Sunday, 15 October 2017

Taco Bell in the UK


We've all heard of Taco Bell, right? The name cropped up throughout my childhood, usually from friends who get taken on exotic holidays or American kids tv shows -or y'know, Mean Girls -


"Do you wanna do something fun? Wanna go to Taco Bell?"

"I cant go to Taco Bell, I'm on an all-carb diet, GOD Karen you are so stupid!"

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For those who aren't familiar, it's the world’s leading Mexican-style quick service restaurant chain with approximately 6,500 restaurants worldwide and something that until recently the UK was missing. 

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The first Taco Bell restaurant was built in Downey, California in 1962  founded by former US Marine Glen Bell, who we can thank for  the wonderfully convenient way to shove shredded chicken or mince in to our mouths with ease as he invented the preformed taco shell in 1951. Cheers Glen!

I was pleased to hear that Taco Bell is becoming a larger thing this side of the pond and I was invited down to the opening of the new Woking store to  taste the food for myself.

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Now I admit I am a little bit of a fast food snob, I haven't had McDonalds for as long as I can remember and I usually favour sitting down in a 'proper' restaurant so although 'on paper' Taco Bell didn't seem like a good match for me it was the menu that made me think differently - I love me a bit of Mexican food! 


Taco Bell offers a wide range of Mexican food which is not only really damn tasty but affordable too. You can get a whole meal for about a fiver which is great for those lunch breaks before payday! 

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The menu consists of a range of Tacos, Burritos, Quesadillas and Nachos along with chips and delicious desserts. All products are available with a wide variety of familiar and tasty ingredients including delicious meats (seasoned beef, spicy Mexican chicken, grilled chicken and slow cooked pork) and blends of real cheeses, crisp shredded lettuce, diced ripe tomatoes and their signature sauces. Of course you can't have a proper Mexican feast without some Guacamole, Salsa, hearty beans and Mexican rice. There's vegetarian options and smaller bites for the kids too - Mason was a BIG fan! 


You can have a quick snack or go for a Big Bell box where you can pretty much try out a bit of everything, -a fajita burrito, crunchy taco, Mexican fries, churros and a drink. It's not just for spice lovers -I'm a bit of a hot food wuss so it's great that you can decide how hot you'd like it.

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My favourite has to be their Crunch Wrap Supreme which is a soft  tortilla layered with Mexican chicken, nacho cheese, a crunchy tostada shell, lettuce, reduced fat sour cream and tomatoes - it's as amazing as it sounds!

It didn't have a fast food feel about it, the food is served fresh to order so you won't be eating anything that has been sat out for ages - nobody wants a soggy taco ... (e-hem!) and the restaurant itself is clean and tidy with plenty of seating.  Although it's not fine dining they definitely don't scrimp on the quality, the food is fresh, tasty and really filling. I was pleasantly surprised by the value! 

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As a child of the 90s with a mild Slush Puppy addiction I love a blended icy drink so I was really excited to try their  Freezes. At just £1.99 each you can have a strawberry or a lemon flavour and if you're feeling adventurous you can even add white rum or tequila for an extra £1! Summertime picnics in the park are going to be fun I an tell! 


Personally  it's given me another option when I don't fancy a Subway or Boots meal deal for lunch, and is  the perfect place to go after the cinema, during a shopping trip or lunch the morning after a big night out - free fizzy drink refills are always a big plus for me when I have a hangover! With such a big menu for a reasonable price I think Taco Bell is just what we've been missing. 


There are a few more stores opening all over the UK and I can see tacos taking over! ...McDonalds who?!




 *I was invited to try the menu in exchange for an honest review and all thoughts are my own




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Thursday, 12 October 2017

Sleek - My Face, My Rules

"You wear too much make-up!"
"Why do you feel the need to paint your face for a man?"
"She'd be prettier without that crap on her face!" 

How many times have you heard something along those lines? 


How many times have you applied make up on the train to be greeted with looks of disgust, a tut or side eye  (admittedly this has only happened once or twice but I still don't get it). It's just not on. 

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You may have seen this campaign around recently, There's a video being shared across social media and even hitting the Tv screens too which highlights the fact that all kinds of people wear make up for all different reasons and we should be free to experiment and play with make-up as much as we like without judgement. This is all down to Sleek spreading their very important message. 


Sleek's 'My Face My Rules' campaign is something I really  relate to and I'm very passionate about. I came away from their recent event feeling so empowered and it's just incredible that a brand like this is making a change; Not only through this campaign but releasing a makeup range that is suited to a wide range of skintones. Their newest 'Life Proof' foundation is not only excellent but it is available in 24 shades. Sleek is such a diverse brand and it was wonderful to be in a room full of like minded people each with their own individual style. 


Why should we be judged by liking makeup? It's a huge business and something that millions of people make a living from. Whether it's just a bit of red lipstick to make yourself feel better or a full face of make up just to take the bins out - why should it matter to anyone? 

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In the same way I like to wear new matching underwear to make myself feel good, I wear make-up too and that isn't for anyone else's benefit. I started wearing make up when  I was 14 or 15 and that wasn't for any reason other than that I wanted to play around with it. I wasn't doing anyone any harm. Some days I look back and wish I hadn't experimented so much (2005's all over bronzer and kohl liner phase I'm looking at you!) but it's all part of growing up. 


Its a way to express yourself, enhance your already gorgeous features or even hide away a blemish or two.
Some days I wear makeup to mask how I'm feeling, and that is OK! On the inside I might be really ill and have no energy but if I can use something to help me not look that way- and especially if it's with something I enjoy then I'll do it! 

I'm a strong believer in the phrase 'You Do You' -Why should I care how much makeup someone else is wearing? It's their face! Sleek are helping to ditch the pressure, the negativity and the labels that come with the love of make up. Make up shaming is a real thing. Girls or guys wearing make-up is yet another thing for people to get angry about that doesn't effect them. 
Apparently 1/10 people believe the more make up a  woman wears, the more sexual partners they have -how ridiculous is that? That's like saying people that wear stripes on Wednesday are more likely to be virgins! 


Sleek are representing modern culture, with selfies, ootd shots, snapchat etc we are all embracing our beauty and it's important to feel proud of ourselves, how we look, how we feel and how we treat others!  

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We had a talk hosted by Gemma Cairney who has a book-called 'Open: A Toolkit for How Magic and Messed Up Life Can Be' which is A guide to help young people navigate love, friendships, health and other aspects of growing up. 

It's so easy to be bogged down by the negativity. I've had my fair share of it in the past, people are very quick to judge without asking any questions first and it's just no way to live life. We need to feed back more of the positives, talk about what we like, not what we hate. Ask questions if we don't understand something and stop jumping to conclusions and getting angry! 

I could rant all day but I'm glad Sleek are speaking out about this! At the event I was kindly given a few products to take home so I want to share them with you. 

First is the 'A New Day' i-Divine Eyeshadow Palette- It's just perfect  palette for day time looks with an array of soft nudes, subtle golds and warm peach shades. There's 6 matte shades and 6 shimmers.  I am a big fan of Sleeks shimmer eyeshadows, they blend so well and the pigments are amazing. 

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The Matte Me lip gloss is a liquid lipstick that really says put! I have shade 'Shabby Chic' which is a dusky pink, it dries a little darker than I thought but it's a lovely colour. I need to try out a few more shades of these, I think I need a deep red for Autumn!


The much loved Solstice Highlighting Palette is as beautiful as I'd imagined. In it's gorgeous gold case with a big mirror and little brush to use on the go it's perfect to keep in your bag to transform your make up for a night out. The pinky gold creme highlight is really creamy and blends into make up really well. I mainly use it on the brow bone as I prefer to highlight my cheekbones with a powder, the two on the right are the ones I use most. The top is slightly lighter with more of a pearly tone and the bottom has a touch more pink to it, both are really pigmented and give me a gorgeous glow. The pale yellow on the bottom left is a  subtle light gold powder for a lighter look.

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The new Life Proof Foundation is lovely. We were colour matched at the event and I was given two shades to blend to get the perfect look for me. This is great for this time of year when my summer tan starts to fade. It gives a medium coverage that can be built up and it covers my fine lines and gives my skin a bit more of an airbrushed look. Along with my trip to Crete and the British weather having it's weird humid moments this foundation has come at the best time as it's sweat proof, oil free and helps to reduce shine. Exactly what I need! The packaging is nice and compact too and I like that the squeeze tube makes it easy to apply the right amount. I've been using mine with Sleek's Hydrating Primer which really helps keep everything in place but doesn't feel like it's clogging my skin. 


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Sleek are leaving the 'perfect adverts' behind and showing you what you can do with make up. We don't all need to look like a L'Oreal advert - there's more options out there, experiment with blue eyeliner if you want, rock a berry lip, or stick to the natural look. Make up has no rules!

Use it  to make u feel great, you're the one that matters. It's your face, it's your rules.


*I was gifted these products but all thoughts are my own





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Tuesday, 3 October 2017

Planning a night out in London


I love having things to look forward to, that is why planning get-togethers is one of my favourite things about this time of year. 90% of my family birthdays are between September and December and of course with Christmas on it's way I'm starting to pack up my diary with social events. 


I love to see my girls and have a proper catch up over cocktails and as we all met in London it's the best place for us to go! When it's been warm I love to find somewhere with a view of the gorgeous city, it's the perfect photo opportunity.  Places like Madison, Radio Rooftop and the newly re-opened Vista Bar have stunning views of the city and lovely little cocktails too!



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When planning any sort of special event there are a few things to consider-

Size of the Venue

You don't want it to be too cramped but you don't want a small group in a large room which is why shared events are such a great idea. Mixing your smaller group with others and guarantees a great atmosphere and I love meeting new people so this is definitely my favourite option. 

Location

You want somewhere that's easily accessible for everyone in your group, that is why London is my number one choice for nights out.  There are just so many ideas for Christmas parties in London. Right from The Southbank to Shoreditch there are great options and with the night tube it's the perfect location to make sure everyone can get home easily. 

Theme

If you're after something a little more interesting than some drinks and a bite to eat you can opt for something in a unique venue or something with a theme. London Aquarium, The Natural history Museum and Madame Tussauds all have themed after dark events which look absolutely amazing. Choosing something different will make your event one to remember for sure! I've personally always wanted to do a Murder mystery evening, I think it will be so much fun and a great way to socialise too!

there's also river cruises along the Thames which is a great way to see a little bit of London on your way. The river is very pretty at night with all of the lights around so it feels very festive - just make sure you wrap up!



The Setting 
Do you want something quiet with some nice background music or are you after a loud party where you can dance the night away? Events with live bands have always been a winner in my eyes as you can guarantee they get the crowd going. 


Food and Drink

Are you after buffet food to mingle or sit down meal for a more intimate setting? Will you only be having a couple of drinks each or would an unlimited drinks package be easier so you don't have to worry about spending the money you'd saved for a taxi? Having these things organised in advance makes the night go smoother, there's nothing worse than 15 people all trying to spilt a bill evenly at the end of a night.

People

Most importantly invite the people that matter most to you, a night out is made by the people who are there.

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I don't know about you but this has really got me in the festive spirit and I'm now very inspired to plan some nights out!

I'd love to hear about your best nights out!




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Thursday, 28 September 2017

Personalising your space with Fairy Lights

Many of you will be moving this month, some to uni, some with friends, some with a partner. I know that when you get that place of your own, no matter how big or small you want to make it feel like home. This time of year it is especially important to love your surroundings because as it gets colder we're naturally favouring nights in binging on Netflix over nights out in the cold. It's the time of year for cosy blankets, scented candles and cups of tea.  


The problem with furnishing a room and is that it can be costly and I don't know about you but with the lead up to Christmas I don't have spare cash to spend on redecorating. Lighting can make such an impact, fairy lights are so cheap and they can make a huge difference to the feel of a room. 


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The great thing is you don't have to be too precise or spend a lot of time at all.
Simply wrapping them around a mirror can look really pretty - and is a great way to spice up those OOTD pics too!  Don't stop there, drape them over anything, around your vanity table, your shelves, your frames -go nuts! 

Pinning photos along a spring of lights looks great. you can buy some little pegs (there's loads of cheap ones around at Christmas time to hang your cards) or even use some cute washi tape which costs next to nothing.

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I've always had copper lights wrapped around my bed. The copper wire makes them easy to bend into the shape I want them to and they look really pretty.  Mine have a remote so I can dim them or make them twinkle of the mood takes me. It makes snuggling up and reading a book even more cosy. 

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Another really simple way to revamp your room is to line the walls with small lights. My little office corner looks so cute at the moment. I'm tempted to buy another set to wrap around my frames too. You don't just have to go for golden lights, this is a great way to add a bit of colour too. 

We were given some Mason jars when Mason was born and I filled one with some battery operated lights which is so simple but looks really cute and magical. This would also look great inside a lantern for some Peter Pan vibes. You could be really creative and add a little toy fairy if these were in a kids room. 


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Festive lights have some great ideas on how to use fairy lights for decorating over at this post of Fairy Light Hacks. Get some inspiration and you can jazz up your surrounding in no time at all!




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Monday, 18 September 2017

5 Favourite Photos

I've always been into photography, while at school I did work experience at a photography studio, I then worked for Kodak developing photos and got to learn the ins and outs of processing through a machine, much to my disappointment there was no red room and trays of chemicals like I'd imagined. I moved on to selling cameras and then worked in another studio so it would seem I know what I'm talking about when it comes to photography. But here's the thing- I don't! I love taking pictures, I enjoy taking the odd selfie/shoefie and I love a good flatlay. I'll snap away at family parties and just try and stop me if there is a beautiful beach backdrop! But I just give it my best go, I point my camera and hope for the best. That's why it's great that cameras are so intelligent now, they do so much of the work for you and anyone can become the new David Bailey. 

When selling cameras if I served a customer who was like me and wanted good pictures with minimal effort I always pointed them in the direction of a Panasonic CSC Camera. Cameras don't have to be big and bulky anymore. I remember frequently telling customers "You can't go wrong with a Lumix!" Many of the photos of my youth were taken on my Lumix TZ10, it's compact but super intelligent (like me-obvs). 


I'm very old school when it comes to photographs, I still make the effort to print them out when I can. Looking through old photos makes me smile, there's nothing like going through a photo album. I wanted to share a few of my pictures I've taken over the years and why they mean so much to me. 


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This was taken on our first family holiday. After a coupe of years of stress it was absolutely wonderful to be in our own little bubble. It has a bit of a mermaid feel and I was in my element with the people I love and in a gorgeous location. I'm always at my calmest at the beach and this picture sums me up.

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The day Sam proposed took me completely by surprise. We'd planned a night away and he booked me in to have my hair done before we went to the Shard for some drinks. Looking out over the place we met he got down on one knee while I was in the middle of rambling away about the view. Although there was  a photographer who captured the moment it happened this picture I took to send to my friends and family always takes me right back to how elated I felt at that exact moment. 


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I've loved anything Disney since I was a kid and I'd always dreamt of the day I could take Mason to Disneyland. When he was nearly 3 we thought it was the perfect time for our first family trip away to Paris. It was just as magical as I imagined it - although a million times more tiring! This moment where he was running to the castle shouting 'Mickey!' makes me heart ache and I have this as a canvas in my hallway. 


This picture was taken on my phone in the middle of the night so it's not the best quality but it just proves that a picture doesn't have to be perfect to mean something. This was the first picture I took of Mason in the hospital. I was kept in overnight and the family was allowed back in the morning. I remember being terrified of being left on my own with him. I didn't think I could do the 'Mum thing' and was completely overwhelmed. I remember Mason looking at me for what felt like hours and without making a sound and being no trouble at all. In his own way he was telling me 'Mum, you've got this'. 


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This is a really recent picture, it was only a few weeks ago when we decided to take a trip to the beach for the day to make the most of the last day of Summer. This is the beach next to our old family holiday home where I spent all of my summers when I was growing up. It's a place that holds so many memories and means a lot to me. It was lovely to go back there with Mason as see him enjoy it as much as I did. 


Taking that little trip down memory lane has made me all warm inside - isn't it lovely how pictures can do that? I'd love to hear about your favourite photos too so tag me in your Instagram pictures! 


*sponsored post 

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Monday, 11 September 2017

GOSH Copenhagen new releases A/W 2017

I'm not read for Autumn, I think I had convinced myself that it was going to be a really hot September and that we had another month of sun left but the rain currently splashing out of an overflowing gutter outside my window is telling me a totally different story. WAH.

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I've got to get out my boots, grab myself a PSL and deal with the fact that Autumn is here. It's not all bad, Autumn means a whole new range of beauty releases ready to take us into the darker evenings and jumper weather. Gosh are the first brand to show me their Autumn range for 2017 and I have to say I'm pretty impressed. 

First is the Lift and Highlight 2 in 1 pencil £9.99. A versatile, creamy double ended pencil with a matte end to lift and define and a shimmer to highlight. I find the matte end perfect for defining my brows to give a sharper look to them. The shimmer is nice and subtle is perfect for using on the inner eye corners and under the brow bone to really brighten the eye area, or pop along the cupids bow for a fuller lip effect. I have shade '001 Nude' which has a slight golden tone and there is a pinker version available too.

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Gosh do amazing primers and the Primer Plus Skin Adaptor, Anti-Pollution £14.99 tones and enhances your skin with a healthy glow. This little primer is light on the skin and helps to smooth and hydrate, ready to apply foundation. It's a white cream at first and as you blend it turns more peach, adapting to the individual skin tone. The clever little Cityguard+ also protects skin against pollution such as cigarette smoke and car exhaust. 

Next is the Prime N Set Primer and Mattifying Setting Banana Powder £9.99 I'm a huge fan of the Gosh Setting Powder so I was really excited to try their take on the banana powder. It has been perfect on my skin tone with a bit of a tan but as my skin is getting lighter I'm finding it ever so slightly too yellow for me so I definitely think this is more suited for darker skin tones. The yellow sorts out dark circles and neutralises any redness. It's so good for brightening and like the original powder that I know and love it gets rid of shine and smooths the skin with no problem at all. 

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The Colour Corrector Kit £11.99 is the product I've been using every day since I opened it. Lots of late nights have taken their toll and this has been an absolute god send! Most concealer kits usually stop at 3 or 4 shades but Gosh have thrown in an extra one with a concealer so you have all bases covered (literally).

This is a perfect little kit as it's nice and small and has all the colours to need to balance out skin tone. Picture a colour wheel, basically use the colour opposite to balance things out a bit. I use the yellow under my eyes as it's good for covering purples and blue tones (veins, bruises, dark circles). the peach looked a little scary of at first but it's great for brightening the eye area, it works well to give radiance to sallow olive toned skin. The green neutralises redness- perfect for sunburn and blemishes. Purple is the only one I haven't needed to far but can be used to balance out any yellow undertones and there's a nude concealer to coverIt's high coverage and lasts all day without settling into the lines on the skin. It's such a creamy formula that it blends really well too. I definitely recommend this!

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It would be rude not to include a palette and the 9 Shades Eyeshadow Palette 'To Party in London £11.99 is just brilliant. I absolutely love it. There's 9 wearable shades ranging from a soft rose to blue grey. In keeping with this season trends of warm tones there are coppers and golds too so there's something to suit everyone. I've used it loads for day time looks but it's got so much there to create sultry nighttime looks too. They all have a shimmer/metallic finish and are really highly pigmented and easy to blend. The large mirror and perfect size makes it great for travelling too. A really great palette to experiment with. 

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I've used this palette with the Eyeshadow Primer £8.99Its soft and creamy texture blends well and is the perfect base for making sure your eyeshadow lasts all day. It keeps your eye make-up in place so  it won't smudge or crease throughout the day/night. The fact that it is waterproof makes it excellent for the gym and holidays if that's your thing too.

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If like me you've been guilty of over plucking your brows then the Growth Serum £16.99 is for you. This serum fuels the natural growth of the eyebrows by stimulating the keratin genes and increases number of hairs on the brows. The small brush makes it super easy to apply and it's perfume and paraben free. Apply over your brows in the morning and night and it promises to visibly help with the thickness within weeks. 

I'm sure you've heard of the well-loved LumiDrops £7.99 liquid highlighters and now there are 2 new shades to try. I have 012 Rose Gold which has a lovely peach tone and warms the apples of the cheeks and adds a beautiful radiance to the skin. These are such a versatile product and can be used all over. I like mixing mine with my foundation for an added glow.

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My Favourite Mascara (clever name there) £8.99 is great because it washes off with warm water so you don't have to use any harsh products on the eye area to remove it.   The brush separates the lashes and the formula coats the lashes evenly. It's infused with oak extract, an active that benefits with antioxidant protection, helping the lashes maintain their healthy appearance.

The Strobe N Glow Blush £12.99 has 4 shades for strobing and, well, glowing! The darkest rose pink shade is my favourite of the 4, it's such a warm shade and looks lovely blended into the cheeks. Top right is a peach with an almost metallic look to it, you see a hint of lilac when it catches the light. Underneath, the coral has flecks of gold which is/was beautiful with a tan. The light peachy-pink is a lovely highlighter and also has the metallic shimmer effect to it making the pink really glisten in the light. All of these have a light, soft texture and blend effortlessly. There's also a highlight version which has more golden shades to try. 

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My stand out products are definitely the Colour Corrector kit, the Lift and Highlight pencil and the Eyeshadow Palette. What do you think of the new releases? 


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Friday, 25 August 2017

The Birthday Thief - A personalised book from Wonderbly


When you become a parent it's strange how your child ends up being one of your best friends. I actually really enjoy a lot of the time Mason and I spend on our own; little trips to the shops, walks in the park, sometimes we just head out for an apple juice and a coffee, it's great. I never actually thought I could really look forward to the little things in life.

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One of my favourite times of the day is when we sit down for a story before bedtime. I have my favourites, I love the Gruffelo -that little mouse is a trooper, The Cat in the Hat gives me a chance to showcase my best voices and I have a soft spot for the Charlie and Lola books.

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 I've previously mentioned the books by Wonderbly which have a lovely personalised touch to really engage even the most unenthused readers. The Little Boy Who Lost His Name was their first book which was actually featured on Dragon's Den and is a huge favourite in our house - we actually have 2 copies just in case one goes missing! Each letter of your child's name is found one-by-one as they go on an adventure meeting characters along the way.

Mason turned 5 this month so the it was a perfect chance to treat him to a new Wonderbly book and The Birthday Thief  was definitely  a perfect fit! It's a lovely little story based around your child's birth date. You personalise your book by entering their first name, selecting a character and entering their date of birth. The wonderful little robots create behind the scenes create your own unique story in a matter of seconds which you can preview online before you order the book. 
At the beginning you can include birthday message which straight away pulls you in as it is already so personal. 


The story follows your main character trying to find his birthday after it gets stolen. Along the way he/she meets characters relating to the day, month and year they were born. It's so nice to  hear Mason read out his name and follow the story that is so personal to him. 


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He really enjoys when we enter the 'Months Court' when we meet characters including Lord June and Sir September and chose a guide to help us get closer to finding the missing birthday. Mason  likes to tell me which months his friends birthdays are in, it really gets him involved in the story. 

Not to spoil the ending but when the birthday is found it's great to see your child's name and birthday printed in the book. We've read the book a few times already and each time the birthday is found there's a big smile on Mason's face. 


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I really like the detail in the illustrations and the book is a nice A4 size and written on sturdy thick paper too. 

With all of the Wonderbly books you can opt to have your book gift wrapped which is a lovely touch for a birthday gift like this one. The confetti themed wrap looks perfect and saves you on wrapping it yourself too! (bonus!)


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The book is £16.99 which is really worth it when you are getting something truly unique that you will keep forever. It would make a great gift for a new baby and of course for birthdays too! If you want to order one yourself give me a message as I have a couple of discount codes for 15% off.






*I was kindly sent this book but all thoughts are 100% my own







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