Student Essentials: Top 5 Apps to Simplify Life

The holiday decorations are packed away and Father Christmas has bid his farewell – it is officially January and we are back to the throws of regular life! For students, this means quickly getting out of holiday mode and back into the daily grind of long lectures, assignments and tight deadlines. When time is of the essence during this crucial time, smartphone apps are a saving grace in creating a simplified life. For all of you diligent learners, here are the top 5 smartphone apps that are sure to please every aspect of student life:

Health-Focused? MyFitnessPal

 

When chocolates, Christmas pudding and turkey have been the essence of your meals for the past two weeks, you may be one of the many looking to trim up a bit for the new year. If you are looking to track calories, save the nutritional info of your favourite meals and log fitness milestones, MyFitnessPal has you covered. This all-in-one app (which has the option to grab information from other fitness apps you may have) has an easy to use interface and keeps you accountable in every area of your health. The app is free and is one of the top rated calorie-counting apps available. Cheers to health!

Lacking Productivity? Wunderlist

I am the worlds best procrastinator, something that I’m going to battle head on this year! For people like me though, thankfully, the Wunderlist app exists to help keep on top of things, and would absolutely compliment the lifestyle of any busy student. More than just a basic calendar, Wunderlist is the organisational mastermind of lists, tasks, appointments, folders and notes. Team projects? Assign and share tasks with classmates to keep on top of things. This app is a breeze to sync between all of your devices, so you don’t have to worry about forgetting appointments. Wunderlist is guaranteed to improve your productivity and organisation in an easy to use app.

Starving? Hungry House

Student life doesn’t have to solely consist of microwave meals and stale Krispy Kreme doughnuts when you are in a time pinch. If you are looking for a hot meal but can’t peel your eyes away from your books long enough to cook, Hungry House is here to save the day. Decide what you are craving (Indian? Chinese? Italian?), scroll through loads of local restaurants, pick your meal, and bingo – your food will be delivered right to your place in no time. Hungry House remembers your favourite meals to make re-ordering a breeze, and offers live updates on your food’s journey from restaurant to your table.

Craving Knowledge? Duolingo

If your Spanish class is driving you up the wall with boredom, perhaps Duolingo will add a bit of zest back into learning another language. Duolingo turns learning into a colourful and fun experience fit for all ages. The app uses a game interface with short learning blocks to engage the user, and allows for your competitive side to come alive by inviting your friends to race through tests and challenges. One of the top Apple Apps of the Year, the best part of this little nugget of knowledge is that it is free to download!

In a Pinch? Scanner Pro

It happens – you forgot to scan your essay to your professor, and the library is now closed. Before resorting to a meltdown involving tears and perhaps a strong drink, download Scanner Pro to get your file uploaded in a pinch. Although many apps offer a free scanning feature, Scanner Pro offers incomparable quality of high resolution PDFs by auto-detecting borders and enhancing words and images for printout quality.

So whether you’re back to Uni for the Spring term or excitedly organising your place to start this September, check out these great Apps to make student life that little bit easier!

*Collaborative post

#MySundayPhoto – 15/01/17

IMG_9652

 

My little H lost his front tooth this week!

He is a twin and they are my last children out of four so I do baby them if I’m being honest. Losing this tooth is another sign that they are growing up and I hate it! I don’t want them to lose their baby teeth…. I wish I could keep them little for a bit longer!

They are seven and a half now so relatively old to be losing their front teeth. I think they’ve done well to hold on to them as long as they have! O hasn’t lost any of his front teeth yet although being twins there seems to be a wobbly tooth every other week at the moment! The tooth fairy is being kept very busy here ;)

 

 

Photalife

Why taking a blogging break is good for you!

I guess it hasn’t gone unnoticed if you read my blog that I haven’t posted in a while. It wasn’t a conscious decision really, in that I didn’t plan it as such, I just didn’t feel motivated.

So I took a blogging break.

I was so busy leading up to Christmas and had a lot of other things going on. I don’t ever want this blog to be a chore and even though I have so many things I want to say here and many a tale to tell, I want to share them when I have time to properly write and not push any old rubbish out just for the sake of it. Something I think many bloggers end up falling into the trap of doing.

Mummy Endeavours was only ever supposed to be a hobby. Something to stimulate my brain I suppose, and give me a creative outlet when my twins were toddlers. I could never have forseen back then, three and a half years ago, how many opportunities it was going to bring my way and how busy it would make me! Being approached by brands to review products, even holidays and attend amazing events has been absolutely fantastic and for which I am very grateful. I love writing about the wonderful things we have been lucky enough to do, but lately I have felt like I’m not really writing about the things I set out to write about, and was feeling uninspired.

blogging break

Over the Christmas period I just let it all take a back seat. I think I needed the break. To fully switch off.

Has it done my blog any harm? Well, no. My stats have pretty much stayed the same, although any longer (it’s been just over a month) and maybe they would’ve taken a nosedive. In hindsight it’s probably advisable to have a few posts scheduled to go out during a break, which I didn’t do! My inbox is still busy too so….. nothing has been effected or changed at all!

Having time out has given me moments to reflect about what I want out of my blog. When you are constantly thinking about that next post, promoting it like crazy, checking emails every five minutes, there’s never any time to truly reflect or plan properly. You may find that your creative juices stop flowing. Writers block is very common. A blogging break can bring new inspiration and vision.

It’s also enabled me to get stuck into other non blogging related tasks that needed to be done. Stepping away for a longer period (than just for say, the weekend) means you can start some other projects that you’ve wanted to do for a while or simply clear those chores around the house! If you work too as I do, as well as having four children, there’s never enough hours in the day!

A blogging break can help you get organised and do all that admin that has desperately needed doing. Blogging is incredibly time consuming. It’s not just the planning and writing of posts, there’s the promoting, the social media, the reading and commenting of other blogs etc etc….. it can all get a bit much, however much we love it! All those bits and bobs that you know need doing but you can’t get round to can niggle away at you, causing extreme stress or burnout, which is definitely not good for your mental health.

You can spend more time with the family and sit on the sofa all night watching TV without feeling guilty that you’ve GOT to get that post written up!

The combination of getting tons of stuff done and resting/switching off from your blog can have a huge positive impact, creating the time to fully inspire you with lots of new ideas. Then you can come back to your blog feeling refreshed and raring to go.

It’s a WIN WIN!

So, if you’re thinking of taking a blogging break for whatever reason, and let’s face it, there’s a million and one reasons why you might need some time off, then just DO IT!

It’s OK.

If you’re uncomfortable with the idea of leaving your blog completely, there are a few things you can do to tide you over……

Run a competition or two – I had one running and this can help keep those stats up and give you something current to promote (if you’re still using a bit of social media here and there whilst on your break).

Schedule some posts - If you’re not happy with leaving a big space as I did, schedule some posts or revisit some of your older posts and give them an up to date tweak then re-schedule to go out. Or arrange a guest post.

Stay on social media – Not completely necessary of course, but keeping your toes dipped into at least one social media platform will keep you visible. And you may want to keep up to date anyway with your blogging friends. I stayed active primarily on Instagram because it’s the one I really enjoy at the moment and it meant I was still in the loop! I’m also in many groups on FB which I looked at occasionally.

Put the ‘be back soon’ post up – I didn’t do this because taking the break wasn’t planned and it’s tricky, because if people know you’re not going to be posting they won’t drop by and this could affect stats. But if you post frequently and you have nothing scheduled, it might feel better for you if your readers are aware of what is going on, especially if you’re planning a very long break.

The most important thing is not to panic.

Don’t worry that your blog is going to go off the radar and everyone will forget who you are and opportunities will dry up. They won’t. Many successful bloggers take long breaks and it hasn’t affected their popularity/ranking and your readers will understand.

Don’t feel bad about it. Allow yourself this time. Everyone needs a holiday from work don’t they?

Personally, although a little bit scary, I’m glad I’ve had some time away. It’s been difficult knowing what to say in this first post back, but now that I’ve taken the plunge and written this (hopefully helpful) post to break my blogging hiatus, I feel extremely motivated to get back into the swing of things and take my blog in 2017 to where I want it to be!

Stick Man at the Theatre

This afternoon we headed into London to see a live show of one of the kids’ favourite stories – Stick Man.

stick man live

I think if you have children, the likelihood of you having read this book to them at some point is probably very high. It’s one of those brilliantly written stories that as a parent, you don’t mind reading over and over again.

Penned by the amazing Julia Donaldson and illustrated by Axel Scheffler (creators of The Gruffalo), The Stick Man is a lovely story about, you guessed it… a Stick! Stick Man lives in the family tree with his wife… his ‘Lady Love’ and their ‘Stick Children 3′. One day Stick Man goes out for a run but his day goes from bad to worse when he finds himself in all manner of silly yet dangerous situations and becomes lost! He’s chased by a dog, grabbed by an excitable little girl and thrown around, used as a flag and a nest before ending up in someone’s fire! Will he escape in time and manage to get back to his Lady Love and the family tree?

stick man leicester square

On arriving at the theatre we literally couldn’t wait to get inside! We’ve seen a number of productions at the Leicester Square Theatre, which is tucked away, almost hidden, down a little side road, and it’s a lovely, intimate auditorium. No matter where you sit, you never feel too far from the stage! It’s perfect for children.

There was an abundance of booster seats for little ones, the stage setting looked intriguing and the auditorium was full.

stick man theatre

I had wondered how Scamp Theatre were going to bring the brilliant Stick Man and all the characters to life. It’s a relatively short book with only a few sentences on each page so I was intrigued to find out how this would transfer to an hour long show! Would it be anywhere near as good as the book?

Well let me tell you… it was everything we could’ve hoped for and more.

An incredibly clever, artistic production and superb lively performances by just THREE actors, who took on all the characters from the story. Two men and one woman. They were all dressed in normal clothes but added subtle props and used their incredible acting talents to bring the whole thing to life and completely draw you in from the start. One of the actors used instruments too to help tell the story. The actor who played Stick Man held a prop that looked like Stick Man, but used his own self to act out the role! It really WORKED!

stickman_0145_photo-by-steve-ullathorne

I have to say that the longer the show went on, the more brilliant it got. It kept to the books’ storyline completely and used all the wonderful poetry throughout. The songs were simple but ever so catchy. The actors were animated and hilarious.

What made the show even more special was the inclusion of the audience! From the dog chasing Stick Man… both actors crawling through the isles of the auditorium. The ‘Dog’ even came down our row of seats, stopping at various children to give them a little squeeze… all three of mine were delighted by this! To the big beach ball that we were encouraged to catch and throw around the audience to each other! Again, the kids (and big kids!) loved this and it brought a real sense of fun and togetherness for us all. The energy it created was fantastic!

Such a big, warm, happy, fun part of the show! Love, love LOVED it!

Another scene which my twins enjoyed was with the Swan… where Stick Man is taken to be used as part of her nest! The swan was just a simple puppet on the arm of one of the actors but it’s cheeky character tickled my twins so much! They laughed their heads off and it was an absolute joy for me to witness!

stick man live theatre

‘The Stick Man is Cold’ song was a favourite of mine!

But what I loved most was that the kids in the audience were all having the most amazing time. They were calling out (a little) and joining in. They were leaning forward out of their seats trying to be as involved as possible! One little boy a few seats down from us was calling ‘Stick Man’ really loudly at one point, shouting ‘Can you hear me?’ – We were in hysterics at this and during any other show it probably would’ve been frowned upon. Not here! The actors included it in the story!

The stage lighting and twinkling lights in the set behind the actors created a very magical scene for Santa’s sleigh ride towards the end of the show. The Christmassy feel makes this a perfect show to see at this time of year, and actually, Scamp Theatre productions have been performing Stick Man in the Leicester Square theatre for a number of years now. It’s incredibly popular and I can see why!

I cannot recommend this show highly enough. It blew me away how utterly creative and fun it was. We were all completely bowled over. My children thoroughly enjoyed themselves and said they loved it just as much as the book (and a bit more!)

If you have the chance you simply MUST go and see it. It’s on now until 8th January and you can book tickets here. If you don’t get around to watching it this year, be sure to check back next year and book your tickets nice and early as it usually opens in November!

Disclaimer: We were given complimentary tickets for the show in exchange for an honest review. All words and opinions my own. 

Ballerina – Review and Giveaway

ballerina movie review

A while ago we went to a special screening of new animated movie Ballerina!

To be honest, I hadn’t heard of it before the invite arrived. There hasn’t been much hype surrounding it and even now with the movie due to be released nationwide in a few weeks time, there still isn’t much in the way of a big media push. Maybe it will start soon.

But in the mean time, I’d like to take this opportunity to tell you that the film is BRILLIANT!

I took my daughter along as she loves ballet, as do I, so I knew the pair of us would probably love it!

It’s a heartwarming story about a young, poor French girl called Felicie who lives in an orphanage. She dreams of becoming a ballerina and devises a plan to escape with her good friend from the orphanage, Victor! They head to Paris where Felicie tries to find the world famous ballet school that she has always wanted to go, and Victor tries his hand at being an inventor… something HE has always dreamed of!

Cue lots of obstacles in her way and the realisation that achieving her dream won’t be as straightforward as she thought, Felicie must strive as hard as she can to win a place at the ballet school.

Ballerina film review

ballerina film review

ballerina

ballerina

Lots of colourful characters throughout, some kind, some downright nasty, which gives the movie lots of light and shade. I liked the underlining message that it sends children that you shouldn’t give up on your dreams. It shows that through sheer determination and a strong belief in yourself, even when it looks as though there is no hope…. things will start to go your way.

The animation is beautiful. I loved the Paris scenery set in 1879! There were laugh out loud moments and I think I actually shed a little tear too in one scene!

My daughter absolutely loved this film! We would thoroughly recommend, especially if you have a budding little ballerina in your house. Little girls are going to go crazy over it! But it’s a great film for all the family too!

Ballerina is out on 19th December so do try and make it. Have a little watch of the trailer here….

If you want to win some of this gorgeous merchandise that accompanies the film…

ballerina competition merchandise

Enter my competition using the Gleam widget below which gives your more ways to win!

Mummy Endeavours Win Ballerina Merchandise

#MySundayPhoto 04/12/16

Christmas tree 2016

Our Christmas tree is UP!

We’ve gone fake again this year and have pulled out our old tree. It’s a beautiful one we bought a couple of years ago but didn’t use it last year as we had a real one.

I do actually prefer a real Christmas Tree… it just seems more… I don’t know.. Christmassy! Think it’s that gorgeous smell that fills the room! We used to have a real tree every single year. However, I’m not sure what we do wrong but no matter which tree we buy (and it’s not as if we scrimp, we buy a good one) but it always ends up incredibly droopy by Christmas Day and looks a mess. I think our house might just be too warm. Our living room is always hot and cosy so maybe the tree doesn’t like it. I’ve no idea.

So we’re going with this one this year! It’s so pretty and I love our decorations. I let the kids put them on and we’ve gone with a less is more approach this year. Just putting our favourite ones on! Love this little Owl.. he has a hedgehog friend somewhere, and the lovely heart ornament above it!

Getting excited now for Christmas x

Photalife

My Cheap and Cheerful Skincare Faves

I’m a great believer in skincare that doesn’t cost the earth.

I mean, we all KNOW there’s no miracle anti-ageing skin cream out there (at the moment) so as long as a product has the basic ingredients in and makes my skin feel good, then that’s good enough for me!

Superdrug has been my go to store for browsing skincare. There’s always some kind of offers on at least one of the ranges, and their own brands are great too!

So what am I using right now?

Well, I do use good old soap and water sometimes. But it has to be Dove as I think this is the least drying. It’s deliciously lovely and creamy.

Dove Soap

I have dry skin and I’m a little old fashioned in that I like to Cleanse, Tone and Moisturize. Using a cleansing cream makes my skin feel so much more hydrated than soap. I believe that cleanser has to do it’s job, which is to remove make-up or dirt well, but I want it to feel rich. I don’t want ingredients that are too harsh.. perfumes, for example. Not necessary! I usually look for deals on Cleansers as I’m not too fussed on the brand as long as it’s gentle. I’ve been using this Nivea one for a while now which is perfect. I like to slap it on my face generously and leave it for a minute or two to really sink in as my skin is always so thirsty, then remove the rest with cotton wool pads. I repeat until fully clean.

nivea cleanser

For the Toner part, I don’t user Toner! I mean… what even is that? Does it still exist? It’s Micellar Water all the way for me these days! It’s pretty amazing. If you haven’t yet experienced the wonder of Micellar Water yet, then let me enlighten you. It looks and feels like toner but acts like a cleanser, in that it removes all traces of make-up and dirt. There really is no need to cleanse anymore. In fact, you could ditch the cleanser for good! If I’m in a hurry or I’m tired, I will just use Micellar water without cleansing. Especially in the mornings. But I still like to feel that extra bit of moisture that the cleansing cream gives me. It’s like a little treat so I’m not ready to give it up just yet! But the Micellar Water has revolutionized the daily skincare routine now for women everywhere and is a definite must have. My favourite brand is Simple. Soak a cotton wool pad and swipe over the face until clean.

simple miceller water

Now that I’m getting older (coughs – in my forties!) I have started using additional products. I like this Vitamin E Serum from Superdrug. It’s their own brand and only costs £3.99. Vitamin E is one of the best ingredients for great skin and this one also has a multivitamin complex too. Superdrug has a huge selection of products in it’s Vitamin E range which are well worth a look if you’re on a budget! Serums seem to be the new wonder product of recent years as they’re absorbed into the skin better than creams. I use this under my moisturiser.

vitamin E serum superdrug

For Moisturiser, I tend to swap around regularly and buy different brands. I don’t know whether this is the right thing to do for my skin but I enjoy trying new products and there are so many out there! If I’m feeling particularly frivolous I’ll spend a bit more but usually never more than £25. Sometimes I go for the very cheap and cheerful at around £5.

Another Superdrug’s own brand I like is the Optimum range. I’ve bought the Anti-Ageing Day Cream a few times and love it. It priced at around £12.99 but there’s often a deal on to nab it at half price! It’s aimed at women aged 35+ and has ingredients that fights wrinkes, smoothes and firms. It also contains the all important SPF. Optimum also do a Grape Overnight Peel which I want to try. It’s had some great reviews.

Optimum skincare superdrug

I recently bought this Olay 2in1 Hydration and Radiant Glow which I apply over the top of the moisturiser. It gives a nice sheen and extra SPF protection. I wouldn’t use it alone as it’s not hydrating enough for me. It is a lovely product though.

olay

At night I’ve been swapping between two products recently that I love. First of all, another Superdrugs’ own brand… B. This whole brand is great because it’s divided up into age groups (4 Phases) so you can find a product suited to your skin type by age. I love this night cream and it’s my absolute favourite product right now. It’s in Phase 2 and it’s the Radiant Overnight Mask. It has a very weird texture, almost like jelly and quite sticky. I have to pat it on then let it soak in for a minute before I go to bed and it feels a little weird on my skin, but in the morning… wow my dry skin is so beautifully soft and feels so silky and hydrated.

radiant overnight mask

Another brand I’ve recently discovered is Nip & Fab. I’m using their Dragons Blood Fix Plumping Mask right now. It’s a gel consistency that you leave on for 10 mins and wash off, or leave on overnight. It contains hyaluronic acid which seems to be the super ingredient of the moment as it has incredibly hydrating effects.

nip & fab

For body cream I’m a huge fan of The Body Shop Body Butter. It’s on the pricey side at around £14 per tub but it’s gorgeous and again, there’s always offers on in store so pop in regularly to find the bargains! I love the different scents but my most recent favourite is the Passion Fruit Body Butter. It smells heavenly divine. I loved this so much and kept going back to it but unfortunately it’s just been discontinued (Boooo!)…. but you CAN still pick it up on Amazon for the time being… Yay!

body shop body butter

So those are my cheaper faves right now. I have splashed the cash occasionally on products so I’ll be back to share my opinions on those, as well as more cheap and cheerful finds as I try them! What are you skin faves?

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