Friday, 24 October 2014

Christmas Home Decor PLUS GIVEAWAY!

I know it's not even Hallowe'en yet but I just can't help myself....I am already beside myself with excitement for Christmas!

Last year was our first Christmas as parents and it was so lovely, but Tyne was only 9 months old...this year he is so much more aware and already recognises Santa and says "Ho Ho Ho!" every time he see's anything Santa related! I just know he is going to be SO excited when the decorations go up and everything starts to feel festive!

So, as I have been totally unable to contain my excitement, I have already been on a bit of a Christmas shopping spree!

I am almost totally finished with shopping for Tyne's gifts - I just have one or two little stocking fillers left to buy - and I have made a good start towards gifts for the rest of my family too! There really isn't that much shopping left to do, and I do like to save some for the end of December as I like to soak up the atmosphere on a festive shopping outing!

I have even almost finished with buying items for Tyne's first ever Christmas Eve Box, which I am really excited about and will be blogging about once Christmas is a little closer.

But for today, I thought I would share with you my recent Christmas Home Decor purchases!

I just LOVE the cheeky slogans on these cute felt hanging hearts, "Dear Santa...Define "Good"" has to be my favourite!

These were from Next for £7.

I just love this chunky wooden "Christmas House Rules" wall hanging - it has a shabby chic finish which I love, and it was the "Build a snowman" rule that sold it for me! And "Believe in Santa" of course...I still do!

This was also from Next for £12

I saw a photo on a Christmas Countdown Facebook Page of a bed all made up in Christmas themed first I laughed, but before I knew what was happening I was online trying to find my own set!
I just LOVE the idea of making this a yearly tradition - every Christmas Eve the Christmas bedding will go on our bed, and the children will just love coming into our bed on Christmas morning to tell us Santa has been while we all snuggle under the super festive bedding! How adorable?!

This double duvet and pillowcase case was from Ebay for £16.00

As Tyne is totally obsessed with anything relating to trains, I thought it would be a lovely idea to get a little festive train that goes around the bottom of the tree this year!

This one was from Studio for £19.99

I have always wanted a traditional Christmas light-up village scene, and this year I finally have one!

I saw this on Studio's website reduced from £49.99 to £24.99 so I just had to have it!

This little personalised family are just too cute - you can customise them to have the correct hair colours, and your names are printed onto their hats!

They were also from Studio for £2.99 each

Each Christmas, I make and sell my own wooden signs which I really enjoy doing....and each year I start off by making some for myself!

This year I have been loving the Disney Frozen craze, and so this "Do You Wanna Build A Snowman?" sign was the first thing I made...I loved matching up the colours to look like Elsa's famous dress!

Available from my Facebook store A Little Bit Of Sparkle for £10.00

I have also updated our Personalised Christmas Tree this year, as I fancied a change of colour.
I love the gold and silver!

This is also available from my Facebook store A Little Bit Of Sparkle for £20.00 featuring up to 6 names.

I also updated our "Christmas At The McLean's" sign as our last one got broken when we were storing our Christmas decorations away!

This is also available from A Little Bit Of Sparkle for £10.00 personalised with any name


To get everybody started off in the festive spirit (its never too early!) and celebrate the opening of my Facebook store, we are giving away a personalised Christmas At The....sign as pictured above.

To be with a chance of winning, just complete the Rafflecopter form below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*UK only

Good Luck!

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Thursday, 23 October 2014

Review: Joie Nitro Stroller

 We were recently sent the Joie Nitro Stroller to try out and have been busy putting it through its paces.

The Nitro is the very first stroller we've used - although I did briefly borrow my sisters Chicco Urban when we went on holiday in the summer, and I found it so very uncomfortable to push at my height (5'9) that it actually scared me off strollers! - and so I was curious as to how I would find them compared to proper prams.

The Nitro boasts a long list of features, including:

  • Sleek and lightweight chassis
  • Easy and compact fold
  • Multi-position, flat reclining seat providing  backrest recline options
  • Ergonomic handles
  • Removable and adjustable hood
  • Multi-position calf support giving comfort options
  • Large storage basket which holds plenty of personal items
  • All wheel suspension giving a smoother ride on rough surfaces
  • Front swivel wheels which lock in place as needed
  • Raincover

Here is a closer look at it:

First things first - appearance.

It isn't going to win any awards for stand out design but it certainly isn't unattractive either - it is, I suppose, pretty standard as far as stroller appearance goes - the Nitro comes in various colours such as red, yellow and blue - we have the black/grey and I was pleasantly surprised by how much I liked this when it arrived.

I am not usually a fan of dark coloured pushchairs, but the striped pattern on this makes it much more visually pleasing than normal - I am not one for bright and crazy patterns on pushchairs at all, so this is very suited to my taste!
So how does it handle?

Well... like a dream!! It is very light weight and super easy to manouvre even around tight corners, but it is not so light that it tips easily - it is pretty much perfect in that department!

I found it very comfortable to push, and I did not have any of the backache I suffered with while using the Chicco Urban stroller.

This little video clip showing Tyne pushing it forwards and backwards with ease shows just how light it is!

As for comfort, Tyne himself is very happy in it and the straps are easily adjustable. It's also nice and easy to clean.

It folds up quite compactly and fits well within our boot leaving plenty of space, it collapses very easily and opens out with no problems at all. Certainly one of the less fiddly pushchairs I've dealt with.

My Favourite Features

*The handles - so much easier and more comfortable than a standard bar, and very handy for hanging your bag on too!

*The brake - easy to use and take off, and very effective

*The shopping basket - a very good size for a stroller

Any Complaints?

There is really nothing wrong with the stroller at all, but if I could suggest a slight improvement it would be perhaps for a perspex panel in the hood which I always find handy.

The Joie Nitro can usually be purchased for under the £100 mark, and for it's price range I think it is a very good buy - it is a nifty and comfortable stroller which does everything I need it to, what more can you ask?

For more details on the Joie Nitro Stroller, please click here

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Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Review: Project-B Pregnancy Subscription Box

One thing I am an absolute sucker for is subscription boxes!

There is just something incredibly exciting about expecting a delivery, waiting with anticipation for that pretty little package to arrive, and tearing into it to discover what goodies lie in store for you this month!

So imagine my delight when I came to realise the existence of Project-B!

Project-B are a pregnancy subscription box - from 12 weeks of pregnancy you receive one box each month, tailored to your specific stage of pregnancy.

The items could be anything from things to help with relaxation, nutrition, pampering, etc!

This month I received my first box...the theme of the 11-15 week box is Nurture.

So what was in the box?

As well as products, each box contains some bits & pieces of information relating to your stage of pregnancy...this month there was a guide on maternity clothing and monthly breakdown of what's happening with my body, how baby is growing and what sort of things I should expect over the coming weeks.

I personally use an app on my phone for this sort of information but I can see it being very useful to somebody who doesn't.

The products themselves were:

*Femfresh Deodorant 
*2 x Nakd Wholefoods Cereal Bars
*Palmers cocoa butter formula for stretchmarks
*Pregnacare pregnancy supplements
*Waterbaby pregnancy care drink
*Bloom hibiscus tea
*Barefoot SOS Face & Body Cream
*Noble Isle Willow Song Bath & Shower Gel
There were also some Weleda sachet samples.

Overall I was really impressed with the products in this box...I felt that there was a really good mix of products, covering hygiene, relaxation, pampering and treats!

My favourite inclusions would be the Bloom tea which I found very refreshing - this is something I probably wouldn't have picked up myself so it's nice to be introduced to items that you may not otherwise have discovered.

I also enjoyed the Waterbaby drink and love that it contains the recommended daily intake of folic acid....I'm terrible at remembering to take tablets so I think this is a great idea!
I also loved the Nobel Isle Shower Gel as the smell is just lovely, and the Barefoot SOS cream has been really lovely too.

I didn't particularly enjoy the Nakd bars....they're just not really for me, but I do think its a great idea to include a food item. 

Project-B boxes are priced at £14 per month, which I think is quite reasonable for the items included.

To sign up yourself or a friend (Ideal baby shower gift in my opinion!), or for more details please visit 

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Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Getting your Family’s Personality across during a Professional Photo Shoot

Achieving beautiful family photos that you will treasure for a life time is no doubt the wish of many parents, yet if you want something a little more special, it can feel a little difficult.

Capturing your family’s true personality on photos can feel a little tougher than simply sitting down and smiling for the camera, yet if you manage it, you will create amazing snaps that you and your family will love. We’ve come up with a few tips and ideas for doing just that.

Wear what you love 

You’ll have no doubt seen lots of guides regarding what to wear on your family photo shoot, but it’s really important to just think mostly about what you all love wearing, and what you feel comfortable and great in. Hopefully you can all choose something that will complement each other’s outfits, but more than anything, just ensure you all love what you’re wearing and you want to remember those clothes for a reason.

Capture yourselves doing something you enjoy doing together

A great way to achieve natural, beautiful photos is to avoid the staged poses and awkward stances, and to just be yourselves and have your photographer capture you all doing something you love as a family. This could literally be anything you like, from playing a sport to doing a jigsaw puzzle.

Go for a humour element 

Opting for professional photography companies like Venture Photography in particular is a great idea when it comes to achieving family photos full of life and personality as they have lots of ideas to make your photos (and the experience) fun and exciting. They also specialise in going for funny, sweet photos which is something great to think about, as having photos that will make you laugh for generations will be perfect.

Use props that are important to you

Using props in any photo shoot is a great way to add another element of your personality, and it’s especially great in family photos as it will help you remember those precious items that were really important to you. This could be anything from things like a football you liked kicking around the garden with your little ones, to a bedtime story book or a big blanket you all liked to snuggle under watching your favourite movies. Speak to your photographer to see how you can incorporate those special items in your photos so you’ll have a visual reminder of them forever.

Be natural and have fun

The most important thing to do to achieve great, natural and special family photos is to just be yourselves and have fun with it! Don’t put too much pressure on yourselves to achieve works of art, as you’re likely to prefer the photos that are the least staged, and it’s worth remembering that a really good professional photographer will do most of the magic in the editing stages, too! Therefore, just enjoy the day and the experience, and make it one to remember.

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Monday, 20 October 2014

Santa's Secret Spy!

With Christmas fast approaching (only 65 shopping days left people!), I have decided to start a new weekly feature....

I can't be the only Mummy on a budget with a gazillion little nieces, nephews and friends children to buy for who loves nothing more than a big fat BARGAIN at this time of year!

So, I thought, why not share my Christmas Gifts At Cut-Costs findings!

Each Monday between now & Christmas, I will share the best bargains I have found throughout the week....

And if you come across any yourself, please do let me know so I can share them! (Email with the subject "Santa's Secret Spy", tweet me @sparkles_blog or leave a comment on my Facebook page!)

So, let's get on with this weeks finds!

(Please note, all prices are correct at time of post going live. I cannot be held responsible for any changes, please double check before purchasing)

Disney Cars 3 Wheeler Scooter - £12.50

One website I use regularly is Suppose, which is great for hunting out bargains at this time of year.

This Disney Cars 3 Wheeler Scooter is ideal for any Lightning McQueen fanatic speedsters out there. We have been testing one out and are very impressed - the design is lovely, it is sturdy and seems to be great quality and extremely safe and easy to use. It was packaged well and would certainly make an ideal christmas gift!

RRP: £30.00
Found For: £12.50! - Click HERE to buy

Peppa Pig's Spaceship - £12.99

I picked this up myself for Tyne's Christmas stocking fillers this week, it opens out and has speech and sound effects...and includes Peppa, George and Danny Dog figures and a little adventure buggy too!

RRP: £29.99
Current Price: £12.99 in Home Bargains! 

Moshi Monsters Moshling Tree House - £6.17

This bargain is currently available through Amazon

RRP: £19.99
Current Price: £6.17 - Click here to buy!

Disney Frozen Snow Adventure Board Game - £7.50
Ideal for all the Frozen fans out there, this game is suited for ages 4 years +.

On offer with The Entertainer.

RRP: £15.00
Current Price: £7.50 - Click here to buy!

Woolly & Tig Read Along With Woolly - £13.60

We have recently reviewed this fab read along toy and loved it! And we think it's even better at this bargain price!

RRP: £29.99
Current Price: £13.60 - Click here to buy!

Don't forget to check back next Monday for more bargain finds, and don't forget....get in touch if you find any deals you'd like to share!

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