Saturday, 25 July 2015

Testing How Gentle Pampers Wipes Are #PampersPooface

We were excited to be asked to take part in a project with Pampers to test how mild the wipes are on babies skin. Having two babies close together means that baby wipes are an essential item for us - everywhere you look there is a pack. And not only do we use them for the babies - like most parents we use baby wipes for all sorts of things - cleaning, wiping worktops, wiping baby's mouths - I have even been known to put them on the bottom of my trainers and skid along the floor to clean up.... I mean erm...

Anyway, of course our baby's skin is important to us. Our girls are very fair and Rosie especially is prone to a bit of skin irritation - so the more gentle the baby wipes are the better.

Pampers sent us a pack so that we could crack on with our experiment.



Our pack included:

Pampers Baby Wipes
Ordinary Water
Cotton Wool
Indicator Paper
Sticky Tape
pH guide

It also included a little rubber duck, which made the experiment all the more interesting! See our video below to see how we got on.


We were surprised to see that the Pampers baby wipes were actually more pH balanced than ordinary cotton wool and water. This definitely has given me some confidence when using the wipes - I know that they are as gentle as can be for my girls' skin.

Pampers also have a really funny advertising campaign going on at the moment. Do check out their #Pamperspooface video here too.




I'm working with BritMums and Pampers testing their wipes and featuring their new #PampersPooface video. I was provided wipes and have been compensated for my time. All editorial and opinions are my own. Visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XrrnC62X6eA for more information.


Thursday, 23 July 2015

Book Review: My Stinky New School by Rebecca Elliott

Me, Alice and Rosie were really looking forward to reviewing this book. We love reading new books together and this one is the perfect size for bedtime.



This book is about Toby, who has his first day at school. Unfortunately, Toby does not like school! The book follows Toby's imagination as instead of meeting friends, he meets a whole host of other characters such as a mermaid, an alien and a pirate!

I loved the way that the book was so sensitive about Toby'uneasy transition into school. The way that he uses his imagination to make his friends different characters slowly unfolds throughout the book and in the end, he realises that he does like school - because he has actually made lots of friends without even realising.

Alice really enjoyed this book. I think it would be great for kids who may be a bit nervous about starting school. I will definitely be reminding Alice of these when she starts in Reception next year. Alice has taken well to pre-school and she really enjoys it, but each step can sometimes affect them and I love that there are books out there to open up the conversation about this.


The illustrations in the book are fun, and Alice loved to hold the book as I read it to her.

The author has written several books for children all aimed at helping children deal with unfamiliar and perhapd uncomfortable circumstances. To find out more do visit the author's website here.


Disclosure: We were sent this book for the purpose of this review, all words and views are my own. 

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Parragon Book Buddies Book Review: The Ugly Duckling

We are definitely book people in our house. I cant even begin to tell you how many book cases we have in our house let alone the number of actual books that we have. Both myself and Warren read a lot, and in turn, the children have picked up a love of reading. They still love their cartoons and their modern gadgets, but they also love the feel of real books with real pages, and even textures in some children's books, too.

We encourage the children to "read" themselves - they enjoy flicking through picture books and even Rosie pretends to read the bigger books. I am so glad that our children enjoy books - even Emily (who is 11 and find everything boring/sad/stupid) still likes to read. (After she has watched Coronation Street of course!)

Warren tends to be the "reader" to the kids at bedtime. As I spend more time with them in the day when I am off work, I read to them in this time. At bedtime, it tends to be Daddy they ask to read them their bedtime story. Up until very recently it has only been Alice who has a designated bedtime story, but just in the past month Rosie has also been asking for a short story before she settled down with her milk.

We were sent this book by Parragon last month.

This is Alice's best "SAY CHEESE" face
This is a beautiful board-book by Parragon with Slide and See features. Alice loves this one at the moment.


I love the way that the tale of the Ugly Duckling is told with the slide and see feature making it interactive for the reader. Alice enjoys getting involved and knows just exactly when to pull the tabs!

The book is illustrated beautifully and the simple take is told well.

This is definitely one of our go-to bedtime stories at the moment!


Disclosure: We were sent this book free of charge for the purpose of this review. All words and views are our own.

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

The Welfare Bill

Welfare.

It's like a dirty word rolling around our mouths, taboo.

It wasn't always so.

Let us picture for a minute a young woman. 23, single. With a young child. A baby. This young woman works a forty hour week for minimum wage. This young woman works for a shitty firm with no clear pay structure, no clear career progression, but still she works. She works because she knows that the experience will mean some sort of security for herself and her child, that one day she might get a well-paid job, one day the skills that she has learned and the life-lessons will stand her in good stead for a better-paid position.

For now, the money is poor. She works every possible hour, studies part time for her degree and meets her bills, just. But there is one shining light and that is WELFARE. Her government looks after her. Her government is aware that she does not earn enough money to keep a roof over her head, food in her belly, warmth in her home and childcare for her baby. Tax payers (whom she is one of) top up her wage so that she can live. So that she can keep on working all these hours. Until eventually she might finish her university course, until eventually she might not need to rely on these top-ups. Until such a time where she can take care of her own welfare.

Now let's put in place a Welfare Bill. We will limit the amount that she can receive back in top-ups. Why? Because we need to save money. We will take precisely £135 a month out of her pocket, £1,600 a year, or one week's childcare, whichever way you want to look at it.

What does she do? Where does she go? How will she live? Will she finish her degree? And what of her child? What of her daughter who she has worked so hard for?

Somewhere, across time, we can also picture a not-so-young-woman. Ten years between these women. Married, three children. First class degree, good job, decent money. She spends a lot of money on facecare products, wears an expensive diamond ring and has designer handbags. She likes freshly brewed tea at night and appreciates everything she has. This Welfare Bill affects this woman in a different way. This very same Welfare Bill will give her and her husband £1,600 per year extra, as they will not have to pay this in tax.  This is a new boiler, a week away to Spain, a new driveway.


Of course both of these women is me. I count myself lucky that I can see both sides. Feel both sides.

As a single parent, I needed that money. I don't need it now.

Why are we taking from the poorest and giving to the better off? Why are countless people across the country being driven further into poverty? Surely the idea of the Welfare State is to provide WELFARE to people who need it most.

Like me when I was young.












Monday, 20 July 2015

Summer Home Spruce Ups!

Home improvements – where do I start? Having the three children running around and making a mess every five minutes is not the ideal time to start improving the home really!

Tidying up after these two would be a start!!


However, I am aware that the children are now getting older and we have started to look at some of the things we could do to improve our home. Here are my top three:
    
      
      New Kitchen

I would absolutely love a new kitchen. I would love a huge Range cooker, brand new worktops and definitely more cupboard space. I would love someone to come in and design it for us with our space specifically in mind.

New Fitted Wardrobes

We already have some fitted wardrobes in our bedroom but they are quite tired-looking now. Maybe we could just change the doors and give the room just a bit of a face-lift – that might save some pennies and just perk the room up a little bit – add some new curtains and bedding and it would look like a new room entirely.

   
      New Drive

Our drive has been there since we have moved in – it is literally just tarmac. I would love to have a crazy-paving type drive and have the front garden spruced up while we were at it. I suppose that would mean a landscaper to come in and start the garden from scratch – that would be all fine by me!

To do any of these things might mean saving up our pennies, or even getting a home improvement loan – especially if we wanted a brand new kitchen. Of course getting a credit check https://www.creditexpert.co.uk/advice/experian-credit-check would be our first port of call if we decided to go down this route.
We are definitely going to use the summer to start de-cluttering our lives and begin thinking where we would like to start with our home improvement.  (My vote goes to the new kitchen!!)



Saturday, 18 July 2015

Foodies Festival with The Co-operative - Tatton Park

We love taking the kids out at weekends - this is our family time together. A food festival is something that we would definitely be up for - food, sunshine, some good wine and company - perfect day out for us.

The Foodies Festival at Tatton Park held this weekend was perfect for us. Tatton Park is gorgeous, it's not too far from Liverpool, takes us about 40 minutes to drive there. We were very lucky that we got excellent weather for the day - we packed our baby bag full of the usual supplies (sun cream, snacks and water for the journey, and baby wipes of course!) and set off.

It was so busy there - in a good way. The atmosphere was fantastic, there were lots of food and drink stands offering tasters and samples, as well as the opportunity to buy some local, fresh produce, and some things that were a bit niche such as the God Slayer Chilli Sauce that Warren bought from Wiltshire Chili Farms. It's safe to say that I won't really be getting involved in that, but I'm Warren will love it.

The Co-Operative had kindly provided us with our tickets and I must say that their stand was brilliant.They had an offer of Prosecco and Pizza for £4, and all the proceeds went to charity. There were three charities to choose from and you picked by popping your empty plastic wine glass in the corresponding bag. It was a great idea, and good to see companies getting involved and giving something back to the local communities.





I enjoyed a lovely glass of Prosecco in the sunshine and the three girls tucked into the gorgeous freshly-made pizza.

Say "cheese" girls!

Cheers!
We watched some of the master classes such as Simon Wood from Masterchef, and we eavesdropped on the Champagne session. There were so many stalls and we came away with quite a lot of food in our bag, including some gorgeous mega- thick-cut crisps called Slabs. I 'm sorry Slimming World!

We also bought Rosie some chips with parmesan shavings and mushroom salt - she wolfed the lot of them!

This is me stuffing my face.


Single Buggy Tandem!
All in all we had a great day. We stayed for a good few hours and tried a bit of everything. Well. they do say that a bit of what you fancy does you good.

The Foodies Festival runs at various venues up and down the country. Visit the website for prices and information.

Foodies Website

We were given VIP tickets by the Co-Operative to attend this event. All words and views are our own.

Friday, 17 July 2015

Review: Coronation Street Tour

We were absolutely over the moon to be invited to the Coronation Street Tour in Manchester. I have watched the soap over the years, apart from the last few where I have been dipping in and out. However, Emily absolutely LOVES Coronation Street. She is a bit of a soap addict so she was really chuffed to go.

The set is on Quay Street in Manchester, very easy to get to and has welcomed over half a million visitors since it first opened. However, sadly it is closing for good in December this year, so we were really glad to get to visit before this studio and set is gone forever!

The cast and crew left the set in 2013 to move to their new set in Media City. After this the tour was opened to the public. We began our tour in the "green room" where the stars of the show would rehearse. Just off this room were the dressing rooms. We were then led to basically a warehouse - where all of the internal scenes were shot. The inside of The Rovers Return, the Platt's house, the inside of the Kabin... it was really strange to be inside the sets - to see how the actors and actresses worked. Strange and amazing to think that it was always in a warehouse when on the screen it looks just like a usual house.



We were also shown a really brilliant mix of old and more recent clips - it was great to be reminded of some the happy and sad times, as well as explosive times! If you're a fan of Corrie then you'll know that it is quite funny at times as well as having the drama and emotion of a soap.

As a history geek, I was really pleased to see the old props that were kept - Deidre Barlow's glasses, Hayley Cropper's coffin, and lots of other little gems. I also loved the idea that they have hidden meercats around the sets and there is a little challenge for younger children to find them - I am sure that my younger two would love this.

It really was brilliant when we were sat in the inside of the Bistro, and the doors open to the sound of the Corrie music - and you just look out onto Coronation Street. It really was a great sight - me and Em were amazed, because you are really there! We had a wander around the street to outside the Rovers, to the Kabin, Audrey's salon and we had pizza and drinks in the Street! Emily was really happy (despite the Tween "not bothered" thing that she tends to have going on a lot of the time!) She even pretended to be Tina in spectacular fashion.



When you are on the tour you can even send a Coronation Street postcard to someone, post it through the red postbox on the Street and it will have a Weatherfield postmark! What a great souvenir in itself.




We really loved this tour. I would definitely recommend a visit over the summer holidays. A family ticket is £60 for two adults and two children, but children under 5 are free. I think that it would make a great day out. All in all we were there for about two hours. The tour guides were fabulous - full of lots of great little facts about the actors, key scenes and little secrets - I won't spoil it for you!

Home-Time Selfie! 
If you wanted to go over the summer do check out their website for more information. I would definitely recommend it.

http://www.coronationstreettour.co.uk/

We were invited on the tour free of charge for the purpose of this review. All words and views are our own.

Thursday, 16 July 2015

How To Get a First Class Honours With Three Kids, a Job and a Blog

Check out my titles, they get worse don't they.

So now I have completed my History degree and I got a FIRST CLASS HONOURS. (I put that in capitals just in case you didn't see it.) I am really proud, I did it part time so it took me six years. It's a long time. Post -grad in September.

Anyway, one of the questions that people ask me all the time is "How do you do it?" or they say "I don't know how you do it."

I'll be honest, these past couple of weeks since being exam and uni-reading free, I have still been mega-busy and so - I don't even know how I managed to do it in the first place.

But here, I will attempt to explain how I did it.

For the laughs, obvs.

1.) Children

Control any children you may have. Yes, you chose to have them - but you didn't choose for them to impede on your every waking moment. You need time.

You probably can't farm your kids out to anyone. You just have to get on with it whether they are at nursery or not. I liked to read at soft play. Seriously. Teach yourself how to work with a hundred kids screaming around you. After that it's all such a doddle. You can cope with anything,



P.S You can't put the kids in the wheelie bin



2.) Keep a clean house and a clear desk. Organisation is key.


3) Pregnancy

Aaah that old chestnut. You might plan one baby around your studies. It's do-able. Manage-able. But if six months after giving birth you find out that you are pregnant again - YOU'VE ONLY GOT YOURSELF TO BLAME SWEETCHEEKS. And besides, there are loads of opportunities for you to swot up/

You can:
 a) Take your books to your ante-natal appointments. That's LOADS of reading time, right there

b) Take your books in to delivery. What??? Is that weird?



4.) Work

You need to use every conceivable minute you have spare to read. The toilet is your friend. Dinner break? Read. Walking from one office to another? Read.

Bus to work? You've hit the jackpot!

5) The Toilet is Your Friend

Start a little library in there, trust me. The kids WILL eventually follow you in, obviously. But you can manage a few minutes of quiet in there. Especially if your other half is in. You might even grab a quick half an hour.



I still don't know how I managed it.

But these are some of the things I did.


Monday, 13 July 2015

Review: Play at Brewer's Fayre Chapel Brook Liverpool

We were delighted to be asked to attend a VIP event introducing the new new Play at Brewer's Fayre play area. We were invited to attend the action-packed day filled with crafts, face-painting, colouring in, a massive play area and some lovely food to boot. The kids also met Dennis the Menace and Gnasher and practically spent the whole afternoon running around enjoying themselves. If they are happy, we are happy and so we had a great day!



Before the meal came, the kids were playing in the play area. This was great - usually the kids get fed up waiting for food and we have to try and entertain them. Sometimes this works, sometimes it doesn't - however a soft play area never fails to keep them amused. They also worked up a decent appetite too and ate all the food in front of them - happy kids = happy parents in our house.


I really liked the menu. The kids menu was great value for money and contained everything that the kids might like to eat such as macaroni, hotdogs and burgers. Alice and Rosie had macaroni with garlic bread and Emily had a hotdog with chips and a sweetcorn wheel. The portion sizes were good and the kids ate it all.

Warren smothered chicken and I had a salad. I love salads when they are prepared by someone else and this really was lovely.



Overall we had a great time. We were really glad that we were invited to check out the new play area and we said that we would definitely return over the summer holidays. The kids had a ball and they were worn out when they got home!




Over the summer Brewer's Fayre have a summer deal on - 2 for 1 meals and kids go free. Do check out the link and check the times - definitely worth a visit to keep the kids entertained for a few hours over the summer.

Friday, 10 July 2015

A327 Results and Degree Complete!

Absolutely over the moon.

I averaged 81 in my essays this year and scored 85 in the exam. This is the highest exam score I have ever had, and makes me very happy - I have never had a higher exam score than my average essays either - I am very proud of myself, I quoted Marx and EVERYTHING!

I realise I haven't written much about the A327 module - maybe this tells you how much of my time it has consumed. However, I promise to write a "review" style post very soon.

With distinctions in all four examinable modules, this means I now have a First Class Honours!

So now I have claimed my degree and my graduation ceremony is in November in Manchester.

I thought I might cry when I got my results. Or laugh. Or go crazy.

It's a weird feeling I have. Like "I've done it." Something between accomplishment and defiance. I don't feel any different. But when I'd finished the exam I did feel different. Like after three hours of writing what I knew... everything had changed.  I took a photo on the bus on the way home.

This was my "exams done" face :)

It's done, but it's not finished yet.


Post grad studies, here I come.

Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Review: Glasses Shop Glasses & Free Pair Offer

Now if you know me you will know that my eyes are absolutely rubbish. I can barely see a foot in front of my face. So I do have quite a few pair of glasses, and I always enjoy trying on new styles. I was really excited to be offered to try a pair from GlassesShop.com



The pair that I chose are half rimmed, rectangle shaped and black with grey flecks on the arms. They are made of metal and are lightweight.



As you can tell from the photographs this shape flatters my face and the glasses are really comfortable to wear. These ones are about £20 but they do lots of different glasses to suit all budgets. They have plenty of cheap glasses that are great value. They also sell prescription sunglasses - I'll definitely be checking these out for over the summer.

I also wanted to let you know that they are also running a campaign called First Pair Free which basically gives you a free pair of glasses, excluding shipping and handling fees. Well worth checking out if you were after a new pair.

Do check out their website for more information.

I was sent these glasses free of charge for the purpose of this review, all words and views are my own

Summer Essentials Wish List

Now it is summer I've been thinking about what I might need for myself (and not the kids, for a change!). This has been playing on my mind more since I have lost weight - having dropped a dress size I know that the clothes that I do have will need to be replaced. We do not have a beach holiday planned this year, but we are going to Berlin for a few days in August. We can't wait so these are the essentials that I will be buying for this summer.

1.) Jump Suits

We only need a few new outfits and I plan on dropping another dress size before Christmas, so I don't really want to spend a fortune. I love places like Matalan - the clothes are not expensive, but the quality is there. They have a sale on at the moment so I am quite keen to pick a jumpsuit.

I really love this colour - not sure I will get away with it just yet but I'll definitely be trying this on when I go shopping!


2.) Maxi Dresses

I love how cool maxi-dresses are and they can hide a multitude of curves if you want! Definitely need to pick up a few of these for summer. I would probably look in New Look and even TK Maxx - got to love a bargain.

3) New Luggage

We will need some new suitcases for our trip Ours have been battered from pillar to post. I think a couple of small ones that can go in the hold will be enough. We will have to shop around for them.

4) Sandals

Sandals are a must in the heat. I can't bear for my feet to feel trapped! There are some gorgeous sandals from Jones Bootmaker I have been looking at lately. I like a sandal that I can walk in for a good while so these would be ideal:



5) Sunglasses

I will have to keep an eye out for some sunglasses. I hate the sun in my eyes and the sunglasses I have are a bit old now. I can't wait to go shopping I'll have a job on my hands - I keep saying "I'll get it nearer the time" but that time is going to sneak up on me and the holidays will be here before I know it!

This wish list was written in collaboration with Jones Bootmaker. All words and views are my own.


Thursday, 2 July 2015

Review: Clarks Brogues from Brantano Footwear

I was delighted to be able to work with Brantano Footwear - I do love shoes but tend to put the kids' shoes and footwear before my own - I am the kind of mum that wears her shoes into the ground before buying more! However, I have been trying to change this lately, and so I was really excited to be asked to review a pair of shoes (for myself!) from Brantano's website. Brantano do shoes for all the family so of course I had a good nosey around their fab website before deciding which ones to pick!

We tend to buy our girls Clarks shoes. They last a long time and are excellent quality - so I chose myself a pair of Clarks Hamble Oak Blue Brogues. I can not stress how excited I was when the postman handed me the box! I LOVE flat shoes and I have a bit of an obsession with a good brogue. They are so versatile, and these ones are adorable. I love them.



These brogues are in soft, patent blue leather and have lovely cushioning on the inside. An absolute joy to wear. They came with beautiful ribbon-style laces and a pack of normal navy laces too. I love the ribbon - it just gives a soft feminine touch to a classic brogue. The sole is brown, and there is a slight heel - maybe a centimetre or so - makes a great sound on concrete.

I love these shoes. I knew I would love them before they arrived and now they are here I wear them all the time, no kidding. Warren has joked that I will probably buy any new clothes with a splash of blue in them so that I can wear these shoes... he's not far from wrong! I wore them a few weeks ago with a blue polka dot dress and they were lovely - and so comfy too - handy when I am chasing the little ones around!



These shoes were £60 from Brantano, definitely worth the price - the quality is there and definitely worth paying for.

Do keep up with Brantano and check out their website

www.brantano.co.uk

Follow Brantano on Twitter

Like Brantano on Facebook

I was sent these shoes for the purpose of this review. All words and views are my own.

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