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...

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.

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! 

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

Celebrating Father's Day with Hallmark at Tesco

What to do, or buy, for Dad on Father's Day? It's the same question we ask ourselves every year and yet it feels like the same old gift guides feature the same old facial hair/shaving related gifts. 

❤ The Gift of Thought ❤

I've come to realise over the years that the most important gift to give is 'thought'. We may argue with our Dads, or have a relationship where we're unable to express just how much love we have them. Perhaps it feels weird that there is a day dedicated to him because he never wants any fuss? 

A thoughtful idea, making a tee!

For me, the very best in 'thought' based gifts involve finding words that can adequately portray how you feel. I am the worst (or perhaps best in some people's opinion!) for spending hours reading verses inside gift cards, determining which is truly representative of my feelings. For the football loving, vegetable hating husband I would never dream of handing over a greetings card that has a wildly irrelevant wellington boot on the front and a one-liner inside about how he should pop down the allotment this Sunday to relax! No no no. Get it right people!

Just some of Hallmark at Tesco's card collection 

Tesco have sent me a whopping range of their Father's Day cards by Hallmark to take a look at whilst showing you guys and let me start by saying there's something for every loved Dad out there. Secondly,  they don't cost the earth. 

If you haven't chosen your perfect Father's Day card yet I'm gunna put it out there and recommend you head off to Tesco - just look at these and it's not even the full collection.

What a design!!

In keeping with my firm belief that thought-based gifts count the most, Carson and I have been dabbling in some good old fashion arts and crafts - making Dad his very own personalised T-shirt. Granted, he's not likely to showcase our piece down to the local pub but, come on, it beats the standard lounge wear you can pick up at at least a tenner a pop. How adorable?! (Plus he gets the six pack he may always have wanted!)

Oh, let's not forget the obligatory socks... also relating to facial hair - also available at Tesco, of course!

The truest of all Father's Day cards 

What are your plans for Father's Day gifts this year? I'd love to hear, just let me know in the comments below.

Happy Father's Day to all great men out there xxx

Thank you to Hallmark at Tesco for sending the above featured cards and DIY gift materials that really helped our thought-based gift theme. We loved collaborating with you!

It only seems like yesterday...

What a strange 6 months of the year it's been hey? Only seems like yesterday I was putting the tree deccies back away up in the loft!

I've not had a huge amount I wanted to talk about if I'm honest, publicly anyway. Life just takes over sometimes and with all the chaos and drama - the last thing I was wanting to do was to write an SEO'd, aesthetically pleasing letter. And let's face it, this blog is a letter of life to you guys - my penpals. 

Every once in a while I did type though. Angrily or happily, through both tears and laughter. Yet I never had the gall to click publish. Some of which I'm thankful for leaving as drafts! (Jeez, the things I can rant about!!)

I was speaking to someone only today about how my blog is a great tool for looking back on situations that I was struggling with and realising that, dya know what, things weren't that bad. Go Jo! You've grown! 

This blog is something I'm really proud of and it records some of the best and worst times of my life. So although I've been absent for a while - I feel a surge coming on. A seriously epic blogging surge. So brace yourself penpals... I'm back ✔

Oh... So's Carson πŸ˜‚

Avoid a Fat-berg Crisis and WIN!

When I was young, I thought my Dad was right weird, making bizarre lard moulds out of 4-pint bottles of milk. Let me explain, frying sausages, mince or a making a good old roast dinner produce a whole lot of juices - most of which is fat. Easy to pour down the sink you might think, but, what happens to them juices when they cool down? They solidify, causing havoc on your drain systems. Did you know that it costs around £20million to fix blocked pipes in the North West alone with this being one of the main causes?

The average roast dinner contains around 48g* of fat!

Dad's no longer as weird as I thought because guess who had to spend a small fortune on Mr Muscle and plumbers before Christmas? Yup, that'll be moi. I failed to pour leftover cooking fats into an open topped milk bottle! I'll be 32 years of age next month and I'm still uncovering proof to back up the fact that parent's are always right!

United Utilities want to help people learn how they can keep their own drains healthy, as many people don’t know that water companies aren’t responsible for fixing blockages on domestic properties. Insurance companies often won’t pay out if the problem was caused by fats, oils and grease. Can you imagine if Mr Muscle and a whole lotta elbow grease (excuse the pun!) hadn't have worked for my drains? Talk about an expensive Christmas.

Because of this, United Utilities have a dedicated area on their website just for this very issue, where you can find top tips like these, for keeping your drains in tip top condition:

> Before washing, pour or scrape fat and sauces (like gravy), from roasting trays, pans and plates into a heat resistant container, when cool put in the bin
*That'll be Dad's thinking!

> Small amounts of grease left in pans or on plates can be wiped away with kitchen roll and thrown into the bin.

> Use a sink strainer to capture food scraps and put them in the bin.

> For larger quantities of oils, contact your local council who’ll let you know how to dispose of them and where your local recycling centre is.

You can find much more information, advice and tips by visiting their website here.

To help raise awareness of the fat-berg crisis, because it is crisis - the North West pours 2.9 MILLION STONE of fat down our plugholes every year - we've got a Lakeland Fat Trapper to give away. A step up from the milk bottle method, this will look inconspicuous and slick in your kitchen whilst serving a real purpose.

Simply follow the Rafflecopter instructions below for your chance to win. UK only,

Good luck!


This post was written in collaboration with United Utilities to raise awareness of the fat-berg crisis sweeping the North West.

Communication Passports For Autistic Children

As any loving mum would, I always look for ways to help Finley since his diagnosis and, as per usual,  I was recently mooching around the internet hoping to find the miracle 'cure' for his non-verbal, minimal understanding, often difficult to deal with Autism. It was not to be. Obviously! But hey, one can dream...

It was the Supreme Court ruling that wheelchairs take precedence over buggies on buses that really got me thinking. How on earth am I supposed to fold his buggy down if asked. I imagine a bus load of people burning holes in the back of my head, staring, judging or tutting, all whilst I look at the wheelchair-bound person who is expectantly awaiting my move. It absolutely terrifies me.

Such a happy, smiley little boy.

Disability seems to be pigeon-holed to the image of a wheelchair. So wrong. Despicable even. It's 2017!

I've witnessed people say that there's no reason it couldn't be done. That if that child was truly 'disabled' their pram would have obvious physical adaptations or, clearly, their oxygen tank would be attached. What the hell?

So disability is only valid when visible. Yeah, OK hun.

Don't forget though, "parents choose to have kids, wheelchair users don't choose to have no legs." Again, dramatic much? A) Using a wheelchair doesn't mean that the user "has no legs", talk about a massively disrespectful generalisation... and B) As a parent I didn't choose for my son to have a lifelong neurological condition.

Just because you can't see it, doesn't mean it doesn't exist.

With the above in mind and my searching the net for any additional pointers that might help Finley, I came across CALL Scotland's communication passport templates online. OooOoo!! What's this, I thought, with great intrigue.

A personalisable mini guide as to how my little person works - helpful for all who see him or need to spend some time with him. It certainly saves having to run through everything every single time, that's for sure.

In addition, in the case of the bus issue, when he bolts in public and fails to respond to his name or it looks like I'm torturing him by holding on to him for dear life as he screams, thrashes and hits out, this could be really REALLY good for when he's "a naughty boy" (or whatever they want to say) when not in his buggy on a bus.

Check it out...

Template courtesy of CALL Scotland. Scroll down for link

I plan on having some of these made professionally to keep in his change bag, coat pocket, my handbag - wherever I can, really. It would look so much better than this sellotaped, whacked together version! Of course, I want to tweak it slightly, add a photo of him and put background colours in place etc. When I've taken that step and had them made, I'll share the finished product with you all.

You can find their templates over at and there's a good, wide range to choose from.

What do you think? Will you use one for your little dude or dudette?

Image of Finley courtesy of Little Rainbows

Spectrum Sunday

Eggs at Christmas - Rant of The Week

Now this post was originally scheduled for New Year but, for some reason (possibly the delayed Millenuium bug?) it didn't post. But here we go anyway, it's relevant all the same...

Now that the Christmas festivities are over and we embark on a fresh start and a New Year.... who's looking forward to Easter?


I was shopping at Asda on December 28th and when I was in the queue, I was greeted by this ridiculous lovely offering at the till.

What is with shops? Seriously, why are they a full quarter ahead of us - there's so much pressure on the consumer it's unreal.

It's bad enough that in the Winter looking for coats or boots is impossible because it's all about the sheer blouses and peep toe wedges for Spring, but to prolong our Crimbo gorging with an Easter range before the year is out is just unspeakable.

Easter is late this year too - in the middle of April as opposed to in March like last year.

Piddle off! I still have mince pies in the cupboard for God's sake.

It's no wonder people seem to be both putting their trees up and taking their trees down earlier and earlier these days. We're being forced to join in with their ridiculous schedules.

Can we not enjoy a season for what it is any more?

That's my rant of the week. And... I refuse to even look at a Creme Egg until at least Valentine's Day has been and gone.

I'm cracking up here, it's no yolk. Do you succumb to the supermarket's poaching of your purse contents or are you just as fried as I am by the whole thing?

Excuse the puns - my brain's scrambled - I don't know what month it is. Cheers Asda!!

Lunchbox newcomers: Joosed Junior

Yesterday I wrote a post about syn-free snacks that were also perfect for Carson's lunch box. Today, I'm writing about something else to pack in his bag instead. 

I'm talking about Joosed Junior. An all natural, massively thirst-quenching, sports-lidded drink. No added sugar - yay! 

After all that lovely chocolate and fizzy prosecco pop over Christmas, it's about time we got back to basics and over-hauled our eating and drinking ways isn't it? Well, we think so anyway and after being sent a couple of bottles of this late last year, I'm feeling all angelic in our consumption of these now. 

Joosed Junior is made by Bensons, a fruit juice producer based on a beautiful National Trust farm in the Cotswolds. Creating fruit juices and ices for all ages you usually find them in places like Nandos, National Trust, English Heritage and The Garden Centre Group.

Joosed Junior is created with the young Benson children in mind (ranging from 6yrs– 14yrs) and the current fruit juice category being full with hidden sugars and unrecognizable ingredients. Their juices are just 150ml of pure fruit juice mixed up with British spring water and, as per the running theme of this post, have no added sugars, colourings or flavourings. 

Whilst Carson will be the first to say I'm tight with these drinks, and he does get a little annoyed when I limit him to one a day, but, as with all fruit, the natural sugars within here are pretty high so I am strict with his consumption purely on that basis. That being said, counting as one of Carson's 5 a day, I'm confident in the quality of what I'm giving him when it comes to Joosed Junior. 

We were sent the Apple and the Blackcurrant & Apple flavours to try and we enjoyed both varieties. Personally, my absolute fave was the Apple. I'd finished vacuuming and was so thirsty when I grabbed one from the fridge. Oh my! I'll never forget the satisfaction in quenching my thirst with such a wonderfully natural flavour. My only grumble? It didn't last long enough! Junior shmunior - they're good for any age, trust me.

Currently £1.74* for a pack of 4 in Waitrose, have you tried Joosed Junior yet? If not, go get some!

Whilst I've got your attention, why not go and follow Bensons on twitter for Joosed news and giveaways here.

*correct at time of publishing

Syn free snack? Grabits!

I was sent some new and pretty unusual snacks to taste towards the end of last year and all I've heard since they ran out is "Muuuum, when can I have more chicken on a stick for my lunch boxes?"

syn free snack

Yes. Chicken on a stick. Such a simple idea, yet one that I'd not ever seen before! The best thing about them? They're syn free - if you're a lover of Slimming World, you'll appreciate this hugely, I'm sure.

Grabits Original Chicken on a Stick offers natural, meaty, 100% real, ready-to-eat chicken breast, perfect for snacking on their own, or quickly and simply adding to a salad or curry, with fewer than 70 calories per stick. 

Just because you're on slimming world though, doesn't mean you can't introduce a flavoured snack as well. With Grabits Chinese Chicken on a Stick, made from 100% whole muscle, healthy chicken, you can have a flavoursome snack with, again, fewer than 70 calories per stick.

syn free satisfying snack

The above picture shows the sheer size of these hunger-busting treats. Hint: that's on a dinner plate, not a side plate!

At the beginning of this post, I mentioned Carson wanting them for his lunch box again. That's because Grabits really are suitable for all the family. Instead of a sandwich, Carson loved having one of these with some cherry tomatoes and cheese chunks. From what he tells me, his classmates were a little on the jealous side too.

For those who've started a gym membership as part of their New Year's Resolutions - these pack away a huge 12g of protein per portion, making it perfect to take as a pre or post-workout snack.

They didn't last long in our house as, between Carson and I, we found new ways to utilise them and quickly! He gobbled them instead of crisps at home as well as taking in his lunch box for school. I made salads with them to take to work, or snacked on them in between meals at home. Grabits actually suggest using the Chinese ones in a meal of boiled rice, soy sauce and sliced spring onion for an easy-to-prepare Chinese-style lunch. How's that for a tasty, quick meal? And with an RRP of £1.69, it's pretty cost effective too. *Shred the takeaway menu!*

You can purchase these in shops like Spar, Costcutter, Londis etc. which is great for a snack on the go if you're passing. However, having said that you can see here that they're also available in Budgens and we recently have had one appear in our home town. Great to pick up during a proper shop too! 

Follow Grabits on Twitter or facebook for meal ideas, competitions and new flavour announcements, or if you prefer looking at pretty pictures, follow them on Instagram too. 

Tell me, is this a snack you'd try? Have you tried them already and, if so, do share your ways of eating them with us.