Making my logo with logojoy.com

I've had this blog 'theme' of colours for a good couple of years now, and I really do love it. But one thing I don't have, is a logo. Do I need one? Whether I do or I don't, I was recently offered the opportunity to design my own logo over a logojoy.com purely to write about my experience in using their service.


The package I'm going to be reviewing today is the Premium Package, usually costing $65US, which is just under 50 quid to you and me, in the UK. 

First up, choose from a variety of logos on-screen that you like the look of. Pretty simple, and if I'm honest, I did wonder why this was required - surely it wouldn't be churning out the same type of logos just changing the text? Open mind Jo, keep an open mind! 


Secondly, there is an array of colour themes, of which I can choose as many or as little. I opted for the bluey greens and pinks - relatively similar to my blog theme in general.

After you've done this, I was asked for my company name and slogan. Now this isn't something I really have. I'm not a business, I just write a lot and my slogan is not existent, in all reality. So, I thought I'd use my web address as the company name, with the slogan being what it is. Logojoy sensed my difficulty in choosing what to put, hence the tip that shows up which you can see below. It wasn't mandatory that I had to amend my original wording though, which is great. So, you can take or leave their tip depending on what works for you.


The next step brings an icon search engine, where you can find potential icon's that suit your brand. For me I opted for the bunting, which tends to be the first thing visitors see when they visit this here blog! You can see that I selected several different types too, just so I can see variations of the finished product.



After this you are taken to a page that supplies a couple of example logos that they have generated, specific to your requirements or current likes/dislikes. Whilst this is very clever, I didn't see any I particularly wanted to represent my brand here, so, I click on the empty box that states, see more logos, and it continues to offer new examples until...

 OOOOOH! I like!!

Clicking manically, I head over to a dashboard of options. This is where we start making this logo mine.



Note from the image that you can select fonts, colours, layout and symbol - essentially, starting from scratch if you wish. As much as I love this just the way it is, you've got to have a dabble haven't you!

After half an hour of tinkering, purely because I'm fussy like that, I'm happy. I purchase my logo using my complimentary code. The difference between the Free logo and the Premium is that I get a high resolution vector file including the font name & colours. It is print ready - perfect for business cards or any other marketing collateral... perhaps a notepad if I wanted to create one etc. 

I came across no snags or issues whilst using the site and was actually very impressed by it's innovative use of my tastes. There was so real effort on my part in creating a logo. I just told it what I liked! I'm thrilled to bits with mine. Absolutely love it, and feel very adult all of a sudden ha! Is it value for money? Most definitely. I always say, you can't buy time. This saved me hours of planning and designing, and fine tuning by utilising by simple choices during the initial set-up. 

So... opinions please. What do you all think?!



WANTED: Fashion advice please!!

It's not often that I get to seriously dress up but Crimbo is coming which means parties and events are heading our way too! 

Our work's Christmas do is going to be at ACC in Liverpool for the exciting Cirque de Lumiere event. There's going to be aerial dancers, light-shows that promise to be spectacular, a tantilisingly tempting 3 course meal, complete with bacon butties at midnight to soak up the bucket loads of alcohol undoubtedly consumed! Oh, I mustn't forget to mention the dodgems and waltzers too!!

This is a classy affair, so that means no jeans or the tunic/leggings combo. Now, where this easy for the men; chuck on a classic 3 button suit and boom, sorted! It's a tough one for me, who usually does just wear trousers to the office. 

I've managed to order an amazing peplum tuxedo dress from Scarlett & Jo that looks AMAZING (without blowing my own trumpet, like!), but my question to you guys is... what shoes??

Can you come up with anything better?

The model on Scarlett & Jo's site looks awesome with her t-bar style shoes but I'm not sure this would suit me. I'm way to short for this. I was toying with the idea of a classic pointed court shoe but thought it would look slightly outdated?  Strappy shoes could work but they tend to have very slim heels and I would much rather a platform or chunky heel for comfort. Not wearing heels all that often means that when I do, I hurt, and I hurt badly, on the balls of my feet!! 

Another thing... colour? Do I go for black, as per the dress, and team with festive gold accessories? Or do I go for something to make my outfit 'pop', like an emerald green shoe and/or bag?

Tights or bare legs?

OMG, someone help me. One thing I'm certain of though is that my hair will be up and out of the way, although all advice is welcomed, you guys!!

Let's #GetChristmassy!!

Hands up if you can't wait for Halloween to do one, so we can get festive already?!

MEEEE!!!

Christmas is the best time of year for me. From trees and twinkly lights, to the smell of paint (yes - this post here will explain all!!), it gets me all smushy inside. The time of year when nice things seem to happen more often, people are more open to eye contact and slight smiles on public transport, getting a few well-earned days off from work to spend it with loved ones. Oh I love it!!



Every year we say no to visitors on Christmas Day. Why? Because it's not fair on the littluns in my opinion. Well, I say my opinion, it's actually a learnt behaviour from my own younger years where my parents did the same. The one day of the year where rules are out the window and, dya know what kids, if you don't want to get dressed all day, play with all your goodies and have family games around the table wearing silly paper hats, then that's OK. 100% family time with no TV until after 6pm at night and 'MPFZ' as my Dad used to call it - yup, it's a mobile phone free zone!! It's just pure bliss. There's no other day like it, which probably makes Christmas all the more magical.


So, if we have no visitors on Christmas Day, what do we need to prepare? This is a question we're asked quite a lot, followed by the obligatory 'OMG, we're cooking for 9 trillion people then going here there an' everywhere, it's going to be chaos!' statement.

It all starts with the tree doesn't it! Every year I like to find some new little baubles or ornaments to add to my collection. Oh, and let me be clear - we don't do colour schemes either in our house! It's a whole mish-mash of festiveness so anything and everything goes. Shops love me, and I love shops what can I say?!


New plates are a must for Christmas. I know, I know, you're thinking 'but you're not entertaining anyone?' ... no but we do have one very special visitor who loves a mince pie and milk so, you know, needs must. We made this plate ourselves and, actually, most of our Christmas activities involve a lot of craft type things. It's all part of the fun.

One thing you won't find me crafting myself though are CHRISTMAS PJ'S! Everyone has Christmas pyjamas don't they? Oh I love a good fresh brand new pair of PJ's for Christmas. Again, this stems from childhood and is something I also make tradition in our home. Swiftly followed by crimbo bedding. Bring on the reindeer print... I could get lost in John Lewis looking at it all ha!


Christmas day entertainment requires serious thought. We make our own crackers most years (not least because, urgh, how bored are we of getting a mini screwdriver set as a 'prize!) and we can personalise them for each person by choosing small gifts to place inside. Somewhere like Superdrug or Card Factory suits us for this.

Living so close to Liverpool One, as I wrote about just this weekend actually, I love that all of my needs are taken care of in one place. From stationery & books, to clothing & bedding, I really don't have to venture all around town. It's also pretty snazzy for crimbo food and drinks mid-way through shopping!  With all the other things to do in Liverpool, we'll be sure to visit several times over to make the most of this magical season upon us.

Why not come and visit Liverpool One yourself this year, let's #GetChristmassy together. That's their hashtag, check it out for news and updates as to what's coming up by following them here @Liverpool_ONE. Ahh, I've said it before and I'll say it ten thousand times more, I'm so lucky to live so near here.

Oh, and if I offended any Halloween lovers by the start of my post, this one's just for you... Bah Pumpkin!





Our weekend in Liverpool

The weather has been absolutely glorious, I can hardly believe we're only 2 weeks away from Halloween! So making the most of it, we decided to venture over to Liverpool yesterday. 

I've talked before about how lucky I am to live in such a beautiful place, right on the edge of the River Mersey in New Brighton, Wirral. A literal stone's throw from Liverpool, we have endless entertaining places to go and fantastic shopping trips to do.


We decided on going to have a nosey in both the Disney and Lego shops with the kids in Liverpool One. It was heaving so we decided to go get some food first. It hauls in some serious crowdage and it's not really surprising given all the other things to do in Liverpool.

Upstairs is a food lovers heaven. I'm not joking either: mega amount of choices available from Five Guys to Las Iguanas to Wagamama, there's something for everyone. We opted for Pizza Express as it looked like the kids inside were having a whale of a time so seemed like a good choice!


The irony of ordering the super food salad with a large Peroni made the waiter giggle but hey, it's a weekend - I deserve a beverage after having worked all week ha! Actually, shout out to Shaun (our waiter) who was incredibly friendly, helpful and funny throughout our visit. I LOVE a good service, don't you? 


With chef hats and a dough ball area to play around with, Carson was in his element (can you tell?). And with the colour pack on our table, Finley was well entertained too.

After we'd eaten we had a walk around the shops to burn some of the calories off! It's starting to feel Christmassy already around town, I can't wait for the Crimbo markets to arrive and set-up! 


Today consisted of finishing touches in my bedroom with the addition of some twinkly lights on the chimney breast and having a good old move around of the furniture. It took a whole day of lugging stuff around but I don't half feel accomplished now!

So here ends one very busy weekend  and another whole 5 days before the next one. Bring it on.  What did you get up to?



The Summer Sale’s Autumn Wardrobe.

End of summer sale shopping. Now is the most perfect time to be stocking up. Not quite winter woolly weather, the summer ranges on offer are still great for layering during the autumn season. 

A couple of weeks ago, my mate Steph was telling me how managed to get a whole wardrobe of stuff from New Look for just thirty odd pound. "Most of them were a quid" she smugly advised. All I could think was - how is she finding these sale items?! I even laughed it off and suggested it was merely 30 pairs of knickers she managed to bag! I can't be the only one who's noticed that the sales never end when it comes to knickers? Nope. All legit outer clothing.

Myself and Steph

Whilst this excites me, (seriously, fill my wardrobe up, right now) half the battle is thinking of which online shop I want to browse in, never mind heading to their clearance section and drilling down to items or size required etc. By the time I find a shop's range I like, I've been way too late to join in with the fun, with the most unpopular sizes of items left in stocks.

So, how do we 'do' the Autumn wardrobe easily, which a) won't cost the earth, or b) waste hours of your life whilst trying? With these 3 simple rules, that's how...

Layering

Firstly, use what you have in already. Simples. All them vest tops - use them! With the likes of cold shoulder shirts that were rocking the summer looks, they will give that extra body warmth needed, without being swamped in woollens. If you don't have enough (seriously?) use something like Lyst to find the cheapest 'on sale' available online - don't browse individual stores sales sections. Why pay a fiver a pop when they're available elsewhere for a quid? A vest is a vest, it doesn't require serious investment.

Layering scarves, vests, net jumpers: perfect Autumn style!

Scarves

Using scarves keep the chill off of your chest, and they're much easier to take off if you do get too warm. Better than this though, you can completely change the look of one outfit several times over, just by changing the scarf you wear with it. I'm not talking about woolly ones here either, go for a lightweight, brightly coloured or printed one like these from Accessorize.

Wingz AND a scarf!


Wingz

This is the third time I've mentioned Wingz on my blog. I posted about them this time last year and they still remain one of my go-to items, transforming short sleeve shirts into layered looking long sleeve tops. So versatile, from plain black jersey style like mine in the picture above, to red chiffon angel sleeves to add a touch of glamour, there is definitely an option for you. 


I’ve written time and time again about how Autumn is my favourite fashion season and it’s all down to the fact that you don’t need a new wardrobe.  Just recycle, re-vamp and revitalise the summer pieces!

What’s your favourite fashion season and how do you prepare for it? 


Why Bettering Yourself Should Never be a Chore

I thought long and hard about the title of this blog because let’s be honest, doesn’t it sound a bit patronising? We’ve all seen those self-help books in shops or magazine articles about the top 10 ways to improve your self-development, boost employee engagement or expanding your knowledge, haven’t we? And if you’re like me, you'd just roll your eyes and think "I don’t really need that, do I?" So, whilst this post might seem a little hypocritical, bear with me because I was thinking recently about the challenges I’ve faced in life and how I’ve grown into a better person because of them.

Things haven’t always gone to plan in my life and I am sure that plenty of my readers already know that - but let's face it, I don’t think anyone has gone through life without facing a few challenges along the way. It's facing these challenges that's made me a better person. They haven’t always been fun, far from it, but they’ve taught me new skills and expanded my knowledge base along the way, be it personally or professionally.

There's always time for YOU.

If you’ve read this far and are wondering what the point of my ramblings are, well… you should be used to it by now! It’s all there in my bio, I love to ramble about my life and so today I am going to share a few tips about how you can better yourself.
 
Be Optimistic

Bettering yourself isn’t all about expanding your knowledge and skills it can simply be about changing the way you react to things. Being optimistic sounds simple but it isn’t always easy, trust me I’ am speaking from experience.

But if you’re serious about self-development then learning to be a little more optimistic is a great way to improve your life. Just a few minutes of reflection can help a lot, it’s an old-fashioned saying but try to look on the bright side. Bettering yourself shouldn’t feel like a chore and learning to be optimistic will help you feel more confident and active about it.

Fitness

OK, this is one I have plenty of experience with and you know what I am okay with that! When I knew I wanted to get fitter and healthier, I knew what I would have to do and that’s why there’s a section of my blog dedicated to it.

But self-development is about tackling things you need to change and it even relates to my first tip. Now am I ever going to be a supermodel? Probably not. When I was having Finley I relaxed my fitness regime yes but even though my journey isn’t over yet. Having recently been diagnosed with PCOS it has enlightened me as to why my weight battles have been so arduous. The goal posts may have moved slightly but I am optimistic and whilst I know that I'll never be a model I will be a fitter, healthier person one day. I am now several months in to a new eating and exercise plan and am really feeling the benefits already!

I may never look like this physically but mentally and fitness-wise, I am well on my way here.

Pursue Your Passion

Now, this tip will ensure that bettering yourself never feels like a chore because it’s all about having fun and pursuing your passion. We all have dreams but many of us have to leave them behind because the real world gets in the way. But while you might not be able to turn it into a career it doesn’t mean you can’t still enjoy it.

Pursuing your passion is one of the best ways to better yourself and it will improve your skills, knowledge, and mood. Whatever you love, find a way to enjoy it even if it’s just for an hour a week, if you like writing start a blog (just like me) if you like art why not start painting or join a class?


There are plenty of ways you can have some fun and pursue your passion and trust me it will make you a much happier person and you will feel a lot more fulfilled. Bettering yourself is easy when you know how and you don’t need to buy a guidebook to learn how to do it. 


My weekend plans: Curve Fashion Festival

Meeep!! I'm off to the Curve Fashion Festival in Liverpool this weekend with the lovely Tracey from One Frazzled Mum. 

Missguided, Little Thing, Boohoo, New Look, River Island, Yours Clothing and many more all take part in this annual event and I can't wait to mooch around, grabbing inspo wherever and from whoever I can. 

I don't often treat myself to a physical shopping trip because it can be a real difficult feat to source plus size clothing on the high street in one hit, so the fact that a festival like this brings together some of the UK's biggest names in my kinda fashion all under one roof SERIOUSLY makes my day (and saves my internet data!).
Supporting the Curve Fashion Festival, Debenhams will be dressing the lounge areas this year as well as dressing both male and female plus size models in Debenhams clothing. Personally, and probably the mum in me, the thing I'm most looking forward to seeing is Debenhams' home decor accessories. I'm guessing coppers or metals will be a big fixture this year. I'm mentally buying tea light holders and picture frames already!

We'll be taking a bajillion pics and sharing throughout the day so keep an eye out for us on facebook, Twitter and instagram. Or even better, if you see us - grab us! 

Tickets for The Curve Fashion Festival are on sale now and are available to purchase from The Curve Fashion Festival Website

Who else is coming? See you there!



(Wo)Man up!!

Can we stop. Can we please just stop being so fucking offended at non-issues please? I am getting sick to the back teeth of seeing news articles, people complaining on businesses facebook pages, and bloggers jumping on their soapboxes

Bore off! I can see you're trying to be controversial and get a bit of a reaction on your post and that's great for your reach - brilliantly proactive, well done, but are you REALLY that incensed over a label on the latest pair of pjs you bought? And enough to tag the company in your little shout out too?

Get a grip! If it offends you - move on. 

So what that a pair of pyjamas has a label that says boys on it but your daughter wants to wear it? Big deal! She ain't gunna be wearing the label is she? Let her wear it, who cares? It really doesn't need your attention-grabbing, typed diarrohea plastered all over the internet.

I've literally just read on LadBible about some teacher getting her knickers boxies  non-binary underwear in a twist over Tesco selling 'sexist school shoes'. All because the boys were described as being 'great for being active' whereas the girls got 'sensitive soles'. This snowflake take on big brands encouraging stereotypes, implying that only boys can be sporty and girls are too delicate, is absolutely destroying our societies ability to think for itself. Where is common sense? Who cares what the description is? If we used this anaolgy in REAL LIFE, then that's like saying Dame Kelly Holmes would both look and feel ridiculous in heels.  Perhaps she should be briefed on the possibility of PTSD... because that's how serious these moaners are trying to make these issues, are they not?



Similarly, Morrisons were selling tees. The boy's one said Little Boys, Big Ideas. The girl's one said Little Girls, Big Smiles. Why on EARTH is this offensive and/or sexist? No one is saying that girls are expected to stand there looking pretty whilst boys should have the brains. Seriously, why are you reading in to this so much? There's a jumper I saw available a few weeks back emblazoned with the words 'hangover hoody'... is this championing irresponsible drinking? No. It's a caption for a hoody. If you didn't like it, wasn't your thing, or you just thought it was childish, would you buy it for yourself? No. And that's absolutely fine! Because, hello, we all have different opinions and the world would be boring if we didn't. But to just out and out berate a company, publicly, because it happens to be on kid's clothing is just incredibly pathetic.

I've been sitting on this for a while thinking that if I blog about it, it's pretty ironic that I'm offended by their being offended and, moreover, I'm plastering my crap on the internet as they have done, but I've had just about enough of these uppity twunts banging on about sexism or inequality in clothes or toys or sweets. Sexism, my arse. It's just another reason for you to whinge and 'make a stand'. Nothing but a load of moaning Minnies (oh, sorry, Michaels too)...

I'll sleep so much better tonight now I've finally got that off my chest.. And breathe!! 

What are your thoughts on this recent influx of 'news worthy stories' about sexist implications of clothing, including labels or descriptions?


Bidvine - Your One Stop Quote Shop!

A few years ago I was in a right mess when it came to payday loans. Not even ashamed to admit it - it can happen to anyone. They do say you're only ever 3 paydays away from homelessness and boy can I believe that!  With a lot of determine and grit, I got out of the cycle and never looked back - until I read recently about reclaiming the interests and fees over on Debt Camel where the loans are deemed to be unaffordable. Thanks to the thread of stories on Sara's site, I got the confidence to complain. The adjudicator at Financial Ombudsman has upheld my complaint and I could be looking at a fair few bob coming my way soon... I'll be sure to keep you updated on this story as it unfolds further!



So, given that the money has started burning a hole in my pocket before it's even there (ha!) I've been looking into having my hall, stairs and landing painted by a pro. Nothing fancy, just whitewashing above the dado rail and going over a light blue with a more teal green, below the rail. You see, I had a stab at it my self about 2 years ago and it looks absolutely horrible in that I couldn't cut in at the height of the walls as the ladders were long enough. I'd taped a brush to the end of a long roller handle but nope... dreadful it does look! 

Having originally taken to facebook to look for a painter and decorator who might want to quote me on this, I found it difficult to be available whenever they wanted to pop in and take a look. I work full time, yet no one seems to want to come round in the evening or of a weekend.  Luckily, Bidvine had been mentioned to me a while back by Tracey from One Frazzled Mum.


I searched Interior Painting alongside my postcode and a pop up box advised they'd ask me a few questions first. Wow! I proceeded to answer every question you could think of, from whether I'd be supplying the paint myself, to the height and quality of the walls. There was even an option to add photos. At first I thought 'oh come on!' but I was being stupid... it was literally the answer to my problem of obtaining quotes as there is no need for any one to physically come and see me. I'd simply receive my quotes either online or via phone and then that final decision is down to me.



Have to say, I was impressed. Very impressed. So it's subsequently been bookmarked for future reference. When you delve a little deeper, it really can be used to source quotes on pretty much anything - from having your flat cleaned to salsa dance lessons. Bidvine seems to be the one stop quote shop we all need!

What plans do you have this year? Will you need to use something like Bidvine? I bet that you will! 



Non-Verbal Autism... His First Word!

As many of you know, we have waited years for Finley to utter any kind of word. The word Mummy or even mama was something I would actually dream about him saying. I'm not alone in this either, my husband and other family members have also talked of dreams that they'd had of him talking. It goes to show how much these things play on your mind, even when you're not consciously aware of it because, let's face it, we all have to crack on in life. There's no time to sit and dwell! Wondering what his voice would sound like. 

Finley's level of understanding is limited and there is little to no comprehension in instruction either. So if he wanted anything, he would hit me or cry. At 3 years and 3 months old, I still don't know what my baby wants - everything is a guessing game. A cruel game that usually ended in me crying or cut and bruised. You see, I'm his go-to punch bag for his frustrations. After-all, I'm his Mum, why aren't I helping him get what he wants or needs? The look in his eyes when he gets like that is pure pent up anger and annoyance. I know he feels confusion too because he often reaches up for a snuggle mid-thrash. Every single time, it is nothing more than luring me into a sense of false safety because as soon as I would react to his physical request - pow! He'd start again.


Meaningful joint attention is something we have worked on for coming up to 2 years now, with a huge success in him confidently using a picture card whenever he wanted a drink. According to SALT (Speech and Language Therapy), without a shared, or joint, attention - Finley will not comprehend what conversation is so why would he have the desire to learn? An example of non-verbal joint attention might be waving to a 10 month old and getting a wave back - because they know it means something. It's this 'give and take' which is yet to register in his amazingly special little mind - he's far too busy enjoying his own world. Damn autism. 

Any time we give Finley something he wants, we always say 'Ta' in the hope that he realises it means something. Well guess what, last week Finley said 'ta' before he took his snack from us. He actually said a word. His very first word!!! I am beaming with pride. He may not have used it independently but he did repeat it which is HUGE! He never repeats anything! Well, about a year ago he did the scream at the end of 'if you see a crocodile, don't forget to scream' but over a period of around 3 weeks he regressed and it never came out again. That was as close we ever got to him repeating anything. 

Here is Finley's first word, caught on video less than 24 hours after the first time he said it. It's so clear too isn't it?!!! 



Since the first occurrence one week ago, he has said it a handful of times and only when he wants to. I must remember not wear it too thin and push every time I'm about to give him something. It's really hard not to though, I have to admit. I just love his growly little voice.

Never give up, guys. Even when it feels like you're getting nowhere. With every tiny baby step, you are getting to where you want to be. Hopefully 'Mum' will soon follow!! Think I'll explode if, when, he manages that one!

When did your little one's first word come?

Hair and Hair Loss: Making The Most Of What We Have

I recently wrote a post called My Top 5 Beauty Finds For At Home Pampering, if you haven't already read it - head over before reading on.  My absolute favourite from that list still has to be the Babyliss Big-Hair. You see, my hair is what hairdressers call annoying! It's fine hair and there's loads of it, which makes it really difficult to hold a style. Aside from styling it though, it sheds a LOT. I'm forever being moaned at by the husband (like it's my fault?!) because nobody can't move without picking my stray locks off of their clothes. Oops!

Seriously though, I do wonder where it all comes from because trying to get a thick looking barnet is almost an impossibility. Just washing my hair is a momentary cause for concern but once I've dried it and realise there's still most of it left, I often think of those who genuinely do suffer hair loss. I mean, if I panic when what seems like fists full shed, what on earth goes through their mind? Do I really have a right to whine about how I can hardly ever wear my hair down or that doing something other than a top know makes me look VERY thin on top?

Trying to do something different to the usual top-knot!

From Wayne Rooney with his bold move in having a hair transplant at a relatively young age to Gail Porter with her well-suited embracing of alopecia instead, every little bit of publicity it gets is bound to help at least one person out there.  A quick search online brings you to the likes of the Online Doctor LloydsPharmacy, where you can find prescription-only privately available medication to stop or slow hair loss. Another thing I didn't realise was even a thing is hair thickening spray, something that was recently alleged that Rooney has been using to further help his hair troubles. Oh, and what about that beauty who wowed us all when she took off her wig on Channel 4's First Dates a few weeks back?!

Absolutely GORGEOUS!


Losing hair is a huge thing that affects both male and female sufferers. Until it starts to go, I guess we all take it for granted. So I'm going to continue using my Big Hair and be thankful that I still have something to work with instead of moaning... I can't say my husband will stop his whinging though next time he finds my strands in his cornflakes or whatever other exaggerations he comes out with haha!

Is hair loss anything that concerns you at the moment?


Halo Tank 2 Review & Giveaway

Yeah yeah yeah, I've said it before I know. I want to quit cigarettes. But seriously, I don't even think anyone actually smokes any more. What used to be, pretty much, a social event at lunch time at work has left me standing in the rain on my own. Smoking is not cool, never was. It certainly ain't healthy either, so... change is afoot!

My parcel arrives!

Vaping, that's what seems to be doing the trick these days. Monday morning conversations outside the office even feature new flavours everyone has bought over the weekend!  I bit the bullet and I stumped out the smokes. I have a Halo Tank 2, thanks to E-Cigarette Direct's approach recently offering me a review. What better time to just get on with it? 

Usually retailing at around £24.99, the Halo Tank 2 comes with 1 coil and the liquid of your choice. I stuck with menthol, my usual cigarette option, just to be safe. But I'm loving the sound of vanilla ice cream and blackjack twist. I also opted for the middle ground when it came to nicotine level -  0.6%; the top one is 1.8% and the lowest one is 0.3%. A decent varied range for every smoker looking to vape. I also chose the very girly purple device, but you can opt for a matt black or stainless steel as well.

The ridged edge below the air vent is where you need to unscrew in order to fill up the tank

To get it started, all I had to do was unscrew the tank from the battery, insert the coil and pour the fluid into the tank, then re-screw back together. It literally took seconds to do so it's a very user-friendly selling point!

I've been using the device now for a good week or so and have to say that menthol blast, the liquid I chose, is very strong! Much stronger than I was anticipating. So although I haven't used much of it, it has definitely hit the spot when I've needed to have a go. If you draw too much, it also becomes hot which can sometimes catch my breath, cue spluttering everywhere and much laughter from fellow vapees! I'll opt for a smoother flavour next time round so ensure a smooth and pleasant experience.

It's important to note that he Halo Tank 2 is lightweight which is perfect for me. I must admit, I don't like the big bulky e-cigs that some people I know walk around with, they're as big as the old mobile phones we used to have in our youth! So this is perfect if you're after something relatively discreet and similar to the feel of a normal cigarette.



All in all, I'm pretty chuffed with my device and, being sure you would be too, I'm happy to say I can give one away to you lucky dude and dudettes. All you need to do is enter via the gleam app below and you're in!


The giveaway ends on 17th August and is being run by ECigaretteDirect themselves. They will draw and notify the winner at the close of the giveaway period. This means that, by entering, you're agreeing to your details being shared with ECigaretteDirect

What flavour liquid and colour device tickles your fancy? 
Let me know what you'd choose...

How to make time to celebrate special occasions with your partner when you are a parent

I recently celebrated my 6th wedding anniversary and I can tell you that it's been a lot bumpier than those Disney films reckon it is! Being a parent doesn't make things harder, but it definitely makes it a little more complex which is why you really do need to make time to celebrate special occasions with your partner.

Look how little Carson was!

Whether it is a one year anniversary or a twenty-one year anniversary, it is important to spend it with your partner to celebrate your love, or strength at least! With things like work, children and your financial situation thrown into the mix, it can be difficult to properly celebrate. Taking the time to consciously remember your wedding day and reflect on the reasons you fell in love with your spouse is a precious thing. It is the day you pledged your life to another person and it is worth celebrating, small moments and all.

Life may sometimes feel like a chaotic madhouse and with everything going on, spending time with your partner can be the last thing on your mind. However, being in a loving and caring relationship is one of the greatest gifts you can give to your children. Spending that time alone together without the children is important to create and maintain a loving relationship.

Here are some tips to finding that balance between your couple time and family time in order to allow you to spend time alone together to celebrate anniversaries and your love for each other.

Keep it simple

Keep it simple
Spending time alone together doesn’t have to mean taking private jets to Paris. It could just be an hour a drive down to the beach to take a stroll. If you find a moment you want to connect with your partner and your kids are around, do so. They might give off some embarrassed groans, but in reality, they will relish in the fact that their parents are happy. If your first-dance song comes on in the supermarket, go ahead and dance arm in arm. You'll even make other's smile while you're at it! Those small opportunities to connect should not be surpassed.

Pamper yourselves!

Schedule in your night together
It is important to schedule in your alone time for just you and your partner. There’s not much room for spontaneity when you are a parent! Plan them a long way in advance so that you can organise a babysitter and clear some time. It’s great if you can get away from the family home for the evening. A perfect date night could be staying in a hotel close to Nottingham, having dinner, maybe going to the cinema; having a few glasses of wine and taking a romantic stroll back to the hotel together. If you can’t get overnight childcare, go to see a movie in the afternoon and have an early dinner. Couples that schedule alone time together are able to turn towards each other more for support and love because it builds a sense of closeness.


Use your words

Use your words
Affection is shown through what we say as well as what we do. Don’t forget to speak kindly to each other every day, not just on your anniversary. If you walk in the kitchen and your partner is doing the dishes, say thanks. It’s the little things like this that are the building blocks of a relationship. It is just as important to frequently tell your partner that you love them. After a long relationship, this can be an easy one to forget. But that reminder and reassurance of your love for each other are what will help to keep your bond.

Why so serious?!

Don’t be angry
Life can be pretty unpredictable when you have children and it’s not always possible to celebrate special occasions how you had dreamed. It’s common to feel unspoken resentment towards your partner for this reason. Instead of letting emotions build up inside, talk it out if you have something you want to say. You don’t have to raise your voice or argue, just take some time to sit down when the kids are in bed and get everything off your chest, one at a time. You and your partner are a united team and you need to communicate your feelings. It may be hard to remember sometimes, but you are more than just your children’s parents. You are both one half of a strong and emotional partnership. Talking things out and discussing your problems will show your children what it means to be in a healthy relationship.

What other tips do you have for making time to celebrate special occasions with your partner, when you're a parent? I'd love to hear all about them...

My Top 5 Beauty Finds For At Home Pampering!

As a full-time working mum of two absolute delights, it's only fair I get a pamper every now and then, right? Truth be told though, I'd rather spend any spare cash I had on the kids or buying one of the many badly-needed essentials for the house. It's called getting old ha! So what's a woman to do in order to feel treated, pampered and refreshed - without dreading the credit card bill? 

Starting from the top (aha!), yes, I'm talking about hair. If it's mega shine and bounce you're after I recommend scouring the web for home-made hair conditioning recipes. A great post I come across was at Slick Wellness and, well, who knew that fresh aloe vera gel would work so beautifully when applied to the ends of my hair? This wonder-plant cost me about £3 last year and despite it already living in the bathroom, I have literally only just 'found' it thanks to doing my research online. 

Fresh Aloe Vera gel works wonders on hair and skin

My second major YES, is the Babyliss Big Hair Styler - a rotating air-drying styler. If you want volume, bounce and serious shine then I recommend you get your hands on one of these bad boys. I had the original and loved it and now there's the titanium version for additional ionic frizz control for a super sleek and smooth look. Don't just take my word for it, all reviews I've seen online are positive, and the price tag really ain't something to sniff at averaging around £60 each. There are various ways to keep cost down on this too. Remember, use loyalty cards to earn, or even spend points such as with Boots  and Superdrug, or, to locate where it's on sale at any given time use the likes of LoveTheSales  to maximise your money saving where possible

Big hair, don't care!

I only blogged about this La Roche-Posay Effaclar skincare recently actually but I seriously cannot believe the different it's made to the touch and feel of my skin. The compliments are coming thick and fast and it is the first full 'system' I have ever been 100% happy with. Whilst the original cost is £26, you only need to use it sparingly making it really good value for money. You can see my full and detailed review here.

La Roche-Posay Effaclar 3 Step System

Clarins Exfoliating Body Scrub was gifted to me by my lovely mother-in-law. What a find! A rather thick consistency, there's no question that a little goes a long way. Full of beads of pain (so you know it's working, of course!) this scrub both exfoliates and conditions so after detoxifying and refining those tired or toughened areas, the skin beneath is also soothed and softened. It's like heaven in a bottle, I've even got a thing with touching my knees because they feel so very different to that of the last 20 years! This is around £25 per bottle but again, the number of uses and the satisfaction level each and every time, it justifies the cost. Another way to potentially save is to look out for gift sets that contain the product you're after plus a couple of new things to try - especially if the price is not much different to buying it individually, and usually it isn't. 

Seriously indulgent bodycare in Clarins Exfoliating Body Scrub For Smooth Skin

What better way to pamper than a nice hot, relaxing bubble bath? I love a good scented bath oil but I often feel a bit icky when I get out. Recently I won these bath bombs from AromaWorks over on twitter and my whole house smelt divine for 2 days, never mind just my skin after I used one of these. Upon opening the box, it hits you, and I guess that's why they call themselves Scent Bombs. Truly stunning, I lay in the bath for an entire 45 minutes, even ignoring a charity worker knocking on my front door -  and I'm not even ashamed! I'm revitalised! At £25 for the Quad Box, you're getting four soaks for the price of less than one treatment in a spa. Cha-ching.

AromaWorks Bomb Quad is bound to give you a bang for your buck! (see what I did there?!)

So there are my top 5 beauty finds for beauty at home pampering. Nothing to break the bank but everything to make you feel a million quid.

What have you discovered lately? 
I'm forever on the hunt for more so please do let me know the winners and the losers below! 


Skincare for the acne-prone, featuring Helloskin

Skincare for the acne-prone can be nightmarish. Like, proper scary! You want to be moisturised without either the oil-slick finish on the day, or, the boils that arise from it 2 days later. I know this because I'm a sufferer - always have been, sadly. So, whilst make-up can be a saviour for covering my scar covered, blemish ridden mush, it only adds to the problem long-term if I'm not focusing on the actual issue itself.


When Helloskin asked if I wanted to give their site a whirl, my first thought was whether there'll be anything remotely suitable for my skin so, upon pasting their link in to the browser, I held my breath... for no reason at all, because Helloskin specialise in, check this, skin care products for psoriasis, eczema, acne & other dry skin conditions. Bingo!

I was given free reign to chose 3 items from their site to review so made a point of using their search filters specifically to tackle my acne. A very simple process revealing a great selection of products. 

Here's what I thought of my choices...


La-Roche-Posay
Effaclar Anti-blemish system £26
Rating: 5 stars πŸŒŸπŸŒŸπŸŒŸπŸŒŸπŸŒŸ

EFFACLAR PURIFYING GEL: A luxuriously silky face wash starts the process well. It builds a whopping lather and has a texture more like serum than soap. Don't get it in your mouth, it tastes vile (!) but wow, does my skin feel clean and supple afterwards!

EFFACLAR CLARIFYING TONER: The toner is very thin, a slightly cloudy coloured water that gets soaked in to cotton wool a little too easily. I find the application better when using like aftershave - squeeze a little in to your palm, slap your hands together and pat your face. You can feel the pores tightening the second it hits your skin. I love this feeling - you know it's really doing it's job.

EFFACLAR DUO [+] ANTI-BLEMISH CREAM: The anti-blemish cream is the third step. The texture is less of a cream, more like a primer. Applying a thin layer to my face after the first two steps, my skin is ready for any make-up application within 10 minutes.

Overall: After almost 2 weeks of use, my skin truly is more balanced. Sebum production appears to be reduced and there are no dry areas despite using toner on a regular basis (something that does usually happen with me). I actually received a compliment the other day - of sorts. I was asked if I was using new foundation as my skin was glowing... as I've made no change to my usual make-up I'm definitely putting it down to this!  This 3-step system will be for keeps in my skincare regime.



BiorΓ© 
Deep Cleansing Pore Strips £7.99
Rating: 3 stars πŸŒŸπŸŒŸπŸŒŸ

Recommended for weekly use to unclog pores and prevent blackheads, simply wet your face after washing and apply the strip to your nose with dry hands. These strips take around 10 minutes to dry and stiffen. From the edges, carefully lift the strip up, gently unclogging those pesky pores in the process.

Overall: We've all used nose strips before and, let's be honest, we relish in the gross aftermath! On first application however, I have to say that the results from these strips weren't as vomit inducing as I'd have hoped. With little to see on the strip I was surprised I had no clogg-age to remove - until I looked in the mirror. The adhesive had stuck to my nose, requiring a good scrub to remove. Perhaps I removed  it too quickly?  On second application, it did work a little better but definitely still some residue left on the skin. Good results but not great when compared to others I've tried. All this being said, my skin was definitely feeling smoother and squeaky clean! 



Hollywood 
Overnight Magic Gel Treatment £24.99
Rating: 5 stars πŸŒŸπŸŒŸπŸŒŸπŸŒŸπŸŒŸ

Designed to help clear spots and the associated redness overnight, this contains a combination of salicylic acid, sulfur, and zinc oxide in a bid to to clear pores, preventing the formation of acne-causing bacteria. The gel is said to have a visible impact on spots in as little as one hour, reducing redness and clearing blemishes without scarring. Unlike some acne treatments, it contains no benzoyl peroxide. It is also free of artificial colours, fragrances, and parabens, which can irritate sensitive skin.

Overall: True to it's claims, this gel really reduces that angry redness of acne. I applied this in the evening on one particularly painful spot that was starting to break through the skin.  By the next morning the redness had gone! However, a truly bulging yellow-head had dramatically appeared instead! Resisting the temptation to burst it's bad-ass, I covered over with concealer for work and then reapplied this gel later in the evening. By the following morning the head had somehow vanished and I had nothing but a skin-coloured pimple left over. This stuff is literally MAGIC!! An additional pointer to bear in mind - it goes a long way so use sparingly and you'll get the maximum out of your purchase. 


Have you ever used Helloskin to specifically find products suited for your problem skin? If so, let me know what you opted for - I'm always open to recommendations! If not, then now is the time to delve in deep because they have kindly offered you guys a 10% discount code, just for taking the time to read my blog. How kind!!

To redeem your 10% discount visit Helloskin and use the code: HELLOJO


You can also follow HelloSkin on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter


This blog post is sponsored by HelloSkin, but all opinions are my own


Welcome!

Welcome!