My Aquarium with Swell UK *Review*

Carson has wanted pets for a while now but I simply do not have the time to be walking dogs or calling cats when I get home from work (meany bum, I know!) so I persuaded him that fish were the way to go!
I am not going to lie though, I haven't the first idea about fish - even goldfish. All I did know is that I did not want a bog standard plastic bowl with one solitary fish and his castle home. I was thinking the fish could amuse Carson and the tank could add a bit of style to my, otherwise boring, living room.

Two birds, One stone :-D     ...(ok, two fish, several stones!)

I was very excited to learn I had the opportunity to collaborate with Swell UK in setting up my very first aquarium.

SWELL UK

As the UK's leading retailer of aquariums and pond products, swelluk.com, offer an incredible range of equipment suitable for any level of expertise and  I was confident in the advice provided once I enquired about my needs, bearing in mind I was a total novice. I did have the opportunity to go for a tropical aquarium if I liked, however I'd bigged up goldfish so much that there was no going back from this from Carson's point of view.
So, firstly, I learnt that goldfish can grow to be quite sizeable (who knew?!) so to ensure I plan for the future prior to choosing my size and type of tank.
With this in mind, I opted for ....

PRODUCT

... the astoundingly stylish Fluval Edge 23L. Small and sleek enough to not need a specific table or stand, but large enough to house 2 goldfish with an incredible 360 degree view.

What a beautiful piece.

Retailing at £99.99 it is the world's first cube aquarium measuring a mere 43cm in length. A retractable LED lighting system allows for 3 moody settings: no light, white day light and a stunning blue night light. The set back base gives the grand illusion of a floating tank, plus the hood hides the filtration system so no obvious gadgety bits on show. The entire aquarium is stupendously classy. That alone, before we even chose fish and bit/pieces, was enough for me. (A bit like buying a perfume for its' bottle not its' contents!)

L-R CLOCKWISE: FILTRATION SYSTEM PUT TOGETHER, EXTRAS INCLUDED TO SET UP TANK, GRAVEL WE CHOSE, THE FLUVAL EDGE 23L TANK BOX.


SETTING UP MY AQUARIUM 
(For newbies, like me!)


Tank: I thought filters and pumps etc meant serious knowledge was required. I had my Dad on hand in case I got stuck! Honestly though, this was a 3 step process that Carson could have done himself.


The instructions were simple to follow and the box even had the images to follow, eradicating the need to actually read if you didn't want to.

There are 2 plugs with this tank - the filter pump and the lighting system, so remember that for when you're thinking about where to place it.

Decor: We opted for a green and white coloured gravel and required 1.5 bags of this to cover the base of the tank by approx. 1 inch. Give it a good rinse first remember!

In keeping with the green/white colours, we purchased 2 weighted 'fuzzy ball' decorations and 2 artificial, and taller, 'plants'. One that stays still and one that looks very realistic as the fish swim around them, the 'leaves' elegantly swoosh from side to side.

Introducing the fish: Carson chose a Shubunkin goldfish called Angela and a Comet goldfish called Blake. We kept them in their bags of water for a good 1.5 hours whilst we were sorting their interior design!

The tank came with an algae prevention pouch, which simply sits on top of the filter, and two bottles of solution. One to dechlorinate the tap water to make it safe for the fish to live in and one to start the nitrogen cycle (basically, allowing the bacteria required to eat fish waste to grow).

Once the correct amounts of solution were put in the water, we placed the fish (still in their bags) through the hole at the top - to get them used to the temperature of their new water. After 30 minutes of doing this, we simply emptied them gently in to their new home and watched.. and watched. Mesmerising, are fish!

When introducing fish to an unestablished tank it is so very important to continue adding the solutions which assist in establishing the nitrogen cycle over the course of their first three days, else risk waking up to belly up pets. You must also feed them as little as possible, which reduces the amount of fish waste produced, thus speeding the cycle up.

SWELL UK
FINISHED PRODUCT COMPLETE WITH FISH, DECOR AND DAY LIGHT 'ON'

I am now at the end of the 3rd full day and my fish are alive and swimming (yay!). The water is a little cloudy at the moment but I'm of the understanding that this is normal at this stage and will (should) rectify itself any day now.

OVERALL OPINION 

The Fluval Edge 23L is advertised as suitable for tropical tanks, however please bear in mind that a thermostat is not included so you would need to purchase that separately if you decided to have a tropical aquarium.
For coldwater fish though, you have all you need in one ultra-stunning compact product. The gentle trickling sound of the water aeration process is calming and relaxing to say the least. The lighting adds mood to any given room at any given time. The cuboid make-up is definitely the highlight of this product. Talk about aesthetically pleasing - wow!

Swell UK offer all you need in one place, with a lowest price guarantee, free next day delivery on orders placed before 2pm and over £50, and 60 day returns. Advice is on-hand if need be and you can be confident that you are dealing with a leading UK retailer that specialise in their field.

I couldn't fault my experience. From the choosing of my item to the finished final product, I am thrilled. I intend on writing another post in a few months and let you know how the water changes are going, along with the (hopeful) survival of Angela and Blake!

Nightlight

Daylight
SPECIAL OFFER: I have been given a very generous discount code for you all. Swell Aquatics and Swell Reptiles - spend a minimum of £25, you will receive a 10% discount off of your first order by using this code: SWELL10. Let me know if you take the leap!

If you've not had an aquarium before and are thinking about doing it now, or perhaps you are a beginner thinking a plastic fish bowl is about all you can manage... just do it. Best decision ever.

Do you have an aquarium? Is there anything I should be careful of moving forward?

DISCLAIMER: I WAS SENT THIS ITEM FOR THE PURPOSE OF REVIEWING THE PROCESS OF SETTING UP AN AQUARIUM. THE FLUVAL EDGE 23L WAS SUPPLIED FREE OF CHARGE FROM SWELLUK.COM. ALL OF THE ABOVE IS BASED SOLELY ON MY EXPERIENCE AND HONEST OPINIONS. I WAS NOT PAID TO WRITE THIS POST.

Pelvic Pain and SPD in Pregnancy

You're pregnant and you have been visited by the SPD Monster. Waaaa! 

Yup, Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction... a pain in the nether region.

Seriously! It's form can vary from mildly annoying to debilitating and although there are several symptoms that can arise, I'd like to share my personal symptoms: 
  • Feeling like I've been kicked between the legs
  • Sensation of severe bruising, and sometimes a strong burn on the pubic bone (Centre)
  • Right thigh bone grinding during attempts of movement up/down stairs or out of bed (since I started drafting this post last week, it now 'pops' out when walking upstairs)
  • A waddling gait
  • Inability to put on (or remove) knickers/bottoms/socks/shoes in a ladylike fashion
  • Grunting uncontrollably
  • Inability to physically move from a seated or lying position without pulling/pushing myself around 
  • Whinging
When I was expecting Carson, I suffered from this in a mild form in the much later stages, other than resting and keeping my legs closed there wasn't much to do. 

This time round it is enough to bring me to tears. My freedom has been torn away. I cannot even go from sitting to standing without it being blindingly obvious that there's something wrong. Backside poking outwards, knees bent, obligatory "oh uuuh aaarrgh", whilst building up the courage to take my first step and over thinking which foot to move first so as not to tumble or crumble.

Heck, it even upsets me when I have to explain what it is. I feel like I'm not doing my pain justice enough. No words can truly describe! Do you know what I mean?!

And then come the innocent questions that wind you up... "well, can't you do anything about it" ...  "strange, you never had it like this last time"... and instantly, the hormones kick in and make me want to tell those people to just piddle off. Especially when they have no kids themselves. I want to wave the book of Google in their faces and tell them to search for it themselves, if they don't believe me. 

What am I typing?! Of course they believe me...sorry guys, I'm just being melodramatic right now, it's because it's bed time and I'm dreading it!! Oh I can be an awful so 'n' so sometimes can't I!! What's happening to me?!

Anyway... on the basis of general advice, I've found that sitting on plastic bags do work - to a certain extent. But you can't sleep on them. Not a chance. The rustling and misplacing whilst attempting to roll over, just... no! 

As it stands - sleep is the main area for concern right now. I'm so tired that I can't remember the last time my eyes didn't burn and my head didn't pound when I had to get out of bed. 

I have a few products on the way to me to give a good whirl, and I'm hopeful that they'll help. I will be letting you all know whether they do help, and in what way. Knowledge is power!

Right now, I'll try anything. What have you found works?

*REVIEW* Stone Bridge Hair Accessories #2

As a reader of Coming from Carsonsmummy you have probably already read my previous review of www.stone-bridge.co.uk Stone Bridge Hair Accessories, from back in September 2012.  If not click here to read the first review before reading on!

Ok... so now you know how I felt first time round, was second time round going to be any different?

PACKAGING


My package arrived in neat, crisp, brown paper sealed with a label. Which, by the way, is purely intended to excite the living kahuhna's out of you. I was like "OMG It's here!!"



On opening the package, I was greeted with the same delicate tissue, tied with red ribbon, just as I had done previously.

The product in question was HEEERE!!!

And, more to the point, it was specially chosen in line with my features, from hair colour to hair type. Stone Bridge is not just an online shop. They offer bespoke guidance as to what would suit you best within your budget.

My item was this....

PRODUCT SPEC



The stunningly striking  Galaxy Swarovski Crystal Large Barrette in  Purple Andromeda, perfect for medium to thick hair or, in my case, long fine hair (but a lot of it!).


I need to tell you that this barrette is not cheap. Far from it.

Carefully handmade, inclusive of 105 swarovski crystals and an exceptionally strong clasp. It's currently retailing at £147.

APPLICATION

I held my hair as if to place it in a pony tail, but twisted the hair whilst lifting upwards. I then folded the twist back down on itself so it fanned out slightly and allowed 'messy' layers to fall out of the twist.

I grabbed the barrette, slid the clasp's arm under the fold and popped the shell down in place.

Wallah! 


My boring 30 second up 'do' has been transformed immediately with a classy sparkle and a strong hold. With a little tug here and there to make it truly an 'effortless' hair-up style, I end up with this...



OVERALL OPINION.

We've all had those cheap plastic-clasped barrettes from the local discount store/market stall and you've probably had great use out of it's £5-odd price tag, but ask yourself the following:
1. Did your hair feel defiantly held in place?
2. Were you confident in it's ability to do the job, given your thick/long hair?
3. Did you have a sparkle to your hair that wasn't just glitter or diamante's?
My guess to all of the above is no, because I certainly haven't and I have tried something rotten let me tell you. If you did - how long did it last before breaking?

It is available in other colours, Deep Space (a kind of charcoal blue colour) and Orion Nebula Pink (a more coral-like colour to my Purple Andromeda) so whether brunette, blonde, ginger or red... whatever colour really, any of these options should suit.

This special item leaves you feeling confident in the hold and style of your hair, and do it in ruddy style! From the product performance right down to the packaging, you know that you're getting what you're paying for. I know that the £147 price tag is not small. It's not something I could afford, that's for sure, but wow... If I could, I would. In my own honest opinion...  the quality, quite simply, speaks for itself. It truly does.

What's the best best hair accessory you've ever had?

When an innocent comment offends

Beginning to feel quite proud of my bump, I was quite perturbed by a comment that questioned why I was 'different' to 'most other women'.

Firstly, I don't want to be like most other woman so should I really take offence?
Secondly, this comment came from a man so should I really care?

Err... hello! I'm super emotionally charged right now so yes I care and yes I take offence!! But god forbid I question those thoughts, for fear of being labelled an over dramatic mega-bitch. Instead I allow a hot burning tear to drip down my face and swallow the comments along with the rest of my gross cravings. Yum!

To begin with, I was fat at week 0 so straight away I'm 'different to most other women' in the eyes of a man anyway, especially if media is anything to go by. All these beautifully glowing, slender women with their clothing carving the world's perfect idea of a non-lumpy bump. (Jealous much?!)

Then comes the fact that no two bumps are ever the same, between separate people or separate pregnancies, so expecting my second makes for even more scrutiny and constant comparison anyway. Don't get me wrong, I do it myself... But that's allowed!! Not when someone else does coupled with a confused tone in their voice.

'Most other women' ... apparently... have a round bump at the base of their belly which grows at a much slower rate.

Now, mine is 'all front, everything grows with it - there's no ball at the bottom, like a pot belly'
I also appear to be much bigger at this stage second time round.

*OMG I've just had a good cry mid-post*

I literally cannot say, out loud, why this has upset me so much for fear of being ridiculed or laughed at or even making anyone annoyed with me.

I just feel like, how dare you? How dare you question why I'm different? Why are you so confused by my seemingly strange appearance?

*sigh*

I know, deep down, that this person would be devastated to know that their quip is the reason behind my being so upset, in fact I think it would make him just as upset as I am.

... oh to be 'normal' again.

*Review* Vinyl Clocks and Valentines

Think about it, what 2 'things' make you come over all warm and nostalgic? OK, so 'things' isn't the best way to describe these and you may not know where to start with that question (great opener, Jo... not!) but when I type them now, you will agree. Of that I'm sure!

Music and Aroma's.

They are the two strongest memory movers I know. You catch that one specific whiff of spring in the air and you're right back being 10 years old playing rounders with the neighbours in the park. A song comes on the radio and you're all like "OMG!" with your friends about that time you went on ice-skating and all ended up on your bums when trying to do this dance!

With 'memory movers' having the strongest capability of emotionally affecting you, surely you want to be looking at these kinds of gifts for Valentines day?

What you need are timeless memories. Cue Vinyl Records!

 

Beautifully packaged in several stages of careful protection - soft foam, a retro pizza-style box and delicate pink tissue within, it feels kinda special before you even get inside. A surprise note of love in each layer, gently reminding you of how to cherish it's glory, how special this item is, and the guarantees you have.

N'aaawwww, Sweet!

Seriously, this item was sent to me for the purposes of review so I kinda knew what was coming (to a certain extent), but if a significant other purchased this for me I would be speechless.
... First impressions? I. AM. MEGA. SPESH!

Without opening the box, you gather what you have. A Vinyl Clock (duh!) But when you open it up, revealing the pink-tissue covered protective foam, resembling a candy floss coloured record player ....

Vinyl Clocks: Love Me by Diana Ross

.... and, then, it hits you. It's a song with a message!! It's your song!!

Now, everyone has a song of significance. It goes back to my 'memory movers' point at the beginning of this post. Even if you can't hear music, you can feel music. That's what makes it so romantic in itself. So, to have your song gifted to you in a truly 'timeless' fashion that can be displayed in any room is the height of thoughtfulness.

It comes with a battery ready to pop in and go and ... get this... ironically, it is silent! No pesky ticking or tocking or 'needle jumping' (see what I did there?) - the second hand has that of a sweeping motion so you get a gloriously chic twist on a retro product.

Head over to vinylclocks.com and you will see the vast range of vinyl they have, ranging from the 60's to 2010's, 7" singles to 12" albums, and even picture clocks. Why not simply browse their entire list of number ones?

Be it for sending a message, like this: The Beatles: Love Me Do / PS. I Love You for just £19.95, or that song you first danced together to at that Disco in the 80's: David Bowie: Let's Dance for £34.95 - You are bound to find what you're looking for for that special someone this valentines day.

Mine, now takes pride of place on the back of the living room door and it looks fab! Don't you think??

What's the best Valentines' Day gift you ever received/bought? Would this be a choice for you?

xxxx

Favourite Christmas Presents

This week's #shareitsundays is a tough topic in The Smith household!

Favourite Christmas Presents...

Magic of Christmas 

Santa's delivery
Well if the look on Carson's face for each and every present opened told you anything, it's that EVERYTHING was his favourite on the day!

Let me tell you, Carson is so well mannered and an exceptionally grateful child. I knew that he'd have no issues with his haul from Santa, but felt sure there'd be a warm favourite by now. 

Well, no, not really! He is still buzzing over his new play things and everyday so, short of listing everything down, I'm not really sure what presents to write about.

Alongside goodies from within his fave TV shows; Spongebob and Monster's Inc, I can say that I was conscious of ensuring he had a few 'retro' style gifts this year. Possibly a selfish act, because it made me feel all warm and nostalgic, but they were greeted with as much awe as everything else. 

Top trumps, yo-yo, stocking bursting with fruit/chocolate coins/a few pennies, the flashing wheel on the metal rod thing - you know what I mean. I bet you had one yourselves!! #Addictive


Flashing Wheel on Metal Rod-thing!

I'm a great believer that children should remain children so when I see the very young (aged 4-6yrs old) getting brand new adult tablets for Christmas 'from Father Christmas' it makes me sad. Elves don't make adult's tablets!!

Don't get me wrong, tablets made and specifically aimed at children are excellent. They have great educational value as well as entertainment value too.

Carson has an Innotab 2 that Santa brought last year for him, one of the best investments ever made. So this year warranted a few new cartridges to re-new that past gift that no-doubt would have been forgotten all about after receiving all these new goodies this year!

Connect 4, Spongebob Edition, was a retro-ish game choice this year. Although I don't like the 'modern twist', it seems pointless to me, we just play the original version and it brings hours of fun for us both.



I guess, in summary, to not have a fave christmas present is more a testament to what was actually received this year as opposed to not having anything worth talking about!! Classic, timeless, loved all year round gifts.

I doubt I'll be as lucky every year but I'm deffo as chuffed as Carson this year :-)

ohsoamelia

#SuperSundaySavings Week 1

As you'll remember reading here, you'll know I'm attempting to save £10 per week to assist in buying everything I need for our impending arrival! I aim to do this by saving £2 per working day.

********

Monday 
What a terrible start!! Having had horrendous toothache and living on cocodomol last weekend, I'd managed to make an emergency dentist appointment but it was slap bang in the middle of the working day.
So, where I would normally get a free lift home from our van driver on a Monday, I had to shell out £3 train fare and an additional £7 taxi fare from the train station to the dentist. Devastation!!
The only plus side to this is that my boss let me work from home in the afternoon so I didn't have to spend that again getting back to the office.
Saved: £0

Tuesday
After yesterday, I simply took £2 out of my purse and put it in the cupboard in the kitchen - out of sight, out of mind.
Saved: £2

Wednesday
Another awful day! I had nothing in the house to take for my lunch so I had bought myself a tuna mayo sandwich for lunch from the shop when waiting for the bus in the morning. I decided against the obligatory diet coke and fruit salad, thus saving £2 wahooo.
UNTIL, in typical fashion for my life, lunchtime came and it was OUT OF DATE!
Cue pregnant emotional turmoil. I could have cried, I nearly did - my eyes were burning. How irresponsible of the shop owner not to check the stock dates and being tuna as well, for a pregnant customer, oh my days!
I had managed to find approx £2.20 in change in the bottom of my handbag and walked to the Subway in the rain to buy my lunch.
Saved: £0

Thursday
Fuming with yesterday, I returned to the shop before my bus came in the morning and sounded off my disappointment. I then swapped the 2 day out of date tuna mayo for a 2 day in date egg mayo instead. For FREE, of course!
Saving: £2

Friday
Carson's dad bought salad stuff last night ready for Carson's lunch box today. He was also kind enough to make a lovely cheese salad for moi too.
Saving: £2

********

So, although I had extra expenditure, it all really was out of my hands so I'm going to discount being more in the red than in the black this week and go by what I did manage to actually save. I can see this being a lot more difficult than I had anticipated.

Week 1 total savings: £6/£10.


Share your savings stories! .... Grab my button ... Comment to tell me your post link an I will include your link here :-)

PARTICIPANTS:
1. Choccyaddicts Blog

#SuperSundaySavings

Pregnancy: It's not all sweetness and light (Contains TMI!)

Through puberty I always suffered with acne, greasy hair, dark hair regrowth etc. Never in my life have I been the 'seamless' kinda girl during transitional periods. I always end up with the embarrassing symptoms. I wouldn't be me without them!

So, why, the barnacles, did I think pregnancy would mean all glowing skin, healthy hair and strong nails this time around? 

Nope. Not 'lucky' enough for that!!

Instead, cue: 
  • Greasy hair - Dry shampoo aint saving this barnet, let me tell you.
  • BOILS - On my back, my face, my neck, my arms, my inner thighs for figs sake. Oh the shame 
  • Hair - Always had to maintain my upper lip anyway, I've never had a problem with that, but actual long hairs sprouting from my chin, and even my nipple, are terrifying. And, is it just me, or do they appear from nowhere at an extraordinary length?
  • Toothache - bad sensitivity has arisen from nowhere. Trip to the dentist is definitely required.
  • Leaking nipples - with Carson, it started at around 16 weeks and didn't stop 'til he was born. This time round it started at 20 weeks - and still going. If you could freeze breast milk, I'd get a pump right now and start storing it, I really would. I can seriously milk these babies right now - not just the odd drip!
  • Bleeding - I bled with Carson at around 24 weeks, this time it happened yesterday - 22 weeks. Although everything is fine, it's still very very scary.
  • Wind - pumps, farts, trumps... oh and burps, belches etc whatever you call them in your house - I just can't help it recently. Dear God. Although I will say that they don't smell haha! It's just air from all the compression inside. *Honest*
I've also had the return of the dreaded SPD and I've already told you about the need for glasses now too, but it's the small things like the above that get me down sometimes. I'm starting to enjoy pregnancy now, at 22 weeks, but it's the small every day embarrassments that wallop you in the mush, bringing you back down to miserable earth with an on-par-with-your-own-fat bump.

I'm just having a moan really. I totally appreciate that some poor souls go through ACTUAL complications. So, in reality, I'm thankful. Of course I am. 

...I'm still allowed to have an off day!

Anything else that you suffered with and *want* to share? 

I feel like an advert for Embarrassing Bodies right now! Lotsa love, Jo xx

#BabyBabble

Welcome 2014!

ohsoamelia
So much stuff happened in 2013. Some horrendous - the worst I've ever experienced, some pretty amazing.

Hey, I'm alive and growing another life within me too... I can't argue with the fact that some good came out of 2013.

All I wish for in 2014, is that I'm still alive and that life currently within me, is living happily and independently, alongside my little man Carson!

Along the way, I'm going to try and make the most of it for myself too!

Having a baby is expensive and I intend on being frugal. I bought a lot of unnecessary things for Carson when I was expecting him, things that just didn't need to be bought! This will not happen in 2014, but if I win it though... I am deffo chuffed haha :-)

1. As I mentioned here in this post, I'm going to try and save £2 per day, Mon-Fri, (£10 a week) for the next 6 months at least. I'll do a write up of how much money I've managed to save each week if possible. Fancy doing a linky? >> Let me know! Never done a linky before, don't really know how to if I'm honest so, honestly, please comment with your thoughts!!
**UPDATED: PLEASE SEE HERE FOR #SUPERSUNDAYSAVINGS**

2. Anything I win will be kept aside towards Christmas 2014, be it vouchers to help with the food shopping, or items that can be used as gifts, every little helps!! Oh, apart from baby things, they will obviously be gratefully accepted and utilised on his impending arrival - not long to go now.

3. Try not to moan every day. Ok, Ok this sounds a little ridiculous but if I genuinely reflect on last year I realise that I don't deserve to moan nonsensically every single day.
There are people out there with much more awful things going on than me, so why I think moaning about people not binning the bog roll tubes is worthy of a tweet is beyond me... BE MORE POSITIVE!

So, when I wish you this - I mean it truly - HAPPY NEW YEAR xxx

Welcome!

Welcome!