It completely fell off my radar to write a Little Loves post last week, I can’t believe how quickly the time is going by.  Just one week until I fly off to Uganda now (excuse me whilst I have a moment of panic!)

This week has been a toughie in particular and I think it has made me more determined to hunt out the good in our lives.  Sitting this morning with my cup of tea and thinking over what I was going to write certainly brought a smile to my face, so for me it worked!

This will kind of be a double-whammy as I play catch up from last week:

Read
It took me a while longer than I thought to get through The Blackstone Key; it was a bit slow-going in places but overall I liked it.  I followed that up with The last Runaway by Tracy Chevalier, author of Girl With The Pearl Earring.  I’ve watched the film but never read the book but if her latest one is anything to go by then I will be hunting out everything she’s ever written.  Love, love, loved it and she has definitely earned a spot on my favourite author’s list.  Recommend picking it up if you can.

I’m currently reading Daughter by Jane Shemilt; I was a bit dubious about this one as it’s the story of a 15 year old girl who is ‘abducted’ (*spoiler* I flicked to the end and it turns out she’s not) but it’s actually been quite intriguing so far.


Watched
I haven’t really watched much television this week as we’ve been so busy.  As Wednesday was a particular crappy day, we decided to watch our old favourite ‘Pitch Perfect’ with a glass of cava (naturally), I know it’s sad but I can’t wait for the second one to come out next year!



Heard
I am a huge Pentatonix fan and I saw on YouTube that they have released a new Christmas Carols album.  As I’m also a huge fan of the festive season that will definitely be going on my iTunes list.  It reminded me of one song they did last year, ‘Carol of the Bells’ which just gives me goosebumps every time I hear it.  I am totally ignoring the fact that it is still October and am going to share it with you.  

Enjoy.



Made
Last week we organised a surprise party for my mum’s 50th.  She had absolutely no idea that it was happening which was a small miracle in itself.  I sorted the decorations which included these fab printables which came from here, and also made a cork photo-frame which I think looks quite good if I do say so myself!



Wore
Is it bad to say I can’t really remember what I’ve worn this week?  My head has kind of been in what I will be wearing as I try and hunt down summer clothes in autumn.  

And lastly…
We went to the National Forest Adventure Farm yesterday and got to visit their pumpkin patch.  I was thrilled as every single pumpkin patch in the North West appears to have run out and I had promised the kids we’d go.  They loved it, as well as all the other great stuff the farm has to offer, they had decorated it up for Halloween and we had to visit the Spooky Hotel twice.  The second time some kids, who must have been about 12/13, asked me to go round with them as they were too afraid.  I had to smile, if my 3 and 5 year old could handle it, I’m sure they could have!


What have you been up to this week?

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There is an issue which divides our family greatly.  It is often brought up around the holiday season and evokes strong reactions in all those present.  On one side we have myself and the children and on the other, fighting his corner strongly, my husband.  What could this be you ask?  Well this year it was the issue of Halloween Dog Costumes.

I love the idea of dressing Pepper up.  She is regularly adorned with accessories and trinkets, forming part of the children’s games but we’ve never branched out into actually buying something from a store, such as Pets At Home.

This is mainly because my Other Half abhors the idea and can’t think of anything worse.  But this year, we were determined!

We laid out our plan for some truly spooky Halloween fun for Pepper.  First we would visit Pets At Home and purchase an outfit for Pep and then we would treat her to some delicious homemade Halloween treats.

And there was nothing Daddy could do about it!


We almost missed the cut-off for the outfits, which were already on sale the week we went, even though it isn’t Halloween for quite some time yet.  I suppose this is to make way for their Christmas stock which is already dominating quite a large percentage of the store.


I spotted a HUGE hide bone which would be perfect for a Christmas treat, mostly because I’d like to see Pepper attempt to carry it outside and bury it in our garden as she likes to do with every other treat she is given.

Unfortunately, there wasn’t much choice, perhaps because Pepper is a large dog.  There were plenty of cute outfits for little dogs but for her size we had to choose the skull body warmer and cap.


This was fine though, after much discussion we decided that she would be a pirate dog, which is perfect as the kids have plenty of pirate accessories to be her shipmates.

No trip to Pets At Home is complete without visiting the fish.


All dressed up and looking fierce, the next part of our day was to create some yummy special treats.



For this, we chose pumpkin and peanut butter biscuits.

It’s the first time we have attempted to make our own treats but I have to say, it was so simple that we will definitely be doing it again in the future.


Pumpkin & Peanut Butter Dog Treats

What you need:-
*Pumpkin
*Peanut Butter
*Wholemeal flour


It is really so simple to do.

Scoop out the pumpkin and mush it up.


Add in the flour and the peanut butter.

Mix it all up until it binds together, almost like a dough.  Then roll it out, and use cutters or create your own shapes, like we did.

It’s probably not the nicest for human consumption though, nice try Eli.

Easy peasy, delicious treats for doggies.

Have you been up to any pet-related Halloween fun this year?
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In approximately two weeks time I will be boarding a flight at Manchester airport and embarking on one of the most life-changing, and no doubt challenging, experiences of my life.  Even as I sit here writing this my heart is thumping as I consider all that lies ahead.

I am a big believer in things having a time and a place, and even before I started writing my blog in 2012, I always wanted to be able to work with charities, particularly in developing countries.  I think perhaps inspired by my visit to Zambia in 2006, it has long been at the back of my mind but wasn’t ever something I thought could happen in the present time, especially being mummy to two young children.

My blog has opened doors and given me some truly fantastic experiences and as regular readers will know, I was shortlisted for a trip to Cambodia in March this year but didn’t make the final cut.  Well, this time I did make the cut and I couldn’t be more excited!

I fired off an email without a second thought in September when I saw through Mumsnet that Send A Cow were looking to send a blogger out to visit some of their projects in Uganda and to share some of the amazing work that they are doing, never truly considering the possibility I’d be selected.  As you can imagine, my jaw almost hit the floor when I had an email back to say that they wanted me to be the blogger they worked with and I’ll admit I spent a good few days flitting between elation and complete terror.

It’s the longest I will ever have been away from Meg and Eli but honestly, it is such a once in a lifetime experience that how could I ever turn it down?

So, now I sit here with aching arms from the many vaccinations, with the words of my nurse ringing in my ears as she stressed about everything from me falling into dirty water to getting lost at the airport (I think it must be a small village thing!) making lists and considering all the things I am going to get to experience whilst in Uganda.

For those who don’t know, Send A Cow works with communities and farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa, to provide them with the necessary skills and tools needed to begin the long climb out of poverty.  They began working in Uganda in 1988 and have seen amazing results, with a number of families now growing surplus food, setting up their own small businesses and being able to send their children to school and university.

PHOTO CREDIT: Send A Cow

They also work in other countries including Burundi, Kenya, Lesotho and Zambia.

It is such a privilege to be invited to travel out with the charity and I can’t imagine how it will be to see the projects up close, but I know from my time in Zambia that it isn’t anything you can plan for.  I hope to be able to share on Twitter and Instagram whilst I am out there (providing my husband doesn’t keel over at the data charges) but if my blog suddenly goes silent in November then rest assured I will have plenty to share when I get back.

If I don’t get lost in the airport that is…

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I think I have mentioned before about Meg’s love of all things animal related.  She likes nothing more than getting up close and personal with furry creatures, and we often have to deflect her requests to adopt and bring home various creatures.  This year she has even decided that when she grows up she wants to be a vet.

Now, I can just about handle the usual things you come across at children’s petting zoos such as rabbits and guinea pigs and the like but on our recent trip to Astley Park we discovered that their idea of a ‘pets corner’ featured creatures of the reptilian kind.  


I won’t dissemble: I don’t like snakes.  I don’t like lizards.  I don’t like things which slither, or creep, or crawl or hop.  I don’t like anything which looks as though it might take great delight in swallowing me whole.

Imagine my delight then, when I walked into the petting zoo to discover that Meg had a snake wrapped around her.  Yep, unfortunately for me, it would appear that Meg is the exact opposite.

In fact, the whole of my little family got in on the action.



Seriously, how much does this snake look like it’s sizing Eli up!?


But our encounters with creepy creatures didn’t stop there.  Perhaps inspired by their meeting with the bearded dragon and the snake, the kids then went on a bug hunt where they uncovered a number of worms, snails and ladybirds which were then proudly presented to us.


I smiled.  I congratulated them on their discoveries.  I pretended I was thrilled to have a worm dropped on my shoe.  

I was none of those things.


Next time, I think we’ll just stick to the real zoo!

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A couple of weeks ago we were sent two sets from the Disney Princess Palace Pets range: the Royal Carriage and Fashion Tails.

Meg is a huge Palace Pets fan and we have had the app which is associated with this range for a while so I knew she would be thrilled to try these out.

Royal Carriage

The Royal Carriage is priced at £17.99 and comes with:

* Carriage
* Teacup (Cinderella’s puppy)
* Tea set accessories
* Sparkly sunglasses
* Sparkling cape

I was really impressed with the attention to detail on the carriage, from the tiny bluebirds on the front to the sparkly pink wheels.  Clearly a lot of thought has gone into the making of it, and it is a sturdy toy.  The mirror on the carriage folds down to make a little tea table which you can then attach the teapot and tea cup to and there is also a carpet which slides out of the carriage to allow for a truly royal entrance.


Teacup is made of solid plastic, with a moveable head.  Her crown is removable, although her tail is not (which did cause some confusion especially with the set we were also sent below) 

Meg absolutely loved it, especially when she was setting up tea parties for the two pets we had been sent, and she also loved that the carriage was moveable and had little details which she could incorporate into her game (like the roll out carpet)

My only gripe with this product is the roll out carpet.  It is a very thin piece of plastic which bends quite easily and in fact if you don’t get the Palace Pet sat on it at the right angle then it just bends under the weight and they fall off.  This product isn’t cheap and I wish that for the money it costs, they could have somehow reinforced this plastic carpet.  It’s a really sweet idea but I just know it’s going to be the first piece to snap or break.

Fashion Tails

The Fashion Tails set is priced at £9.99 and we were sent Beauty, who is Aurora’s puppy.  You can also buy this set featuring Teacup.  It includes:-

* Beauty
* Hairbrush
* 3 fashion tails

As with Teacup, Beauty is well made with a removable crown and a moveable head.  The three fashion tails easily clip on and off and the brush allows for grooming of the chosen tail.

It was nice having the two pets as Meg could create a real game and set up a tea party.  As I mentioned above, the only confusion came when she realised that not all palace pets have removable tails.  I believe there is another range of palace pet sets called ‘furry tails’ and these tails are not removable either.  Once I’d explained this to Meg it was fine but there were a few confusing moments when we tried to work it out without breaking it.

I thought the Fashion Tails set was a good price, and would make a nice gift for any little fan of Disney Princesses.

I also like how it all ties in with the app which is available free on apple devices.  As I said, we’ve had it for some time and Meg really liked being able to play with the pets and then go onto the tablet and groom them for ‘the ball’.

I have also made a short video demonstrating the sets we were sent if you are interested to watch.




Disclaimer: We were sent both these products for the purpose of this review.  However all thoughts and opinions are our own.

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