2014 and Targets

I'm on my lunch at work, guzzling a Costa Orange and Chocolate Mocha Latte like a new born baby on a teat, and I'm thinking about how I'm going to afford nursery furniture and baby essentials.

I'm going to pop 2 pounds a (working) day in a jar and even if I feel I can't afford that one day (we all have those days I'm sure) I will go without something such as not buying a loaf of bread and utilising the pasta twirls in the back of the cupboard instead. 

By the time baby is due, I should have circa £200 which will be plenty to buy something like a cot! Wow! All for two 'little' pounds a day!

I'm going to have a harder think about targets for 2014 and will finalise them in a post later this week I think. In the meantime, do you have any targets or forward thinking ideas to share? Would love to hear about them, or even join a linky!

Now... my Costa's getting cold and my dinner break nearly over!
Buh-bye for now! xxx

It's a boy!

Bump at 20 weeks
As you all know, I'm 20 (+2) weeks pregnant and had my anomoly scan on Thursday. Carson came with me and has been trying his best to bully me into finding out what we were having - he was desperate for a sister!

I know you're not supposed to take children to a scan with you but with Carson being monitored and tested within the autistic spectrum, given his "Aspergers tendencies", I really needed him to be involved. There are those who say I should pay for a private scan for these kind of bonding sessions but I don't have private scan kinda cash at the moment (who does at Christmas?!)

Whilst the sonographer was checking out flump, he whispered "ooooh I think it will be a boy or a girl!".... "Let's hope so" said the sonographer! (Yeah, what else could it be, son?!)

Anyway, this constant wriggle is to be of the blue variety. A brother for Carson. A BOY.

If I said he was happy I'd be lying. He was initially gutted, he really wanted a sister to look after, but as soon as I said they could share a room together for a few years when he's older - he was all smiles!

As a mum - I'm high-risk, although nothing was really explained to me as to why so I'm just waiting for a few extra appointments to come through the post. When I know more, I'll share - I know all to well that blogs and forums like this are a god send when you're searching for the newest bizarre happening to your body at this time in life!! ... I've some TMI posts to type out soon haha... god help you all!!

In the meantime, here is the only picture we could get of flump, thanks to his rave-in-utero, you can see his left hand raised up over his left eye-  palm facing us and all 5 digits bent over perfectly...

The miracle of pregnancy!!

Love Jo xxx

*Review* I want one of those - Bad Egg!

Ever had someone ask you what you want for Crimbo, or a birthday and you really don't know what to say?

Socks? Slippers? Smelly set?

Well stop being so boring and check out IWOOT, aka I Want One Of Those, at www.iwantoneofthose.com for endless ideas.

You won't even KNOW you want one 'til you see them!

I was asked to choose a selection of items from a list that I would most like to review, and this item was suitably ticked as my family LOVE EGGS!

We can't go one single week without dippy eggs and soldiers. Our egg cups are always cracking though, so we are down to our last egg cup in the house at the moment which  means we can't have the Old Skool lunch together.

Bad Egg not only looks cool (Mo' and all!), it's plastic so the cracking/smashing of egg cups issue should be egg-stinct *scoff* in The Smith family household.

Perfect for a Secret Santa or that 'something small' for someone's birthday, you really can't go wrong with this item and, at only £6.99, I am going to buy a few more to have a decent set of them in my house. I'm gunna have too seeing as Carson 'bagsied' this one for himself (with great delight I might add!)

If you don't fancy the 'bad egg' look, why don't you check out the other egg cups on offer at I Want One Of Those by clicking to their egg page here.

If you're still shopping for Christmas:
Order with Next Day Delivery before 8pm on Monday 23rd December for:
Guaranteed Christmas Delivery!! 


.... GO, GO, GO!!!

Happy shopping and Happy holidays :-) xxx

Maternity wear on the highstreet

Read the title of this post and answer me this - Why can't I walk in to a shop and buy an item of maternity wear??

Desperate for work trousers as my bump grows I went to Birkenhead to shop for some.For those of you who are not familiar with Birkenhead, let me tell you where I went:

  • New Look
  • Next
  • M&S
  • Dorothy Perkins
  • Evans
  • TK Maxx
  • TJ Hughes
  • Primark
  • Bon Marche
  • Birkenhead Market (stalls)
  • River Island
  • Asda/George
I was on the brink of tears when not one single outlet sold maternity wear "you have to go online for that"...


I ended up buying a pair of stretchy waist pants from Bon Marche thinking they'd be ok - but their changing rooms are so unbelievably tiny I couldn't bend to take my pants off!!!  (By the way, I'm not kidding, the staff told me they are inundated by complaints but there's nothing they can do and it's no wonder they get so many returns as customers simply cannot try on in store!!) I didn't realise that the pleated elastic waistband would, of course, dig into growing bump rather than covering over or sitting under.

When I was expecting Carson, albeit 6 years ago, I bought my entire maternity wardrobe from Birkenhead high streets with no problems whatsoever. What the hell has changed?? Why am I made to feel like the odd one out? 

...And surely... as we put on weight, it's harder to determine what clothes size we are. For example, I gathered I'd gone a size up on my top half as my (already large) boobs are suddenly monstrous, so I ordered a size 20/22 jumper instead of a 18/20 on one site but it was swimming on me and down by my knees. Of course, I didn't accommodate for the fact that it will already be larger because it's specifically maternity.

I don't want to buy trousers on line, wait for delivery, try them on, realise they don't fit, send them back to change for another size, await for them to be received and re-processed, wait for delivery..... you get my drift. 

As if we need any more stress hey ladies?

Do you have any options for buying maternity wear - in person (!) - where you are? I'd love to hear your recommendations xxx

To see or not to see?

When pregnant with Carson, I actively sought to discover his sex prior to birth. I was a new mum, excited, impatient... whatevs... It was my prerogative!

This time round though, I feel so, so, different. Maybe it's because I'm more mature in that I can wait, I don't simply have to know. I'm struggling at the moment, against both Carson and Daddy, in that the majority rules in my family - usually (muahaha!)

My way of thinking isn't a particularly normal way of thinking, or so it feels. I have the boy - I would like a girl for my second, naturally. However, if I have the sexing scan and find out that it is a boy - will I be as disappointed as I fear I might? What kind of a mother would I be if I could possibly be 'disappointed' by the sex of my child? That's what I'm worried about. However, If this birth is anything like Carson's and after 23 hours of hard labour I have a bouncing baby boy in my arms... it is pretty safe to say that 'disappointment' will be the last thing anyone would utter or think.

So for the avoidance of doubt, I'm best not knowing... right?

What did you decide on? Please share your stories, or your blog links, in the comments box xx

Heartbeats and onions...

Had my first midwife appointment at my local GP surgery today. Felt new. Everything made me feel like a lost child, clutching the campus map, on the first day of high school. Weird, hey? I've been here before... what was different?
I was worrying being different for nothing! The midwife was so lovely even when I told her I missed the pot for my urine sample. I blame nerves lol. Actually, she advised that the best way to collect pee was in a margarine tub before then pouring it into those stupidly skinny sample pots!  After taking my blood pressure she warned that, at 16 weeks, it's not uncommon to fail at 'listening in' for the heartbeat so most mums choose to wait until the 20 week scan. The decision was mine and, as I've been feeling more than just flutters recently, I decided to give it a go - on a promise I wouldn't go into a hormonal rage/tantrum/cryfest!

Anyway... Today, I got to hear baby's heartbeat for the first time (wooo!!)

We recorded it for Carson to listen to when we got home and he was in awe. So much so that he wanted to talk to me when I was in the bath tonight, and was pouring water over bump, nattering away, "Hiya baby, can you hear me? I'm your brother Carson!" I felt a great bond with him all over again tonight and have taken the decision to bring him to my 20wk scan given that the most risky period is over. I told him and he's unbelievably excited... but want's me to find out what we're having. NO!! (This is for another post!)

In other news... ONIONS!!

I swear I'm going crazy... I can smell onions on my hands ALL THE TIME! Even when I was in the bath tonight, I scratched my nose and caught the whiff again. I've asked others, they can't smell it on me (lets hope they're not lying to me - oh my gosh the shame!)

Pregnancy really plays tricks on you, eh?

Did you experience this? I good old Googled and found others in the same predicament but not really much of an answer other than our senses of smell are more heightened, or that I must have prepared onions recently - which isn't the case.

I'd love to hear of any quirky stories you might have xx

My tips for entering competitions

Do not be secretive!! There are a lot of people who enter comps who don't like you knowing where they're entering their comps from. I guess, the fewer that know the greater the chance of winning. However, when you comp pretty seriously, it's always great to have the support of fellow compers and they're more likely to tell you about comps that exist that you would never know about normally. So it definitely pays to share!

Use Google Chrome to enter comps, then you can use the auto-fill to save time when comping en mass!

Dedicate one email address to comping - it helps you spot the WEM'S (Winning Emails!) and you'll start the lost track of what's spam and what is not. If you don't fancy manning more than one email account, always opt out of marketing emails/calls/sms etc. There's normally a box to tick/untick near the T&C's. 

Twitter competitions.
Follow & RT SimplyBeUK - NOT ME!!
These can really rile some compers so take note. Seriously! 

Firstly, RT means retweet. You can click the retweet button or you can copy and paste the tweet adding RT at the beginning of the tweet. I tend to do both for the avoidance of doubt as some competition hosts accept one but not the other (weird I know, but it's confusing to everyone!!) If the T&C's clearly state that only one RT per person counts, I click the RT button. Don't do both you'll void yourself.

Secondly, Make sure you DO NOT retweet (RT) a compers entry. To avoid this, every time you see a competition tweeted by anyone at all - click on the comp host. So, for example, you see a tweet like the one to the right and you don't copy & paste my tweet, nor do you click the RT button on this. You click on @SimplyBeUK, follow them and find their version of this tweet to RT.

Thirdly. Always follow the comp host. You/they can't DM (Direct Message) you if you're not and you are always checked that you abide by the rules, if not by the host then by us compers!! There are a lot of cheats about, including spammers that use scheduling software to whizz their entries in. Tut Tut!!

Facebook Competitions.
Rules are a'changing on Facey these days. Like & Share comps are being clamped down on, which is a shame for us mobile compers as the app comps are not usually accessible from a mobile device. If you see them though, they're worth a bash! The FB app entries are just as reliable. Afterall, I won a corner suite couch via 123sofa.co.uk on there - whoop!!

WEM's tend to be sent via inbox and are likely to land in your 'other' inbox i.e. totes seperate to your friends messages. It can be difficult to check these all the time so I use Compers Corner on moneysavingexpert.co.uk to help me with identifying any wins that I never noticed on my FB timeline. Click here for the link and get yourself familiar with it. 

Remember, if you've followed my first rule you will have the comping community keeping an eye out for you so if you're on hols or simply miss your post, your crew can give you a nudge via other channels e.g. shouting you out on twitter. For example, a Joanna Smith won an awesome prize on the Debenhams page once and I had a friend message me to say 'hey have you had a WEM for this?' ... it was some other lucky Jo Smith in the end, but it's nice to know that people are willing to help you claim a prize. Treat others as you'd treat yourself!

Rafflecopter Competitions
Here's where it can get a bit overwhelming but trust me, once you've done one - you've done them all!! Log in using facebook or email and literally do what each point tells you - but again, DO NOT CHEAT!! Having held these comps myself on this here blog, I can categorically tell you that it is blindingly obvious if someone doesn't do what they've ticked and falsely claimed an entry. You will not win!! 

This isn't a must, but it's a personal rule I follow. I enter competitions where I will make use of the prize either myself or by gifting to close friends or family.

Don't be known as 'That One Who Enters Anything For The Sake Of It' .... or even worse....  'That One Who Enters Anything For The Sake Of It -Then Sells It Off On Ebay'

Read the T&C's
Yeah OK... we all miss t&c's every now and then but try your best to look out for them. If the comp is for something awesome but needs picking up from say, Scotland, in the next 24 hours when you live in Dorset, is just not practical nor fair. Think of your 'crew' again. You're taking up someone's real chance of winning.

Well... good luck!! 

I'd love for any comments below please regarding my post. Anything you'd like to add, ask, or even challenge, please feel free. Comments seem to be few and far between these days, shame really!!

Can you successfully comp part time?

 *To those who don't 'comp' and are wondering what I'm bambling on about, it's simply entering competitions.*

Firstly, I only enter comps to win for myself or my friends/family for example; I won a corner suite couch in April with the intention of gifting it my parents and I only went and won!! They were absolutely thrilled with it and I felt bloody good too!!

Secondly, I never sell winnings either, a) it's too much hassle but b) it's quite rude, I find. Why enter a comp for something that you don't give a monkeys about if someone else would really appreciate winning it instead?

Thirdly, it's a numbers game - you have to put the work in.

When I fell pregnant, I was hardly functioning as a human being for the first 3 months. Not only did Candy bloody Crush finally seem easy to drop, but so did comping, and much to my surprise too because it really can be addictive.
I entered probably 10 or 20 on twitter in the whole time and on one occasion I entered approx 40 via Prizefinder website. I didn't win a bean. When I started to feel better, I entered a couple every now and then but on Sunday just gone I thought right... back to it and spent about 2 hours finding and entering competitions. Lo and Behold.. I won my first comp in months on Monday, courtesy of Very_Photo on Twitter, it was a Crayola pack. How cool!! Was it luck or was it the effort I put in to it?

I see the same people on twitter entering comps every day. It's kinda nice to know you're part of a crew!! But the people I see putting the effort in, are the people I see winning.

So, I just wanted to know if anyone wins a lot of things without really entering many comps? Or is it a second job for most?

I couldn't answer this question! Could you have?

So I'm lying in the bath trying to relax after a long day, and Carson comes in (as he does - scared of missing out on anything he is!).

CARSON: "Mum, How do I love you?"

Ummm... I wasn't too sure what that meant so pulled a funny face and made him laugh.

CARSON: "I'm serious mum! Please. How do I love you?"

Again... silence from me, pondering on what exactly he was getting at. I didn't get the context of his query!

CARSON: "You know, when you had me and I was a baby, you loved me - how did I love you?""

I kind of asked in a round about way if he meant how did he come to love me and I seemed to have nailed his quandary. My answer...??

ME: "I guess you just appreciate what I do for you and know the bond we share as mum and son"

CARSON: "Everyone loves their mum, mum. But HOW??"

I was stumped for an answer and before I had the chance, he looked at me in a pitiful way and quipped "Anyway, I do love you mum. Night" and off he toddled to bed.

So profound for a 5yr old!

What's the toughest question you've had landed on you by a little dude, and how did the situation end?


Well, I have had loads of things going on in my life.

>I was having headaches so bad that I could hardly function.
>I now sport glasses to strengthen my right eye (which may be an added cause of the headaches
>I gave up smoking.
>I went caffeine cold turkey.
>I have been sleeping whenever I can
>I have had heartburn and nausea
>I've not been 'in to' makeup/nails/perfume/life in general - for ages

.....all because, well, I've been busy.

Busy cooking this....

Baby no. 2, due: 12th May 2014

I'm feeling better, much better now but, my GOSH, I never suffered like this with Carson. I can't stomach sprouts any more (taste like metal?) and CocoPops taste like pickled onions too, but I'm slowly staving off the urge to vom all over the nearest person and my headaches have improved ten fold since getting glasses. I'm also able to stay awake later than 8pm recently, hoorah!

I've a lot of blogging 'catcheree upperee' to perform. So, rest assured, normal service will resume over the course of the next week or so.

Thanks for reading and I'm very glad I've got you guys to share my journey with. Comments welcomed!!

Why I wouldn't bother with Music Magpie as a service.

So we had a loft FULL of dvds and was going to car booty them off, but I saw the ad on the TV for musicMagpie and thought heck, why not. From the comfort of my own home, I can get rid of them swiftly and make a bit of cash too - great!

The website musicmagpie.co.uk is relatively easy to use, typing the barcodes of 342 dvds was a bit of an effort though - it took just over 2 hours in the end.

Once you've done this, you receive a handy email explaining how many boxes you will need to package them up. We were advised 4 boxes, fitting approx 93 in each. I wasn't sure of the dimensions so took a trip to Wilkinsons and asked for some advice - the lady was nice enough to give us some boxes free of charge as to buy the boxes we needed would have cost a good few quid. Oh, we did have to purchase a roll of brown tape though. I would have thought that, given musicMagpie offer an average of around 20p per dvd (a pittance in reality!) they would have provided the boxes themselves - but they don't.

They do, however, offer a free collection service, which is what I opted for. You can leave your items wherever you fancy (you don't have to be in for collection) but as we had a whopping 342 dvds - and have nowhere to leave them outside, we would have to choose a date that we would be in. Luckily you can choose the best date for you so we pre-booked today (13/08/2013). They can't give you a time slot but advise that collection will occur any time between 8am and 8pm.

So, today, 4pm (ish) the door knocks and the guys states "collection for musicMagpie". Toddling off into the back room to get the first of 7 boxes (varying sizes) he looks a little concerned, but it was only when we noticed his tiny red car outside - already full of boxes - that we asked if he knew the quantity he was collecting. He said "no, why?!" We told him how many and he shook his head and said he couldn't fit them in his car, he'll have to come back later. Annoyed that we'd waited in all day up to now, only to wait longer, and also at the obvious lack of collection preparation, we begrudgingly agreed and continued waiting. Thought: where was the nice shiny white van that's depicted on TV for collection??
Anyway, 15 minutes later the house phone rings "Yeah, sorry, I'm gunna have to leave it 'til tomorrow now. What time will you be in?"

Seriously?? Waste of an entire day, and now we have to waste some more time tomorrow.

So, in bullets, this is why I wouldn't bother with musicMagpie again - and would recommend you don't either:

> Exceptionally low prices offered in comparison with other alternatives
> They may not accept every title you have - pick and choose what they want from your collection
> Source your own packaging, at your own cost
> If a large order - you'd want to stay in for collection rather than leaving them on the front or in the wheelie bin
> No time slot for collection just a generic 12 hour window.
> Lack of communication between musicMagpie and courier
> Unsuitable courier selected for the size of the order, and the very large time slot (car will be filled very quickly)

I wish I'd car booted - more fun, less time wasted, more cash made, less cash investment (cheaper to get a stall than source own packaging for large orders!)

Totes Crapola. Let's see if they're collected tomorrow!!

Have you used them before? What was your experience like? xxx

*Review* Veet EasyWax Electrical Roll On Kit

As a BzzAgent, I'm regularly invited to participate in campaigns whereby they send a sample or coupons to me free of charge and I complete surveys/questionnaires with regards to the product I've tested.

An email pings and it's yet another invite - this time, it's for the Veet EasyWax Electrical Roll On Kit.

As a total waxing virgin this product both intrigued and frightened me at the same time!!

Biting the bullet I accepted the campaign and thought "What the hey! Let's do it!" and commenced Mission No-Shaving until my parcel arrived.

The Veet EasyWax Kit aspires to provide a salon finish in the comfort of your own home. Complete with roller ball device and lid with base to stand it in, AC adapter (yesss! no batteries!), woven strips, Perfect Finish wipes and a Legs & Arms cartridge included. I was also sent a separate refill for under-arm and bikini waxing (eek!!)

The instructions couldn't be simpler (is that a word?). Insert Cartridge into device, plug in for 20 minutes, roll on, place strip over the top, hold skin taut and rip for dear might against the growth direction and MAKE SURE YOU RIP AS CLOSE TO THE SKIN AS POSSIBLE- not out and away from the skin! Oweeee!

"Why do you have one hairy leg and one not?" said my 4 year old son
Gee... thanks Son! 
Truth of the matter is, I have purposely waxed only one leg in order to test how smooth it stays for compared to shaving. (Nothing to do with the pain involved - honestly!) And obviously, the test proved that waxing stays smoother for longer compared to shaving!

Leg waxing, in all seriousness, was pretty painless, clean and gave good results. The pink wax glides on your skin, no dragging, and the wipe to finish off with gives a nice sheen to those freshly smoothed pins.

The other refill though - for armpit and bikini line waxing. NEVER AGAIN. The was was white, not pink and it really dragged and scraped along the skin, despite leaving the device for an extra ten minutes to heat. I decided to try my left armpit first as I'm right handed. Let me tell you... it hurt. And it wasn't even because it took hairs. It ripped SKIN. The wax was removed and visible on the strip, and upon looking at my pit in the mirror, you see a graze-like mark on the skin - with hairs in tact.

Sorry, but I'm not testing the bikini line. Absolutely no way!

I'm tempted to use the pink refill with the wider roll applicator in case it was a wax problem, but I'm going to have to wait until I've healed. Plus, it doesn't advise you do this so please don't take this as advice. 

My final thoughts - awesome leg results - I would definitely purchase another refill or twelve here! But steer clear of the armpit/bikini line refill. 

For all my lovely readers, you can get a whopping 50% off when you but this product from Amazon.co.uk for a limited time, so I would make the most of this whilst you can. Christmas will be upon us before we know it so why not get those prezzies in now? Simply use the following code EASYWAX4

Have you used this roll-on kit yourselves? What did you think? 

Bright nails for summer

As you're aware by now - I love my nail polish! I'm not the best at nail art but I do give it a whirl every now and then so here are a few pics of recent nails polishes that I donned, perfect for the summer months....

Barry M Cyan Blue, Barry M Greenberry, Rimmel Instyle Coral - The give a real colour POP!

Barry M Cyan blue, Nail Art tattoos and Rimmel Disco Ball top coat 

W7 Flourescent Pink and Barry M White Nail Art Pen.

My fave of these three are the blue & bows. What is yours? If you have any posts of nail art, please leave your links in the comments box - I'll be whizzing right over to have a gander!

Jo xxx

*REVIEW: My Cewe Photobook*

With so much online sharing and storage,  it's easy to forget to have a hard copy version of precious moments caught on camera. Heck, that's what happened with my wedding day! I only had 2 or 3 specific photo's printed from my disc and the rest are online instead. What happened to a good old fashioned photo album that you can flick through and reminisce? Or better still, a hardback photobook that you can place on your bookshelf (if you're still have books these days that is!) or to gift to friends and family?

I was offered the chance to create my very own from the lovely PR peeps behind CEWE PHOTOBOOK and I jumped at the chance!

Every which way you go about creating your book online at www.cewe-photobook.co.uk is your choice. Size, amount of pages, layout, paper type, hard/paper back... the list is endless. But, in my opinion, this is great - you get what you want, not a pre laid-out version which may compromise your initial idea. I chose a hardback large landscape (28x21cm) with 26 pages and it costs £27.99 plus delivery.

First though, you have to download the software to do so. It took approx 8 minutes to download on my pc, although I do use a dongle not wi-fi so you can forgive the delay. Once downloaded, it takes a while to get to grips with how to use it. This is not surprising given that you can do anything! But after an hour or so, it was becoming easier. I really took my time, planning the 'storyline' of the book too.

Once ordered, it takes a couple of days to be made and then once I received my email to say it was dispatched, I received it two days later. 

WOW! The quality is absolutely fantastic. I was absolutely blown away by how amazing the final product was. I have no doubt in my mind that a friend or a family member would be thrilled with such a gift for any occasion - I have already started to think about an idea for my sisters wedding upcoming this December - but what about anniversaries, birthdays, fathers day, mothers day... the purposes for creating and buying one of these books are endless. 

*** You can also generate a link to direct people to your photobook online which I've done so here so you can view what I created, go ahead - check out my wedding day if you fancy!! ***

Photoworld stores your ordered books in your account for 60 days allowing you to re-order easily should you require an extra copy or two, which is handy.

Their service is quick, once the software is downloaded - which is a one-time task, it saves to your pc for future usage, high quality and really reasonably priced. I have already mentioned above, I have no doubt I'll be using this service in the future.

Have you ever ordered any photobooks before? what were your experiences?

Jo xxxx

The quest for a smudgeless eye-liner begins ...

I've had enough of the "melting" look. It's as simple as that! I get ready for work at around 6am and by 10/11am, I already have the eye-liner bleeding into my 'laughter lines' and I look bloody awful. I've tried several variations of application - pencil, pencil with shadow to seal, liquid, liquid with shadow to seal, shadow alone - they just don't work in an 'all-day' scenario. Ha! I even remember as a 16-17yr old using a kohl pencil, melting the tip down with a lighter to make it hot and applying it with the idea that when it dries, it will set! **Do not attempt this yourselves - I was young and stupid!!!**

I am, however, also guilty of being frugal and buying very cheap eye-liners. And I'm talking from £1 to £5 maximum.

You get what you pay for... or do you?

I decided to start a mission. A mission to find an eye-liner that does what it claims without costing the earth. Lets be honest, what mother isn't on a budget these days? So I'm dedicated to the cause here!

I contacted a couple of companies for recommendations as to what products would fit the bill, and I was very surprised to find that I didn't receive many responses.

Strange, I thought.

Surely, if the liners they promote and advertise are so great, they should be in a position to suggest a particular type for me to blog about in an attempt to prevent my fellow female friends experiencing the same frustrating facade? I was coming to the conclusion that nothing can do what it says on the tin!

Can you guys please recommend a particular eye-liner, an application method or a handy hint/tip to stop this happening and I will compile a final list of what really works in the coming weeks?

In the meantime, one response I received was from Avon. You can read the review here.

Cheers darlings :-)

Jo xxxx

*REVIEW* Avon Supershock Gel Eyeliner

Further to my previous post regarding my awful eye-liner experiences (you can read all about that here!!

One of the responses to my PR Request was from Avon. They recommended I try the SuperShock Gel Eyeliner, which promises staying power all day and comes in a variety of colours:

Aqua pop (blue), Flash (pinky/nude), Silver, Khaki Shimmer, Steel and Black.They also don't break the bank - something that is a MUST in my mission. Currently, they are half price - just £3!

Recommendation gratefully received I opted to try the black - given that my main problem is getting through a working day without looking that I've cried whilst rubbing chimney soot around my eyes!

Avon kindly sent me one to try for the purposes of review - thanks guys!

Firstly, I note that the nib of the pencil is quite thick and blunt. Oh dear I thought, application will be a tough job. Having said that, it really did glide on in one swoop - accurately too. No dragging of the lid and you don't have to apply bit by bit either.With it being gel, I would describe this eyeliner as more similar to liquid than pencil, but the pencil form make for a precise application.

I applied at 6.30am and took picture at work throughout the day, without touching it up nor contant dabbing of my outer eye to check for seepage. I was really very surprised.

The only niggle I had by 4.30pm was that it appeared to start fading - but that WAS after 10 hours of wear. And I must point out that my work colleague disagreed - but you know when you know on your own face.

This liner, my friends, actually didn't smudge (hurrah!!) It really stood the test of time and the heat of my very busy day at the office. 

So far so good... my mission is proving to be easier that I thought up to now. First one tried and I love it!! Plus, for £3 you are never going to bust your budget! Even at full price, £6, I would purchase this liner in the future. On payday, I'm going to be ordering the blue one for a blast of colour and the silver one. I intend to use the silver on the lower water-line in order to 'open' my eyes. I'll let you know how I get on with that one too!

You can get yours from Avon and here is the direct link. Happy shopping!

In the meantime, please do let me know your experiences and any other recommendations, I intend to continue blogging about any good and bad find over the coming weeks!!


Jo xxxx

*REVIEW* Rug Doctor

So the lovely people at Rug Doctor recently sent me a machine and some carpet detergent for the purpose of reviewing. It couldn't have come at a better time as I've recently decorated my living room and was toying with the idea of a new carpet to finish the look.

The machine arrived in a huge box, it felt like Christmas! Upon opening it, there was a net bag containing all the extra fixtures and fittings like tubes and nozzles to get at the corners of your carpets, a bottle of detergent and the Rug Doctor itself. Scrambling for instructions in the box, I started to panic that there weren't any! Seems I was having a bit of a panic over nothing as the instructions are as clear as day, on the stickers all over the machine. Clear step by step instructions - any dope could follow them - *BONUS*!!

Pic 2. First ever clean leaves filth stripes :-(
The machine was much heavier than I'd anticipated, and I started to worry a little just how heavy it would be with the tank full too, but it was surprisingly easy to manoeuvre and those nozzles in the net are there to make it easier still.  

Having several coffee spills over the years, plus the inevitable toddler 'food grind' etc I was aware there were a good few stains that needed lifting - so the Rug Doctor review was predominantly going to be about whether it worked in that department. Let's be clear... it does. (See Pic 1 at foot of review.) 

However, using RugDoctor has made me really question why I've not cleaned my carpets before. In fact - it sickened me.

After doing the first run around in the living room, the water that had to be removed from the tank was black. I'm not kidding guys. BLACK. Never in a million years did I expect it to be so utterly filthy.

I re-positioned my furniture back in the living room - making sure I used tin foil under the feet to prevent any staining whilst drying - and I was just not happy. You could see lines of filth from where I'd run over the carpet with the Rug Doctor. 

 2nd use - gleaming carpet! (Coffee table shadow, not dirt!)
I was absolutely mortified and made a quick texting spree to make sure no-one was to come to my house for at least 24 hours! (Pic 2).

Impatiently I waited until the carpet had dried - a reasonable time of approx 3.5 hours, with open windows and radiator switched on - before I refilled the tank with hot water and detergent again and off I went...

Though not black, the water was murky grey in colour. Just how much dirt had my carpet been retaining over the past 3 years I'd been in this house? My son is 4 and he'd been crawling in this a few years ago. My gorgeous 3 year old nephew Tyler and my cousin's beautiful 2 year old girl Maisy-Sue have been playing on these carpets. I felt a wave of shame. 

On the plus side, how powerful is this Rug Doctor to be able to draw out so much of what we can't see with our eyes?! With so little effort too.

 After the second run - looks like new!
I left it another 3.5 hours until repositioning the furniture in their spaces - in case I needed to re-do it again. But no, it was okay! PHEW!!! As it was drying, the second time around, you could see the lines were fading, the colour was brightening and the texture was softening. Utter relief, and shocked at the difference that was now evident. My carpet had been vile just a matter of hours ago, yet the only reason I wanted a new one was to finish the look of the redecoration, totally oblivious to the dirt I was allowing to join my family and I in our floor play times. 

We vacuum every day so I'd always thought that this was "taking care" of our carpet. 

How wrong was I? :-s

Going back to my initial pondering of Rug Doctor - does it remove stains. Yes it really does. I'd been concerned by a particularly large coffee stain that I was sure was set to stay, but this came out after the first use of the machine. The second run was clearly to deep clean the depths of the shag. 

I'd absolutely 100% recommend this Rug Doctor for all and sundry. 

Pic 1. coffee top, gone bottom!

Step by step guide easily found on the body of the machine mean you cannot go wrong in terms of application of the detergent. The drying time is more than reasonable and the power in its' cleaning is simply awesome. 

I've managed to save a massive couple of hundred pounds by not buying a new carpet, all for one days use of the Rug Doctor. 

I received mine free of charge for the purposes of review, but you can hire these machines from retail outlets at a daily or 48hr rate, usually in the region of around £22.99. 

Check out Rug Doctor's store locator here for your closest outlet. 
Follow them on twitter here too for hints, tips and special offers that they often tweet.

I'll be making the RugDoctor a part of more rigorous household clean from now on. I will use this a minimum of 4 times a year and I vow never to get such disgusting carpets ever again. Thanks RugDoctor!

To finish, just to show you again the difference between first clean and second clean with the RugDoctor again, see below - wow!

Have you used a RugDoctor before? I'd love to hear your stories!

Love Jo xxx

Measles and GP's

Having already had a week of being a lot more sleepy, gooey eyes, generally worn down, great lack of appetite and very hot & sweaty nights resulting in waking and nightmares - My lovely little 4 year old Carson awoke on Bank Holiday Saturday, with a red/brown rash that wouldn't disappear with the glass test.

The scariest thing was that no-one would come to the house to check on him - I was refused by the out of hours GP (it came on, on the Saturday) and NHS Direct told me the same thing:

"GP's do not visit sick children at home any more for diagnosis. Go to the walk-in centre"

Given that I'd put together the previous week of him not being himself, and the type of rash that had appeared, I assumed measles. He had all the signs and symptoms. To make you aware, the rash comes AFTER the initial symptoms - much like chickenpox too.

I very much doubted any walk-in or A&E would thank me for taking a poorly boy with probable measles in to their facility - already filled with weak and vulnerable people (and possibly pregnant women who could be totally oblivious to the fatal dangers of contracting measles during pregnancy.) 

However, following instruction, Carson was taken to the local walk-in centre (Victoria Central Hospital) where (as we suspected) he was whisked off to an individual room upon arrival - staff terrified of creating an outbreak. 

But guess what?

No swabs here, you'll have to go to A&E at Arrow Park Hospital instead. Well, I'm sorry but Carson is in no state to be traipsing half way round the Wirral - when we don't drive either - just to have a swab to confirm it was, as suspected, the measles. When, in the grand scheme of things, they'd already said there is  nothing to treat measles with anyway. 

Simply keep an eye on him, help keep him cool, provide him with some Calpol and plenty of fluids. The other alternative was to wait until Tuesday and if he did still have the rash, which would back up the suspicion of measles, contact our own GP's surgery.

So that's what we did. 

We spent all bank holiday weekend indoors together. His mood changing at the flick of a switch. He could go from being OK to talk to and even smile or giggle with you, to very irritable and tired. It breaks my heart to see such a usually bouncing boy, just sitting there/lying there in a quiet, uninterested and sadly agitated manner.

Tuesday came and the GP surgery denied that we could take him there, as the walk-in centre had advised. They asked us to go there - without Carson - collect mouth swabs, take them home and swab Carson's mouth, then take them back. The results would be with us in a day or two.

Bit of an effort, but well worth it given that Carson was still poorly so we needed to know whether it was just a viral infection or the measles so that the school could be notified.

Well it's now a whole week later and he still has the rash but it has faded an awful lot. His appetite is back and he's himself again! However, as the GP surgery didn't bother sending the swabs until Thursday meaning the lab in Manchester hasn't tested yet - we are STILL none the wiser as to whether we can call it measles or still go by "suspected measles" #FUMING 

** For anyone local, this bad GP's surgery is the old Martin's Lane one now at Mill Lane. Every time I've ever had to provide urine at that surgery they lose it, and once the GP prescribed Carson a sedative meant for 5yrs+ at the 8yrs+ dosage -when he was just 18 months old and it was the pharmacist that refused to abide by the prescription. The"apology" received was simply that 'it's the pharmacists job to check these things over so no harm done' **

Oh but on the bright side, he can go to school on Monday as we quarantined him for 6 days as advised.

Have your children ever had the measles? What did you do, how did you cope?

Have you ever been let down by your GP either? 

Loadsa love

* Competition * - New Look voucher

Hi everyone!

I am always purchasing clothes and accessories online, and usually if they don't fit properly or it's not quite what I was expecting, I stash them away in the wardrobe - forever forgotten. Come on, don't judge me - we've all done it!!

Anyway, last time that happened I made a firm pact with my wardrobe that I wouldn't let it suffer any more... but then inflicted that pain on my purse (somehow!)
I nearly threw away a credit note for New Look worth £23.99 amongst a ton of receipts. - yup, crazy.

Note to self: BE MORE ORGANISED!

Now, yes.. I could spend this on myself but I've decided to treat my readers with a little something just to thank you for your support during the last 10 months.
Hopefully I'll get a good response and then I'll be looking at doing my First Blogoversary shortly *yippee!*

Simply follow the instructions via the Rafflecopter widget below and keep your fingers crossed!


Jo xx

a Rafflecopter giveaway
ThePrizeFinder - UK Competitions

* REVIEW * Ascel "Wrinkle Miracle"

Tanning and Beauty World

I was kindly sent Ascel Wrinkle Miracle from Tanning and Beauty World in order to review on this here blog, and given that I'm always on the look out for "Under eye wrinkle care in minutes" - which is what this claims to do - I was more than happy to get cracking!

First off: the science bit. Argireline contracts the skin muscle which results in a lifting effect almost instantaneously. This, in turn, helps prevent any further wrinkles as it promotes blood circulation. This product is different to Botox in that Botox paralyzes the skin muscle which reduces wrinkles.

The product itself claims to lift the skin after just 3-4 minutes of use, with the potential to last up to 3-4 hours. Wrinkle reduction should occur after 15 minutes of use, lasting up to 8-12 hours. 

graph 06

The applicator is very swish - a chrome pen with a soft brush tip that seeps out serum by twisting the end of the pen. Handy, as you only release as much as you need. Gliding the brush on the skin from side to side 3-4 times, you can instantly feel a tightening. It's not an uncomfortable feeling but I must admit it shocked me at first. 

It felt like my skin was being pulled right back with pegs! 

Literally lifts instantaneously you will find it difficult to imagine what I'm saying without trying it for yourself.

Problem 1.
It dries rather, well, dry! Rather than sinking into the skin as you'd expect, it leaves a thin film on top of the skin which can quite easily crack if you smile too quickly. On one occasion it made my wrinkles appear deeper than they really were thanks to my smiling too soon.

Problem 2. 
You cannot apply make-up over the top as the film-like residue becomes visible, similar to thin dried glue or egg white.

Problem solver 1.
Do not twist pen more than twice, even if it feels like there isn't much coming from the brush tip and smile on application, simply to allow the product to sink into the deeper 'formed' wrinkles before drying them straight.

Problem solver 2. 
Once dry, only use tinted moisturiser - NOT concealer or foundation. This lets the skin stay supple as well as adding the desired colour, without 'layering' over the top of the film, causing a crust like effect. 

For the purpose of taking pictures and due to the above issues, I've cleared all make-up from my face. The camera can obviously not show you the feeling it gives, but I can show you how the lines are less prominent  It doesn't eradicate them completely but definitely reduces the finer lines. Note the crows feet are the most obviously reduced rather than the under eye wrinkles. 

Final opinion?

Ascel Wrinkle Miracle retails at £29.95 from TanningandBeautyWorld.co.uk (here is the direct link to the product itself) and whilst it does reduce the finer lines, I wouldn't say it was a wrinkle miracle.
I would, however, call this a lifting miracle.

Wake up late in the morning; dull/half open eyes; need a 'pick me up' mid-afternoon? 

Well then Yes - Ascel Wrinkle Miracle is for you! Afterall, I've not experienced something this powerful in terms of lifting - ever. 

It leaves you feeling bright eyed and wide awake - which, let's face it, is a miracle in itself if you're north of 18 years of age - so for that reason I would probably purchase this product myself in the future. 

What do you think? Tried anything like this yourself - or, indeed, Ascel Wrinkle Miracle itself? 

Jo xx

My 1930's Make-over!

My best friend Steph is currently participating in a course to become a Photographic MUA and she needed a model for her assignment on the 1930's Black & White shoot.

Sepia shot (practice run)
In comes moi!

My face is described as being square (who knew? I certainly didn't, I always thought I was round faced!) and of a combination type - oily/normal.

HAIR: I created the illusion of finger waves by using the Babyliss Wave Envy and it was surprisingly easy to carry out. Just ensure that you have used a heat protector in the first instance then take a thin but wide (as wide as the styler) section of hair and hold for around 10 seconds, then lift and replace the styler after the previous wave created.

B&W shot (practice run)

This is what Steph used to get the result:

Illamasqua Primer
Illamasqua Foundation SB06
Illamasqua Powder LP010
MAC eye pencil in black
Illamasqua Cream and Black shadows
Jemma Kidd Mascara
Illamasqua Black shadow on the brow
Chanel Intense 02 blusher
Lips - MAC Cherry pencil and Salon System Choc/Red MAC

To finish the look, she added pearl drop earrings and a simple pearl necklace. 

The pictures I've included aren't the professional shots by the way, just quick snaps from the mobile phone - but you get the idea of what we have gone for can't you?

I'm really excited for Steph doing this course, she has done so much - and I've even picked up some hints and tips of my own, such as applying blusher under the cheek bone and no further inward than the outer of the eye - MUCH more effective for creating the look of a defined cheek bone. I tried it the very next day for work and you can see that it really does work... 

You can follow Steph on Twitter - @StephDezza - and I'm sure she's love to hear any feedback whilst she's on this course.

Have you any handy hints and tips to share and how did you come about them?

Jo xx

**7 DAY REVIEW** Lunaling Capri's

I've been contacted by Lunaling to do a 7 day review of their Lunaling Capri's - figure hugging work-out leggings; designed to make skin softer, smoother and help you lose weight up to 4 times faster than exercising without. You can read more about how it works at their website www.lunaling.com.

Having reviewed Zaggora Viva Hotpants before and been impressed, I was very excited to get stuck in with this trial.

These baby's sell for £50 a pair, and being a size 18 I was sent size 'large' to try.

Day 1. Saturday.

*WARNING* Don't be afraid when you open the packet and notice that the waist is about the width of your face - not your waist!!!

As these Capri's are designed to hug you tight and snuggly, they do appear small, but are surprisingly easy to wiggle into. They are thick and warm. Oh so warm, it's like a cuddle from your belly button down.
Today, I decided to changed the bedding in both Carson an my own rooms, then cleared out 2 wardrobes and tidied Carson's room. When I started, I took a quick pace - determined to make this 'exercise' count. It only took an hour in total and I was shattered.
On the outer, the touch and look where dry - no embarrassing sweaty bits showing (despite feeling exceptionally hot) When taking the Lunaling's off in order to cool down and shower, although they were dry on the inside, I was a sticky mess!! I don't mind telling you that I really did sweat a lot. My skin was red (like when you get out of a hot bath) but certainly not uncomfortable.
All in all - great first day.

Day 2. Sunday

Wriggling into my Capri's I wondered what exercise to do today, but having looked at the description of them on Lunaling's website, I realised that they are perfectly suitable for simply wearing around your home as well as exercisingin. So I took to ironing the huge pile of clean washing from the day before. Instead of just standing there, I danced a bit (ha!) and after every 3 items ironed, I'd run upstairs to hang and put them away before running back downstairs and starting over.
After 1 hour of ironing, I did a few squats whilst waiting for a nice hot bubbly bath to run. Taking them off - same as yesterday: dry Capri's, wet legs and tummy, and red prickly 'rash' on my thighs. But no discomfort.

*I wanted to wash them and realised they never came with washing instructions - which is a bit disappointing. However, having had Zaggora's before, I decided that they should be treated the same. Wash in water (not HOT) and let drip dry as flat as possible*

Day 3. Monday

Really tired today having returned back to work after a 10 day break for Easter and half term. CAN NOT BE BOTHERED EXERCISING!!! But, not one to let down a review I've just been to my room straight home from the office and changed into my Lunaling Capri's. I'm going to wear them til I shower before bed, doing the norm - cooking tea, putting Carson to bed, making the packed lunches for tomorrow, doing the dishes, hoovering the living room, hanging the wash up on the radiators and maiden to dry then sit for 30 mins to have a gab with my besty on the phone! So better go and crack on!
...... Done. it's now 10.30pm and I've worn them for around 3 hours with moderate movement. I am sweaty, but not dripping! The prickly-looking heat rash is still there though so my temperature must have been raised enough to do something! One thing that annoyed me was the stitching around the waste today, it really irritated me - but not enough to leave a mark and it stopped as soon as I took them off.

Day 4. Tuesday

Getting back into the swing of things at work now and so it's not so much of an effort to motivate myself tonight! One thing I've noticed is my skin - it seems less dimply. Don't know if it's just me, but it's definitely firmer and smooth. Lunaling's work by increasing your body temperature, so I'm assuming that if temperature is increased, blood flow is stronger - when attempting to banish cellulite in the past I heard massage was great as it increasing the circulation of blood. Nuh, what do I know!
Anywhooo - I'm off to jump on my Reebok Stepper for 10 mins before starting to get Carson ready for story time, bath time and bed (all whilst wearing my Capri's of course)

Day 5. Wednesday

Oh My Days, I am due on  in the next few days (TMI - Sorry) and I am feeling so bloated. No exercise for me tonight, let's just wear them around the house - and I'm taking it easy. If I wear them for at least 30 mins I know that I'm still increasing my temperature leading to a higher metabolic rate at least.
...... I notice that even though I'm not sweating tonight, I still have that rash! So I must have worn them long enough. Yay!

Day 6. Thursday.

Ok so I'm early. oweeee. :-(
Exercise helps pain, so here goes.
..... I just don't feel comfortable in these Capri's tonight. They're chafing (or so it feels) and the waist keeps dropping/twisting (could be down to bloating, or the opposite - maybe I'm losing the inches?). I've worn them for 45 mins and I'm done. They have left my belly crease (under my roll!) wet though, so obviously they are still working and I'm only moaning due to my irritability! My skin is nice and pink - and hot too.
Tomorrow, I'm letting my besty Steph do her photgraphic make-up practising on me so I wonder how I'm going to fit my exercise in.

 Day 7. Friday

Finger curls and 30's make-up immediately after finishing work left no chance for exercising this evening so I am going to wear them for bed instead.

Saturday (DAY 8, D-DAY!)
I'm going ice skating today and then to a party tonight so I'll be uber active. But my 7 day trial has come to an end for review purposes. I've not been on any special diet this week, so any results are purely going to be down to the usage of these Lunaling Capri's.

Weight: 16st 0.8lbs
Hip: 45 inches
Waist 38 inches
Inner thigh: 28 inches
Knee: 19 inches

Weight: 15st 10.4lbs
Hip: 44.5 inches
Waist: 37 inches
Inner thigh: 26 inches
Knee: 16.5 inches.

Weight: 4lbs 
Hip: 0.5 inch
Waist: 1 inch
Inner thigh: 2 inches
Knee: 2.5 inches

Loss of 4lbs and 6 inches.

So, before you check out the difference between my Lunaling weight/inch loss and Zaggora weight/inch lost, you have to remember that is has only been for 7 days and with no real impact on my life. These capri's have fit in to my routine making menial tasks such as ironing or changing the bedding really count. I've not altered any of my eating habits and continued as normal.
If you decided to follow an eating plan or diet of some sort, joined the gym/followed a structured exercise regime AND utilised Lunalings, can you imagine how much more potential there is for losses?!
I am so impressed and the £50 pricetag is truly justified. They are comfortable, flattering and produce results. They were, however, sent with the wrong leaflet and no 'How to care for' information - which I think would be beneficial. Lets hope this can be rectified for paying customers. There was slight irritation with the stitching on the waist, but nothing a tucked in tee can't sort out.
The waist loss can be explained by the low rise - perhaps add a couple of inches to the waist height for even better results? Heck - why not make a onesie for all over body tightness!

My personal overall opinion - go buy some. Seriously. I love these. I'm guessing it's only a matter of time before they bring out a blazer/hot top rivalling Zaggora's too, and that - I want to get a hold of just as badly!


I've been saving a few pennies to redecorate my living room and although I'm keeping up with a red theme (can't quite afford to replace my couches just yet!) I'm excited for change.

Still not totally decided on my accessories etc but maybe you'll have a few ideas for me, who knows?

I've chosen a textured feature wallpaper to cover the alcoves and chimney breast and taken the oatmeal colour from the leaves as the paint colour for the rest of the walls - which should give it a bit of depth and warmth I'm hoping. You can't really see how deep the oatmeal is on a photo (looks more silver), but trust me it's not!

Then I managed to find some throw cushions from Wilko's (where the paper is coming from) which kind of goes with some amazing candle holders, photo frames and a clock from Next that I have. They follow a poppy theme and are mirrored too, so I thought I could integrate this in the accessorising so although it doesn't exactly match the paper I don't think it'll matter cuz who want's perfect matching themes (especially when you've got kids!)?!

Mix and match is the way to go - so if anything breaks, it's more easily replaceable isn't it, hey?

I've got a lovely red bubble vase which holds a tall white candle for my hearth and a red heart plate that sits in the centre of my coffee table. The floor lamp I have is oatmeal with chrome pillars.

When I've got it all finished and done up, I'll post piccies. But in the meantime, how do you go about designing/planning a redecoration? Do you choose one item (like me - couches!) and base it around that? Or do you take inspiration from an advert or TV show?

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