The Little Lilypad is a lifestyle blog mostly written by a mum to two beautiful, cheeky and entertaining daughters. It is sometimes written by the Man on the Pad, when he is not relaxing in one of our best recliners, or our baby bloggers and occasionally we accept guest posts. There is frequently talk of shoes and clothing (we love fashion and savvy shopping), chocolate (who doesn't love chocolate) education and swimming (we love this too). It is hopefully helpful, sometimes funny and always honest.
A little while back, we had great fun with the L.O.L Surprise Doll, Series 1 so a small person in our house was extremely excited when it was announced that Series 2 was being launched. Thinking that she is now a YouTube sensation (don't ask), she wanted to do an unboxing video ..... complete with her own American accent and requests for subscribers!
There are over 45 dolls to collect in Series 2, and each one has seven layers of new surprises inside: a secret message sticker; a sticker sheet; a water bottle charm; a pair of shoes; an outfit; an accessory and the doll herself. The L.O.L. doll is obviously the best layer of surprise! Dress her in all of the accessories you've revealed. Each character is completely different. If you're lucky, you unboxed one of the rare dolls .... our little Youtuber thought she had a rare one and you can hear the anticipation in her voice!
There are so many layers to get through, here is a snapshot of another one that we have opened, (if you don't want to sit through 13 mins of the video)
Each layer has a new surprise for you ....
There are cute little blind bags to thrill and build the excitement.
And eventually you get inside .....
And you find the cutest little L.O.L doll inside!
L.O.L Surprise! are the biggest collectable craze in the UK right now, they are the ultimate unboxing toy is combined with the anticipation of surprise. Perfect as a treat or a Christmas stocking filler.
It already feels as though summer is over. We can feel the crisp chill creeping in to the morning air, and the nights are definitely that bit darker.
Sure, we still, officially, have a few days left of the summer season, but I definitely won’t be wistfully holding onto it, begging it to stick around for that big longer. Roll on autumn, I say.
So long, the Great British Disappointment
To me summer is always a bit of a disappointment. We put together all these grand plans for what we’ll do with the kids when the sun shines and the skies are blue. But the fact of the matter is, our Great British Summer rarely delivers.
We have the odd few days of beaming, unbearable heat… and then we’re back to downpours and rained-off picnics. Your plans are in the gutter, along with the 100 mm of rainfall that so gladly graced your summer month.
On the other hand, as summer comes to a close, we approach autumn. The season that doesn’t disappoint. We don’t expect glorious weather, we want candlelit evenings, autumnal leaf fall, and brand new wellies. And guess what, every year, without fail, we get it.
This is, of course, along with some of the best festive dates of the year. Autumn is Halloween, Bonfire Night, and Advent. Yes, autumn even allows you to enjoy the Christmas build up without the actual pressure of entertaining over Christmas. As soon as winter kicks in on 21 December, that relaxed autumn ambience is well and truly out of the window.
So, with all that in mind, I’m here to say autumn is awesome. Let’s embrace the change in season. Look, here’s a listicle. Let’s round it up – ten reasons why.
10 reasons why autumn is the very best of the seasons
Your autumn wardrobe
Oh my goodness! Knitwear, gorgeous coats, scarves and the ability to layer soft fabrics to keep you wrapped up warm, what is not to love about an autumn wardrobe. It is also a great excuse to go shopping, especially if you had a clear out in the spring and in my case “have nothing to wear”, you can sit comfortably on your sofa and browse through online shopping sites such as ESPRIT, ASOS or Zara to find quirky, on trend, gorgeous new pieces for your wardrobe.
Everyone always tells me that I need to add more bright colours to my wardrobe but autumn is a chance to celebrate those muted warm tones. Here are some of the things I am coveting right now.
Let’s be honest, can a girl ever have enough black jumpers??
By acceptable weather, I mean expected weather. Rain is all well and good, when you want it. In fact, in the autumn darkness, the pavement even gleams in the light of the lampposts. Yes. In autumn, rain is poetic. In summer, it’s merely an annoyance. All hail that crisp morning air as well. Oh, the relief after the summer humidity.
Pumpkin, and treacle, and parkin, oh my! Flapjacks, toffee apples, chocolate apples, plums, soups, stews, dumplings, crumbles, hot chocolate, pears… oh, the food.
Pumpkin Spice Latte
OK, so we did food. But we all know pumpkin spice latte deserves to stand independently.
Autumn is even so kind as to give us an extra hour in bed. As soon as we’ve settled into the season, enjoying pumpkin spice lattes and cosy roll-neck knitwear, it treats us yet again. No, stay in bed. Have a lie in. Autumn has got this. Boom… Daylight Saving Time ends. What a gem autumn is.
Halloween and Bonfire Night
Stress-free festivities for the whole family. Unlike mass summer barbies and huge Christmas dinners, Halloween and bonfire night are laidback autumn events. The kids are happy with a Wilkos dress-up. Heck, they’d be happy as a bin bag ghost, so long as they can knock-on, Trick or Treating. What’s more, there’s so many organised bonfires nowadays, you no longer need to fear for your life garden on Guy Fawkes Night.
Autumn leaves and conkers
I don’t know if you have a dog, but even if you don’t, there’s nothing like walking through the woodlands during October and November. Falling leaves, the array of autumnal colours, conkers scattered all around. It’s beautiful. It truly is. And if you need reassurance, Insta loves autumn too.
Cosy evenings in
Forget fanning yourself down with the windows wide open. Crack open the cocoa, light your scented candles, and cosy up with your favourite blanket. At 5pm.
On the topic of cosy nights in… there’s so much on the box. Autumn greets us with Bake Off, swiftly followed by The Apprentice, Strictly, the X Factor. All the best dramas save themselves for the long nights, as well. Get on my tele!
Christmas is coming! And autumn allows you to enjoy it. All the planning, all the prep, all the Christmas music. The parties, the present-buying, the Santa visits. The excitement. It’s all looking so good; the anticipation is the best bit. Pre-winter everyone is a walking Will Ferrell in Elf. As soon as winter hits, the pressure is on to don your pinny and be the hostess with the mostest. Then you’re done. Done, and hopefully not in too much post-xmas debt. Fingers crossed.
Italy is the must-see country that sits at the top of most bucket-lists. The combination of romance, stunning architecture and delicious food is irresistible.
I have wanted to go to one of the many gorgeous Italian locations for years and I might add it to my list of things to do before I am 40, so if you have been saving up for a break away this year, Italy could tick all of your boxes. It is a safe, family-friendly destination if you want to take the kids and a romantic getaway if you decide to have a break away without them. Here are 5 gorgeous Italian destinations that you simply can’t resist.
Rome is the glorious capital of both modern Italy and the ancient Roman Empire so you get to see two cities in one. There are so many sights to see in Rome, it is important to get organised before you go to make the most of your time there. European Tours are the easiest way to make sure that you are not missing anything. Your itinerary will be planned perfectly to ensure that you get to experience both the major sights and hidden gems. You get your own tour guide so you can ask whatever questions you like and learn as much as you can from the experience. Obviously, you cannot miss the Colosseum and the St. Peter Basilique in the Vatican but you will also love the Spanish steps of Piazza di Spagna.
Florence is the classic Renaissance city, packed with charming elegance, architecture, art, and culture. It is hard to pick out the most beautiful aspects of Florence because it is all stunning but the Piazza del Duomo and Piazza della Signoria are both places where you can view the highlights of Florentin architecture. They were once the political and religious centres of this historic city and give an insight into the Florence of the past. If art is what you are seeking, you need to head straight to the Uffizi Gallery where you can find the most famous paintings by Leonardo and Raphael. For a taste of modern Italy and an injection of Italian culture, book a performance at the new opera house in Florence for an evening that you won’t forget.
Stunning Cinque Terre
Translated this means the ‘Five Lands’ and it is a set of five linked villages which are located on a cliff on the Italian Riviera. They are an impressive sight. It is not surprising that this is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and attracts thousands of tourists every year who come to see that colourful houses and fortified towers. You can view the houses from the sea or there is a panoramic hiking trail called the Sentiero Azzuro (light blue trail) which connects the five villages. However, be warned, it ends with a climb up 368 steps and so is not suitable for very young children or those with mobility problems.
There is nowhere quite like Venice anywhere else in the world. It is built on a lagoon and transport is via a series of canals. There no roads or cars. It’s packed with history and art and is simply the most romantic place on earth. It is best to visit out of season when it is cooler, less busy and you get to avoid all of the cruise ships that visit in the height of summer. On the other hand, in the winter it can be chilly and covered in sea mist so you will miss the beauty of the city. Early Spring is probably the best option. Don’t miss a ride in a traditional gondola but be prepared to pay a high price for it!
Gorgeous Amalfi Coast and Capri
Here you can combine relaxation with some sight-seeing. The area is steeped in culture and nature and you are never far from the breath-taking rocky coast. The first villas here date back to Roman times and there have been settlers here ever since leaving a rich tapestry of history and architecture. At one point is was one of the four Marine Republics ruling Italy. The three hotspots for tourists are the unmistakable Cathedral of Amalfi, Ravello and Postiano. Then you can head out to the wonderful island of Capris. Dubbed the ‘Garden of Eden’ this island is incredibly popular with tourists and can get very busy. It was once home to an emperor and a monastery so there is plenty of history to discover. The best view is from the north of the island from which you can spot Vesuvius in all her glory!
Have you ever been and is there anywhere you would recommend as a must see part of Italy?
People who do not have children think it is easy. Before we had children, I envisioned being dressed in a flowing white gown, rocking a perfect, rosy-cheeked baby as she slept soundly in my arms (or something along those lines anyway).
This fantasy was intact for about 20 minutes after I became a mum. Soon I realized the flowing white gown was impractle and gave it up for t-shirts that could easily double for a burp cloth and sometimes a tissue.
The rosy-cheeked little bundle of joy could break the sound barrier when teething, and the rocking chair was exchanged for a battery operated swing that you hope keeps the baby quiet long enough for mum to grab a shower at least every couple of days.
Now that I am an experienced parent, I have learned the meaning of the word multitasking. I will share a couple of ideas with you.
Birthday parties, sleepovers, and holidays are not always easy to manage. But I have learned the easy way to handle a celebration is to set up a candy buffet. This takes the place of snacks and pastries. You simply need a table, table covering, clear vases or jars, and a theme. You order your candy based on your color scheme from an online supplier like Sweet Services.
This makes a beautiful setting for any celebration. And everything is reusable. For your next celebration, you simply change the theme and colours of the candy. The candy is shipped directly to you just in time and there is little set up. Perfect for busy mums with little time to spare!
Keeping your child active
There is nothing more important to you than the health of your child. This means you watch what they eat and you give them planned activities that keep them moving.
Having been a dancer growing up, I love the idea of dance class. This is great exercise and it gets the kids out of the house for a while.
To make the most of your child’s dance class experience, be sure to provide them with proper dance clothes. This is as much a mental exercise as a physical one. It signals your child to know it is time to get busy, and they look really cool at the same time.
Balancing home repairs
Being a family that includes children puts a strain on the household. Though we may want to live in a perfectly clean, well maintained and modern home, achieving that goal is not always easy. Put major remodeling jobs on hold until the children are old enough to be expected to take care of their space. Until that time, repair that which is broken as needed and keep things as clean as you can and hope for the best.
One way to keep your property value is to keep the basics up to date. It is safe to do smaller remodeling jobs such as replacing floors, updating cabinets, and replacing the sinks with modern sinks and vessels. These type of repairs allow you to maintain a better standard of home and protect your resale value.
It is not easy being a mum, but no matter how exhausted we are, we know that it is a job worth every effort. The key is to keep your sense of humor and roll with it. Soon enough, there will come a time when the kids are out creating their own world. Until that time. Enjoy every moment with your kids. That is all that matters.