Thursday, 31 March 2011

Panda Liquorice - a natural treat

With the shops inundated with chocolate in readiness for Mother's Day and Easter, you might find yourself searching for a healthier treat...a guilt-free alternative to satisfy your sweet tooth!

Well, look no further!  Panda All Natural Liquorice is the perfect sweet and chewy snack for when you are counting the calories.  The range contains just four ingredients: molasses syrup, wheat flour, liquorice extract and aniseed oil.  Then they add a little fruit puree, raspberry, blueberry or cherry, to make a sweeter, softer textured liquorice sweet.  It'll satisfy your cravings and you'll benefit from the health giving properties of the liquorice plant. It's been used for thousands of years for the treatment of digestive problems, ulcers, respiratory conditions, hangovers and for detox.

The new fruity Panda Liquorice is a million miles away from the hard, bitter liquorice from our childhood.  This is like a healthy version of pick 'n' mix!

We were sent a bag of each of the three fruity flavours of Panda All Natural Liquorice to try out.  Dad, Ian who is a big fan of liquorice thought the flavour was very mild, which would definitely appeal to children.  They taste very natural and not at all synthetic.  The texture was nice and chewy and the shape was fun made up of tubes joined together.  Kizzy said they were 'addictive' as she chomped her way through a handful.  They are definitely a great alternative to the high sugar sweeties which are loaded with e numbers.  The Panda Liquorice comes in a resealable pouch for freshness.

They can be bought for £2.25 in Holland and Barrett.

The Co-operative Revolution

Sponsored Post

In 1884 a revolution began in Rochdale.  A group of everyday people founded a new business based on democratic principles, owned by the customers and re-investing in the community it served.  This revolution was called The Co-operative.  Today, The Co-operative has over six million members and 5000 outlets with businesses including travel, finance, funerals, pharmacy and of course food.

This year on March 7th, The Co-operative launched an advertising campaign highlighting its ethical credentials and featuring the revolution from its humble beginnings in Rochdale to the present day where it is inspiring a whole new generation of revolutionaries to change the world around from.  From local UK community projects to initiatives in the Developing World, The Co-operative is empowering people to make a difference.

The high profile campaign features real people including Brian McCallum and Alison Benjamin who have set up Urban Bees.  They wanted to help the dwindling bee population in urban areas by educating city dwellers in the art of bee-keeping.  Funding from The Co-operative helped them run training courses, give talks and work in partnership with other organisations.  They have now established 20 new hives on rooftops, in community gardens and on allotments across London, and by the end of this year will have trained and given start-up equipment to 300 people to help with this fantastic scheme to help protect the bees.

It is schemes like these which make a huge difference.  Last year The Co-operative made 1319 awards to help community projects through The Co-operative Community Fund.  From playgroups, to dance schools, to bicycle workshops and to wind farms, The Co-operative are helping these modern day revolutions and giving back to the community they serve.

The Co-operative are inviting YOU to join the revolution.  You are invited to submit your idea for your own revolution to benefit the local community, inspire young people , combat global warming or tackle global poverty.  Or you can get involved by voting for the initiatives that you think are best.  It's your opportunity to really make a difference.

So why not start your own revolution for your own community helped by the generosity of The Co-operative.  I will definitely put my thinking cap on and spread the word about this fantastic opportunity.  It is wonderful to see a company that truly cares!

Partage propulse par ebuzzing

Feeling My Age

I have had babies in every reproductive decade of my life. There have been age related pros and cons to each one.  I've muddled through and loved every minute of being a mum to each and everyone of my five children relishing the challenges thrown in my direction. From newborn to teens and with every possible combination of ages in's been a blast!

As  a family we are mellow and laid back and life is pretty easy.  I'm blessed with a husband who insists that we are a team, and ergo he does at least half of the household chores, as well as being the sole breadwinner.  Team McD works perfectly and life is sweet. I am a very spoilt kept woman!

But these last two weeks have been trying.  When uninvited microscopic visitors took up residence in my home, they inflicted untold damage to my usual calm and relaxed existence. The sickness bug swept through my family one by one.  We'd only just shaken off a bout of colds, and here we were again...heading to Poorlyville, Arizona.

I won't go into the details...but needless to say, it weren't pretty.  I'm one of those people who gags at the mention of sick, so I'm as much use as a bicycle is to a fish.  Another job for Ian is puke mopper uppper.  I just can't do it...I'm pathetic, gagging and retching, eyes watering...useless.  So armed with disinfectant, cloth, carrier bags and a strong stomach, Ian took over the role of nursemaid.

During this time, Freddy was also trying to cut some molars and seemed to wake up at 4am everynight to tell us all about it.  His inconsolable crying is only calmed by being rocked stood up.  How he knows when you try to slip back onto the bed is beyond me.  As the first buttock touched down on the mattress the gyroscopic cuddle detector instantly woke him up again.  We don't ever leave him crying so this is high maintenance parenting at its most intense.  When he wasn't demanding vertical cuddles he'd be feeding non-stop.  He is showing no signs at all of any desire to self wean, in fact his nocturnal boob fest is getting more intense.  And when he is not latched on and ferociously consuming his own body weight in my home made gold top, he is clambouring on my head with a foot in his Daddy's face.  I hope the teeth come through soon and he will be back in his cot by the side of our bed, letting us all enjoy some peaceful slumber.

At 19 I was full of energy to cope with all-nighters, juggling a new baby with nights out clubbing.  In my 20's I felt empowered and able to take on the world, confident in my role as a parent and young enough to bounce back from whatever life threw at me.  In my 30's I felt an old hat at the parenting lark.  Now in my 40's, although I am more secure, comfortable and happy than I ever have been before, the body just doesn't recover quite as well. The sleepless nights are taking their toll.  The aftermath of being ill myself, followed by the children being poorly has left me totally exhausted.  Everything is an effort.  I feel like I haven't slept in a month.  I can't stop yawning.  I feel like I've got another cold immune system has given up on me.  So although the germs have kindly vacated the premises, the aftermath of a week or so of disturbed sleep has turned me and Ian into mere husks of our former selves.  We resemble extras from Thriller...but with less energy.  The Zombie Apocalypse is playing out in our is like Dawn of the Dead.  We are dragging our sorry arses around, groaning and moaning and feeling sorry for ourselves.  Thank goodness it is nearly the weekend.  The children who have bounced back so beautifully can look after us, while we stay in bed and allow our ageing bodies to recouperate!

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Coconut Muffins Recipe

I recently reviewed Rachel's Organic yogurts (and their to-die-for Rice Puddings!!)  The Coconut Greek Style Yogurt was so good that I decided to get experimental in the kitchen and made some fantastically simple, very light and, may I add, delicious Coconut Muffins!

They are inspired by the sponge cake topped with jam and coconut that they used to serve up for school pudding back in the '70's...a modern, lower fat twist on a real retro dessert.

Here's the recipe:

150g Self Raising Flour
1/2 teaspn Bicarb of Soda
80g Unrefined Caster Sugar
60g Melted Butter
1 Free Range Egg
5 tblspns Rachel's Organic Coconut Yogurt
1 tblspn Orange Juice

Mix all your dry ingredients in a bowl.  Mix all your wet ingredients together.  Quickly and gently combine your wet and dry ingredients and spoon into muffin cases.  Cook for 15 minutes at GM5.
When cool, spread with no-bits strawberry jam and sprinkle with dessicated coconut.

Disney Toiletries...Fit For a Princess

When Kizzy received this package of Disney Princess Toiletries, she was over the moon!  She adores Disney  and enjoys nothing more than having her own pampering products.

Made my H & A, the UK's leading toiletry specialist, the range includes Disney Princess, Disney Fairy, Winnie the Pooh, Ben 10 and Zingzillas toiletries, perfect for getting even the most reluctant bather in the tub!

The Strawberries and Cream Bath Bubbles came in a pretty pink bottle with Belle from Beauty and the Beast on it.

Kizzy was delighted because it had Belle's signature on the back, a lovely touch that little girls will love.

The Bubble Bath smelt really nice...a lovely, sweet strawberry fragrance.  It made a lovely bubbly tub full of bubbles.  They weren't very long lasting, but the scent lingered and the water felt soft. Kizzy loved this product.  It made her feel like a princess!

The Bath Confetti came in  a lovely triangular box.  It had a glittery, plastic heart shaped ring attached to the top.  It featured Ariel from The Little Mermaid, another Disney favourite.

The confetti was shaped like stillettos, crowns and hearts, and as it is made from soap, you can wash with it and it dissolves into the water.

Sprinkling a handful into the bath creates a fun bath time experience for your little princess!

The individual Bubble Bath Tropical Crush Jewel contains shimmery, pink bath foam, perfect for pampering your pretty princess.

It has a resealable nozzle so you can use it and seal it up for your next bath.  It smelled really sweet and fruity.

Adding to running water gives a luxurious, bubbly bath that smells gorgeous!

This was Kizzy's favourite product.  The heart shaped brush and mirror set cleverly folds up into a neat heart shape, that fits neatly into a pocket or a bag.

It features Ariel on the front, and will be loved by any Disney Princess fan.

The brush is gentle and untangles knots easily.  Kizzy loves this addition to her dressing table!  It is perfect for taking out and about or for keeping in her school bag.

This range of products really are perfect for pampering the little princesses in your life.  They encourage good personal hygiene, and at the same time are fun and have that little bit of added Disney magic!  They would make an ideal gift...and would be a great alternative to Easter Eggs for children who cannot have chocolate.

Kizzy says "I've always been a fan of Disney Princesses and I think these are amazing.  I loved the smell of the Strawberry and Cream Bubble Bath best of all and the whole range is really fun.  Bath times are really great when I have lovely pampering products like these."

So, Kizzy gives them the thumbs up! There are other characters available so there will be something to suit your child whatever their preferences.  If you prefer gender neutral products  the Zingzillas and Winnie the Pooh are ideal.

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

The Gallery...Hair...Spot the Difference

Tara's prompt this week is "hair".

Here are four pictures of me and my hair through the ages.  I think it is a case of spot the difference.  Not much has changed in 40 odd years! (Apart from the arrival of a few grey hairs!)

Age 5
Age 12
Age 27
Age 41

Why I latest Vlog x

Making Pizzas with Pizza Express Passata

We love making pizza.  The children enjoy getting creative with the ingredients and have fun being involved in cooking their dinner.  So when we were sent a can of Pizza Express Passata to test, we decided to get busy in the kitchen with the kids!

The Passata is the same as the one used in Pizza Express restaurants.  Juicy, sweet sun ripened tomatoes are harvested in Parma, Italy.  They are crushed within 12 hours of picking and  combined with basil,  and a pinch of salt and pepper to create a delicious, rich passata full of freshness and flavour.  It is a versatile ingredient, but for me, nothing beats a home-made pizza!

Spread the passata onto a pizza base.
Nice and thick.

Sprinkle over grated mozzarella.
Add your topping.
Smile :)
Cook at GM6 for 15 minutes.
The passata on the pizza was really rich and tasty.  It had such a deep tomato-ey flavour and was well seasoned.  It was really delicious and at 99p a can, it is an inexpensive taste of luxury.  One can covered four pizza bases generously!  The children had fun helping out in the kitchen and they enjoyed their pizzas!

Messy Eater!
Proud chef Kizzy!

My Bloggy Brilliant Award

I was chuffed this week to receive a parcel from Azaria PR containing a Bloggy Brilliant Award biscuit and a virtual rosette now proudly displayed on my sidebar!

"The Azaria Bloggy Brilliant Award recognises a blogger that has passion and real commitment to creating a truly original blog. We understand and appreciate that each blogger is unique. We know they work hard and are dedicated to what they do and we are excited to be the one of the first PR agencies in the UK to acknowledge their hard work with our very own award."

I was delighted that they liked my videos and thought my children were adorable.  I work hard at my reviews, whether I'm testing a 69p pack of biscuits or a £100+ piece of kitchen equipment.  I enjoy involving my team of Tiny Testers, and genuinely believe in the influence of parent power.  I think the blogging world is exciting, dynamic and full of amazing opportunities.  I am honoured to be a part of it!

Here is a video of me accepting my award!

Azaria PR are specialists in beauty, wellbeing and baby PR and work with some exciting brands and influential bloggers.  I thank them for my very tasty award!!

Movie Meme...Favourite Chick Flick

Hannah's theme this week is favourite chick flick.  I love lots of films.  OK, my penchant for horror is strong, but that doesn't mean I don't also enjoy a good weepy!  So my choice this week is "Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistlestop Cafe".  It's not a fun-filled frothy chick flick, instead it is richly comic film with a poignant narrative that tells the tale of the richness of life and the sadness of departure.

This film tells the story of unfulfilled housewife Evelyn, played by the fabulous Cathy Bates, who meets an old lady Ninny Threadgood, played by Jessica Tandy.  Ninny regales Evelyn with tales of her hometown Whistlestop  from the 1920's.  Evelyn's life takes on new meaning inspired by the wonderful backstory.

Ninny tells her a story about best friends Idgie and Ruth.  Their lives are intertwined from a young age and  peppered with tradegy, loss, domestic violence, racism, illness, but mostly with love and friendship. They run a cafe where they employ black staff and feed men that are down on their luck in the Great Depression. They end up on the wrong side of the law when Ruth's bullying ex-husband disappears. But the goodness of the women sees the townsfolk rallying around to protect them. The story spans three decades where we see more tragedy as Ruth becomes a victim of cancer. Their story culminates with the murder trial of Ruth's ex-husband and the pieces of the story tie together satisfyingly as we learn exactly what happened on the fateful night when he vanished.

The contrast of the rich backstory played out against the comedic exploits of Evelyn in her attempt to make something out of her unfulfilled life, makes this film a rollercoaster of emotions.  I had cried twice within the first ten minutes of this film and had at least two more sobbing fits before the credits.  It is tragic but heartwarming in equal measure.

I'd highly reccommend this film to anyone...but make sure you have tissues (and probably chocolates) at the ready.  You will need them....but it is well worth it to immerse yourself in this beautifully woven piece of storytelling.

Monday, 28 March 2011

Aldi Swap and Save Conclusions

Over the past few weeks, we've been taking part in Aldi's Swap and Save Challenge to see if we could save ourself money on our weekly shop.  Aldi stock quality everyday essentials at discount prices and by switching from the top brand products to Aldi's own brands you could save up to 50%!

We tested tea bags, coffee, chocolate biscuits, baked beans, tomato ketchup, tinned plum tomatoes and sugar frosted cereals.

Here are the links to all the taste tests we did:
Aldi vs Nescafe
Aldi vs McVities
Aldi vs Heinz Ketchup
Aldi vs Heinz Beans
Aldi vs Napolina
Aldi vs PG Tips
Aldi vs Kellogg's

The idea of the Swap and Save campaign is that although you may like the brand label product, you'll probably like the Aldi one too.  As the Aldi products are considerably cheaper, swapping to them saves you money, without having to compromise on quality.  "Like brands...only cheaper!"

The products that we tasted and compared held up well against the brand leaders.  Aldi's current advertising campaign highlights the idea of switching to the cheaper brands to save money on your weekly shopping bill.  They are even holding a competition for customers to submit their own Swap and Save video commercials showing their favourite Aldi products.  You could win £100!

So, if you are feeling squeezed by the current economic situation, consider switching from your usual top priced brands.  You might be surprised by the results and by the amount of money you could save!

Aldi vs Kellogg's

In our last Aldi Swap and Save Taste Test, we are comparing Kellogg's Frosties with Aldi's Harvest Morn Frosted Flakes.  Sugar coated breakfast cereals are not something I generally buy, but Kizzy was willing to be my taste tester!  With Kellogg's the brand leader costing £1.95 compared to Aldi's version at 99p, there is a big price difference between the two.

As you can see, Kizzy did prefer Kellogg's Frosties but not by much.  She liked both brands, which is what the Swap and Save Challenge is all about.  Like brands...only cheaper!

Tefal Actifry...Healthy Low Fat Chips

When I was sent a Tefal Actifry to test Inside the Wendy House I was very excited!  I love real chips but deep frying is not the healthiest method of cooking.  Oven chips are OK, but just not the same.  The Actifry seemed to have the perfect solution to my chippy dilemma.  The Actifry can cook 1kg of chips using just 1 tablespoon of oil!!  Amazing!  This is 100 times less than with traditional deep frying methods.  So not only is this healthier, it's also safer, odour free and more economical.

Tefal Actifry Review

Tefal Actifry Review

We tried out the Actifry by making some home made chips.  Here is our video demonstration.

We were very impressed by the Actifry.  It was really simple to use and delivered on its promise of making tastier healthier chips. The large steam free viewing window allows you to see exactly what's going on during the cooking process. The digital timer and audible warning alarm makes it foolproof to use.  It is easy to clean with the parts being easily removable and dishwasher safe.  It isn't messy or smelly and I felt totally confident leaving it to do its thing (unlike with a deep fat fryer which I'd constantly worry about!)  The only slightly negative point is that it is a bit noisy, but that said, I didn't feel the need to watch over it and so I got on with what I needed to do, while it did it's thing in the kitchen.  No problem.

The Actifry does far more than just cook chips.  We've used it for Quorn nuggets, which are cooked with no added fat and come out crisp and delicious.  We also made sweet potato slices which were gorgeous.  You can use any oil you like in the Actifry to vary the taste and diversify your diet.  You can add herbs and spices too.  The Actifry comes with a recipe booklet with ideas for crispy fried vegetables and sausage cassoulet (which I'm keen to try with Quorn sausages).  It also fries onions and mushrooms...perfect for topping a veggie burger!  I look forward to experimenting with it!

You can purchase the Actifry at good electrical retailers and online at Amazon.  

Rachel's Organic...Made With Love

Rachel's Organic is the organic dairy brand!  With a great range of delicious dairy products, they are dedicated to making gorgeously pure tastes with the very best organic ingredients. From their children's range of wonderful organic pure yogurts for your little ones to their sophisticated, authentic adult flavoured yogurts and desserts, Rachel's Organic has something for everyone.

I was extremely lucky to receive a hamper of dairy goodies from Rachel's Organic to try out Inside the Wendy House.  With my team of Tiny Testers I had plenty of willing helpers ready to tuck in!

Rachel's Organic Yogurt

The 'My First Yogurts' are perfect for weaning from 4-6 months and make a yummy treat for  babies and toddlers.  They are thick and smooth and perfectly blended with pure fruit with no additives.  Strawberry, banana, mango and raspberry flavours introduce baby to different tastes.  Freddy enjoyed eating these on his own with a spoon, slurping up the yogurty goodness!

As taste buds get more adventurous, the 'Taste Explorers' range comes into its own.  The Yogurt Squeezies are fun tubes of pure, tasty organic yogurt in fruity flavours.  As you can suck them straight from the tube they are perfect for lunchboxes.  8 year old Kizzy said "they are extremely yummy and I love that they are organic and healthy.  They taste so delicious and it's more fun eating it from the squeezie tube!"  I gave Freddy one under supervision (they are not recommended for children under 3) and he loved being like his sister sucking the yogurt straight from the tube.  A real hit!

The 'Taste Explorers' Yogurt Mutipack is the same delicious yogurt from the 'My First Yogurts' with the flavours mixed up a bit!  Strawberry and Banana, Peach and Mango, Apple and Apricot and Raspberry and Peach flavours give babies a more exciting fruity flavour to explore.  Freddy was very impressed by the fruity, smooth, no-bits dairy delights.

The 'Taste Explorers' Rice Pudding is an exciting, organic dessert perfect for children from 6 months.  Delicious hot or cold, it is a creamy, textured pudding made from organic rice, sugar, milk and egg.  Wholesome, tasty goodness.  Freddy loved having a rice pudding after his dinner.  He had it cold, straight from the pot and really enjoyed it.  This was his first taste of rice pudding and he definitely is a fan....he takes after me in this.  I adore rice pudding which brings me onto the next product that we taste tested.

'Divine Rice Twinpack' is Rachel Organic's slow-cooked, traditional, creamy rice pudding.  With less than 5% fat and 130 calories in the pot, I didn't even feel guilty tucking into this.  As I mentioned, I adore rice pudding and I have such fond memories of my Mum's rice puddings, so I was excited about sampling this product.  Oh my goodness!!  When they say it is "divine" they are not exaggerating!  It was so creamy, rich and had just the right level of sweetness.  It was really gorgeous and I cannot rave enough about how good it was.  My only complaint was that I finished it!  It totally knocks the socks off any shop bought rice pudding I've ever eaten (and I've eaten a fair few in my quest for the perfect rice pudding dessert!)  Brilliant!

We also had two pots of Rachel's Organic 'Greek Style Yogurt'.  These family sized pots contained extra thick, creamy Greek yogurt flavoured with Coconut and Honey.  The Coconut Flavour contained creamed coconut and coconut pieces for a textured treat.  It was quite a stunning, sophisticated yogurt taste sensation with a tropical twist!  We ate it on its own but it could be used mixed with fruit or cereals or even spooned onto curry. There is a fab recipe for Chocolate and Coconut I'll be getting some more to try it out!   The Honey Flavour was Daddy's favourite!  The honey is collected from the foothills of the Himalayas and blended with the rich, creamy Greek yogurt.  It was an authentic, adult flavoured yogurt that Ian happily polished off.

All the products we were given to try were thoroughly enjoyed.  As a mum, I was delighted to know that they were all made from organic milk  with no artificial additives, colours, preservatives or flavourings.  Dairy products provide calcium which is essential for strong teeth and bones, and the probiotic cultures in the yogurt help maintain a healthy digestive system.  The health benefits are all very positive and the "made with love" ethos of Rachel's Organic inspires confidence in the products.

Check out Rachel's Organic Facebook Official Fan Page  for news, information and more fabulous recipes.  Don't forget to say Hello and tell them you came from Inside the Wendy House!

My Little Recording Star

For Christmas we bought Ella a 3 hour recording session at Sweetharmonies Recording Studio in Birmingham.  Yesterday was the day she had been waiting for for over 3 months.  Sod's Law that she had a really horrible cold and sore throat, but not to be perturbed, she went with her dad for a 9am start and managed to record three original tracks and an Adele cover in her time slot.  She also had her session videoed which was fabulous for me as I wasn't there to watch it live.  The sound engineer was very impressed with her and her songwriting ability.

Here are two live recordings of Ella in action at the Recording Studio.  These are both original songs she has written herself.  I'm such a proud mummy :)

Sunday, 27 March 2011

Mum's The Word...An Early Morning Must Have!

Perricone MD Cosmeceuticals is the brainchild of Dr Perricone, who is an expert on dermatology and anti-ageing.  They produce groundbreaking award winning facial skincare products.  The Cosmeceutical range is a collection of skin treatments which go beyond a simple cosmetic.  The inclusion of gentle, non-evasive, all natural compounds actively promotes healthier skin which can stay beautiful for a lifetime!

As a dermatologist to some of the most famous faces in the world, Dr Perricone was asked to create a foundation that would let the skin's natural radiance shine through.  No Foundation Foundation was born.  Created to make skin look dewy and flawless, No Foundation Foundation is a multi-purpose product that provides translucent coverage, corrects skin undertones, instantly smooths fines lines and boosts skin's natural moisture throughout the day, all the while delivering antioxidant benefits.  A non-chemical SPF 30 delivers protection against skin damage and it is suitable for even the most sensitive skin.  The light universal shade suits all and allows healthy skin to glow while hiding flaws.  It is a fool proof, easy to use light foundation that ensures you can leave the house in the morning with a flawless glowing complexion in an instant!

I was sent a 30ml bottle of No Foundation Foundation to test.  I am not a good morning person!  School days are a hectic rush without much me-time.  Most days it's OK to leave the house in a mess and hide in the car as I do a stop, drop and run drive-by.  However, on those days where I go on to the shops or to see friends, I am all too conscious of my slovenly appearance.  This is made worse by the fact that I have a friend who is always immaculately made-up with a full face on everyday.  I really do need all the help I can get in the make-up department.

The brown glass bottle looks quite functional with its no-nonsense label.  A pump dispenser top allows for a mess free application.  The plain cream box looks very isn't covered in pictures of over made-up models or promises of instant beauty or fancy advertising slogans. However, it now displays the accolade of winning the Cosmopolitan Beauty Awards last year for Best Tinted Moisturiser.  They say "..makes your face look airbrushed...genius!"  It also won the Image Beauty Award for Best Natural Finish for "giving a sheer, stunning finish."

I've used this product all week now. The beauty of this No Foundation Foundation is that it is so easy to apply.  Being translucent it goes on flawlessly as you apply it in a circular motion over your skin.  Unlike Matte products which can leave harsh lines if not properly blended in, the No Foundation Foundation just works perfectly with your skin leaving  it looking ultra natural and refined.  I hate the 'mask-like' feeling of heavy foundations, but I felt like my skin could breathe with this product.  It felt fresh and light.  It also made my skin feel hydrated and moisturized.  The anti-ageing element of this product is a real positive.  It means I am moisturising and putting on my make-up in one step which is a time saving pick me up.  With my complexion looking healthy and glowing, I don't look made-up (which is not a look I strive for) I just look more polished.  I really love it!

With an average of 4.5 stars out of 5 based on 171 reviews, this is a much loved, make-up bag must have.  It costs £45 which puts it into a more expensive price bracket than many high street brands.  However, this is so different to anything I've used before.  I love that it is natural, I love that it is light and easy to use and I love that it makes me look more polished in the morning.  I also love that it is anti-ageing and that it protects my skin from the sun.  As a busy mum, it means looking good doesn't have to be sacrificed due to having a hectic morning.  I've never really been passionate about cosmetics but I could see myself falling in love with Cosmeceuticals!

It is loved by the industry, loved by its users and loved by celebrities such as Uma Thurman.  Having used it I can understand why!

Check out the website for more information, more amazing products and to purchase No Foundation Foundation.

Keepsake Critters...My Mohawk Monster

A  "Keepsake Critter" is a bespoke hand made heirloom lovingly created from your child's old clothing or blankets.  Collectable creatures made from favourite fabric keeps your memories alive!

When I was offered the chance to review the Keepsake Critter experience for myself I was delighted.  I was bowled over by the idea of turning a piece of Freddy's old clothing into a cherished memento of his babyhood!  I knew right away what I wanted to send to Ruth for her to do her magic...Freddy's first pair of big boy pyjamas that he had when he is 5 months old!

Keepsake Critters

We have wonderful memories of him in his PJ's!  Cuddling with Mummy and Daddy and clowning around looking like a little grown-up in his snuggly pyjamas.  But little babies grow into big boys and soon his jim jams were too small!
Keepsake Critters

So I was happy to send them to Summerland for their transformation, giving them a new lease of life as a Keepsake Critter.  I downloaded the order form and packaged up the pyjamas to begin their journey!  The order process was very straightforward and the form was easy to fill in.

Keepsake Critters

We popped the package in the post and then we had to wait for our Keepsake Critter to arrive home!

It was just over a week until our package arrived.  We excitedly opened it to find a lovely hand made cloth bag tied with a ribbon.  A gorgeous smell of lavender filled the air and I thought that it was a lovely touch to add the scent to our package with a matching hand sewn lavender pillow.  A hand made label read "Freddy's Critter made from his first grown-up PJ's." The whole experience  was shaping up to be a wonderful and thoughtful one.  It is the little personal touches that makes Summerland such a lovely company to deal with.

When I saw our Keepsake Critter Mohawk Monster, I couldn't help but smile!  He was extremely cute with his quirky expression and button eyes.  I loved that Ruth had used the pocket of the pyjamas on the Critter's tummy.  The soft felt mohawk, hands and feet contrasted perfectly with the material I had provided, tying the whole appearance of our Critter together.  Our original bespoke creation is indeed a charming and fun keepsake!
Keepsake Critters

The Keepsake Critter would make a thoughtful personalised gift and is a lasting memento.  Any item of clothing from baby's first outfit, to a dress worn on a memorable holiday to a favourite pair of trousers can be transformed into a monster, a mouse, a cat or a rabbit to keep forever. Priced at £25 and with free p & p, the whole experience is a unique, great value idea for any occasion.

This is what Kizzy thinks of PJ our Keepsake Critter!

Saturday, 26 March 2011

Listography...Time Machine Destinations

This week's Listography theme, courtesy of Kate, is Places I'd Like to Time Travel To!  The past and the future are available for our fertile little imaginations to explore. So I'm hopping into my imaginary DeLorean in true Back to the Future style...I'm firing up my Flux Capacitor and heading to my top moments in history past and present.

1:  22nd December 2012

I really want to tell my 8 year old that the Mayans got it wrong!  They didn't predict the apocalyptic end of our planet on the 21-12-2012....they merely got bored chiselling 5000 years worth of calendars and gave up. They used cocoa in the Mayan why would they sit chiselling indefinitely when they could have been eating chocolate!  I could put everyone's mind at rest and start planning the best ever Christmas knowing we'll still be in one piece!

2:  1608-ish

The Globe Theatre in London would be putting on the latest play by Shakespeare.  I'd be there in the posh seats away from the commoners, who would be a little too smelly and rowdy for my taste!  I'd watch Macbeth exactly how the playwright intended.  You don't get much more culturally perfect than that.  Yes, I am a Bard geek.

3:  August 4/5th 1962

I am a huge lover of conspiracy theories. 911, Roswell, Princess Diana, OJ, the real Titantic story, the Moon landing....I can't get enough.  But the untimely death of Marilyn Monroe is one of the greatest mysteries embroiling sex, scandal and politics.  A real celebrity extravaganza where real life was more fantastic than any work of fiction.  The time line of the day she died has so many inconsistencies and certain facts just don't add up.  I'd love to be a fly on the wall (or a blogger in a DeLorean) at Marilyn's Brentwood home that night!

4: 1972

David Bowie's Ziggy Stardust tour....the rise of the cult of Bowie.  Oh to have been there!

And while I was in the era, I'd pop across to visit 3 year old me because I was a cute little chubster and I'd like to give myself a hug (as long as it wouldn't cause a paradox or a rift in the space-time continuum or anything similar!!)

5: Year 3000

If it was good enough for Busted, then it's good enough for me!!  I remember being at school as a kid and dreaming about the utopian society of the Year 2000 with flying cars and hover bikes.  It didn't quite materialise in the way I had anticipated leaving a deep seated disappointment in my heart that no number of floppy discs, silicone chips or dial up modems could  allay.  Maybe, just maybe by the year 3000 my utopia will have been realised and I can have the fantasy vision of my childhood realised!  I'd like to check it out just in case.  If not I'll just check out my future descendants and see how a thousand years has affected my genealogy. I'd love to see if my Jones chin and green eyed genes were still holding out!!

Where and when would YOU go????

Silent Sunday - All Played Out

sleeping toddler

Silent Sunday

Purple Day for Epilepsy

March 26th 2011 is Purple Day, the day to show your support and wear something purple to show you care.  Almost 1 in every 131 people in the UK has epilepsy which means more than 465,000 people with epilepsy in this country.  There are more than 40 different types of epilepsy and it happens in all ages, races and social classes.

I know a wonderful little boy called Luke who has West's Syndrome which is an uncommon to rare epileptic disorder in infants.  So today, I am wearing purple in honour of him and his family.

Ella's Purple Hoodie!

Friday, 25 March 2011

Aldi vs PG Tips

Next up on the Aldi Swap and Save Challenge is tea bags.  Recent research says that the humble cuppa is in decline, being replaced by fruit teas and green teas, particularly in the 16-24 year old age range!  The younger generations are not converting to tea as their drink of choice.  Could the sharp increase in the price of the big brands be in any way responsible?  Many of the student population shop in Aldi as a quality discount store...could Aldi's own brand of tea offer a cheap alternative and rekindle the populations love of tea!

I am not personally a big tea drinker...but I do enjoy the odd mug of black tea.  Will I be able to tell the difference between the top brand with the big price tag and the quality Aldi discount brand?

Another result where I'd happily consume either brand, so the cheaper version would save me cash! 160 PG Tips tea bags costs £4.19 whereas 80 Aldi tea bags cost £1.39 (I couldn't find an exact price for the pack I received.)

Reasons to be Cheerful Vlog

Inspired by the BMB Vlogging group and my my brave sister's vlogging this week, I've decided to enter Michelle's Blog Hop warts 'n' all with a vlog!!  It's so easy to hide behind the written word, and photos capture just one split second in time and you can choose the image you want to show the world.  Vlogging is so exposed, so naked...but really exciting.  I give you...ME!

Dentinox...Relief for Babies

I have a baby who suffers terribly from teething.  I've never known a baby like him.  His gums swell, the tooth breaks the surface but then the gum closes over again!  It's weird!  By 18 months he still hadn't managed to get all front 8 teeth even though they had been visible for about 9 months.  Tooth number 8 has finally broken through along with 4 molars but they are growing so slowly.  He doesn't just pop out his pearly whites at all.  So he really suffers.  Bright red cheeks and grizzly days with him pointing into his mouth accusingly and saying "teeth"  are common events.  Even the amber teething necklace that he wears is getting  a bit fed up!  Poor Freddy.

When Dentinox offered a possible source of relief, I was only too happy to give it a try.  I was sent a package containing a range of their products to try out with Freddy.

I was really pleased to try out the Teething Toothpaste, which I'd never heard of before, and of course the Teething Gel.  He's still got a long way to go before he gets his full set of milk he really needs some help!

The Teething Toothpaste is slightly sweet tasting.  Freddy found the taste pleasant enough.  When his gums are sore he really objects to having a toothbrush probed around his mouth and it can occasionally be a bit of a battle.  The Dentinox Teething Toothpaste comes with a fingerbrush for gently massaging the gums.  It was quite a novelty for Freddy who enjoyed having his teeth and gums rubbed with it. It offers us an alternative which avoids any distress to him.  This product is definitely another weapon in our arsenal against the dreaded teething.

The Teething Gel is wonderful.  It tastes quite nice and provides a mildly numbing sensation against pain.  It's mild and gentle and sugar free.  Freddy happily let me apply it...even popping his own finger out in the hope I'd give him an extra squeeze of gel to put on for himself.  It offered a distraction as well as a way of relieving pain and also preventing infection.  I keep one tube in my handbag and one on the bedside table to cover my bases, and it really seems to help him.

Although he has never suffered from the really thick cradle cap that some poor babies get, Freddy does still have some patches on his scalp.  So I decided to give the Cradle Cap Shampoo a try.  It was lovely.  It smelt really fresh and I gently massaged it into his scalp, then used a comb to removed the scaly patches that had lifted off.  It was brilliant.  In the past I had used oil on his scalp, but that really is a messy method.  This shampoo is mild enough for regular use.  His hair was very shiny and bouncy after we dried it....I might try it myself!

Thankfully, he has never suffered from colic, so I haven't tried the drops.  They are however alcohol free, suitable from birth and give baby relief by dispersing trapped air.  Dentinox is definitely a brand synonymous with helping babies through difficult phases in their development.  With  40 years experience in the baby medicine market, they are like a tried and trusted friend to help us out when common ailments upset our precious little ones!

Dentinox is readily available in most supermarkets, Boots and pharmacies.

Flashback Friday...Grandad

This week's Flashback Friday photo is a favourite of mine.  It's a photo of my Nan and Grandad from the 50's.  I love the "we've partied too hard" expression on my Grandad's face.  Fag in hand, pint in hand, party hat perched on his head at a jaunty angle!  A real man's man.  My Nan looks more serene with her sherry, but still a little jolly.  

My Grandad Bill died when I was about 9 years old and I don't have many memories of him before he fell victim to the bone cancer that killed him.  But I do remember him as being a big, strong man who used to make me wooden toys in his shed.  My favourite was a red and white set of shelves which was my shop.  It had my name painted on the top and I remember copying the letters to learn how to write my name.   We went for dinner and tea every Sunday at their house and we'd have cucumber in vinegar and tinned ham.  I wish I had more memories of him.  My mum sadly did not have a good relationship with her dad and the tales I've heard of him over the years do not sit comfortably with my image of the big, strong, toymaker that I remember so fondly.  So my memories forged with the innocence of my youth are the ones I hold dear of my Grandad.


I know a lot of fellow Mummy Bloggers who are now devotees of Sterimar.  I seen blog posts, read reviews and replied to tweets regarding the joys of nasal hygiene.  So when I was contacted to trial Sterimar for myself, I was keen to get in on this exciting new product!  Like most households, we are blighted by colds all year round, and there is nothing sadder than a snuffling baby struggling to feed and sleep.  Sterimar sounded like a real solution to an age old problem.

I received two 50ml cans (approx 150 sprays) of Sterimar Baby and a zip up bag, ready to begin our own test Inside the Wendy House.   I set about finding out more information regarding Sterimar and how it works.

Sterimar is a pure, gentle and natural sea water nasal spray that is completely drug and preservative free.  Used daily, it moisturises and clears the nasal passages to relieve the dry, stuffy symptoms of hayfever, rhinitis, colds, sinusitis and other nasal conditions.  It can also relieve congestion and blocked noses associated with heavy colds or chronic rhinitis.  There are no side effects or withdrawal symptoms from its use.  It provides natural relief and restores nasal breathing.  It allows the nose to work efficiently as the first line of defense against airborne contaminants.  It protects us from pollution, smoke, dust and from microbes, so a healthy nasal lining can help keep us protected from these foreign bodies.

The health benefits of sea water have been recognised for centuries.  The water used in Sterimar is collected from deep waters off the Northern coast of France to guarantee its purity.  It is then filtered, diluted and microbiologically controlled to produce an aseptic sea water solution.  It is isotonic meaning it has the same salt levels as cells in the human body, so it does not interfere with our own delicate balance and is extremely gentle and natural  in working with the body.

Sterimar Baby is suitable from 3 months old and can be used to help keep baby's nasal passages clear and unblocked.  Babies can't blow their own noses so any congestion interferes with their breathing and feeding.  Sterimar offers a natural way to assist them.  The nozzle is specifically designed for safety and cannot be inserted too far up the nose.  The gentle low pressure spray is comfortable and prevents inhalation.  It is easy to apply, even when battling a wriggly toddler.

So...armed with all the science and the benefits of this product which is used and loved by millions of people worldwide, I was ready to test it.  I have to confess though, I was more than a little bit trepidated about squirting the English Channel up my son's nose!!  There is just something about noses that gets me a little wobbly!!  So I decided to try it out on myself first.  I was amazed that the refreshing squirt was most pleasant.  It wasn't the eye-watering experience I expected which I feared would leave me feeling like I'd inhaled a swimming pool.  Instead it was fresh and cleansing and I felt that I could breathe better.  Feeling confident now I set upon my 8 year old to practice using it on somebody else before trying it on its intended user Freddy.  With a lot of giggling, we sprayed up both her nostrils.  She said, quite eloquently "You know when you've eaten a mint and you breathe in and it feels all fresh?  Well this is what this feels like!"  So, thumbs up from her!

It is important to wash the nozzle with hot soapy water between uses to reduce any risk of cross contamination, which we did.  Then we used it on Freddy.  I sat him down with his head tilted and gave a little spray with the nozzle just inside his tiny nostril.  We repeated on the other side, then gave his nose a little wipe.  He was unable to verbalise his opinion, but he was unphased,  quite happy and ran off to play.  He has been a bit snuffly so I'll be interested to see if it makes a difference to him at bedtime.

I could definitely be a convert to nasal hygiene, the Sterimar way!!  My 19 year old daughter suffers from  hayfever every year.  I will recommend she gives it a try.  It's a much nicer alternative to the chemical medications on the market.  I'd be interested to see if it makes a difference for her.  Definitely something not to be sniffed at!!!

Sterimar is available at Boots, Lloyds and Superdrug and from other independent and supermarket pharmacies.

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Babywearing with BabyBjorn

Babywearing is the practice of wearing or carrying your baby in a sling or carrier.  It has recently gained popularity and is advocated by followers of the principles of attachment parenting.  It is also a method of baby transport which allows the parent's hands to be free.  It encourages social interaction and allows baby to see their surroundings as an adult would.  Leaving the pushchair at home allows a new freedom to parents and their babies to discover the world together.

BabyBjorn offered me the chance to try out one of their baby carriers.  Although Freddy is nearing the top end weight wise, I really wanted to try out babywearing and find out exactly what it would be like to experience the closeness and practicalities of this beneficial practice.

I received a gorgeous Limited Edition Pop Green Carrier from BabyBjorn.  I was hugely impressed by how beautifully designed it was and how intuitive it was to use.  I'd used a sling before with one of my eldest children and remember it being far too complicated and very uncomfortable to wear. Things have really moved on... BabyBjorn's Carrier is incredibly comfortable with an even distribution of weight across my shoulders with the wide, padded straps.  It feels secure and safe.  All the adjustments are made in the front making it really user friendly.  It is suitable from birth and grows with your child with three positions and with baby facing inward or outward depending on their age and developmental stage.  A marvellous investment to carry your baby from day one through to toddlerhood.

When we go for a day out or a walk, one or the other of us usually ends up carrying Freddy because he gets tired and cranky and wants the closeness and comfort being held.  The BabyBjorn carrier was a perfect solution for this.  He enjoyed being able to see the world while being securely and closely carried.  Having my hands free made me feel much safer holding him and allowed me to use my hands where necessary to open doors, carry my bag or hold my daughter's hand.

He was on the size limit of the carrier, but the adjustable strap made it plenty big enough for him to use.  I just wish I'd discovered it sooner.  It is such a natural thing to do and something I'd highly recommend to parents.

BabyBjorn have a range of carriers and accessories designed with love and care to make carrying your precious load a safe, joyous and comfortable experience.  Suitable from birth, there is sure to be a carrier to suit everyone's needs.


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