It’s no secret that as a family we love a visit to Pizza Express. As a mum on maternity leave I would download the £5 main meal codes from o2 and share a pizza with Jedi and then Beatlebum when his brother was at nursery. It was one of the few places we would go to eat and be able to take our time, as well as make a little noise too.

We were invited to pop in over half term. Their Piccolo lunch is ideal for little eaters (£6.85 with a starter, main, dessert, babychino ad squash) and I know that when we have it they love the treat and also the experience of dining out keeps mums sanity and teaches them about table etiquette too.

This time we met up with our friends Kate and T as well as bumping into Claire and Polly too. It is a lovely thing to be able to dine out, have enough for the kids to do an enjoy some adult conversation. I think that the fact the staff don’t rush you is a brilliant thing as often as a parent that feeling along with kids chatting away, throwing food on the floor it often feels a big ball of stress. Pizza Express (both Jubilee library and the Marina) have always made us feel fab, and the staff really interactive with the children as well as the adults at the table.

Their kids menu caters to even the fussiest eater (Fizz always orders pizza without the tomato sauce) and the choice is quite varied but also not too confusing.

A part fo their collaboration with Puffin books and their Piccolo packs Pizza Express had an artist who was doing drawings of families or in our case just Fizz (she didn’t want me or her brother in it lol).This was all done while the adults were chatting and the kids munched on the Piccolo menu. From a Superhero to a favourite animal the artist Sean was keen to chat to the kids and on knowing Fizz loves to sing he incorporated that and her red hair into a work of art that is now ready to be framed for her room. It really inspired Fizz and she spent all evening with her journal out creating her own book characters!

Where do you love to eat and do you have any tips to share about eating out with the kids?

 

Fizz is a lovely of making videos so when she was sent the Stikbot Space station (£19 on Amazon) to make and review it was seemed like a great half term project. The set came and it included one Stikbot and all we needed to make a space station.

The box comes with all you need to make your own animations. However there is a lot of making going on and I have to admit that we haven’t got around to making any animations yet! No glue, no scissors and not much mess so that was a win for me!

Fizz found the instructions easy to follow and has managed to make most of the space set herself with little help. As she wants to do this herself it has meant delays have happened as she has spaced out making the kit up.

She has really enjoyed it so far though and has nearly completed the set which will enable her to make space themed animations. I think we will be buying a couple of extra figures though as the set only comes with one space explorer.

Having downloaded the app (free and a few seconds of time) we are almost ready to go. The app seems fairly easy to use and the stop motion seems simple enough too. My only worry is the time needed to produce a full video but I am sure over summer we will get the knack of it!

The Stikbot range is such a fun activity and I would definitely recommend these for a gift but maybe for the older kids. At 8 Fizz did get bored early but I think over the summer it might be the perfect activity! I am hoping this is a project she’ll want to revisit and have fun with again soon.

 

 

 

What’s the one room that everybody dreams of designing in their house? The kitchen, of course! Not only is this room often thought of at the heart of the home, but it’s also where the family gathers at mealtimes, where friends come to socialize and where everyone gets to enjoy delicious food. So, it’s no wonder that we all want this space to look perfect. But it also has to come with the right equipment too. If you’ve ever wanted to design the kitchen of your dreams, here are the key considerations to make along the way.

Photo by wu yi on Unsplash

Consider The Space and the Light

Before you get ahead of yourself, you really have to start off by considering the space you have or may need. Sometimes, when you’re designing your dream kitchen, you may need to make the space bigger. To get the layout you need, you may want to break down walls into other areas, change around some of the utility hook up points or add an extension. By analysing the space you have an what you can do, you’ll be able to get a starting space to work with. What will you do about lighting – have you decided about having a lighting focal point or built into your units? I personally like these modern kitchen spotlights.

There are so many considerations so make sure you take a step by step approach in what is needed and the want list!

Rip Everything Out

When you’ve got the base of your kitchen ideas sorted, you’re going to need to rip everything out that you have. Before any work can begin to get that desired space just right, you need to give your contractors a shell or have them remove the unnecessary items. I have to admit that this was the most stressful bit as you can be without a kitchen for a few weeks and will need to make alternative arrangements.

Even if there are things you’d like to keep, they will need to come out to start with. You’ll just need to make sure you keep them in good condition during the rip out process.

Home In On Your Design

As any building work starts to commence to get your property and space just right, you’re also going to want to finalize the design plans you have for the fittings and fixtures. If you are having an extension then think about what style of roofing you’d like to have – thin k of the exterior as well as interior to ensure the best look from outside as well as in! Also long term you’ll not want to have repairs every few years so it is essential to get your kitchen shell spot on!

You may want to get a kitchen renovations expert to help you with the entire process, just to make sure that you have thought about all of your options and that the finished idea is perfect. At this stage, you’re also going to want to get paint colours, cabinets and designs all ironed out so that they’re ready to go.

 

Don’t Settle

When you’re trying to get renovation work done and fast, it can be tempting to make rash decisions just to get it done. But don’t. When you’re looking at renovating your home, you should make sure that you get everything that you want. Even if it means that you have to wait and while and save up for it. Because if you settle, you’ll always look at the parts you scrimped on and wish you didn’t.

Add Finishing Touches

And finally, make sure that you spend the right amount of time considering your options when it comes to the final design details. Things like tiles and cabinet handles, display units and even appliances can make or break your overall theme. So, you want to make sure they add to your dream look and help to create the kitchen you’ve always wanted.

We are still renovating out kitchen. We started last year and it has taken some time to find decor that is right so it’s the final touches now. Any tips let me know!

 

This half term we have scheduled a trip to Sealife Brighton. We have been gifted annual passes and with half term thunder storms looming we are looking for alternatives to spending a day at the park or beach. The SeaLife centre is one of the few places the kids are still excited to go to.

Late last week I took the youngest one to the complex. The parent and toddler ticket is perfect for this as you can spend as much time wondering around without feeling rushed. He hasn’t been since he was a small baby so it was lovely to see his amazement at the big fish, underwater tunnel and terrapins. He had such fun and I am sure we could have spent all day discovering!

This week I’ll be going again with the older two. The new Sea Stars exhibit looks great but we are really looking forward to Jurassic Stars which is running from 23rd May until the 3rd June. With Jedi learning about dinosaurs and dragons at school this is an ideal time to visit! I love that there is a fossil trail encouraging the kids to look out for certain fossils to discover a hidden word as well as there being arts and crafts. We did have a snack peek of the fossil sand tray which is perfect for little ones too.

If you are in Brighton on a short break this week or even having a staycation then the Brighton Attractions Combi saver is a fabulous idea too!

Let me know what you are getting up to this half term break.


As the seasons start to change again, many people start to prepare their homes for the weather that will come. They check the gutters are clear and the fences are painted. Of course, inside the house there is plenty to do too.
Checks on the boiler, clearing out the chimney, and a dozen other little chores can easily fill a weekend. When will you ever have time to freshen the decor? With summer and new light you’ll want to spruce it up, you’ll be noticing all those unfinished home jobs now. Here are my tips from natural looking laminate flooring (great for those of you with children or pets compared to carpets) to simple tricks like moving the furniture around to create a new look. It really is easy to create a new look ready for summer for a few sleek changes. 

Replace what is worn

If your wall art is looking frayed, it’s time to let it go. It’s impossible to create a fresh new look with ‘weathered’ items. The same goes with carpets & flooring. I think that I would go for a natural looking laminate flooring as this is so durable with children about.  

As for the walls? Repair what you can with options like filler. But if the bumps and cracks won’t sand down, it might be time to call the plasterer for a fresh finish.

Think about replacements

If you like to change things each season, then set your home up to make that easy to do. Pick furniture that is easy to move.

Choose sofas and cushions that are standard sizes so they can easily be covered and recovered when you fancy a fresh colour.

Make sure your base colour palette complements all the colour swatches you think you might lean toward when you want to change things up. Greys, creams, and olives all work well with a wide range of vibrant tones.

Painting yourself

If you choose to tackle the painting yourself, there are a few tips that can help you achieve a great finish. Start from the top down. That means, start with a satin or matt white ceiling. Here’s an example of what our finished boys room was like and the look we will go for in our living room.

Use wood paint for the doors, door frames, and skirting boards. Wait for all this to dry. If you spot spots of paint, you can use a baby wipe to remove them once they are dry.

Now use decorators tape to protect the white edges and block in your wall colour. You’re finally ready to get that roller busy!

Strong and subtle

Good decor usually features a strong accent colour and then several more subtle shades of the same. This also opens up the choices for soft furnishings or covers. So long as it matches one of those choices, it will probably work really well. You can do this for your window dressings, table cloths, vases, cushions, rugs, and wall art.

You might even paint the chimney breast in the strongest colour, or the wall around the window. A feature wall with lots of photos scattered all over is also a great idea and doesn’t cost much to do. 

Bold or block colours that are classic are great this season. We have just painted the boys room a denim blue with white skirting. It looks very strong and smart with minimum risk of grubby hands marks!

Moving around

Sometimes simply moving the position of your furniture can help to make it look like a completely different room. It can even help you to shift the focus in the living room. Lighting can do the same. Change the position or direction of the lights to highlight something else for a quick and easy change.

There are plenty of ways to freshen the room and even more ways to give the illusion you’ve worked hard on something new! Throws, cushions covers are a great way to give your seating a new lease of life/ I’m incorporating yellows and teals this spring. 

These are just a few ways that you can change up you home and your decor. If you try any of my ideas do let me know and I’d love to see some of your links over on my facebook page Free Spirit Living or tag me @chellemccann on Instagram.