Christmas Traditions in Our House

I adore Christmas, always have and I'm pretty sure I always will. It was my Dad who was the major Christmas nut in our family, always making it feel special and somehow, even as kids, we never ever argued on Christmas day. There was something eerily magical about it, right into my adult years. 

This year, Carson and I made a plate for Santa's mince pie and Rudolph's carrot.

Christmas Eve we got one present to unwrap from our parents - new pyjamas. So we'd all get a bath early to change into our new pjs, whilst dad would run up the road to the chippy for sausage and chips for tea. We'd munch through our tea in the living room on the floor whilst watching The Snowman - usually followed by Scrooged on VHS that my nan had taped from her Sky. Am I the only one who is conditioned to believe that Christmas isn't Christmas without Bill Murray?  Anyway...

Finley and Carson in their Christmas PJ's 2015.

I think Christmas Eve was the only night of the year that we'd all go to bed when we were told without moaning, but not before the obligatory mince pie and carrot were carefully placed on the hearth and our stockings all laid out in our own personal areas of the living room. 

No fancy colour schemes for us. Just an explosion of all things festive.

We had quirky little Christmas Day traditions. No TV for anyone until after 6pm (and as we grew older that also became an "MPFZ" aka mobile phone free zone!). Some of my school friends found it weird I'd not watched the hottest Christmas movie at the time on terrestrial TV but I really didn't care. It's what made Christmas different.  The mini variety pack's of individually boxed cereal to choose from for breakfast. Buying these at any other time of the year just felt... weird! I mean seriously, you knew Crimbo was coming when Mum bought those bad boys! 

New PJ's, mince pie and carrot, thumbs up to that!
I replicate these traditions with my own children because I really want them to feel how special it can be, just as I was lucky enough to with my brother and sisters. 

Carson, being 7 years old now, is just at that stage were he know's what Christmas traditions we do and is really into them now too. Christmas eve, before bed, he asked if he could be the one to open the variety boxes of cereals and place one each for all four of us into our bowls at the dining table ready to be opened in the morning. Bless. Never known a child to be so excited at such a small thing but it shows that these little traditions really do add to the suspense and excitement of Christmas. For me, anyway. 
Simply must get a pic in front of the tree every year!

I love my family with all my heart. Even the hubby who's a bit of a grump when it comes to Christmas - he still gets involved, for both the kids' sake and my own traditional churning, memory making joy, however sad that may be to some.  What I would give to have one more Christmas as a little girl again. If you could bottle the anticipation and magic up it would be priceless. Alas, my young days will never return so I use every ounce of that wish as the fire power behind making my own children's Christmases everything it possibly can be. Filled with love, magic and difference to any other normal day of the year.

I'd love to hear of any traditions that you guys have, do you follow any of the same as we do?

The Winner of the Koalapak Jumbo Pak is...

So every now and then we love a flash giveaway don't we. Less time to enter so a better chance of winning - as long as you're a loyal reader. So thank you for entering our Koalapak Jumbo Pak giveaway which closed last night after just 72 hours. 

The winner, selected randomly by the rafflecopter widget is... 

The Winner of the Elevease Christmas Pamper Hamper is...

Our "Christmas Pamper Hamper and Elevease Shower Step" giveaway closed at the weekend so I've just drawn the winner and thought I'd share with you all who the lucky ducky is. We had a whopping 3,796 entries which is just brilliant so thank you for participating.

The winner, selected randomly by the rafflecopter widget is... 


Flash Giveaway!!

In the summer I worked with Koalapak, reviewing their Mega Pak. Well, I say I...

Koalapak create fun, exciting and educational arts & crafts boxes delivered to your door, with all materials you need included. Koalapaks are curriculum linked and aimed at children aged between 3 and 8 years old. 



... So I suppose you could say it was Carson who worked with them, really! His own words here display his utter joy at receiving his very own post, complete with his name written on this huge, jam-packed box of arts and crafts galore. What a lovely idea for a Christmas gift with a twist.

They come in 4 different sizes: Mini (£3.95), Mini Plus (£8.95), Jumbo (£13.95) and Mega (£16.95) and are subscription based in that a box is shipped mid-month, every month. If subscriptions aren't your thing then don't stress, you can cancel at any time and aren't obliged to join for any set amount of time.

With the ever growing trend of Christmas Eve boxes this brings something fresh and exciting to the mix, especially when you compare it to the standard colouring book and felts that last all of 5 minutes! So, I've teamed back up with Koalapak and one of you guys can win your very own Jumbo Pak just in time for Christmas. Use it to keep the kids occupied when they break up from school. Present it to your little ones on Christmas Eve for arts and crafts fun and games. Or maybe Santa wants it in his sack? You decide!




Terms & Conditions

1. This is open WORLDWIDE and all entries are optional.
2. Winner has 24 HOURS to acknowledge and respond before another winner will be redrawn.
3. All reasonable efforts and channels will be used to attempt contact.
4. Competition closes at 11.59pm 20th December 2015.
5. Winners details will be passed to Koalapak for dispatch of your prize.
6. Whilst every effort will be made to ensure the prize reaches the winner for Christmas, this cannot be guaranteed. Please allow up to 28 days for delivery.

All entries are checked so, as tempting as it may be to skim through the Rafflecopter entry, you will be doing yourself out of a genuine chance to win a cracking prize. So enter genuinely because as, you've probably gathered, I do check guys.

What's more - if you do decide to enter via every option available, you will reveal a free daily entry option which will hugely increase your chances of winning.

GOOD LUCK!!

WIN! Christmas Pamper Hamper worth £50 PLUS the ElevEase Shower Step.

Who remembers that time I described shaving my legs with a mahoosive baby belly? Leg shaving when pregnant was a total pain in the... well, everything! That was, until, I was kindly sent an ElevEase Shower Step - providing an alternative solution to placing a pedestal in the shower. The shower step fits neatly into the corner of your shower taking only minutes to install with no tools required.
The specially formulated adhesive ensures the step does not slip or move under pressure unlike many of the suction cup alternatives, making this product great for a whole range of people - not just the hairy legged and pregnant! 

Whether you want to pedicure, apply fake tan or shave your pins, all will find the ElevEase of great use. Back problems, post-surgery, arthritis sufferer? This will help you no end.

Sound like a great stocking filler doesn't it? Well you can win an ElevEase Shower Step of your very own plus a Christmas Pamper Hamper worth £50. Just complete the rafflecopter widget below and you're in to win.

Can't bear to wait? I don't blame you. Well, Elevease.com have kindly offered 20% discount for my readers by using coupon code CARSON from Cyber Monday onwards (30th November) so why not grab one now? 

**At time of publishing, the ElevEase is priced from just £7.99!!

Terms & Conditions
1. This is open WORLDWIDE and all entries are optional.
2. Winner has 5 days to acknowledge and respond before another winner will be redrawn.
3. All reasonable efforts and channels will be used to attempt contact. 
4. Competition closes at 11.59pm 18th December 2015.
5. Winners details will be passed to Elevease for dispatch of your prize.
6. Whilst every effort will be made to ensure the prize reaches the winner for Christmas, this cannot be guaranteed. Please allow up to 28 days for delivery.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
All entries are checked so, as tempting as it may be to skim through the Rafflecopter entry, you will be doing yourself out of a genuine chance to win a cracking prize. So enter genuinely because as, you've probably gathered, I do check guys. 

What's more - if you do decide to enter via every option available, you will reveal a free daily entry option which will hugely increase your chances of winning.

GOOD LUCK!!


More competitions at ThePrizeFinder

(Nearly) New Year - New Look!

So you may have noticed, since the last time you popped over to see what I was rambling on about, that I have a whole new look. It's fresh, crisp and clean... a bit like a washed baby lettuce leaf. N'aaw! Hang on... wet lettuce? Well, whatever anyway, I love it.

I've been blogging now for over 3 and a half years. I've worked with some awesome brands on collaborations that I never even dreamed that I'd be chosen for and I've met some pretty awesome people too, be it celebs; other bloggers; or you readers. Amazingly, I even inspired some of my closest friends to create and run their own blogs too and boy do they do a good job.

Sometimes though it's easy to get comfortable, and I realised this when one of my aforementioned friends went self hosted last month after 1 year of blogging. I'll be honest and say that I was terrified to make any changes at all, wildly thinking "what if I lost everything?!" but if One Frazzled Mum could do it, then so could I. Actually, I had to... she bought my domain name for me as a gift!

So, look up at the URL bar guys ^^^

... Welcome to carsonsmummy.co.uk  - My very own, real, grown-up, website!

I'm no longer a blogspot blog! But don't worry if that confuses you, because you can still access here using the old URL thanks to the powers of redirection. Phew!

Hopefully it hasn't all thrown you too much and you can still find immense pleasure from my enthralling ramblings (as is always, I'm sure) However if there's something you feel missing compared to my old theme, or you are having issues with anything at all I would love to know. Any extra suggestions would be just as awesome, although chocolate dispensing computers may be hard to provide so let's be sensible about this! 

I write for you guys to read so I would love to hear your thoughts on the new look!

Loadsa love as always,

Jo xx

Tefal Optigrill Review

Steak. Nom nom! 

There's not much more I love than a good steak, cooked perfectly to my taste – medium rare. But that can be so very hard to achieve can't it? Under done and I'm left with a jaw strength testing chewy bit of beef, swimming in blood. Over done and it's a dry feat with nothing to dip my chips in. Not ideal!

Very swish!

Tefal Optigrill, with it's thickness sensors and easy to use pictured buttons, promises to deliver your perfect steak – regardless of your complex preferences - every time. Complete with drip tray at the base, the Optigrill is a healthy cooking option as you can be sure that any yacky fat or grease is disposed of whilst cooking rather than being soaked back up again during the process. 

Simply hit the image of what you want to cook, followed by OK, and it will preheat to it's relevant temperature letting you know when it's ready by bleeping and showing a steady pink light instead of a flashing one. Once ready, open the grill pan up and place your food inside. Once you drop the lid it will immediately begin to cook, showing the stages of which it is up to from ‘rare’ to ‘well done’ by the use of colour changing lights and another musical bleep – which is great because you don't have to hawk-eye it's progress whilst prepping accompaniments! 

Every stage is colour coded and signalled via a musical bleep.

Having been sent one of these babies to review, I can honestly say that we've used it more than our conventional oven this past 4 weeks and certainly more than our frying pan. 

Nope, I've not been living off steak everyday either! That's because this kitchen marvel can cook almost anything. From fresh to frozen, from bacon and sausages to chicken and toasties. It's amazingly versatile. Bacon in the mornings for the hubby and cheese toasties for Carson are 2 of the main foods to be cooked during the past few weeks.

My perfect steak, made without effort and in super quick time.

I have to mention the cleaning of the Optigrill as well because that impresses us just as much as it's ability to grill our favourite foods and snacks. Simply turn it off at the wall after use and an hour later, once it's cool, you simply wipe away any residues left behind by unlocking each plate via the release buttons at the side. Not once have we needed to use elbow grease yet - just a sponge and a drop of washing up liquid and it's gleaming. 

The Tefal Optigrill usually retails at £149.99 which is, in my opinion, most definitely worth investing in. It look stylish, the thickness sensors are exclusive so you'll not get this tech elsewhere, it's incredibly versatile in terms of ability to deliver meals and snacks - from fresh or from frozen. I have never used a kitchen gadget more than I have used this - and my husband is raving about it just as much as me which is a very good sign indeed! It cleans superbly and food hasn't stuck to the plates once, but most of all it's effortlessly easy to use. (Think, student's Christmas present!)

**EDIT: Correct at time of publishing - I've just found this on offer for just £89.99 on Amazon (or £99.99 for the black instead of chrome) at the moment with FREE delivery. How long this lasts for, I don't know - go go go!!


 Disclaimer: I was sent the above item for purposes of review FOC. All opinions are my own. Contains Amazon affiliate link.

My A/W Wishlist...

I'm not one for asking for things, nor am I one for expecting things, so I've never really done a wishlist or Christmas list before. Anyway, I've found myself grumbling recently with certain things I own and I thought I'd make a note of everything I want or need, If I don't manage to get them by Christmas then I have a goal to work towards until each and every one is ticked off don't I! Afterall, winter doesn't end until March!!

1. Laptop
First things first, boy am I in desperate need of a laptop. It's starting to affect my blogging schedules now as it keeps dying on me or taking 45 minutes and upwards to even turn on. I've done well though - a whole 6 years this baby has run for and it has seen a lorra lorra use!  I like the look of the tablets that can have a keyboard attached, like the Surface Pro  - but at over £700 for the tablet alone it's way out of my league.

What do you use to blog? Any advice?


2.  Hair Straighteners
I don't wear my hair down enough and whilst I love a good kink and wave to a hairstyle, it's frizzy. The kind of frizz only a straightener can tame. THEN I add the waves or kinks to it. Weird aren't I? Now, I'm not a GHD kinda customer, purely because I don't want it to stay straight. So something for frizz like this Remington Frizz Therapy Straightener maybe?


3. New Bed

My back pain has almost completely disappeared since my op and I intend to keep it that way by investing in a new bed.  I actually have a divan base rather than a bed frame so what I'm really hankering after is a new double mattress - preferably an orthapaedic one! I'd love a king size bed but my bedroom just isn't big enough to accommodate that. Is having a smaller wardrobe worth a bigger bed guys?


4. Camera
I've been using my phone to take pictures for the past 2 years. The Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom. It has served me well but I'm due a contract upgrade in November and this time I'll be focusing less on the camera and more on the functions of the device, which means I'll need to buy a separate camera for snapping now. With regards to this point - I have no examples to list. I am literally clueless and I would love your advice - if you have any - on a decent camera that's handbag worthy!


5. Chocolate.
Just because no list is complete without chocolate!

Enjoy... 



...woah!

We're going to Toytopia and you can too! #win

Toytopia. Just the name sounds exciting doesn't it? 

It runs from Saturday 24th October through to Monday 26th October and we're going on the Saturday 24th. Based at The Exhibition Centre in Liverpool I just can't wait as it simply looks and sounds AWESOME. 

toytpia what to expect

Just look at that image! Woah...

A massive 87,000 square feet of pure entertainment and toys galore, not to mention the guest list of characters that will be gracing our presence, for example, Peppa Pig, Dennis the Menace or Ben & Holly.

Tickets start from just £20 per person and, here's a treat, by using the code TOYTOPIA511 you can benefit from a whopping 25% discount right up to 23rd October 11.59am. Visit their site here to get buying those tickets.


**FLASH GIVEAWAY!**

If you're feeling lucky, you'll be pleased to hear that I've 4 tickets for the opening day on Saturday 24th October to give away to one very lucky ducky. All you need to do is head over to our facebook give away post, give us the thumbs up and leave a comment to let me know when you have done for your entry to count. Don't forget to let all your friends know about it too - these tickets are hot right now and in very high demand so spread the word!


So, are you going to Toytopia this year? I'd love to hear what you think!

Ideal World TV Launch New & Exclusive Bissell PowerGlide Cordless #REVIEW

October 10th sees the launch of the new and exclusive Bissell PowerGlide Cordless, an innovative, cordless vacuum available on Ideal World TV and online. I've been fortunate enough to give one a whirl for the purpose of reviewing it coinciding with Ideal World's launch.

That metallic blue colour is lovely!

Cordless really is the way forward in this day and age isn't it? I would never go back to a wired vacuum cleaner, there is simply no going back from the freedom and agility one has without being attached to the walls once you've experienced it for the first time! Thankfully it's pretty lightweight too, further freeing the user from any strain or effort.


It took 2 hours to charge the battery too it's full strength and when the battery pack light changes from red to green - you know you're ready to go.

This vacuum cleaner claims to "offer the longest uninterrupted running time for a cordless vacuum on the market today, meaning you can clean your entire home without the worry of having to re-charge the vacuum." So, I set about checking that claim out and vacuumed my 3 bed semi at a leisurely pace taking around 40 minutes. This included the stairs, the ceilings for any lurking cobwebs and also the skirting boards. Indeed, it lasted throughout without it's power or suction faltering.  


I have carpet in all rooms expect for the kitchen/diner and bathroom which are laminate and lino. I found the vacuum seamlessly adjusted to the different floor types, particularly with the on/off button for the rotating brush rows in the head of the cleaner. For us, talc is particularly difficult to pick up from our carpets so I risked pouring it all over Finley's floor to demonstrate it's suction power...  


The Bissell PowerGlide Cordless has a lift-off function to help clean those hard to reach areas such as the corners of stairs/doorways and even reaching any cobwebs up high! This is one thing that I really missed with owning the Bosch Athlet - the fact that there's no lift off or tubed nozzle to do that.


Lifting off means no balancing of the upright vacuum cleaner on the stairs too. The swivel steering makes for easy navigation and whilst it doesn't lay completely flat to the floor without the head lifting from the ground, it gets about as close as you'd like it to which was good for under beds or sofas for me. 

My opinion of the Bissell Powerglide is, obviously, a good one! I wouldn't pay the retail price of £249 as is from from Bissell direct however don’t forget to tune into the Bissell Powerglide Cordless Show on October 10th at 9pm, on Ideal World TV: www.idealworld.tv,  Sky Channel 654, Freeview 22, Virgin 747 and Freesat 812 to get yours for just £199 exclusively

Now that's more like it! Worth every penny... I just can't fault it.

Lifehack of the Decade PLUS win £20 Amazon Voucher!

What do you do when you you've washed far too much laundry with nowhere left to dry your clothes? 

I'd done a shed load of washing the other day, every radiator in the house was on full blast, full of wet clothes and the washing line was also full. I stood at the french doors just staring outside thinking WTF am I going to do here?! Then, all of a sudden, the rusty cogs inside my mind stirred...


I'm so proud of that little squidgy mass inside my skull. How have I never thought of this before? I managed to get at least 4x the amount I normally would on my line and it dried just as fresh and quickly as always. YESS!!

Anyway... 

Whilst I've been all proud of myself taking pics of my smalls on the washing line, Tracey from One Frazzled Mum has gone self hosted this weekend, something waaaay to nerve-wracking for me to do after being on blogspot for 3 years, and I've pretty much fully recovered from my emergency surgery just over 3 weeks ago so we thought we'd come together and host a giveaway to celebrate. So, here we go.... 



If the Rafflecopter widget doesn't appear above, click on the link 'a Rafflecopter giveaway' and it will open a seperate window in order for you to complete your entires.

GOOD LUCK EVERYONE!!


Please enter correctly we both will check and incorrect entries will be void.
The £20 voucher will be sent via email unless requested not to so can be sent worldwide (the voucher amount will be £20 sterling UK currency)
Rafflecopter entries will close 11.59 pm 1/11/2015
The prize is supplied by myself and Tracey from One Frazzled Mum.
All reasonable attempts will be made to contact the randomly chosen winner and if the prize isn’t claimed by them within 7 days a new winner will be drawn.
This competition is running on two blogs so please leave your mandatory comment on the blog you are entering the competition to get your entry although you can enter on both if you want.


More competitions at: Prizefinder www.theprizefinder.com 

A Mum's Quest for Cheap Stocking Fillers - Help!

When I was recovering from emergency surgery the other week I tweeted a plea. What the heck does a 7 year old boy have in his stocking this year? Surprisingly, or rather not thanks to my mini absence, I received no responses and my life was over. OK. So maybe I'm exaggerating just a tad here. But I was pretty miffed to say the least.

I think as far as those stocking filler prezzies go, we mums wait for things to make themselves known to us, rather than us knowing what we want and for whom. Unless I'm the only one without a clue! 

Help meeee!!

Fast forward a couple of weeks and I am still none the wiser as to the smaller gifts a 7 year old boy should be looking at receiving this Christmas. Cue googling "cheap stocking fillers" as some kind of hopeful lifeline to sanity and organisation. 




Ha! I did manage to come across site actually called Stocking Fillers, which was handy to say the least, and a perfect example was this Balloon Powered Boat in the "gifts for boys" section. I've never ever heard of anything like it despite knowing now that it'd be absolutely perfect for Casrson. He would LOVE this so much! I'm pretty surely Finley would love watching it whizz on by too, he does have a thing for bath toys! Guess what too... it's a total steal at just £2.99 as well. 

This boat got my mind jogging... cue searching for "make your own science kits" thinking I'll get some inspo from along those results. Well, I came across a Make Your Own Volcano Kit on ebay for £8.75. Wow it took me right back to Primary School with the papier-mâché and bi-carb! I'm sure he'd love that. 

We all know Carson has an obsession with numbers/dates/times so I thought about a clock making kit. Does it exist? Is it child friendly? Yup! This kit is £14.99 from Happy Puzzle and leaves me super happy, and confident, in the run up to this Christmas!



I guess what my point here regarding christmas presents is that I'm coming to realise that my 7 year old boy doesn't need fancy gadgets or entertainment, but educational wonderment. It's how and why things work that fascinates him and, fortunately for me, education is so much more cost effective over entertainment. Or am I just plain mean in this day and age?!

What are your plans for stocking fillers this year?

Week 4 of the 5:2 Fast Diet Kitchen Challenge

Unfortunately, I was rushed to hospital and underwent emergency surgery just hours after my last post went live which meant that I couldn't participate in the final week of my 4 week challenge in collaboration with Ideal World TV. Whilst it's such a shame to not know if I'd have hit my half stone over the 4 weeks by simply swapping 2 days worth of food and drink with handy pouches of Fast Diet Kitchen meal, I'm just chuffed I'm recovering well from surgery!  

I thought I'd provide you with a quick recap of my experience on the whole in this week's update...

What's the 5:2 diet?
For 5 days per week eat what you want, when you want, just as you normally would. For 2 days of the week though, fast by reducing your calorie intake to just 500 per day (600 for men). As stockists of Fast Diet Kitchen, Ideal World TV  sent me 4 week's worth of meals to see me through my fast days without the hassle of calorie counting myself. 


How was it?
On the whole, I enjoyed it. FDK's meals were hearty, filling and seasoned to perfection. Of the 8 dishes I received I only disliked 1 lunch. Not bad going really! Hunger pains aren't uncommon but keep that water intake up, it makes a massive difference. Additionally, you can buy flavoured coffees that are just 2cal per cup - I very much enjoyed a cup or two of coffee in between the water. I also found it much easier to cope with by being backwards in that I'd have dinner at lunch and lunch at dinner. I've no idea why that worked, but it did!

Any favourite meals?
Scotch Broth and Chicken and Butterbean Stew  were my absolute favourites. They need to sell these individually in supermarkets! I definitely recommend those dishes.

5:2 Diet

Does it work and would I do it again?
Well let me tell you this, I enjoyed takeaways, wine, roast dinners and all sorts, but, in the 3 weeks that I followed the plan for I still managed to lose a whopping 6lb. I feel sure I'd have broken the half stone mark had I have been able to participate in the final week and it didn't even feel like I was trying. Yes I'd do it again and yes I'd use FDK to help me along the way. 


Find out more about FDK over on their website or social media channels.   

The stockists of the FDK plan are
 www.idealworld.tv

Disclaimer: I've been sent the above pictured products for the purpose of review. All opinions are my own.

The 5:2 Fast Diet Kitchen Plan - Weeks 2 & 3

Today marks the beginning of my final week of the 5:2 plan's 4 week challenge in collaboration with Ideal World TV, where I'm using Fast Diet Kitchen meals to get me through those fast days.

While 500 calories can sometimes seem to go nowhere, FDK deliver lunch and dinner to your door in convenient pouches, portioned ready for your fast day ahead. I've already tried a few of the meals, including one of my firm favourites Scotch Broth, which you can read all about here

I've been trying some others over the past couple of weeks and thought I'd share my thoughts...


Butternut Squash and Sweet Potato Soup (123 cal)


It doesn't help that I don't like butternut squash, and can barely tolerate sweet potato, but I gave it a bash anyway. It smells luscious and looks hearty. The soup is more stew-like, very thick, and whilst I can totally appreciate that it's perfect 'filling' food, it just wasn't for me. If you are a lover of the main ingredients I have no doubt that this would be a hit but, for me, the flavours were far too strong. 
Sorry FDK!


Carrot & Coriander Soup (141 cal)


A thick hunger-bashing soup, seasoned to perfection. I made the mistake of serving this in a cup thinking I could drink it, but you most definitely need a spoon. This could quite easily have done me for a main meal. It was a beautiful dish.


Smoky Chicken and Butter Bean Stew (296 cal)

Masses of chicken and beans, more than I expected - just like the scotch broth last week. A really warming meal with a right kick to it (think tingly lips when you're done!) and I loved it. The portion is very generous too, filling my bowl right to the top. I can honestly say I was more than satisfied after eating this, in fact, I was getting a little full towards the end.



WEEK 2 / WEIGH IN DAY

Week 2 was slightly less than last the first, even without the takeaways etc. during this particular week compared to the last. But, a loss is a loss and certainly not something to turn your nose up at when you're only dieting for 2 days a week! 
LOSS: 1.8lb


WEEK 3 / WEIGH IN DAY

Upped my water intake much more this week to fend off hunger pains, that and crunched on raw carrots at my desk - to the horror of my work colleagues, I sounded like Bugs Bunny all day long and began to worry for my teeth, ha! Starting to see a pattern in terms of losses now... 
LOSS: 2lb


I'm on track for at least half a stone in 4 weeks if I keep this up. After 3 weeks I'm at a grand total of 6lb loss without even trying. 

This is deffo my kinda diet...


In the meantime, find out more about FDK over on their website or social media channels.   www.fastdietkitchen.co.uk
  facebook  
 twitter

The stockists of the FDK plan are
 www.idealworld.tv

Disclaimer: I've been sent the above pictured products for the purpose of review. All opinions are my own.

Week 1 of the 5:2 Plan with Fast Diet Kitchen

Last week I blogged about the 4 week challenge that I'm embarking on with Ideal World TV, by trying Fast Diet Kitchen's ready meals. The challenge is one I've taken on before, the 5:2 plan. You literally eat/drink as normal for 5 days, but for 2 days a week you limit your calorie intake to just 500 (or 600 for men). Great for those who find life gets in the way of a strict dieting/exercising regime, or if you just struggle with willpower issues, like me! 

FDK and Ideal World TV have sent me 8 lunches and 8 dinners to use on my fast days. Their service is exactly that - delivering your fast day meals to your door. Ready made and/or pre-portioned meals are great for this plan as, often, it's difficult to create a balanced 500 calorie day otherwise. They're also great for taking to work, just blast them in the microwave for a couple of minutes and you're done!

Today marks the end of my first week and here's what I've taste tested...

WEEK 1 / FAST DAY 1

Garden Pea & Smoked Ham Soup for lunch (213 cal)

Tastes as fresh as the peas in a pod from my Grandad's old allotment. Seriously refreshing with just the right amount of seasoning. The ham pieces are too small to really chew into but the hint of smokiness is there to cut through that strikingly fresh pea sensation!

Vegetable Casserole (116 cal)

A surprisingly large portion, chunky texture with a lot of sauce. It was a very rich flavour, almost red-winey if you know what I mean? I added a handful of cabbage to break up the richness of the casserole. I've no idea how, given the size of the portion, it is only 116 calories!

WEEK 1 / FAST DAY 2

Scotch Broth (174 cal)

WOW! This was one of the nicest soups I have ever had. More beef than I would even expect to find in even a premium soup. Perfect seasoning with a lovely kick from the black pepper. It reminded my of second-day Scouse. I could eat this every day. Highly recommend!

Moroccan Meatballs (307 cal)

Giant couscous in a spiced sauce make for a stew like texture, which is great when you're so hungry come tea-time. The meatballs themselves are meaty but not chewy, more melt-in-the-mouth. My only criticism? It went far too fast!


WEEK 1 / WEIGH IN DAY.

I'll admit that the bank holiday weekend has meant takeaway pizza and family movies, a roast dinner with all the trimmings (and even pud!) and a buffet over a family catch-up. Not all on the same day, I might add, but over a prolonged period. But that's the beauty of the 5:2 plan!

If you tune in to Ideal World TV tonight at 9pm, they're showcasing all about the 5:2 plan and FDK offers.

This week I have lost a surprising 2.2lb and I am made up. Bring on week 2 with FDK...

In the meantime, find out more about FDK over on their website or social media channels.   www.fastdietkitchen.co.uk
  facebook  
 twitter

The stockists of the FDK plan are
 www.idealworld.tv

Disclaimer: I've been sent the above pictured products for the purpose of review. All opinions are my own.

Buying School Uniforms: A Trutex Review

It's that time of the year again. Buying school uniforms. Don't you just love it when your little dude (or, indeed, dudette) is excitedly starting the new school year with all their friends? Their sleeves slightly too long and the hems of trousers taken up with magic-web. Afterall, they've gotta have room to grow haven't they? I say that, but what's the point if their uniforms aren't going to last long enough for them to grow into? 

Buying School Uniforms

We've all done it. Fell in to that 'false economy' trap. I'm especially guilt of that. Carson went through tens of polo tops last school year - each term! Get it slightly dirty once and that's your lot - no stain remover I've ever used got them white again. Then there's the stretching after them having been washed a few times. I don't own a dryer so resort to radiator, airer and washing-line drying you see. The jumpers tend to fray around the wrists and the trousers will scuff and bobble with one or two tumbles to the ground. 

When Trutex called for bloggers, I was right up there offering my services. Or should I say Carson's! I remember in secondary school our blazer had to be Trutex so it lasted more than one school year, lack of major growth spurts permitting! Carson has only just turned 7 years old last week. We normally buy age 6-7yr but decided to opt for age 7-8yr clothing to review, with the intention of making it last. 

Sweatshirt
(around £8.00 depending on stockist)
First Impressions:  
Thick, bold emerald coloured sweatshirt with a soft interior. Strong seams, cuffs and hem.
 

Wear/fit: 
I was surprised at just how well this size fits. Age 7-8 normally swim off of him so dare I say that Trutex uniforms come up a little small for their size? Whilst it fits him beautifully, I fear the sweatshirt may not last until Christmas though. Perhaps opt for a size larger than you would expect to buy. There are no bobbles either around the rib/underarm area either which is something I find always happens with supermarket sweatshirts.


After Washing: 
Thankfully, Trutex offer a non-iron range so there's no rushing on a Sunday evening over here anymore! As for washing, I see no colour run, no signs of stretching and the best thing about it is that there are no bobbles! Tumble dry-able.


Shirts
(around £12 twin-pack depending on stockist)
First Impressions: 
Bright white. Not thin, flimsy or see through - but a thick sturdy polycotton shirt. Strongly attached buttons (so many budget shirts have loose buttons that will fall off within the first few wears!) Elasticated extension attached to the top button so account for varying sized necks amongst the age range it's suitable for.


Wear/Fit.
Being such a thick shirt, I wondered about Carson's movement - could jumping around be restrictive or cause a rip? My worries were unfounded... he's been flailing around for hours in his uniform and he looks as flexible as ever! Again, age 7-8 fits him beautifully across the chest and it's a tad long in the body which is perfect for him to grow in to.  I especially love the shirt's elasticated extension on the top button, which really will help it to last and grow with him. It also makes it easier for him to button and unbutton.


After Washing:
Colour held well. Shape remains strong and stiff. The shirts are advertised as non-iron, which is true (yippee!). However, it would be better if tumble dried so the heat can pull out the creases. If you're like me, without a dryer, make sure it's dried on a hanger on an airer. Folded over the radiator does lead to a few wrinkles and ultimately needing ironed.


Trousers 
(around £11 depending on stockist)
First Impressions:
Stiff, thick and sturdy. Charcoal colour is a nice deep, dark grey. Close to black. Elasticated waist - good for those growth spurts we were talking about! A good long length - 22.5 inch inside leg for age 8 trousers.


Wear/fit:
I did think they may be a little too stiff for Carson but, again, his flailing around for the last few hours in them have posed no issue at all. If anything, Carson has commented on how comfortable and warm they are. I've taken the trousers up by 3 inches as Carson only has little legs but I can reverse that process at any time, and with the elasticated waist they should last for ages. I'm confident about these pants!


After washing:
Oh yes! It doesn't matter how these were dried, they didn't need ironing at all. The centre pleat holds fantastically well. Tumble dry-able  No bobble or fluffy surface frays.


Find your nearest Trutex school uniform stockist and take a look at the huge range available.

I have to say, I'm suitably impressed. 

The general quality of all 3 items I received are leagues above the usual suspects at supermarkets. Yes they're a little more expensive but the quality really does speak for themselves. They're built to last, particularly with the button extension on the shirts and the elasticated waist on the pants. 

I love that they're non iron and washing them doesn't seem to have any effect on their feel or appearance either. Carson feels comfortable and confident in his uniform. Something that is really important for kids in my opinion. How are they to concentrate, or even socialise properly, when they're feeling fidgety and uncomfortable?



Where are you buying from this year and what's your pet-hate about school uniforms?!

I was sent the above items FOC for the purposes of review. All opinions are my own.

A Frugal Face: Contouring on a budget

If you're anything like me on the make-up front, you'll be far from a pro!

There are so many wonderful beauty bloggers out there that make it look sooo easy, but use products that are about bajillion pound each (or so it feels, to a newbie that is!). Which is completely justifiable if you know what you're doing and not going to make mistakes, wasting it in the process.

I received a contouring palette for Christmas, a little stocking filler, but used it on other people rather than myself - yes, I know, I'm a wimp. So recently I bought another identical set from Amazon. The best thing about this palette is that it is only £1.49!!!!! I find that buying cheap alternatives to play around with is such a safe option. When I get better at what I'm doing, I can upgrade to get a more sleek and desirable finish. But, for experimenting - don't waste money.

This morning, Finley was napping,Carson was on his ipad, and hubby was also asleep after having been on a night shift last night. I'd done all my household chores and I just thought 'Right! I'm going to play with my make-up.On MYSELF!!'

I've seen so many guides/step by steps/images of contouring that I had a rough idea of what to do.

Highlight the centre of my forehead, centre and length of my nose, (bizarrely) my eye bags (I'd never have thought of highlighting such an area I hate!), and the centre of my upper and lower lip.

Contouring on a budget

Contour where you want a shadow, making the highlighted area 'pop' out. I did just below my cheek bones, my jawline and into my neck, framed my nose and into the hollow of my eye sockets. I also contoured where the sun would naturally be caught on my forehead.

Contouring on a budget

Finish with some liquid top-lid liner, mascara, lippy and some blusher on the apples of my cheeks.

Contouring on a budget


I've steered clear of eye shadow and anything else more 'complicated' so as to keep a fresh looking face, just until I've perfected the methods used. The last thing I ever want is to look make-up heavy. It's just not me.

The liquid liner was only 99p with free delivery on Amazon too, although it appears to have gone up a couple of pennies since - something that I bought to experiment with because it has liquid at one end, pencil on the other and looks so cute, ha!

My frugal look was created using:

Contouring on a budget


SONGQEE 15 colour contouring palette: £1.49 from Amazon 
TOOGOO Eyeliner: 99p from Amazon
MUA Blusher: £1.00 from Superdrug
Max Factor False Lash Effect Mascara: £10.99 from Superdrug
Collection 2000 Translucent Powder: £2.99 from Superdrug
W7 Butter Kiss Lipstick in Very Berry: £4.50 from W7 Cosmetics
MUA Pro Brow Kit: £3.50 from Superdrug

So what do you think then? 
I'd love to know if you practice certain make-up methods or techniques too (when you have the time, of course!)



This post contains Amazon affiliate links.  I was sent the lipstick FOC to review from w7.  All opinions are my own.

A poem for my Dad

A year ago it happened.
That day, it broke my heart.
No longer is there 'normal'
For that's been torn apart.


Feels like only yesterday
We laughed, joked, moaned.
Brewing tonnes of coffee,
Or when we spoke over the phone.


Still get that stabbing feeling
Through the centre of my chest,
When I realise you're gone.
Why do they always take the best?


I miss you every fraction
of each second, every day.
In everything I do, and
In every single way.


So lucky to have had you,
Proud you are my Dad.
Trying to keep smiling,
You wouldn't want me sad.


I'll raise a glass and drink to you
On this day, you did depart
I'll never walk alone, I know
You are forever in my heart.

By Jo Smith,  2015. xx


Introducing the Fast Diet Kitchen 5:2 Plan

I've done the 5:2 plan several times before and, on the whole, it does give me results. The notion behind it is that for 2 days a week, you cut your calorie intake to just 1 quarter of your usual amount (approximately 600 for men, 500 for women). The other 5 days? Just be your normal self when it comes to eating!

It's a way of cheating for me - I don't feel like I'm dieting so it's easier to do.

It's often difficult to work out just 500 calories worth of food for your fast days so, historically, I have found ready-portioned products a bonus. It's also super handy for lunch times at work!

Providing healthy meals for fast days, delivered to your door, Fast Diet Kitchen have sent me 4 weeks of their plan in collaboration with Ideal World TV. This consists of 8 lunches and 8 mains all created by their very own FDK chefs. With FDK there are no recurring subscription payments and no contracts to be tied into. Simply pay a one-off cost and receive your supply.



First impressions? The food packages have colour - which I'm thrilled about! I particularly like the colour coding (green for lunch, purple for main) and the calorie contents splashed on the front. So handy.

4 weeks worth of Fast Diet Kitchen 5:2 Plan Meals
Lunches
Dinners
This week is a difficult one for me - you'll know why if you read my recent post about my Dad, so, as of Monday next week - when I'm focused and in a better state of mind - I'll be embarking on the 5:2 plan once again for the purpose of reviewing their menu... and hopefully losing a few pounds during the process.

I'll check in with you all next week - wish me luck guys!

In the meantime, find out more about FDK over on their website or social media channels.   www.fastdietkitchen.co.uk
  facebook  
 twitter

The stockists of the FDK plan are www.idealworld.tv

Disclaimer: I've been sent the above pictured products for the purpose of review. All opinions are my own.

Getting rid of your double chin, and win!!

Ah. The chin. The good old dreaded chin! 

As you can probably guess, I've got issues with mine. You see, being a chunk means I'm rewarded with two chins so when the opportunity arose to check out a brand new Indiegogo campaign called Chin-Up, I couldn't wait to get involved. Whilst they're not available to purchase just yet, they are available to reserve until they launch later this month over on their website chinupmask.com 



Claiming to be the equivalent of a non-surgical facelift, Chin Up utilises the latest scientific developments in pressure technology whilst the specially formulated fruit-extract filled face masks are absorbed; lifting up and firming the shape of your face, promoting facial blood circulation, burning up extra fat on the face to remodel a more refined face.

Simply apply the Chin Up mask to your face and neck, put on the Chin Up slimming band and in 30-40 minutes you should see the effects in a positive way - up to 2cm of fat loss. They are so confident that they'll work, they included a tape measure in every pack for you to measure the difference between before and after.

The effects of Chin-Up are supposed to last for several days however repeated usage is recommended in order to see a more long term result. 


After unboxing, I crack on with the application. It really is as simple as it sounds. The slimming mask is a little slimy and cold but just pop it onto your cheeks/chin/neck and then attach the slimming band. 

The next video is embarrassing, I have to admit. I look a total mess and I can hardly talk thanks to Chin Up's "pressure technology". First impressions: it's really tight and very hot and tingly. My jaw feels like it's being pulled so high up that it's touching my nose and my ears are uncomfortable due to the strange gap in the slimming mask. Check it out (and don't laugh!!)...


Once the 30 minutes are up, I tear the band off with sheer joy. It's not been a particularly nice half an hour and I was so hoping that it had worked! See for yourself...


So, yes, it did work. Thankfully! I lost 1.2cm off of my double chin in just half an hour. Was it worth it? Not for a one off, in my opinion. Would a longer term result make it worth it? Yes. I would use this every other day for a week if it meant that I would have a prolonged success, so for a holiday or something special like that, it would be worth it, for me. 

Just so you can see the before and after more clearly...


A definite result, right there!

You can find more about Chin Up by visiting their website, mentioned at the beginning of this review, or social media channels such as facebooktwitter, instagram

Chin Up have given us a trial pack, similar to the one that I unboxed in the video above, to giveaway. Giveaway closes 9th September, good luck!



Disclaimer: I was sent the above product for the purposes of review. All opinions are my own.

Welcome!

Welcome!