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Monday, 30 April 2012

Sudocrem Sunscreen Mousse

Sudocrem Now Available as a Sunscreen Mousse

I have always been a fan of Sudocrem.  From nappy rash to grazed knees to spots, Sudocrem has been there to soothe and heal our skin problems.  It is reassuring to know that there is now a Sudocrem Sunscreen Mousse available to further protect my family's skin.


The SPF50 mousse has been specially formulated to protect delicate young skin from exposure to the sun.  It is hypo-allergenic and free from a lot of the nasties found in other brands of sun protection.  It is also not tested on animals and uses a can made from 90% recycled aluminium, showing a responsibility to the environment.  So far so good!

The mousse itself is very easy to apply to skin and leaves it feeling smooth with no sticky residue.  The smell isn't very pleasant, but as there are no artificial perfumes added you would expect this, and actually regard it as a benefit!  Freddy thought the mousse was a lot of fun so was very happy to have some rubbed onto his arms to try it out.  Now all we need is some sunshine!!

Here is a list of the advantages of this revolutionary kids' sun protection:


  • Using Proderm Technology®, designed for young children and babies
  • Hypoallergenic, paraben/preservative/perfume/additive free
  • Four-star UVA protection
  • Easy and quick to apply, even to impatient little ones
  • Leaves skin feeling soft and smooth
  • More effective than many existing cosmetic sunscreens
  • Absorbed into the skin to give long-lasting protection from UVA and UVB radiation
  • Broad spectrum UVA and UVB protection
  • Also protects against irritation from salt, chlorine, sand and wind burn
  • Rapidly absorbed and does not leave a greasy residue on the skin
  • More resistant to water and towel-drying than conventional sunscreens
  • Does not block the pores of the skin, allowing it to breath naturally
The Sudocrem Sunscreen Mousse is available to buy at Boots both online and in store priced at £15 RRP.  For more information visit www.sudocremmousse.co.uk.

Sunday, 29 April 2012

Friday, 27 April 2012

What's New at Asda?

Make-Up, Father's Day and the Diamond Jubilee at Asda

Spend or Splurge on Make-Up?

Asda have launched their new range of cosmetics in this season's hottest colours in their George Make-Up range.  They are bang on trend, embracing this season's looks just like the top brands such as Chanel or Benefit. George make-up however is a fraction of the price.  So if you want to look good and save cash, check out this cut-price range.

George, make-up, eyeshadow, nail varnish

We sampled:

Velvet Eye Palette in Rainforest £4.50
Velvet Eye Shadow Single in Minx and Storm £2.50 each
Quick Dry Nail polish in Giggle and Gnome £1.75 each

nail varnish, George, nail polish

This range is ideal for everyday wear for anyone who doesn't want to blow their housekeeping budget on make-up.  The colours are vibrant and the packaging is simple but stylish.  The nail varnish is great for girls who want a range of fun colours, or metallic and glitter effect shades to brighten up their look this summer. 

Father's Day Gifts

Father's Day is on June 17th this year and if the kids want to treat dad without spending too much of their pocket money, then Asda has a range of Super Dad products that are fun and very reasonable, starting at just £1.

We took a look at the Super Dad Photo Frame and Comic Strip Fridge Magnets.

fridge magnets, comic strip, kapow, boom, thwack

The fridge magnets are really good fun.  They press out from a magnetic sheet but are quite thick and sturdy.  I love the designs which hark back to the old Batman series with Ka-Pow and Thwack slogans to decorate the fridge door!

The Super Dad photo frame has a pre-printed picture with a cut-out section to put a photo of dad's face in it, transforming him into a superhero.  At just £2 this would make a good alternative to a card, but it is purely a novelty gift with a thin plastic frame and no glass front so can't really be re-used as a regular photo frame after the event.  It's fun nevertheless!

Father's Day, photo frame, Super Dad

Queen's Diamond Jubilee

Is it sixty years already??  I still remember the street parties of the Silver Jubilee back in 1977.  I still have my souvenir coin and spoon.  I wonder if my kids will look back as fondly upon this time and keep their jubilee memorabilia as I did as a child?  In case they do, Asda has a good range of merchandise commemorating this historic occasion and celebrating the British monarchy. 

jubilee, Asda, mug, diamond jubilee

This china mug is £3 and is part of an elegant and charming tea party range, which is quintessentially British.  It can be found in store from June 4th.  If this design is not to your taste, there are funky and contemporary designed souvenirs also available. There will also be everything to host a street party including bunting, party ware and flags.  All the Jubilee souvenirs cost £5 or less so being patriotic is very affordable.  Make it a weekend to enjoy being a Brit!

Find these products instore at an Asda near you.

Our Holiday Prize With Thomson Al Fresco and Tots 100

Our Thomson Al Fresco Cote de Nacre Resort Holiday Plans

Finally after a great deal of researching, to and fro emails and date swapping, the holiday that I won from the Tots 100 Thomson Al Fresco Holiday Competition has finally been organised.  The very friendly and helpful lady from Thomson Al Fresco has bent over backwards to ensure that the holiday, dates, travel and accommodation suit our needs perfectly, and she even went as far as to give me some tips regarding my sea-sickness!  We are going to the Al Fresco Yelloh! Village Cote de Nacre resort in St.Aubin-sur-Mer, Normandy in July.  The resort is just 11 miles from the port town of Caen, making it very accessible and practical when travelling with a toddler!  The ferry leaves from Portsmouth and means that we can do all our travelling from home to resort in one day with no need for overnight stays.

We can now start to get excited about our Summer holiday in the sun (fingers crossed).  The resort is nestled on the Western Coast of France with its own micro-climate making it pleasantly warm but not too hot, another consideration when travelling abroad with a toddler.

The site is one of 54 Al Fresco holiday parcs positioned across France, Spain, Italy, Croatia and Holland.  The parc offers fun for all the family with a tropical water complex, activities for the kids and a spa for the parents to relax in!  There is also a program of evening entertainment from live music to quizzes to karaoke.

Thomson alfresco, holiday parcs, French family holidays

The accommodation looks great with well equipped six berth mobile homes providing everything needed for a relaxing holiday, including a decked veranda for enjoying balmy evenings with an alfresco meal cooked on the barbecue.  We will be staying in a three bedroom Vivaldi mobile home, ideal for families.The open plan living accommodation is modern and stylish, spacious and comfortable.  Plug adapters are even included in properties where 2 pin plugs are fitted.  Everything is thought of, making it easy to cater for your family's needs.  Some large items are available to borrow so everything really is taken care of.  I love that we have the choice to eat out on the resort, or cook a meal for ourselves, keeping our options open.  This is also good from a budgeting perspective.


We can't wait to have a family holiday together.  Ella will have finished her GCSEs and Megan will have just graduated so they will be ready to unwind and have fun on our French family break.  Cote de Nacre is just half a mile from the sandy beach of St Aubin with its pretty promenades.  It also boasts a rich history with the D-Day Landings beaches in Normandy and also Bayeux, famous for its tapestry and just 12 miles away.  The parc itself is easy going with a relaxed ambience making it easy to simply relax and do nothing or take advantage of the activities and modern amenities available.  This makes Cotre de Nacre perfect for all the family, whatever they want to get up to.

Take a look at the information below.  This is all the facilities and the things we have to look forward to at the resort.

Swimmimg

Tropical pool complex with new swimming pool, waterslides, chutes and lazy river
Covered pool (heated subject to local climate conditions)
Children's splash pool.
Sauna and Hammam

For the Children

Playground
Organised activities for children aged 5 - 12 years
Table tennis
Table football

Outdoor Fun

Pool tables
Bicycle hire (numbers limited)
Synthetic outdoor ice rink
Multi sport pitch for football, volleyball, basketball and tennis

Meals

Bar/restaurant & take-away
Charcoal BBQ

Entertainment

Evening entertainment including weekly outdoor disco, live music, quizzes and karaoke

Other Facilities

Shop
Washing machines
WiFi
Dryers and ironing facilities

Things to do Off Site

Horseriding 1/2 mile
Golf 12 miles
Sightseeing
Sandy beach 1/2 mile
Caen 11 miles for the Château Ducal and Musée de Normandie
The Cider Route - a scenic trail through the regions apple orchards
Honfleur - with its colourful harbour and lively atmosphere 52 miles
St Aubin promenade 1/2 mile
Bayeux 12 miles - for its Notre Dame cathedral and the tapestry
The beaches of the D-Day landings

If you are planning a holiday for the summer take a look at http://www.thomsonalfresco.co.uk for details of all the parcs in Europe.  Also, take a look at the Thomson Alfresco blog for local information, holiday ideas and advice.

I'll be reporting on our holiday experience with Thomson Alfresco, letting every know how we get on with holidaying with our toddler, tween, teen and 20 year old children.  It'll really put the facilities to the test!!  Thanks once again to Tots 100 and Thomson Al Fresco for this exciting opportunity.  Now if someone can guarantee me some sunshine I'll be a very happy camper!!

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Reasons to be Cheerful

It has been a lovely week...one of those weeks where I can't stop smiling to myself.  Even though Ian's job is on the line and the weather is appalling and the follow/no-follow link situation has seen my head nearly implode, there has been enough good in the world to make me very happy!

Birthdays

It has been both mine and Ella's birthdays this week. Megan came home for the weekend to join in the celebrations and we had a wonderful time with lots of laughs and love.  Ella's wonderful friends really spoiled her with some very thoughtful gifts and enjoyed an afternoon at our house for a lunchtime party.  In a world where people are suspicious of the motives of young people and where teens are regarded in a negative light, it is lovely to see that Ella has picked her friends so wisely.  Both the boys and girls are polite, well mannered, friendly and engaging.  My daughter is well loved, respected and  cared for by her posse of pals and I am very happy about that!

Ian spoiled me on my birthday.  He took the day off to be with me, which was wonderful.  As if that wasn't enough he also surprised me with my brand new toy...a gorgeous laptop!  Thanks to the kids for helping with the surprise!


My eldest son is visiting this weekend which will be wonderful.  He makes me so very proud, I can't wait to see him and his girlfriend.

I know I say it a lot, but I really do feel incredibly blessed in my role as a wife and mother.  I wouldn't swap what I have for anything in the world.

Blogcamp 2012

I attended Blogcamp last Saturday and as well as learning a lot of stuff....albeit a lot that has caused me lots of headaches...I met up with a lot of fellow bloggers and enjoyed catching up and chatting with everyone.  I am really grateful to Sally for all she does for us.  I think the blogging world is on the cusp of great change, and I am doing my best to embrace this and hoping it leads to great things for our vibrant and diverse community.

Fab TV

I know it's shallow, but anyway....with Dexter, Desperate Housewives, Homeland and Touch on the tellybox, I am enjoying some topnotch TV programmes.  Add to that the fluff that is The Voice, The Apprentice, TOWIE and One Tree Hill and I am loving my television right now.  Ella and Meg are also telly addicts so we share the joy of sitting together on the sofa, watching TV and trying to second guess the plotlines! 



Reasons to be Cheerful at Mummy from the Heart

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Frankie & Benny's Restaurant Review

It was perfect timing to be asked to review the Frankie & Benny's restaurant chain at a time which coincided with my birthday.  So yesterday we headed off to the Telford branch to see how their food and service fared  up against the scrutiny of the Wendy House team!

Frankie & Benny's oozes pure Americana with great attention to detail ensuring that you feel immersed into a fun, 50's vibe that included authentic memorabilia and music.  The booth style seating adds to the American feel and the open plan kitchen area provides entertainment for the children as they watch the chefs at work.


We arrived at 4.50pm and the restaurant was very quiet allowing us to be quickly seated with an assortment of menus to hand.  The new Specials Menu was unfortunately not much use to us as there was only one vegetarian option on it.  However, although we were cutting it fine, we were allowed to order from the lunchtime menu that had much more choice and was much more reasonable than ordering from the Main Menu (a consideration when dining with the whole family) at only £8.25 for two courses.  The Children's Menu has offerings for children up to 11 so both Freddy and Kizzy ordered from that.  A Kids' main, dessert and drink costs £3.95.  The Junior version for larger appetites costs £7.55.  Both include a side of vegetables. We also got bottomless sodas for us grown-ups allowing free refills of fizzy drinks which proved great value.

After ordering, I inquired about the kids' activity packs to keep Freddy occupied while he waited for his meal, as no-one had mentioned them.  Unfortunately we were told that they were out of stock but instead gave him a colouring sheet and a handful of colouring pencils to use.  He was quite happy with that.

I started with the Garlic and Cheese Mushrooms with Garlic Ciabatta.  It was very nice but I ended up with bowl of sauce after I had eaten the mushrooms that was too much for the ciabatta to mop up.  I contemplated slurping it from the bowl but thought better of it!


My main was a Mediterranean Vegetable Burger which is a patty of peppers, tomatoes, olives and cheese in a bun served with garnish fries and a pot of relish.  The burger was very moist and tasty and I was impressed with the lettuce, onion, dill and tomato packed into the bun.  The fries were a very nice accompaniment and made for a very feeling and tasty vegetarian meal.


Meanwhile Freddy and Kizzy had their children's meals.  Freddy's Margherita was huge and he tucked into the freshly made pizza with gusto.  For £3.95 this was excellent value.  Kizzy's Junior meal was a Vegetable Pasta Bake which was some penne pasta with tomato sauce with a handful of carrots and broccoli thrown in.  Coincidentally, carrots and broccoli were the free side vegetable that the children received, so I felt that it was not really worth the extra money paid to get the upgraded kids' meal for her.  She did however really enjoy it.


We were really enjoying our meals and were receiving friendly and efficient service from the waiting staff who brought us refills of drinks and regularly asked if we needed anything.  We were very excited to test out the new dessert menu.  Freddy and Kizzy had their free ice creams from the Children's menu, but we ordered from the new range of sundaes.  I opted for Banoffee and Ian and Ella went for East Coast.  Having seen the photos on the front of the menu we were looking forward to tucking in to our sweet treat, which at £5.25 each promised to be good.  Sadly, this was not the case.

 My sundae was described as:


"To die for! Layers of toffee ice cream, banana, chocolate covered honeycomb and toffee sauce all topped with lashings of cream."

I  had visions of a delicious sundae, chockablock with good stuff.  Unfortunately, disappointment was all I felt when I received it.  One very small scoop of ice cream at the very bottom of the glass was topped with half a sliced banana and about 4" of aerosol cream.  Some toffee sauce was squeezed over the top, but it was really pitiful.  Not at all like the photos on the menu or posters advertising their new sundae range. The cream which constituted more than 50% of the dessert, virtually evaporated in seconds and the sundae was not worth the price at all.  In fact I can not believe that who ever made them up thought that the pathetic contents justified the price tag.  The East Coast sundae was no better.  Ella actually laughed at how little ice cream was in her ice-cream sundae!  I thought this was really unfortunate, sullying an otherwise very good meal.  As the sundaes are one of the new dishes being promoted, I would have hoped that Frankie & Benny's would have put effort into making them live up to the menu description.  It was a disappointing end to an otherwise good meal.

The bill came to £51.65 for five of us which is a reasonable price for a family meal including unlimited soft drinks  in a themed restaurant such as Frankie & Benny's.  I liked the ambience and the relaxed atmosphere; the lunch menu (available 11-5 Mon-Fri) is great value and there is a good choice for vegetarians on it....but seriously, forget the sundaes...what a let down!!

*We received a voucher in order to review the restaurant.*



Hacky Sack

Hacky Sack for Football Skills, Fitness and Fun!


Hacky Sack from Wham-O are a fun way of learning ball skills and keeping fit.  These little bean bag style balls have been around for 40 years but are making a big comeback.

The Hacky Sack are hand sewn foot bags.   We were sent a three panel Impact foot bag in green and black and a fourteen panel Striker foot bag in black and white.  Both are perfect for skills practice (with keepy-ups made much easier).  You can learn tricks or simply toss and catch them!  You can play on your own or with friends. There are so many ways to play with your Hacky Sack, it is a simple toy, but very versatile.

Freddy is nearly three so wasn't really able to demonstrate the keepy-up skills that make playing with a Hacky Sack so impressive.  However he was able to throw, toss, catch, balance and kick the Hacky Sack
with great control.  He is definitely developing some 'tricks' and improving his hand eye co-ordination and motor skills.  Because they are soft and don't roll away they are great for little ones to practice ball skills.  

Hacky Sack, ball skills

Big brother Joe is coming to visit at the weekend and we are looking forward to challenging him to impress us with his football skills.  How many keepy-ups will he be able to perform?  With scope to use the inside and outside edge of your feet, kicking and stalling the ball and alternating feet, I'm hoping I'll get to learn a few tricks myself. 

The Hacky Sacks are a good little toy to help get the kids (and grown-ups) fit.  In fact  playing with one for an hour burns up to 240 calories.

The Hacky Sacks retail for around £3.99 so are perfect pocket money toys.  They come in a variety of designs and are really good simple fun!


Monday, 23 April 2012

Happy Birthday To Me!

It's My Birthday!

April 24th is my birthday and already I am feeling spoiled by my amazing family.  

My daughter Ella has given me the wonderful gift of song!  This Disney song is from Return to Neverland and is about Wendy's daughter which is very apt.  I simply love it!  Watching Ella makes me well up with emotion.  She is  just such a fantastic girl!


Meanwhile my eldest daughter Megan has made me a fantastic hand drawn card featuring my favourite Disney villain Maleficent from Sleeping Beauty.  What she wrote inside actually had me in floods of tears, it was beautiful.  She also gave me some of the most thoughtful gifts I've ever had.  She is a wonderful daughter.
birthday, Disney villain, Sleeping Beauty
Maleficent
Ian brought me home flowers when he returned from work and has taken tomorrow off to spend the day with me and Freddy.  I can't wait.  It'll be lovely having some quality time together without the worry of work hanging over him.
flowers, birthday, presents
Birthday Flowers
My eldest son and his girlfriend are coming home to visit next weekend which I am very excited about!!!  I am so looking forward to seeing my boy again.

My precious Kizzy has been squirrelling herself away preparing a surprise for tomorrow and we have a review of a certain restaurant chain to carry out tomorrow evening!  Perfect timing.

I am a lucky girl and not even the fact that I am turning 43 can dampen my spirits!!!

(And Happy Birthday too to my lovely friend Lou from Bloggomy who shares my birthday!)


Our Song

I love a good romantic story and think that the power of a song to bring back wonderful memories is simply magical. Just listening to the opening notes of a special song evokes those feelings and emotions that have shaped our lives.

Ian and I have been married for fifteen years this May.  I have written about our love story and even now, all these years and five children later, I still adore the man who is my best friend and soul mate.  I am so blessed.

The song that we call Our Song is the song that was played as our first wedding dance, Alanis Morissette's "Head Over Feet."  


The lyrics of 'Head Over Feet' are just perfect and describe our relationship perfectly.  Ian waited for years for the time to be right for our friendship to turn to romance.  He never lost faith in the fact that we would  eventually be together forever:  He waited for me...for us.


"You are the bearer of unconditional things
You held your breath and the door for me
Thanks for your patience.

You're the best listener that I've ever met
You're my best friend
Best friend with benefits
What took me so long?"


Head over Feet, wedding song, first dance
Our First Dance
I still love this song and I love that I did eventually fall 'Head Over Feet' for my childhood sweetheart Ian.


Love Indian Food? You'll Love Oruna Cuisine!

Oruna Cuisine Indian Restaurant 

There are not many things that I am passionate about in the area in which I live, however we have an Indian Restaurant called Oruna Cuisine which is a culinary gem in the crown of North Shropshire eateries.  We regularly treat ourselves to take-aways but until yesterday had not dined in.  As it was Ella's 16th birthday, we decided it was time to experience the restaurant in all its glory and not just order the food that comes in foil containers!

Oruna Cuisine boasts an  extraordinary blend of tradition and modernity creating  authentic Indian dishes that are quite simply some of the best I have ever enjoyed in my years as a lover of curry!  The extensive menu has so many vegetarian choices that for once I am spoiled for choice even with my self-imposed dietary restrictions.

The restaurant has an excellent 'Happy Hour' on a Thursday and Sunday night that lets you choose any drink, starter, main, rice or nan bread followed by a coffee and all preceded by popadoms and a chutney tray for just £11.95.

Indian, curry, restaurant
Oruna Cuisine
The table was decorated with helium balloons and birthday banners and Ella was made to feel really special by the staff who are genuinely attentive and very friendly.  The food was plentiful, beautifully presented and as ever, absolutely delicious!  I chose Chot Pothi to start, which was a spicy chickpea curry inside a chappati style bread, and Paneer Tikka Masala and Mushroom Pilau rice for my main.

chickpea curry, Indian cuisine, starter
Indian starter
There was loads of food so we could try everyone elses' dishes too.  Always a bonus!!

curry, Indian cuisine, main meal
Indian Mains
After the meal, Ella was thrilled when the waiters presented her with a chocolate gateau birthday cake and sang Happy Birthday.  It was just too cute and a wonderful gesture, making Ella feel really special!

cake, birthday, surprise
Birthday Cake
My love for Oruna Cuisine has indeed got even greater after our experience of dining in.  They waiters were even on hand to provide a lolly for Freddy to keep him entertained and happy when he had finished eating his dinner, allowing us to relax and enjoy our coffees in peace!  It was a wonderful evening.

Oruna, Indian, restaurant, waiters
Oruna's Friendly Staff
If you ever find yourself anywhere near North Shropshire and you want to enjoy an Indian feast in lovely surroundings with friendly staff, then you'd be hard pressed to find anywhere better than Oruna Cuisine.



Sunday, 22 April 2012

After the Party

balloons, birthday, party
Balloons x

Rainbow Birthday Cake #Project 52

Today Ella is 16.  She wanted a Rainbow Birthday Cake so last night after Blogcamp I made a four tier sponge in different colours helped by Fred and Kizzy.

birthday, rainbow, cake

This morning we decorated the cake!

skittles, rainbow, cake, birthday cake

The finished result!!

rainbow, birthday, birthday cake, Skittles


TheBoyandMe's 366 Linky

What I Learned At Blogcamp 2012

After having a night to digest and cogitate the information from yesterday's attendance at Blogcamp, I think I have at last got my head around the facts that affect me (and therefore possibly you too!)

1:  Never, ever do do-follow links on anything that you have been rewarded for.  If you add do-follow links to sponsored posts or reviews you may incur the wrath of Google, the all seeing God of the Internet.  If you have used follow links on past review posts...change them.  Paid for posts are slightly more complicated if you have previously agreed to provide a follow link for money.  Do what is right for you in this instance but be aware that it is risky  to leave them in, but you may have to refund payment if you change them.  Rock and hard place springs to mind!!

2:  We, as bloggers, have been taken advantage of, by some unscrupulous practices carried out by some PRs and SEO experts who should have known better.  It is never an option to fail to disclose payment (this is against the law and you could be fined) and we are risking our site's visibility, credibility and possible existence by posting do-follow links to brands' websites for an incentive (goods or cash).  My light hearted take on this compares the relationship between us and those who took advantage of the situation to buy their way up the Google rankings to a sleazy romance.

3: Links back to your own relevant blog posts and to other bloggers are deemed good by Google.  Links to other bloggers with relevant posts or reviews is a really positive thing to do for you both.  We are not competing, we should stand together and support each other, share our authority and relevance and we'll receive mutual benefits!  Here is Lou from Bloggomy's thoughts from Blogcamp 2012. (See what I did there!)

4:  There is no code of conduct or best practice in place for blogging or PRs.  We must stand strong against those who want us to break the law or go against Google's terms and conditions.  If we do, something will have to change...for the better.  Some PRs already understand the implications and will offer disclosed sponsored posts with no-follow links which are completely above board.  This will recreate the buzz and word of mouth promotion of products and services, put good content over cheap keyword placement and  preserve the integrity of our community.

5:  We can improve our own SEO ranking by using keywords that are used regularly throughout our post, highlighted with bold or italic text and used in titles and subheadings.  However, sometimes Google just finds something you have written in passing and makes you the number one authority on it.  For months, my post that mentioned Japanese Snow Monkeys was receiving hit after hit from people searching for the warm spring bathing primates on Google.  If only you could deliberately recreate that phenomena at will you would be a millionaire!!  In the meantime, follow those simple SEO tips to improve your visibility online.

6:  Google likes blog posts that are over 500 words long.  This surprised me as I thought 200-300 words was optimum.  It also pleased me as I enjoy a good ramble!  It also likes rich content including photos (tagged of course!!)

7:  Sally Whittle is an utter legend and we are all extremely lucky to have her.

8:  My husband is amazing as he managed a fretful toddler, Ella's very well attended 16th birthday lunch party, a house viewing, a  press photographer's appointment to photograph Kizzy with a cupcake and a tree planting event at Kizzy's school.  Then, when I got home he still cooked me dinner!

9:  The innocence of the blogging phenomena has been stripped away somewhat.  We have to approach what was once just a fun hobby with a more professional mindset. Registering as self-employed if you receive any form of remuneration in cash or in kind is really vital.  Maintaining a full and honest disclosure policy is a legal requirement.  Adhering to Google's t&c's is something we all need to do if we want to protect our blog's visibility online.

10:  Although initially my brain has wanted to implode under this new information, I now feel that this could be the start of a new era of more honest, transparent relations with PRs and an opportunity for better quality content and a community that can be regarded with more respect and integrity.  The wonderful, colourful, rich world of blogging on the internet will come out stronger if we all stand together and help shape its future against unscrupulous practices!

Ella...I Love You!!!


Happy Birthday to my gorgeous girl....I love you loads and loads. xxx

Saturday, 21 April 2012

A Tale of Blogging Betrayal

You know that moment?  You make contact with someone new and something magical happens. Energy crackles, hearts race a little.  The tension is palpable, this could lead to something good.  The moment makes you feel special.  There must be something in me that they are attracted to.  My wit, my intelligence, my eloquence, what I have to say?  I start thinking about the future.  This relationship could last.  It could enrich my life.  My confidence is raised. I'm thinking long term.  I succumb to the flattery.  I take that step.  I give myself over to the suggestions. I am seduced by the promise of  things to come.  They tell me it's OK to do it.  I do exactly what they want.  I want to please them.  I trust them.

I thought that what I was doing really mattered to them. But I was naive. Afterwards, I realise I've been duped. I'm not special to them at all. They didn't care about me or what I had to say at all.  I feel violated and cheated.  It wasn't OK after all.  I realise that I have been used and they didn't give a damn about me. They only wanted me for one thing....that one thing was a paid for do-follow text link!

I'll never fall for it again!


Friday, 20 April 2012

Happy Birthday Sweet Sixteen

My Beautiful Daughter is 16 This Weekend



People complain about teenagers.  But the stereotype of a monosyllabic, door slamming, liberty taking, ungrateful teen, couldn't be further from the truth when I think of Ella.  She is truly a shining light in my life, a girl with empathy, compassion and a loving heart.  She is a wonderful daughter and an amazing sibling to both her older and younger siblings.  She adores her grandparents and brings them such joy as she performs for them on her guitar or gives them hugs letting them know just how much she loves them.

Even as a baby, Ella had an ethereal quality, a sensitivity and delicateness that made her seem vulnerable both physically and emotionally. As a teen, she may have her demons but she also has an inner strength which I know will win through.  She amazes me with her resilience and determination and we are coping with our problems together as a family. Nothing will extinguish the bright light that shines inside her, however hard it tries.


My baby girl has grown into a talented, intelligent, creative individual.  She loves to draw and her bedroom walls are covered in sketches of her favourite Disney characters (alongside photos of her favourite horror film icons!)  Her music fills our home.  She is independent, I've never had to nag her to do homework, revise or tidy her room.  She has a strong moral code and consequently is given total freedom, yet she has never betrayed our trust.  I know that choices she makes are right for her at that time and I respect her decisions. She does incredibly well academically, but has a humility that I find humbling.

I sometimes thinks my kids sound too good to be true, so to balance things out, she hates kittens, spends ages doing her hair, is an absolute nightmare to hurry along in the morning and has a strange and macabre fascination for serial killers and horror films!

So, I give thanks for the child that I was blessed with sixteen years ago and celebrate the colour, complexity and richness that she has brought into our life.  Ella means "bright light" (Greek origins) and I can't think of a more appropriate name for my daughter.  Happy Birthday Ella xxx



Thursday, 19 April 2012

Buying Presents for Teenagers

Gift Ideas for the Teen in Your Life

As children grow up and turn into teenagers, they can become increasingly difficult to buy presents for. Their likes and dislikes can become unpredictable and hard to keep up with from one week to the next. This creates a quandary when a family member seeks a gift for them. At this time of year, I begin to get phone calls from relatives and friends trying to decide what to buy for my daughter Ella, who has her sixteenth birthday coming up.  So here are some ideas for what to buy for the teen in your life!

One sort of gift that is never wrong for a teenager are gadget gifts. Today’s younger generation is totally savvy with all of the latest technology. Every teenager these days has their hands on the latest phone. Why not get them a personalised case? It’s a present that they’re bound to love if you use one of their favourite photographs. Just take a sneaky peek on their Facebook profile to find the perfect shot, then visit a website such as Getting Personal to have it printed directly onto a case .  A phone case is also really practical, as a teens' phone often takes quite a lot of abuse!  The case will help to protect their precious phone, and possibly save you from having to buy them a new one if it gets dropped!

If your teen is into their music, why not get them the latest funky gadget for their room? The new i-Music pillow means that they can listen to music via their pillow without any headphones. Quite a lot of teens (including mine) like to listen to music as they go to sleep so this can be the ideal solution.  They can lie down and relax as they listen to their favourite bands without waking the whole house up!

Another great idea for gifts for girls is an antique style personalised trinket. Vintage items are really popular and fashionable these days.  If your daughter loves vintage style, why not get her an antique style engraved jewelry box.   Most teens have a collection of baubles, bangles, beads and bling that is crying out for a storage solution.   The personalisation will transform this practical gift into a treasured keepsake that will be cherished and appreciated for years to come.

Failing this, don't forget that teens love to eat!  A Retro Sweet Hamper filled with classic favourites or indeed anything chocolate coated will always be greatly appreciated by any teenager!




Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Getting Messy with Moon Dough

Moon Dough Fun Pack

Moon Dough by Spinmaster is marketed as a magical, less mess dough that never dries out.  Sounds good!  We were sent a Moon Dough Fun Pack to try out to see what we thought.  Tiny Tester Freddy put it to the test.


The carry case comes with a piece of red, blue and yellow dough along with a selection of moulds and tools.  A removable section of lid has ten moulds of party related items such as food, cake and presents.  There are two dog moulds, a 3D apple mould, a birthday cake and potato mould, curly cutter, pie cutter and a dough flattener.


The dough itself is strangely textured like a dense foam or compacted powder.  When you squish it together it becomes manageable and easily goes into the moulds.  It is very dry to touch and doesn't stick, so it drops out of the moulds shaped with good detail, making modelling very easy, even for Freddy who is nearly three years old. The models hold their shape really well so little ones can indulge in some pretend play with the characters, animals or food they create.



moon dough

Freddy was really engaged with this activity.  It did get messy with little bits all over the floor, but they were easy to pick up using a big blob of moon dough.  The bits didn't stick onto the laminate or into the carpet which was a real plus when it came to tidying up.  A quick once over with a hoover cleaned up the bits I'd missed.  By far his favourite activity was using the curly cutter to chop everything up into tiny pieces!

moon dough


After Freddy played with it we ended up with mix and match rainbow dough with the colours all mixed together.  It actually looked quite pretty!  

moon dough

Everything fits neatly back into the case and the dough doesn't go hard.  You just squeeze it and it regains its durable texture.  

The Moon Dough Fun Pack is a good activity for kids aged 3 and up.  The different shaped moulds give scope for discussions about  the objects and colours aiding language development.  The textured dough is a great medium for sensory play.  It seems more durable and less messy than play-doh or plasticine, and works better with moulds.  It also stays much cleaner too.  However, this is still a relatively messy activity so don't be lulled into a false sense of security...have your Hoover at the ready!

My only real irk with this product is the packaging which depicts children creating amazingly coloured models using way more dough than is included in the packaging.  I always find that kind of marketing a bit misleading...just show us what we're getting please manufacturers!  

The Moon Dough Fun Pack retails for £12.99 RRP which is a good price considering all the accessories including the storage case that it comes with.  Other playsets are available with different tools so you can add to your collection.  Moon Dough sets are available from Argos, Asda, The Entertainer, Amazon and Play.

This review has been done on behalf of  blogmatch.com who sent Freddy the Moon Dough.

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