Little Pink Teacup

Little Pink Teacup: July 2013

Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Trunki PaddlePak Party

How great was the rain on the weekend? I was incredibly thankful for it for many reasons, the main one being that I'd woken up with a really bad back and could barely move (so naturally my husband decided it was the day to mount the television onto the wall)! This meant I couldn't really take Moo out anywhere. Since I've been on maternity leave she's gotten into the habit of doing something out every day and so the first thing she asks when she wakes up is 'where are we going today?'

With the rain so bad and my back feeling like I'd had a run in with a bull dozen, we stayed inside and what other excuse than to try the Trunki app for iPad and iPhone?

The app's free to download and based on their television commercial (that was made with Aardman, the people behind Wallace and Gromit) to promote their new 'Paddle Pak' range. The first thing that struck me was the fantastic colours, I don't pay a huge amount of attention to advertising campaigns if I'm honest because my mantra is always research when making a purchase. The colours on the app are bright, bold and whimsical featuring a variety of sea-life characters to play as (the characters correspond with the PaddlePaks that are currently available to buy). The game is recommended for children aged 3-6 years and the basic idea is you select a character and then must gobble up various items of beachwear to complete the level.

It downloaded quickly onto my iPad and away we went! I decided I would play first so that Moo (who is not quite three but competent on other popular pre-school apps) could watch me do it. The app didn't offer to show me how to play the first time, however and so as it started up I didn't quite know what it was I was supposed to be doing. I pressed my finger to the screen and moved it around thinking that it would follow my touch but it didn't. I managed to complete the first level (find 5 snorkels) but it took an embarrassing amount of time and left me feeling a bit frustrated and disappointed. Moo was delighted by the colours, sounds and movements by this stage and begging for a turn. I quickly went back to the home screen and checked in the settings and sure enough there was a tutorial telling me how to play; press the screen to make the character swim up, release for them to swim down.

So I went and tried again and yes, that made much more sense and it was working though I will admit, I'm twenty-six and it was a little on the tricky side. A wonderful thing about this game is that there are no penalties, so if you accidentally swallow a pair of swimming trunks as opposed to the sunglasses you're supposed to be chomping on, you are not then penalised for doing so which is great for the younger end of the age recommendation.

As Moo started to play, I could see that the touch and release aspect of the games control was a little 'beyond' her, but like I said, she's not three until early October so for her to have some basic issues with controls such as those, I wasn't concerned. The colours and sounds were enough to keep her playing and entertained, and even though it took her longer than perhaps it should to achieve her goal, she was happy and having fun. 

All in all I found this to be a wonderful little app, here are my pros and cons:

- No penalties which keeps children engaged rather than frustrating them.
- Graphics are beautiful.
- Promotes counting in groups of five.
- Promotes memory and picture recognition.
- For an app based on a product, the advertising of said product is not in your face and I really like that! It's there, but it's subtle and won't have your children begging and pleading for you to buy the, the whole range.
- Promotes hand eye co-ordination.
- It's free!! I've paid for apps inferior in quality.

- It didn't volunteer to tell me how to play, I had to look for myself. Not sure if that's standard though or if perhaps mine just had a glitch? You never can tell with technology!
- The controls are a little tricky, but it comes with practise.

If you have an iPhone or an iPad, I would definitely recommend downloading this app for those odd moments when you really need to ring the gas company, or you want to keep them quiet for twenty minutes on public transport, or just for a rainy day game to play together like we did!

The app is available for download from the App Store by searching 'Trunki'.


Please note that I received no compensation for this post, all views and experiences are my own.

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Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Bridal Make-up on a Budget

A quick warning, this post contains lots of photos of my red skin, tired eyes and general wonky-appearance. For that, I'm sorry, enjoy!!

Hello! So I couldn't help but notice that a LOT of my Twitter followers (and the people that I follow) are getting married/planning their wedding at the moment. Exciting stuff! I'm a little under a month away from my first wedding anniversary and so I thought that today I'd share with you my 'wedding face'. Being a make-up lover I decided to do my own for multiple reasons; I couldn't really afford to pay someone to do it for me, I know what I like and am very particular, I don't like being touched...the list is quite long, actually...SO I did it myself and here's how I looked on the day...

So today I'd like to share with you a quick how-to on wedding make-up using near-exclusively 'budget' brands, most of which I used on my actual day. The lower end of pricing when it comes to the ol' slap has come along leaps and bounds in recent years and I've got to admit that given the choice between a £3 foundation and a £10 one, I'm going to plump for the £3 one if it's achieving the same results. Remember, it's not about the price of the product, or the name of the brand, it's about how you use it!

Here's a picture of me on the day, apologies for the filter.

Step one.
Once you've moisturised, pop on a primer. Make sure that you're not too quick to start applying over it, give it time to 'settle', I normally use this time to apply some concealer under my eyes because I suffer from really bad dark circles (and have done since I was young).

MUA Professional Primer. Garnier Roll-on Anti-dark Circles in 'light'.

Step two.
Using whichever your preferred method, apply foundation. I've used a 'beauty blender' sponge which you can get really cheap from eBay because I'm not a huge fan of foundation brushes. Often I just use my fingers and buff off the excess with a clean make-up sponge.

Step three.
I always use pressed powder as I suffer from an awful, shiny nose (much like Rudolf). Using a puff pat it onto your face, paying special attention to any problem areas like my shine. I followed with a bit of Benefit Erase Paste under my eyes again to ensure they really are as hidden as possible and pat on a bit more powder under my eyes to keep it all together. Buff off the excess with a big, fluffy powder brush.

Step four.
Using a two-tone, natural-shade bronzer, add some dimension to your face with a large bronzing brush. I was always told to use a shade or two darker than your colour to achieve a natural look. As I typically use the palest foundation, I opted for the palest bronzer. Use what's best for you, I used to be terrified of bronzing but I'm over that now! Get your lighter of the two shades on your brush, knocking off the excess and starting from the middle of your forehead, draw a number three shape (forehead, cheek, chin) down each side of your face, followed by a quick sweep down the centre, over your nose. Add a light amount more if you think it's not visible enough or buff with a powder brush if too dark. Be sparing, you don't want to look like you're wearing wood stain! Once you're satisfied with that, get your darker shade onto your brush and get ready to contour! Suck in your cheeks to find the hollow and very gently in a circular motion working outwards towards your jawline, apply your darker shade. Buff again if too dark.

Step five.
Apply your highlighter. It's up to you how and where, whichever works best for you, I've applied it to my brow and cheek bones as I do struggle to get a balance where I don't look like an other-worldly being. Apply eye primer on your eyelids so that it has time to settle before you go at it with shadow and fill in your brows. It is really important to get your brows sorted before you start to work on your eyes as they will provide a good guide to the width of your face. I've filled mine in with a brown shadow and then a sharpened eyebrow pencil.

Step six.
Unless your wedding has a strong theme, it's important to remember that everyone is there to see you. Your husband or wife is in love with you, not someone covered in make-up so you're better off opting for natural shades for your eyes. Natural doesn't have to be boring. I've used three natural shades in three tones to create a subtle smokiness. Starting with the mid-shade, apply to the middle of your lid working outward so that it softens at the edges. Apply your darker shade carefully to the outer lid working in and blend so that they merge nicely into the socket line and one another. Finally, with the lighter shade, sweep it carefully in from the inner lid to widen your eyes and be sure to blend so that the whole eye flows nicely. Using a white eyeliner pencil, carefully draw along your bottom water line, this will open your eyes up more and make you look more awake (perfect if you've had wedding-day nerves).

Step Seven.
I wear eyeliner pretty much everyday, I'm a big fan and I couldn't imagine my wedding day without that eye definition that I use all the time though my usual liquid liner was going to be too much. Instead use a soft black pencil along your upper lash line and halfway along your lower lash line. Then smudge using a small brush. I set the liner by going over it with a fine brush (you could use the tip of an applicator) with the middle shade, this softens the liner and stops it from looking too dramatic. Then apply a couple of coats of your favourite mascara.

Step eight.
Now that you know how your eyes are looking, you can apply your blusher accordingly (if you apply your blusher before your eye make-up, you have nothing to compare it to and run the risk of looking over flushed). For day-to-day I tend to only apply blusher to the apples of my cheeks, however here I've spread a little further for a more mature look.

Step nine.
For the final touch, line your lips in a nude/natural shade using lots of little strokes to 'feather' the line as opposed to one continuous srtoke. Soften with a cotton bud if you think it needs it. Fill in your lips with a subtle, natural shade.

17 Lip Liner in 'Rose Blush'. Collection lipstick in '13 Satin Bow'.

And you're done! Here's the before (wearing only moisturiser and lip balm) and after.

I hope you like this little tutorial, I uhmed and ahed over whether or not to make it a video or not. Still unsure if it would benefit. What do you think?


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Monday, 29 July 2013

My Story Monday - Sarah

Happy Monday everyone! Dd you have a nice weekend?

Today on My Story Monday we have the fabulous Sarah from Yummy Mummy in Training. Please enjoy!

After 2 sweeps which failed to do anything I ended up going 14 days over so was booked in for an induction on Friday 25th May. I was told to phone the labour ward at 8:30am to get a time to go in, but as they were really busy from the night before they didn't have a time for me to go in. I had to phone them a further 2 times before they finally called and said I could go in at 5pm. So I thought wayhay we are off.

At first they couldn't break my water so I had to have a pessary fitted to soften and open the cervix and had to have that for 24 hours before they would examine me again and try to break my waters again. Once I had that fitted I have to be monitored for 2 hours to make sure the baby was still OK after they had been messing about with me and then I was allowed to go home but I had to be back at 8am the next morning for another hour of monitoring. Whilst I was in hospital the next day I started getting a tightening pain which the midwife said was caused by the pessary and it was a good sign as it meant it was working. Those pains lasted me pretty much all day. Once we got home we went for a long walk and I bounced on my birth ball to try and get things moving but no such luck. At 7:30 that night we went back to hospital this time I wasn't leaving without my baby boy.

The only thing that I was gutted about with having an induction is that my wish of a nice active labour in the birth centre was out of the window now. I had to be hooked up to the monitor for continuous monitoring.

After a further hour on the monitor the midwives came to try and break my water which they managed to do. That is a horrible experience I'm so glad they broke in hospital and not whilst walking around Tesco. The only way to describe it is it feels like you are weeing yourself but you have no control over it and can't stop it. We also discovered Thomas had done a poo which could have been because he was a bit distressed or because he was 2 weeks over.
After they broke my water I was then attached to a drip which started my contractions almost instantly. They were horrible and having to lie in bed made it worse I felt like I needed to walk around like it may take some of the pain away but I couldn't. I soon started on my gas and air which is amazing stuff, it doesn't take the pain away completely but it does help a little and it gives you something else to think about. The only way I can describe it is the feeling you get when your lying in bed drunk after a night out and the room spins and your not quite with it.
I was having really strong regular contractions for about 2 hours and was having about 6 every 10 minutes when things too a turn for the worse. Every time I was contracting Thomas's heart rate was dropping. I can't really remember anything from then on because I was out of it on gas and air but apparently the midwife said to David and my mum that if his heart rate dropped again she would press the red button and the room would fill with people. She didn't get to finish the sentence before she pressed the button and people came running in to the room.

They tried to put a monitor on Thomas's head to monitor him more effectively but his heart rate was still dropping and I was still only 2cm dilated which is what I was when they first broke my water so the decision was mad to perform and emergency Cesarean. All I can remember at this point was somebody thrust a consent form in front of me to sign and then I was rushed to theatre.
As soon as I was in theatre the epidural was fitted and I can remember having freezing water squirted on me to test if it had started to work and it was touch and go whether I would have to be put to sleep or not as it wasn't kicking in straight away but luckily it worked.
David was then allowed in to theatre just in time for Thomas to be delivered. It was a weird sensation I could feel pulling and tugging as they were getting him out but there is no pain at all. Imagine having a tooth out, it was like that. The next thing I knew there was an ear peircing scream. My son had been born I just burst in to tears it was the most beautiful sound in the world hearing your child for the first time.

Thomas was then passed to David and I saw him for the first I fell in love instantly words just cannot describe that feel it was absolutely amazing.
I was then stitched up and taken to recovery to wait for some feeling to come back in my legs and I was finally allowed to hold my son and have skin to skin with him it was the most beautiful moment ever the first cuddle with my beautiful baby boy.

I'd like to say a big thank you to Sarah for sharing her experience with us here today, please go and check her blog (link above).

If you'd like to share your real birthing story, please read the intro post here and check out the other birthing stories on the My Story Monday page.


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Saturday, 27 July 2013

Saturday Savings - Daisies and Bluebells

Happy Saturday everyone!

For today's Saturday Savings I've got a lovely little 20% off code for adorable children's boutique Daisies and Bluebells! The online boutique was opened by a husband and wife who found the practicalities of opening a physical shop in their town of Thanet too difficult with three young children at home.

I love that Daisies and Bluebells share my theory that children should be children and dress as such, not as miniature teenagers. They're not fashion icons, they're designed for playing.

With free delivery over £25 (£2.49 for standard first class in the UK), you're already on to a bargain. To get 20% off, simply add the code twit20 at the checkout. Here's my favourite piece...

Girl's Sumer Dress £12.99 (£10.39 after discount).

Enjoy your weekend!


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Friday, 26 July 2013

Soft Play Rules

The first rule of Soft Play is don't talk about soft play...

...joking. The first rule is don't forget to pay. They're not fond of that.

Whilst I'm off getting jabbed with a needle and attending a wedding(not together I hasten to add), I'll leave you with my soft play rules, based on my own (often tragic) experiences.

Never put your hands in the ball pool. Never.

That slide probably isn't as strong as it looks. If it's creaking under the weight of a tall-for-their-age four-year-old you may want to give it a miss.

Big busted? Avoid the rollers. Repeat; avoid the rollers!! You have been warned. I don't care if your friend's little boy is stuck in the cobweb on the other's not worth getting stuck. I promise.

Beware of the giant, swinging balls!

Accept that some mums just can't parent. So long as it's not you, there isn't an issue. If their seven-year-old wants to torment your three-year-old then encourage your child to walk away (even if you want to throttle the little so-and-so and his 'yummy mummy').

Smuggle in your own supplies. Juice. Cake. Carrot sticks. Wine. They'll never know if your surround yourself with bean bags...

That tunnel was not designed to take a woman with hips that have born a child (or three). Don't even try.

It's okay to send another child in to the rescue. That latte isn't going to drink itself, yknow...

And above all, remember...if you don't take socks, you'll have to wear the 'spare pair'. Ick.


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Me Vs Me

In June of this year we moved into our new house. It's a three-bedroom Victorian terrace. I really like it though we've had a few issues with is. It's a family-neighbourhood with local schools, shops and parks and not very far from town at all. To be fair, you have to pass through a 'less-nice' area to get to town but it's a quiet street that is a nice place to bring up a family. This isn't it for us, we hope to be able to save to buy in our preferred part of town (alright, you can stop laughing now), failing that, we're hoping to move to that area within five years one way or another.

Our next door neighbours one one side are nice, quiet, but nice. They have a little dog (I hate dogs) that Moo loves to look at and it seems harmless. They keep their garden nice and their house well-maintained which I like. They're polite and we always greet one-another.

The other a different story. I'm sure we've all had trouble neighbours in our pasts, these aren't my worst but they're up there. It's a late-middle-aged man and a woman we presume to be his mother. The day we moved in I looked at the front of their house and said to my husband 'next door are smokers'. I could tell because their net curtains were that horrible, sickly mustard-brown shade of nicotine stain. The man seems to have an issue controlling the level of his voice, indicating hearing problems, and I'd genuinely feel for him...if he wasn't shouting abuse every time he opens his mouth. He appears to be drunk the vast majority of the time when at home and shouting down the phone, at his mother, at a woman I presume to be his sister and the dog. He's constantly swearing and we can hear it very clearly. Luckily he tends to be his most vocal between 6 and 8pm which is the time that Moo is already upstairs and so she never hears it.

I have concerns for the whole household and a huge part of me wants to contact someone. They too have a small dog. I have never known it to be walked and the thing is constantly howling and crying. All day. Now, I hate dogs, I said that already....but that doesn't mean I'm happy to sit back and let an innocent creature suffer. Both are constantly shouting threats at it and if it never gets walked...well, it's very clear to me that this dog does not have a good quality of life, not to mention the abuse he's constantly shouting to his mother...? There also appears to be damp in their home. I say this because the only problems I'm having with damp (and slugs, yuck) are coming in at their side of my house...and interior side connected to their lounge. Not my exterior walls, not the other side of my house, their side. It's gross.

The whole point of this post is not to complain about my's the realisation that I've made; I'm at war with myself. The old me would've shopped him to the RSPCA/local council why haven't I?

It's because I'm a parent now and I have so much more to think about than two adults. I have one, almost two, under-threes to take care of. To protect.

Because we're new residents, it will be clear to the neighbours who it was that reported them and that could potentially bring a lot of attention down onto us. That's fine by me, I can handle an 'ol' drunk', I have years of practice (another story), and I can handle little men shouting the odds. What I'm not prepared to handle is throwing innocent children into the mix. Am I concerned for this dog and elderly lady? Yes, incredibly so. Do I value them over my own children....?


This is truly a case of me as a person versus me as a parent.

What would you do in my situation?


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Thursday, 25 July 2013

Gro Clock

The Gro company is much-loved amongst parents. They have some wonderful, beautifully-designed and innovative products including the gro-egg and the gro-bag to name their most popular.

In response to a recent rant posted here about Moo's sleeping habits, someone suggested the Gro-clock. This was something that I had looked at and considered in the past admittedly, but the price had put me off. I know it's not a lot of money, however, I hate to part with money unnecessarily and the fact that families have been settling their toddlers to sleep for thousands for years without the need of a light-up clock. So yes, I was sceptical.

My husband, however, was quite frankly sick of me not getting enough sleep whilst pregnant (and moaning about it) and when I suggested it to him, he went on Amazon and ordered it. Moo was very excited about her new nightlight/big girl clock and was enthral led as she watched me plug it in and set it up. It came with it's own storybook which is designed to help children understand why it's important to go to bed at the right time. 

The basic idea is that you set the clock to the correct time and then you have two modes. Night mode and nap mode. I don't use the nap mode as Moo has out-grown hers, so we are only using 'night mode'. You don't need to set a bed time, you simply turn it to night mode when your child goes to bed (which is handy if your child's bed time fluctuates a little like mine does), it you do need to set the waking time.

At bed time, you follow the instructions to set it to night time, the yellow sun winks and goes 'to bed' then a blue star appears. The colour and character differences are designed to teach your child when to be in bed and when to get up. If they wake in the middle of. The night and see the screen is still blue, they will learn to stay in bed, however if they wake and the screen is yellow, they know it is now okay to get up.

I kept a diary of the first two weeks for you to see yourselves how it went. I'm not going to lie, it was trying and the heat wave didn't help in the slightest. Moo's bedtime is typically anywhere between 6 and 7pm as she's two-years-old but doesn't nap. If she has a nap, you'll be lucky if you get her in bed by 9pm (no matter how short of a nap). I set the clock to turn back to day at 7am.

Day 1 - Bed 6:15pm. Woke 12:20am. Woke 6am. Up 6:50am.
Day 2 - Bed 6:45pm. Woke 7:45pm (bad dream). Up at 7:35.
Day 3 - Bed 6pm. Woke 11pm. Woke 12:10pm. Up 6:40am.
Day 4 - Bed 7pm. Up 6:40am.
Day 5 - Bed 6:15pm. Woke 12:30am. Up 6:30am.
Day 6 - Bed 5:50pm due to long, hot day. Woke 10pm (bad dream). Woke 3am. Up 7:15am.
Day 7 - Bed 7pm. Woke 2am. Up 7:30am.
Day 8 - Bed 8:30pm. Awoke 1:30am. Awoke 6:30am. Up 7:30am.
Day 9 - Bed Awoke 7:10pm (too hot). Awoke 11:45pm (nappy leak). Up 7am.
Day 10 - Bed 6:40pm. Awoke 9:55pm. Awoke 3:05am. Awoke at 4:30am. Up 8am.
Day 11 - Bed 8pm. Up 7:50am.
Day 12 - Bed 9pm. Up 7:10am.
Day 12 - Bed 7:45om. Up 7:45am.
Day 13 - Bed 6:40pm. Awoke 9:30pm (bad dream). Up 7:20am.
Day 14 - Bed 6:40. Awoke at 8:45 (hot). Up 7:20am.
Day 15 - Bed 6:10pm. Awoke 7:30am.

As you can see it started slowly but I did notice an improvement over the fortnight. Moo now sleeps through the night without waking me (unless she has a bad dream or something else is wrong), whereas before she would get out of bed and come and get me every time she woke up. She's even sleeping through outside noise with her window open which is fantastic. I cannot express how nice it is not to have to worry about how long it'll be until she wakes me up again!!

She does still sometimes get up before 'Mr. Sun' does, but she slips into our bed and has a cuddle (which I don't mind). She's definitely sleeping better for it and for that I'm eternally grateful!!

- Assists your child in managing their night-time sleep patterns.
- Assists your child in self-settling.
- Provides a nightlight for younger children.
- It works!

- You can't turn it off, it's constantly on though does use very little electricity.
- £20 is still a lot to pay for a clock, but is £20 a lot for a good night's sleep? all depends on your financial circumstances and epwhether or not you have a spare £20 in your budget to spend on sleep-training your children. I would say if you can afford it, do is a quick method of getting some well-deserved sleep back in your life!


Please note that we purchased this product with our own money and were not compensated in any way for this review.

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Cosatto Troop Car Seat

With a background in art, I love a bit of clever design. Bright, bold patterns and innovative products have me practically salivating and my husband is a 'gadget guy'. Since discovering I was pregnant with our first back in 2010, nothing gets me quite so excited as children's 'things'. Cots and changing units, clothing, toys and play mats, I am a woman obsessed.

So with all of that said, you can imagine why Cosatto is one of my all-time favourite brands. The colours, the imagery and the quirky design as well as clever products tick all of my design and mummy boxes, not o mention I have always found them fantastic value for money.

So today I'd like to share with you their latest product; The Troop Group 1, 2, 3 Car Seat.

I think the first thing that immediately stands out about this car seat is that it's strapless. There is no harness strap to hold your little one in, instead it features a 'Protective Impact Shield' that they say 'cuddles' your most precious cargo. As a mother to an incredibly wiggly toddler who is constantly pulling at her safety harness if in the car for longer than five minutes, I am really impressed (and pondering why I've not seen this before, it's genius). It attaches into your car the same way other car seats of the same groups do (using the three-point seat belt for group 1, and general car seat belt for the group 2 and 3 stages). You can also use ISOfix.

The seat is a group 1, 2, 3 which means its suitable from 9-36kg (which is about 9 months - 12 years) which makes it not only a stylish bit of kit for your car, but also incredibly versatile (handy if you have a large extended family and seem to constantly be chopping and changing for days out like we are). It also means in theory that with the proper care, you can get up to 11 years usage out of it (though Cosatto's generous four year guarantee stands as it does across the range).

I have copied the following direct from the official press release to ensure that they are perfectly accurate.

- Conforms to ECE R44/04
- Easy to install
- Side impact protection
- Forward facing
- Fits both front and rear vehicle seats
- Universal Fit when used without ISOFIT system, semi-Universal fit for ISOFIT and belt fitting
- Compatible with standard 3 point vehicle seat belts
- 2 position adjustable seat angle
- 2 position seat back recline
- 5 position head rest height

The Troop is new for Autumn/Winter this year and available now in two designs; Ladybug and Pablo. RRP £220 (which might seem like a lot but look at it as an investment, it's likely to last you a very long time given the span of ages that it suits).


Please note this is based upon an official press release and not a sponsored post.

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Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Sanctuary Mum To Be Shower Cream

At my recent baby shower, a friend gave me a huge bottle of Sanctuary Mum To Be 2-in-1 Shower Cream. I've been using it for about a week now and so I figured it was high time for a review. When I was pregnant with Moo in 2010 I tried a few of the Sanctuary Mum To Be products, and I really enjoyed them so I had high expectations for this product.

The shower cream is exactly that, creamy. It feels incredibly indulgent and soothing on the skin and because of it's thicker than average texture, it doesn't come out of the nozzle too fast. It goes onto the skin wonderfully, and a little does go a long way.

It smells utterly Devine and the scent lingers on the skin for a long while afterwards which is typically what you would expect from a high-end product. It's described as containing rice bran, organic rose hip and sunflower, a luxurious combination and lists being paragon-free and hypoallergenic as two of it's selling points.

- Smells fantastic with a long-lasting effect.
- Soothing on stretched skin.
- A little goes a long way.

- Price; at £6.50 it's not the sort of thing you're likely to buy yourself for everyday showering though does make a wonderful gift.

I'm really enjoying using the shower cream and will be gutted when it's finished and I have to go back normal shower gel...but with only five weeks left of pregnancy, I suppose I can't drag it out forever!


Please note, this product was given to me as a gift by a friend. I have received no compensation or payment for this review.

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Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Money Supermarket Retail Royalty Challenge

At the beginning of July I stumbled across something that I was instantly interested in; Money Supermarket's Retail Royalty Challenge (#RetailRoyaltyChallenge). The well-known comparison and money-saving website was offering bloggers of all kinds to spend £30 on a local charity of their choice. I love charity fundraising, having previously run a shop and blog for a well-known British charity. I do a lot in my free-time for non-profit organisations and am hoping to volunteer at my local food bank at Christmas time. I grew up with a parent who relied heavily on the work and resources of charities and so I see working for free and raising awareness as a very important step in helping others.

Being a local charity challenge, I selected Demelza, a children's hospice covering London and the South East. I selected Demelza for multiple reasons; I'm a parent, my husband's aunt is the head of fundraising for our area and because it's important to us as a family. I hope that you never ned the help of a charity like Demelza, however for those that do, I cannot express the work they do and the difference they make to not just the lives of the children, but their families too. Providing much-needed respite and care, the staff of Demelza 'add life to days where days cannot be added to life'. It says it all really.

Money Supermarket kindly transferred £30 into my Paypal account and I contacted the head of fundraising for Sussex as well as the head of fundraising for Eastbourne (where I live). We decided that given the short time I had left of the challenge (I signed up late, typical me) that the best thing I could do was help the Eastbourne fundraising team stock for their up and coming tombola.

I contacted a lot of businesses, local and national, however time was running out and so I took matters into my own hands and headed to my local Sainsbury's instead. Here's what I got...

2x 3packs of bubbles - £2.50 each
1x ball game - £3
1x Disney colouring book - £1.99
2x skipping ropes - £1 each
2x Crayola colouring pencils - £2.99 (buy one get one free)
1x Play Doh toy - £2.99
2x scented candles - £2 each
1x fudge - £2
1x Lindt Lindor chocolates - £1.50
1x Ferraro Rocher chocolates - £1.50
1x feed the birds set - £3

I was really happy with what I got (especially the buy one get one free) as I was under a very tight time limit when I went (about ten minutes) and I had walked in with the goal of buying ten items for the tombola, I came away with fifteen!! I was thrilled that I got so much, my biggest concern at the moment is the chocolate and fudge melting, fingers-crossed on that one!

I'd like to say a big, big thank you to Money Supermarket, without their kind donation for this challenge, it would be £30 that the charity would've had to of found themselves and it went a long way towards their fundraising efforts for the summer holidays. To bolas and other stall events bring in a lot of money for charities, especially in a seaside town like Eastbourne.

If you would like to learn more about Demelza, take a look at their website.

Thank you for reading!


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Monday, 22 July 2013

My Story Monday - Jasmine

Happy Monday everyone! Temperatures are apparently going to rock up to 33 degrees today so pardon me whilst I go cry and sweat as I haul myself around!

Today's My Story Monday features a lady called Jasmine, a woman most definitely to be admired for her guts!

I'm a twenty-eight-year-old beauty blogger, and mama of 4 kiddos, ages 9, 7, 4, and 2 (busy, right?!?!:)) I have some great friends that have kiddos, and have read some fantastic blogs written by fellow moms. And I don't know if its just me or what, but I feel like the concept of natural birth, using a midwife, no drugs etc etc has sure gotten popular!

So sometimes...I get nervous when my turn to share comes up. Because... (dramatic suspenseful music here) I have had 4 c-sections. 4! And after the raised eyebrows, I often get the question "Did you CHOOSE to have c-sections?" Oh dear.

Was it my choice to be pumped full of drugs, strapped down and have my baby surgically removed? No. But let me tell you, IT'S OKAY IF YOU HAVE A C-SECTION.

When my first was born, I was in labour for quite awhile. I remember things were going so well, and progressing so smoothly! My water broke in the middle of the night while I was sleeping. ("Honey, my water broke!" to which my hubby sleepily replies "are you sure?" well, either that or I peed myself... pretty sure it's the water ;)) We went to the hospital, things are great. Contractions? No problem, I was handling it! I laugh at myself when I think back to my over confident attitude, I actually said "I don't know what people complain about, this is easy!" (Yep, you want to kick me now, right?) And then, my precious little guy got stuck. PAIN like I never knew. Misery. And the doctor said "we have to deliver him NOW via c-section." It was such a blur, it happened so fast. And the next thing I knew my husband was holding this amazing little bundle up to my chest. Any nervousness, or uncertainty about the procedure was gone. All I saw was my little guy.

I know it may not be your plan, or your dream to have a c-section but after my first was delivered they told me I was physically unable to have a vaginal birth. And each pregnancy, we had to weigh the surgery factor, multiple c-sections are not always advised. And all 4 times, there was a moment in the surgery prep room of fear. But birthing can be scary, no matter what method you choose and I don't feel cheated, or sad, or like I missed out. Because at the end of the day I have four healthy, happy children. Recovery time may be harder, or longer with surgery but you have a precious little bundle to lay around and snuggle and love while you recover. I honestly didn't mind the bed rest with my babies, it was just all the more time to keep 'em to myself ;).

I'd like to thank Jasmine for sharing her experience with us here today! You can follow her blog

If you'd like to share your honest birthing story with other mums, please check out the intro post here.


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Saturday, 20 July 2013

Saturday Savings - LittleBird

Happy Saturday everyone! What's everyone up to on this nuns, sunny day? Moo's off fruit-picking this morning, the husband is working so I am going to lounge on the sofa with a lolly and catch up on the weeks telly.

Yes, really.

Anywho...on to today's Saturday Savings! I found an exciting website this week and I'm thrilled to share it with you!

LittleBird is a deals/offers site exclusively for parents. It has loads of great services, products and events for families at up to 80% off of the ticket price! If you're looking for something to do with the children over the summer, this would be an ideal place to start hunting for some great deals. Don't forget o sign up your email for daily newsletters on the best deals!

Right...lolly time. Have a lovely weekend!!


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Thursday, 18 July 2013

Quick and Easy Veggie Wraps

I'm not a vegetarian, in fact I regularly describe myself as a 'hardcore carnivore', it's not often you see me without meat at a meal.

That said, I do enjoy vegetables and a light lunch is just what is needed in these horrific temperatures, so here's my super quick and easy veggie lunch wrap...

To make four wraps, you'll need the following:
- Half an onion, sliced.
- Half a courgette, sliced.
- Handful of mushrooms, sliced.
- One red (or any colour) pepper, sliced.
- Houmous.
- Four tortilla wraps.
- Some oil or alternative.

I prefer to roast my veggies but for the meal pictured I actually fried them because I was baking at the same time. If you're roasting, I normally do it around 180c (gas mark 4?) for fifteen-twenty minutes. Pre-heat the oven and sprinkle your roasting pan with your oil (or I use that liquid Flora stuff) and toss in all of your sliced veggies. Slide your vegetables around a bit to make sure they've had a good coating, add more on top if you think it needs it. If I'm cooking for adults, I'll add some salt and pepper but if my toddler is eating, I just sprinkle some pepper lightly.

Once they're all cooked, take them off the heat and warm our tortillas as per your usual method or the instructions on the packet. Spread your houmous onto the middle of each wrap before adding your mixed veg on top. Now it's time to fold!! There's lots of ways you can fold a tortilla wrap, when making this dish I typically make four folds so that I end up with a rectangular parcel-type wrap. To finish it off, I pop it under the George Foreman grill for a minute to help keep it together before cutting. You could use a griddle pan as an alternative.

And that's it...really simple and basic but oh so tasty!!

Do you have any quick, go-to lunch choices?


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Wednesday, 17 July 2013

The Birthday Mission

Our 'birthday season' is almost upon us.

And truth be told, I am thoroughly unprepared. I started the second half of the year with the best intentions, however a mistake in my pay and a few uncovered errors at the tax office has left us tighter than usual. There's no point getting upset or angry about it, these things happen and they're on their way to being fixed so it's just a case of sit tight and wait.

We have plenty to cover food on the table and the bills being paid, for that, I am thankful and so therefore, grateful as there have been times in my past, before meeting my husband and having a family, where I couldn't achieve at least one of these.

Anyways, 'birthday season' is the never-ending stream of birthdays and occasions that start from August 1st and do not stop until the end of November, at which time, I'm already well into my Christmas planning (who am I kidding, I've already started planning Christmas). In August alone there are four birthdays, including my own (soon to be five as Bear is due) and two wedding anniversaries. September brings a further four birthdays, with October two more and November yet another two.

But of all of these many, many happy returns, there is one that means more to me than any other and of course it does...I was there the second she took her first breath, it is of course, Moo's birthday which is in October.

It would be fair to say that of her first two birthdays, I gave a pretty poor showing. For her first birthday I had been unfortunately quite ill and under out-patient investigation at a Brighton hospital for undiagnosed neurological problems. I was on statutory sick pay and we were struggling big time. My mother-in-law kindly bought some things for me to be able to throw Moo a little tea party with her friends, her NanNan made her a lovely cake and to be honest, at one, she was thrilled to bits just to have all her chums in her house at once! I felt like a failure but things were sorted by Christmas and we tried to make up for it then, not just through a few extra presents, but through the experience.

Her second birthday was a bit pear-shaped too unfortunately. She was incredibly poorly and even now, looking back at photos from that day, you can see how incredibly tired and ill she looks. To top it all off I spent the entire day working at the East Sussex Toddler and Baby Show on behalf of my husband and his brother which means that excluding the morning and the evening, I missed the entire day. She'd spent it with my father-in-law and most of that she'd been asleep or cuddling someone. She had wonderful presents because the husband and I had only been back from Florida a week or so where we'd been on honeymoon, but that's not the point, is it? I should've been there.

Once again NanNan came through on the cake front. Just to clarify, NanNan is my husband's grandmother. A woman who commands respect with three children, seven grandchildren and nine (almost ten) great-grandchildren to name just a smidgen of her accomplishments.

So this year, this year I am going to be super-mum. My only focus, once her brother is out, will be to give her the birthday she deserves. Food, cake, presents and an epic party. I am going to handle every step, get my best crafting and baking efforts out of the bag, learn how to ice a cake beautifully and above all, be there. Right there. All day. Showing her that she is one of the greatest parts of my life and I would be so much less of a person without her in it and that even though she drives me bonkers, I love her more than I ever thought I could.

I'll keep you updated with my birthday-prep over the next couple of months. If you'd like to link me any posts on the birthday parties you've thrown for your children for inspiration/motivation, I'd be thrilled to check them out!


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Budgeting; managing the month

In our house, money never sticks around for long. We are fortunate enough to be in a situation that we have enough to cover all the outgoings including a few luxuries like Sky and Spotify and a bit spare for birthday presents, outings to soft play etc but things are tight and it is a juggling act.

Today I'd like to talk to you about how we keep our beady, little eyes on our finances, especially now I'm on maternity leave and our income is getting smaller and smaller in the run-up to baby Bear making his grand entrance.

This is our calendar. For ages we both had all of our ins and outs and direct debit dates on our phones and iPads. But it then meant so much shuffling back and forth between the calendar, the calculator and the notes and we were both getting into a bit of a muddle. So we popped out one day and found this!

It's adhesive and so sticks directly to our fridge which is nice as I'm not forever picking it up and re-pinning it to a cork board or misplacing it. Apparently it doesn't leave residue when you peel it off (I don't plan on doing that for awhile but I hate re-adhesive always goes wrong).

Using white board markers we write in the month and it's dates in the correct boxes. We then use colour-co-ordinated markers to write in our ins, our outs and any family-impacting events so that they cannot be forgotten such as midwife appointments, parties, weddings etc.

Black; dates.
Green; ins.
Red; outs.
Blue; events.

Our bills are spread out across the month because in my job, I get paid weekly. I cannot express how handy it is to have it all written out in front of me, when I know I've got a bill coming up, I can see easily what day it's going to come out and what I have coming in before hand to cover it. We find that this works really well for us but it might not suit everyone. A regular calendar would work just as well however when we went on a hunt we couldn't find a calendar with big enough boxes that wasn't £11 (yes, really). My little duck helps me keep track of what day we're on, I move him over in the mornings when getting breakfast. Am I the only person that never knows what the day of the week is?

Stick-on calendar £6 Martha Stewart and white board markers 4 pack £5.50 Sharpie, both from Staples.

How do you manage your monthly budget? Is it as much a logistical nightmare as mine?


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Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Five Things - Bananas

Moo and I LOVE bananas...I know they're not for everyone (one of my best friends is literally terrified of them...not sure why, I'd understand if they moved independently...) but I think they're oh so tasty.

Unfortunately Moo has a bit of a love/love-less relationship with them and some weeks I end up with a couple of extras. Now, my husband is the sort of person that thinks nothing of tossing a couple of brown bananas away. He hates them and they're only a few pence, get them out of the kitchen before the new grocery shop arrives. Nooooooo!! Don't do that! I can ALWAYS find a use for an over-ripe banana and here are my top five...

1. Banana Cake.
My personal favourite. Because in case you hadn't noticed...I love cake. Here's my go-to recipe for a tasty banana cake with cream cheese frosting. It makes a great loaf or single-tier cake, or twelve lovely cupcakes! You'll need...
-125g unsealed butter/margarine.
-125g light brown sugar.
-150g self-raising flour.
-1tsp baking powder.
-2 eggs
-1 banana mashed until smooth (if it's chunkier it's not a big deal but it will make the cake more moist).
Pre-heat your oven to 180c/gas mark 4 before mixing together your butter, sugar, flour, baking powder, flour and eggs. Yes, just whack it all in there!! Mix it all thoroughly until nicely combined and then add your banana, mixing in until its nicely combined. Now's the time to pop the mixture into your greased tin or your cupcake cases. Bake for about 20 minutes (varies slightly depending on what you're cooking) until its golden brown and firm to the touch. Bingo! Banana cake!! It's not the most earth-shattering recipe, it won't win any awards but I love it. The flavours aren't so complex that younger children will be put off also. If you wanted a more complex favour, you could try adding ground almonds and/ground mixed spice.
For the yummy cream cheese icing you'll need...
-80g unsealed butter.
-40g cream cheese.
-200g icing sugar, sifted.
-1tsp vanilla extract (or flavouring ;))
Cream the butter and cream cheese together before gradually adding the sifted icing sugar until it's 'light and fluffy'. Add the vanilla and mix in before chilling for at least 30 mins. This will make quite a bit of icing, keep it refrigerated if you have excess (and make carrot cake the next day).

2. Smoothie.
Strawberry and banana smoothie? In this weather? Yes. Please!! Toss your banana with a handful of strawberries and a splash of apple juice into your blender and whizz it up. If it's too thick, add a bit more juice. Lush and refreshing, one is never enough!

3. Shampoo.
I have been doing this for literally years. I was a Brownie when I first made it so that really should date it for you.
Mash up your banana (do it really, really well...use a blender if possible as trust me, you do not want to spend hours combing chunks of banana out of your wet hair). Add to the banana mash a desert spoon of vinegar and the yolk of one egg. Mix it up and slather it on your hair. I normally leave it on for fifteen minutes or so before combing it through and washing it out in the shower. I follow it up with a nice conditioner just in case of any lingering vinegar smell. It is a very nice treat for the hair.

4. Milkshake.
Yes, I know...similar to the smoothie but not the same so we're going to roll with it!
Plonk your banana into the blender with three-quarters of a glass of milk (or soya if you're intolerant to dairy like me) with a couple of cubes of ice and whizz to make a nice cold milkshake. You could substitute the ice cubes for ice cream if you fancy something creamier.

5. Exfoliator.
Add mashed banana (it doesn't have to be as smooth as for shampoo or cake) and add some brown sugar as an abrasive to make a handy exfoliator that's good for fake tan, dry skin, rough lips, hard feet and peeling sun burn. If you or your children are sensitive to chemicals in toiletries then this is a great shout as it contains only two natural ingredients. It's super cheap, too!!

Yes. I do really do all of those things on a reasonably regular basis. I hate waste.

Do you have any go-to uses for an over-ripe (or even a rotten) banana?


Oh...his banana hatred didn't stop him from eating my last slice of banana cake on Sunday night while he was up late for the wrestling.


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