tea cup announces that my tea is ready! Apparently the perfect temperature for tea is 68 degrees. The mug also includes a thermo ring which will keep my tea at the perfect temperature for longer!

After breakfast and my essential morning cuppa I feel recharged for my day! I tend to get Mabli ready at this point, pack her change bag and get Wilf's school stuff ready too. Despite the seemingly calm morning we always end up rushing out the house forgetting something (gloves, reading book!) and have to rush back. Luckily I give myself about twice the amount of time we need to walk there because of this!

And that's our morning! I appreciate the fifteen minutes our of relative peace I get drinking my tea and it always forces me to stop and enjoy it rather than taking sips and forgetting about it. There is something so therapeutic about a cup of tea, I feel like it really needs to given time to enjoy slowly. The Twinings Strong breakfast tea is a definite favourite for giving me that boost in the morning when a strong cup of tea is needed.

Thanks to Twinnings for sponsoring this post 

Tivoli - The Art of Sound

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Tivoli Audio. All opinions are 100% mine.

One of the things I associate with the holiday season is music. I feel like certain songs can transport you to places in your life and I love the idea of creating a soundtrack for my kids to look back on and feel nostalgic about. Last year for Christmas Tom bought Wilf and Mabli (although at two weeks old I'm not sure how much she appreciated it) their first record. We have a little record player I had bought Tom the Christmas before and now I think I'll always associate those tracks with those wonderful moments this time last year when Mabli was just days old and we were settling into life as a family of four.

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The Quinn’s Top 5 Movies On DisneyLife to watch on a cold Sunday afternoon!

I am a DisneyLife Brand Ambassador and this post was created in partnership with DisneyLife who have provided me with a free 12 month DisneyLife membership.

 I love winter so much, ask me again when Christmas is over and January has really set in but the start of winter and the run up to the holidays? I love it! There aren't many things nicer than a cold Sunday, a morning activity to tire out little legs, all wrapped up in scarfs and gloves and exclaiming as we see our breath. Then home to make nests, watch a movie and wait for the Sunday lunch to slowly cook. It's one of the simplest things in life and one of my absolute favourite activities. 

I'm pretty sure Disney play a part in most family weekends, be it playing with Buzz and Woody at the breakfast table, singing along to an episode of Doc McStuffin (Wilf's current favourite Disney show) or snuggling down to a classic film like Peter Pan in the evening. We actually connect the tablet to TV so that we can watch a film all together on the big screen. Having the DisneyLife app means we have access to all the Disney films in one place which is really useful.

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Wilf turns 5!

So then he was 5!

I know its a massive cliche to say but where on earth have those five years gone? This little boy has taught me so much. I cannot imagine or strangely barely remember not knowing Wilf. It was as if as soon as he was born so was a part of me, the most of me, the best of me, the me that I was always supposed to me. Those first few months were so hard for both of us, as a 'first child' poor Wilf was the one that we learnt from. We expected so much from so soon, I'm not sure if it was because he spoke so clearly so early (he was speaking full sentences at 16 months) but when I look back at how we parented in comparison with this time round where we treat Mabli as such a baby still (as she is) I laugh a little at how grown up we treated him when he was and is still so little.

Will is my mini me, he is the spitting image of me as a child, he thinks like me, he tantrums like me. He is thoughtful like his daddy though, frowns in just the same way he can be reserved and shy as well as confident and silly.  He asks questions that make me consider things I hasn't thought of and is teaching us every day. Last night as I got ready for bed, Tom rocking Mabli downstairs ready to bring her in with me. Wilf had already moved into our bed a few hours ago and we let him do so because he promised he would sleep, then when Tom comes up he will swap Mabli for Wilf and carry him still sleeping into his own bed.

Those few minutes as I lay there in the darkness, I tell him how much I love him as I do every day. Stroke his eyebrows and wrap my arms around him, I know that the days where he will want to come into our bed with us will become less as he grows. That there will be a time when he won't snuggle into me as we watch a movie, when he won't want to kiss his mama. I'm slowly letting him go, he is not mine and when I think about him grown up, leaving home even..I have to catch my breath. Time is moving so fast but it's my privilege to know him, to raise him and love him. My lovely lovely little boy.

Over the weekend we threw him a party in the woods with some of his best friends and family. Tom stayed home with Mabli and I was able to spend some one-on-one time with him (well as much time as I got when he was off whittling and toasting marshmallows and sawing wood!). I've included a few pics of the morning below

Wilf and his bestie, these boys have known each other from just days old. I hope their friendship lasts forever. These were little medals they were able to saw and drill holes in themselves with the help of the Forest School leader.

And now for some of my favourite pictures of the last five years

In our Copenhagen AirBnB - This trip was pretty rough for me as I was still so sick with pregnancy I couldn't leave the flat much and was sick so much in that little bathroom. Tom and Wilf basically had a little holiday themselves and he would come back and tell me about their adventures. One of which included going to a street party and Wilf telling a punk in the urinal at a public toilet that he must have eaten his asparagus!

Oh! My heart!!

Two and a half was just my favourite age ever

Thanks for being YOU little Wilf. We love you so much xx 
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