Reading is a big thing in our house, I’ve always read to the girls from a very early age, I think it’s a great way to develop their little imaginations and encourage their love of stories. Lili loves books but unfortunately isn’t the biggest fan of reading.  Poppy on the other hand is eager to learn and is already (she’s four) showing really good progress. I have a feeling she’s going to be the bookworm of our family.

We were excited to discover that our favourite breakfast cereal, BEAR Alphabites, has teamed up with Puffin Books to create the BEAR and Puffin’s Big Book Club. They’ve created an online hub packed full of fun activities, including a ‘Book of the Month’ released each month, as well as extracts from classic children’s books and brand new releases. You can also print off downloadable activity sheets and games to go along with the books.

Setting up a Book Club at Home

We thought it would be fun to set up our own book club at home, so the girls invited their friends over and created a book corner in our kitchen-diner. Each ‘member’ got their own BEAR and Puffin Book Club badge and the big girls read a book aloud. They also ate some yummy Alphabites and then started to recreate some of the scenes and the characters from the book. They also used the magnets that come free inside each pack to fuel their imagination and make up more stories.

It was all very sweet and lovely to see. It’s amazing how kids can really step into the characters and use their imaginations to create these different worlds in their minds.

Why we love BEAR Alphabites

BEAR Alphabites are made with just six simple ingredients, five whole grains, as well as natural coconut blossom nectar. They contain no refined sugar, salt, artificial colours or flavours – the girls think they’re delicious!


Disclosure: This is a sponsored post.

I used to work at Clarins and was there for over ten years, so I know this product very well… or I should say, all its previous reincarnations – or ‘generations’ as they’re called. This new Clarins Double Serum Hydric + Lipidic Serum is the latest reformulation of this cult anti-aging classic. Clarins tend to bring out a new generation Double Serum every three years, which means they are always making sure they’re ahead of the anti-ageing game. This is one of their hero products and as I’ve said, they’re always working on improving the formula.

I’ve been using the previous formula for the past three years (on and off) and always love the results it gives, so I was really interested to try this new ‘improved’ version.

This new Clarins Double Serum Hydric + Lipidic Serum is the latest reformulation of this cult anti-aging classic.

Clarins Double Serum has always been an age control serum, with two anti-ageing fluids in one product. The two serums are separated in the bottle and come together when they are pumped out. You then blend them together between your hands, before applying the mixture to your face.

Within this newest version there’s a dial that allows you to control the dosage it dispenses, making the amount personalised to you.  I’ve been using the smaller dosage as I find it better suited to my skin’s needs at this time of year. The larger dose is more of a ‘power shot’ for dry skin or normal skin during the harsh winter months.

This wonder product has over 20 different plant extracts including Tumeric to help fight wrinkles, fine lines and boost radiance.

This new Clarins Double Serum Hydric + Lipidic Serum is the latest reformulation of this cult anti-aging classic.

The Verdict

I have seen results after using this daily for 7 days (morning and night) – my skin is noticeably brighter and smoother, especially the mornings.

This is a solid winner in my opinion and exactly what my skin needs now that fine lines have started to appear around my face. Clarins Double Serum is sold in two sizes 30ml (£57) and 50ml (£75), and is available from their website as well as all department stores including John Lewis and Debenhams.

I thought I was being so organised at the beginning of the summer by getting all the girls’ uniforms sorted for the new school year. I got their skirts, dresses, blouses and cardigans but I knew it was probably best to wait until the end of the summer to get their shoes. There’s always a risk in doing this of course, because there’s a chance the shops will have run out of the size you need but then if you get the shoes too early, you could find that their feet have grown over the summer. Anyway, organised or not the shoes were left to the last minute and I was starting to panic.

I’ve mentioned before that Marks and Spencer is my one-stop school shop (well, apart from the logo embroidery shop that we have to use) and that I’ve always gone to M&S for Lili’s school shoes. I find their quality brilliant and the price reasonable compared to other high street shops.

So as it turns out, I didn’t need to panic because as soon as we stepped into M&S I realised that they were totally geared up for the ‘last minute mum’ and the rails were fully stocked with shoes of all styles and sizes. I already knew that they’d raised their game this year with a personalised measuring and fitting service (at selected stores only). As you can see, we took them up on this service (and no, you don’t have to book in for this, like some shops), it was great to know that I was getting the right size and fit for the girls.

This year Marks and Spencer have also increased their size and fitting options with half sizes, as well as wide, regular and narrow fit. All this means that you can feel assured that your child will have a perfectly fitting shoe.

As it turns out Lili’s feet are a narrow 13 and a half, so these new options really did help her find the perfect size, while Poppy is a regular size 11. They both chose their favourite style from a wide selection of velcro fastening, black leather school shoes, so now we are ready for school.

While we were there we also got Iris’ feet measured and fitted for her first pair of ‘big girl’ walking shoes. She did so well, I think she was excited to be following in her big sisters’ foot steps (literally), which made her feel very happy.

If you can’t get to a store, the M&S website have a great measuring print-out you can use to measure your child’s feet at home and then place an order online. However, if you can get to a store offering the serve I really do recommend it.

So that’s it, the summer is over and it’s time for the new school year to begin. Autumn is very much in the air and the leaves are starting to fall. The school bag is packed and Lili’s looking forward to seeing her friends on Wednesday. Poppy will have to wait another few days before she starts her school adventure next Monday.

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post.



I get so excited about the long summer holidays, in my mind they still (as they used to when I was a child) go on and on but in reality they fly by!! We’ve had the most wonderful summer with two weeks in Wales, followed by two weeks in Spain but we’re now home and with only a week and a half to go before school stats, I’m so glad I sorted out the girls’ school uniform before we went away.

School uniform essentials from Marks & Spencer

It’s a big year in our house, as Poppy starts Reception and Lili goes into the ‘Juniors’ this September. They both say that they’re excited and scared in equal measure but I know they’ll both bounce in on that first day with enthusiasm and ready to get going. They both love school (or nursery in Poppy’s case) and have missed their friends over the summer break.

School uniform essentials from Marks & Spencer

Both girls needed new uniforms, Poppy will need the school’s Infant uniform which consists of; a white shirt, a navy pinafore dress and a navy cardigan, as well as shoes and a PE kit. She won’t need a backpack or any stationary as the Infants are given a school ‘book bag’ and are not allowed to take their own pens or pencils.

School uniform essentials from Marks & Spencer

Lili’s going into the ‘Juniors’, which means she’ll need a new uniform too. It’s similar to the Infants uniform but with a pleated navy skirt instead of a pinafore dress. Excitingly, she will now need a backpack and her own stationary. Yes, we can finally go stationary shopping!! I don’t know who’s more excited, me or her.

School uniform essentials from Marks & Spencer

My go-to, one-stop shop for all things ‘school uniform’ has always been Marks & Spencer. It’s also where my mum got all our school uniform essentials when my brother and I were younger. For me Marks & Spencer’s quality is tried and tested, I know the clothes will wash well and last the year. Their school clothes all have clever little innovations like; stay put hems, stain and weather-proof finishes and StayNew technology. I’m also a big fan of their crease resistant finishes, which means less time at the ironing board for me! Lastly, I know that I can throw everything into the tumble dryer and they’ll all come out looking like new.

School uniform essentials from Marks & Spencer

This year Marks & Spencer have made more improvements to their Back To School range with; soft elastic waistbands on all trousers and skirts and hidden labels in their shirts and polo shirts for extra comfort.

I’ve always got Lili’s school shoes from Marks & Spencer, literally every pair she’s had have been from M&S. I like the quality, and feel they offer really good value for money. This year they’ve launched a brand new measuring and fitting service in store (selected bigger stores only), along with a wider range of widths and half-sizes, which now makes them a real player in the school shoes arena. They also have a clever little measuring chart that you can print off online, if you can’t make it into a store.

School uniform essentials from Marks & Spencer

As for backpacks Lili was delighted with this metallic number that’s both ‘cool and fashionable’ (her words) and big enough to carry all her new stationary and books.

School uniform essentials from Marks & Spencer

Thanks to Marks & Spencer we are totally ready for the new school year and have everything from; uniforms, PE kits, shoes, bags, socks and underwear. My list has all been completely ticked off!

School uniform essentials from Marks & Spencer

I wonder how I’ll feel this year as I send not one but two of my girls off to school? I wasn’t prepared for how emotional I was when Lili started Reception, it completely took me by surprise. Poppy is a different character though and I know she’s more than ready for full time school – plus I know that she’s got her big sister there to keep an eye on her.

Who am I kidding? I’ll be in bits, I know it!!

School uniform essentials from Marks & Spencer

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post but all copy is true.

Well it’s officially day one of the summer holidays and predictably the weather has taken a bleak turn. It’s safe to say we’ll be spending this first day indoors but hopefully the weather will get better soon – or it’s going be a very long six and a half weeks! But lets be positive, the sun will come out and when it does I have big plans for long summer days of outdoor adventures and lots of fun activities.

Especially as we’ve got all these activity cards courtesy of our favourite fruity snacks Bear Paws.

Bear Paws have teamed up with The Wildlife Trust for the second year in a row to get our little cubs active outdoors and more interested in wildlife and the environment. To celebrate this partnership they’ve created a set of fun outdoor activity cards, one for every letter of the alphabet – and they’ve written instructions for each activity on the back of the card. You get three fun activity cards in every box of these delicious fruit based treats.

We love Bear Paws for many reasons; mainly they’re fun, tasty and full of goodness. The big thing for me is that they’re made of 100% pure fruit, with no added sugar, preservatives, stabilisers or gumming agents.

As I’ve already mentioned the weather is not great today, so we’re going to be making fun playdough fossils using these; plastic insects, shells, a baking tray and a rolling pin. Let’s start as we mean to go on!

Disclaimer: This is a contributed post.