Sunday, 15 October 2017

Parties Taylored 4 You

We were invited along to check out a toddler party run by Parties Taylored 4 you in Uckfield recently and the twins had a great time (once they got over being afraid of Spiderman!)

Parties Taylored 4 you organise various themed parties as well as offering personalised children's party services for birthdays or special occasions.  The event we went to was a fancy dress disco with crafts at Ridgewood Village Hall and there was so much for the twins to do!

As we had a fairy themed birthday party afterwards, the twins wore tutus and butterfly wings (as we don't have any proper fairy wings).  There were lots of princesses in attendance and 3 spider-men too.

The hall was decorated with various themes including tropical, princesses, trolls, pirates...  They had a baby corner with a ball pit and various tables set up around the room with lots of activities for the older ones to enjoy.  The crafts were so varied with lots of painting, sticking and gluing options.  The twins painted pirate ships, stuck pom poms and foam stickers, painted paper plates and foam pads...

And of course there was the disco with flashing lights and balloons, they loved it!

Tickets cost £5 in advance or £6 on the door and under 2s go free.  There were drinks available to purchase (squash, tea or coffee) but I didn't see any snacks or cake available.  The twins kept asking for cake as it was a party and parties obviously parties = cake, lol. 

They're having another event on 29th October for Halloween with another disco and Halloween crafts, also at Ridgewood Village Hall.  You can find more details about the event on their Facebook page.  They also run private parties with all sorts of themes available.  Check out the Parties Taylored For You website for more info.

We received free entry to the event in return for this review.  As always, my review is my own honest opinion.

Saturday, 14 October 2017

A Vogel herbal remedies - review

I was recently sent some A.Vogel products to test and although I tried out one right away, the other one had to wait until I needed it in order to give you my honest opinion on how it works.

The first one was the Bioforce herbal hand cream which has a yellowy tinge, presumably due to the herbs used, but smells quite nice.  I found it soaked in quite quickly and definitely made a difference to my hands.  I suffer from pompholyx eczema when I'm rundown and/or stressed which seems to be pretty much all the time lately!  As a result I need to keep my hands moisturised so this was ideal as it's a handy size to carry around as well as being gentle and not heavily scented.

The second item was the Po-Ho inhaler which contains essential oils of peppermint, eucalyptus, juniper, caraway and fennel.  I loved the smell of this as soon as it arrived and actually find it quite relaxing and as soon as Spider Season hit (OMG those blighters are huge this year!), so did the cold so I was able to test it out.  It is basically like the oils I've used before on a hanky or my pillow, a similar scent but in a handy lip balm sized inhaler you can pop in your pocket although it does also come as an oil.  It definitely seemed to work the same as other brands I've tried in the past and I found it very useful to keep on me when I was out with the kids and feeling bunged up.

I love essential oils (apparently peppermint oil keeps those spiders at bay too!) and have always liked herbal remedies like arnica cream for bruises so it's nice to have a couple more herbal treatments up my sleeve.  The A.Vogel products seem very high quality and they have a great philosophy with their Naturally Beautiful Promise: "Our beauty experts use fresh, active plant extracts to bring you luxurious skincare products. We make our products with love, care and respect for nature. Our beauty range is 100% vegetarian and we do not test on animals." 

Have you used any A.Vogel products before?  Do you have any herbal remedies you swear by?

Friday, 13 October 2017

Spiced Parsnip & Orange Cake Recipe - The return of Pin It Do It! #ODPIDI linky

Its back!  Pin It Do It was requested in my recent survey and I am delighted to bring it back.  I missed it myself and have PLENTY of inspirational pins to utilise and get off my boards to real life.

Original Pin

To make it easier for you to submit your own Pinterest inspired projects, I've added a linky to this post so you can just upload a link to your own post.  I will then choose one or two favourites to feature the following month.  We also have a badge to put on your post (and in your sidebar if you wish), just click on it to be taken to the HTML code you need to add it to your own blog.

Thursday, 12 October 2017

Rose & Olive Tearooms in Uckfield - review by Bex

I've been wanting to check out Uckfield's beautiful new Tearooms, named after one of the owner's grandmothers, since they opened back in May but I only recently managed to visit.  It was worth the wait, such a beautiful venue for a relaxed catch up with a friend!

Sunday, 8 October 2017

Olive Dragonfly Relaunch

Hopefully you can tell I've been working on this here blog lately and I'm posting more regularly again.  It's true I lost my way a bit after moving 400 miles and the birth of the twins but over the last year, things have settled down, I've found my place, my tribe and I've found me again.  I'm loving being back doing more of what I love.

Now that the twins have started pre-school, I envisaged more time for the blog to really make it a success again and while I have managed to get readership back up to our previous levels, the blog itself is still not what I want it to be.  Unfortunately I'm far too ambitious and rather than having loads of spare time to spend on the blog now that I have two free mornings a week, I decided to launch a business so I've been super busy setting up bexphoto with a new website, building my client portfolio with some reduced rates for lovely friends and working on some marketing materials.  Things are going well and I am absolutely loving it but I love my blog too so I'm hoping to somehow balance my two favourite hobbies (and lets face it the photography ties in nicely with picture perfect blog posts) around my other part-time profession and first and foremost, being a mother to my two favourite toddlers.

The design for my first flyer.

And so, Olive Dragonfly, my 6 year old baby.  What plans are afoot.  Well, I am bringing back Pin It Do It by popular demand!  (This time for any PIDI submissions, I'm setting up a linky so you can just add your own and I'll choose favourites to feature the following month.)

I will be posting more regularly and in a planned fashion rather than ad hoc as it has been for the last 3 years.  I am hoping to focus it more in general as I have trouble describing what it is I actually write about.  I'm not sure anyone wants to read a blog about "um, all sorts of things, whatever takes my fancy".

There will continue to be guest posts about various home makeovers.  Namely Amy's gorgeous Pink House in Essex, hopefully we'll get some more updates of Roz's epic Glasgow mansion and we're soon to see the new addition of Gemma's stunning Victorian home in London as well as a 10 bedroom, Grade II Listed Sussex abode that I'm hoping to include which is being turned back into a country home after being five flats for a number of years.  And of course there's my own home which pales in comparison but I'm doing a few tweaks in at the moment (you may have seen a sneaky peek on my Instagram stories which I've only recently started to use and have fast become addicted to)!

I mean, seriously - HOW gorgeous!?

I'm hoping to include other guest writers too and have lined up another local Foodie Dad after Alan struggled to find time to write his recipes for us.  Stu will be joining in with some of his favourite recipes and I can assure you he is an epic cook!  (If you're reading this and think you have something to contribute too, please do drop me a line.)

There will be more Twin Updates again including Twin Togs (toddler fashion) although with a reduction in the sheer number of photos, I promise.  I'll also be adding the fun extra of our YouTube channel featuring our family days out or just cute/funny videos of the twins and possibly me rambling about various things.  There was only one reader who wasn't so keen on all things twin related, almost everyone else who took my survey wanted more twin stuff but hopefully with the return of more of everything else, there will be plenty to keep everyone interested.

I'll be writing more in my Toothy Tips series too which so many of you found helpful which is great news!  And I'm hoping to include more recipes again too.  There will still be the odd random post such as my TV binge watching habits and seasonal stuff like Halloween and Christmas decor/party ideas as well as any product reviews I think might interest you like Priya's fab Dinosaur and Rainbow dresses and any associated giveaways and/or discount codes.

There will continue to be local reviews of places to eat, festivals, events all featuring my photos as we love exploring and sharing everything we find going on in our amazing local area and these feature in my Uckfield News column.  As a result of my local posts, I'm also going to be interviewed on Uckfield FM about the blog this coming Thursday (12th Oct) at 11:30am which is simultaneously super exciting and nerve wracking!  You can listen/watch live on the Uckfield FM website too if you're not local.

I'll be adding an email subscription option so you can receive updates directly to your inbox and keep up with what's happening.  I've already created easy to navigate indexes for various topics such as recipes, Local Roasts, restaurant reviews and festivals so it should be easier to find certain posts and topics.  I'm still working on pages for Twin Life - twin specific posts (advice and life updates), Homes & Interiors, Travel, Fashion, Toddler Fashion, Pin It Do It and other tutorials and crafts.

In order to be a bit more consistent, my plans over a month will be to include:

Pin It Do It
Twin Togs
Recipes (from myself or Stu)
Local Roasts review
Local Park review (or other free local activity if I run out of parks!)
At least one Home related post (mine or one of the others)
Toothy Tips
Life/Twin Update

Bonus posts may include:

Personal posts
Parenting (how I deal with it)
Event & Restaurant reviews
Product reviews
Seasonal Inspiration
Photography update
Craft tutorials (for kids or grown ups)
My own fashion
Healthy Eating/Fitness posts (I need to get back on this)

I can't promise when the proper relaunch is going to happen, as I mentioned, I'm still pretty busy with various other things, especially with the twin's 3rd birthday coming up (how?!!!) so I'm in party prep mode but I am beavering away in the background and hope to have the blog up to scratch asap!  Changes will probably continue to trickle in as I work away.  It's exciting and I can't wait to see how it all goes.  I hope you'll be along for the ride!

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

bexphoto launches new website - family photography in Sussex

I am thrilled to share my brand new photography website,  It's the same old domain I used for my photos before but it's had another makeover and I'm now working as a professional photographer for hire!

I've been working on the new website over the last couple of weeks and may still make a few tweaks but I'm really pleased with it.  I have various portfolios to show off my family, newborn and commercial work as well as some of my favourite old landscape and nature images.  (I really must try to get out in Sussex for a spot of landscape photography one weekend, any tips on where to go would be most welcome!)

Of course, I'm just getting started and I'm building up my portfolio of other families (apart fromm my thousands of the twins) with some reduced sessions for friends which I'm delighted were snapped up and have been keeping me busy with a newborn and two family sessions already plus two more coming up soon.  Not only that but I had my first "random" booking from a stranger who noticed my photos on Facebook so that was exciting!  I wasn't quite ready for other clients yet but obviously didn't turn it down and it's really boosted my confidence after meeting them, we had a lovely afternoon at the weekend and a giggle about them being invoice no.0002.

There's also a new bexphoto blog where I'm sharing sneaky peeks, photo sessions and various other photography jobs and personal projects and a new About page which I may edit at some stage but I've kept it brief for now.  I also have a Features page which I hope may fill up more in the future and of course, some Kind Words from clients.

My cousin, Georgia, has designed me a gorgeous logo and I love the little bp, hence the change to bexphoto without the capital (as much as the grammar warrior within me hates a moniker without a capital, it just looks prettier)!  Credit for my tagline: Families | Memories | Moments, must go to Becca who suggested it on Facebook.  (Thanks Becca!)

I plan to focus mainly on family lifestyle photography as it's what I've grown to love since having the twins but I do really enjoy the odd commercial session like I did for Into Mills' homeware products and Oast Farm's shop & cafe recently.  And of course, I do events like England's Medieval Festival to review on this here blog which I also love.

So, here we go.  Just as I thought I was about to get more time to spend on Olive Dragonfly, I've had it all sucked up by my new business instead!  But I am loving it!  It's so much fun and such a privilege to be invited to hang out with other families in order to capture their real lives together.  Even though it's something I never thought I'd do professionally, I am so glad I made this decision, I'm so excited about this!

You may have noticed my little ad in the sidebar and I'd absolutely love it if you'd like to follow bexphoto on Facebook or Instagram and of course, I'd be even more thrilled if you fancy booking a session!  You can email me at with any questions.

Saturday, 30 September 2017

New TV binges

Following on from my last post about my favourite TV shows, I've got some new obsessions to share.

I know I'm majorly late to the party when it comes to Game of Thrones but wow!  It was amazing to be able to watch all 6 series back to back right as series 7 started although now I kind of wish I'd waited until the next one comes out as I'm dying that I won't know what's going to happen for another 2 years!?!?  Gah!  It took me a while to really get into it and the first series is certainly very racy but I was soon captivated by the adventure and stunning cinematography.  I love the humour amongst the turmoil and of course, so many pretty faces and beautiful costumes.  And, well, the dragons!  It really is an amazing show and I'm glad I discovered it at last.

Friday, 29 September 2017

Downstairs Loo Redesign

This post contains affiliate links.

It's a while since we updated anything in our house but there are quite a few things I'd like to do to it.  As our house was pretty much liveable when we moved in, we concentrated on one major thing (ripping down a wall), one fairly major thing (designing and preparing the twins' nursery), a quick redecoration and then all the minor stuff like organising our things, an obligatory Ikea trip, framing photos...

The thing is, although it was liveable and we did redecorate the main rooms (and even those are still a work in progress with quite a few temporary features like a bookcase I hate), we didn't really sort out any of the other rooms.

I'm starting small and doing the downstairs loo first.  Mainly because Nik and I had a look around Farrow & Ball in Tunbridge Wells recently and fell in love with a wall paper design.  Rather than looking for a wall paper for a room, we found a wall paper and had to think of where we might be able to put it!  We both agreed it would look fab in our WC along one side (as we think it would be too much on all the walls in such a small space) and would really spruce up a very plain room which is used a lot by both us and visitors.  It's also Kalyan's favourite place to wash his hands.

Thursday, 21 September 2017

The Pink House - Reclaimed Wood coffee table DIY by Amy

As I mentioned in my kitchen post, we've been trying to reuse and recycle materials wherever possible.  Please excuse the rubbish photos in this post but I think they give a nice overview of the process. 

Here is the wood as it was before:

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Bexphoto Family Photography - Launching Soon!

If you read this blog you know I love photos!  I always include photos in my posts and like it or not I usually share plenty.  Although I'm trying to be more selective here these days, I still love to share lots of my own photos and I started up a new photography website to feature more of them.  I've had a photography website for years but it used to be a place to sell my landscape and nature prints and showcase a few of my galleries before I started taking photos of people.  I always used to say "I don't do people." but that all changed when I had kids of course!  Nowadays is more of a photography blog but I plan to sort it out a bit while I think about investing in another proper site.

Friday, 15 September 2017

England's Medival Festival - review

I would have never thought of going to a Medieval Festival as we're not really into battle re-enactments, etc.  Or so I thought!  We were invited along to review England's Medieval Festival and had an amazing time.  There's so much more going on than you might expect and it was perfect for a weekend with kids, the twins loved it and so did we!

There were literally dozen of things we could do with plenty of entertainment for little ones.  (I warn you now, I took photos of everything!)  We actually really enjoyed the twice daily parades and battle re-enactments at the castle with big bangs and arrows flying.

Thursday, 14 September 2017

Buxted Playpark - review

We've got a lot of great parks around us here in Uckfield and we often visit various ones but there are some I've never been to.  I thought I'd review our favourites and start exploring some new ones too. I've already written about Luxford Park when I reviewed Holly's Outside the Box clothing range (the kids loved it and it made a great backdrop), but one of the handiest for us is Buxted play park.  Right next to the doctor's surgery, it's very handy if you also need to pick up a prescription (although swings come first).

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Bright prints for the twins' bedroom gallery wall

This post contains affiliate links.  

You may remember the gallery wall I made above the twins' cots in their nursery.  I filled lots of white frames with various brightly coloured prints as well as a few of my maternity photos.

Photo by Laura Aziz {baby, picture this}

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Into The Trees Festival - Event review

After having an amazing time at Elderflower Fields, our first family festival back in May, we were thrilled to be invited along to their sister event, Into The Trees, and it didn't disappoint.  A smaller festival without camping, Into The Trees is focused on kids enjoying nature and the amazing location of Ashdown Forest.  The event in September is two days of fun at the same venue, Pippingford Park, arranged on a smaller scale and with even more focus on being in the woods and getting back to nature.  A family ticket for both days was just £22 and under 5s went free, such a bargain with so many free activities included.

Friday, 8 September 2017

My House in August - Instagram challenge

In August I took part in an Instagram challenge and I wanted to share my entries here as I really enjoyed it and I'm now doing September's version too.  It's a daily hashtag challenge in the same vein as Style Me September by Hilary which I did way back when.  This one isn't about fashion though, it's about home style.  #MyHouseInAugust had daily prompts of ideas to share and combined it with a giveaway too!

Hosted by A Little House in London and On a Wing and a Chair, the prompts can be interpreted however you like.  They gave away a neon light in August and September's prize is a stunning blanket which I'd love to win.  Here's August's list and the rest of my entries last month...

Saturday, 2 September 2017

Local Roasts - Ringles Cross Pub - Sunday Lunch Review

I've been thinking about starting a Sunday Roast review series for a while.  It's a topic I often see come up on our local Facebook group page and I find it interesting hearing people's opinions on where the best local roast can be found.  It's definitely a subjective thing so I thought a detailed series of reviews with photos and our opinions could be useful for locals (and visitors) looking for a place to spend a lazy Sunday lunchtime enjoying a good roast.  We've already sampled a few local Sunday Roasts which have been recommended to us and found varied options so depending on what you're after, there's bound to be one you'd enjoy.  

The first to feature in my new series is Ringles Cross pub who invited us to review their Sunday Roast for a feature in my Uckfield News column as they are listed in the Uckfield Directory.

Monday, 28 August 2017

Book reviews by Amy

I know, I know, I promised more house updates but you know when you’re just itching to talk about something? Well, as is often the case with me, it’s a book. Specifically it’s The Sudden Appearance of Hope by Claire North. 

Image result for sudden appearance of hope

Sunday, 27 August 2017

Jousting at England's Medieval Festival

We're having an amazing time at England's Medieval Festival although I have to admit that wasn't my  best night's sleep in the tent 😉⛺️

Anyway I only have phone photos to share so far and you may have seen some on Instagram but I wanted to share this video here as I had trouble uploading to Instagram.

It was so exhilarating to watch, I had actual goosebumps when they came cantering into the arena!

I'll be sharing photos soon once we're back home in the land of wifi and my laptop!

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Don't Let Go by Harlan Coben - Book Review by Bex

It's been months since I read a book!  Life's been so hectic lately I just haven't had the time or inclination to sit down to read but when I saw a new book by Harlan Coben (one of my favourite authors) come up on NetGalley, I decided I had to make time for Don't Let Go and was immediately sucked in as is usual with Harlan's books! 

There are twists and turns, tension and likeable characters which just made me want to keep reading. The kind of book that makes you want to go to bed early to read! I was constantly trying to think of conspiracies and work out who did what, I was suspicious of various characters, it's a great fast-paced read.
  It's out in Hardback and on Kindle on 26th September.

The floodgates have opened and I'm loving reading again so watch out for some more book reviews coming up, Amy has a few recommendations for you next week too!  AND, even more exciting news, she's sharing her kitchen transformation tomorrow!!

Sunday, 20 August 2017

Rainbow Dress from Honest Miracle - Toddler Fashion

I absolutely adore Priya's new rainbow dress!  You may have already seen me raving about it on Instagram, it's from Honest Miracle, an ethical family company with organic and environmentally friendly products.  The long-sleeved rainbow dress is made from 100% organic cotton which is lovely and soft and just £14.97, we love the bright colours.  If you like it as much as we do, the lovely Kim has given Olive Dragonfly readers a discount code for 20% off so keep reading...

Friday, 18 August 2017

Eastbourne's Hot Air Balloon Festival - review

Sadly due to continued high winds, we didn't actually see any hot air balloons at the Air Balloon Festival on the Sunday but there was still plenty of entertainment.  They had a fun fair and a few stalls, pony rides, dog show, live music, a Harvey's bar with their beautiful and ever popular Dray horses and The Brighton Kite Flyers were there displaying some of their epic kites (at least they were glad of the wind).

Wakehurst's Kew Science Festival - day two review

I already wrote about our first impressions of Kew Science Festival at Wakehurst but we also went back the following day for more educational fun.

On the Sunday, Kalyan's first thought was for the duck in the puddle we'd seen on our way out the day before.  He was so excited to see it and luckily the same duck was in the same puddle again!

Thursday, 17 August 2017

Ringmer Steam & Country Show - review

A couple of weeks ago we planned to go to Eastbourne's Hot Air Balloon Festival but we'd heard due to high winds the balloons probably wouldn't be flying so we decided to check out the Ringmer Steam & Country Show instead.  We thought Kalyan would enjoy seeing all the steam engines and tractors and we weren't wrong!  There were loads of engines to see and the kids loved watching them all moving and chugging, especially the big steam rollers driving around every so often.  Kalyan found a row of tractors and made sure to touch every one and the vintage big red bus was super exciting, they ran right across the field for that one!

Beachy Head

After Eastbourne's Hot Air Balloon Festival a couple of weeks ago, we decided to try a local place for a Sunday Roast.  A friend recommended The Ship Inn in Meads and our review will be featuring soon as the first in my Sunday Lunch review series.  When we got to Meads we noticed signs for Beachy Head very close by so after lunch we drove up there for a walk.

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Thai Terre Uckfield - review

Uckfield is buzzing with news of a Thai restaurant opening in the High Street.  Thai Terre already has a restaurant in Eastbourne but we heard they were coming to Uckfield in the recently closed down Pepper Dining.  People have been waiting for weeks for news of its opening and we were excited at the thought of more variety in Uckfield's food scene too.  Tonight was opening night and we booked a table, it was perfect timing since the twins are enjoying a rare sleepover at their grandparents!

As soon as we arrived at 7:45pm, we noticed the place was busy but there were still tables free.  We went along with open minds, expecting there may be a few teething problems on the first night and we may have a wait for food so we were relieved it wasn't completely full and hoped all would go well.  It did, we loved the food and the staff were very friendly.

Saturday, 12 August 2017

Firle Vintage Fair - Review

We went along to explore Firle Vintage Fair at Firle Place today.  It was a flying visit as we're now in London for a family get together but we had a great time and I wanted to share a few photos this evening in case anyone is thinking about whether to go along tomorrow.

The venue is stunning with the big manor house and epic grounds providing the backdrop to so many stands selling beautiful and varied vintage or vintage style goods.

Raystede Centre for Animal Welfare review - Adventures with Toddlers

On Thursday we met up with friends for a play date at Raystede near Halland.  If you don't know it, Raystede is an animal rescue centre with animals ranging from bunnies to horses and it's a lovely place to visit with the kids.  Entry is free but you can make a donation or become a sponsor to give continued help to one specific animal section if you wish or become a Friend of Raystede for just £3/month and as well as helping the animals you also get perks like Friends Only events and discounts.  It's good to have some free activities available in the holidays as it all adds up with various trips out but even if you can't afford to make a big donation, I'm sure everything helps and if you visit the cafe, you're also helping to support the centre.

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Toothy Tips - Brushing Toddlers' Teeth

One of the requests thrown in by a reader in my feedback survey was regarding teeth.  This astute reader who remained anonymous had picked up on my occasional alludings to my profession and commented "Would love a feature on children and teeth - tips, funny stuff, how to tell you're at a good dentist (my experience has been dreadful with my little one), what you should do, products to use - I think you work in dentistry?! ??"

Sunday, 6 August 2017

Survey results - a personal post ;)

Thank you SO much to everyone who's taken my survey so far!  I wasn't sure how many people would actually take the time to do it but I have found it so interesting and definitely helpful, I'm so grateful.  (It's still open so if you fancy adding your tuppence worth, here's the link!)

The information I've received so far has been along the lines I expected but there have been some surprising and lovely comments.  There's only been one slight negative so far and that was something I had expected might be an issue anyway (hence including it in the ticky boxes to make it easy for people to confirm any thoughts), the fact I use too many photos and some posts are too long as a result.  Something I've been trying to work on as I'm my own worst editor!  Clare has helped me with that along with my general photography skills which I've also been working on recently over at Bexphoto.  I'm hoping it will make the blog look even better too as I think I am taking better photos now and thinking more about what I choose to include.  Downloading BlogStomp has certainly helped in being more strict on which photos to use and presenting them better but I will continue to try being stricter and keep more photos for albums on the Olive Dragonfly Facebook Page instead.  So if you are a fan of lots of photos, I suggest liking the page ;)

Before and after coffee faces (it was hot milk not coffee don't worry!)

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