Buying School Uniforms: A Trutex Review

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

Buying School Uniforms

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I have to say, I'm suitably impressed. 

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

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

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

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

A Frugal Face: Contouring on a budget

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

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

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

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

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

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

Contouring on a budget

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

Contouring on a budget

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

Contouring on a budget

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

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

My frugal look was created using:

Contouring on a budget

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

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

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

A poem for my Dad

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Jo Smith,  2015. xx

Introducing the Fast Diet Kitchen 5:2 Plan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In the meantime, find out more about FDK over on their website or social media channels.

The stockists of the FDK plan are

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

Getting rid of your double chin, and win!!

Ah. The chin. The good old dreaded chin! 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A definite result, right there!

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

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

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

Losing Dad: Almost a year on...

Occasionally, I get jealous of people still having their Dad. Sounds awful, I know. I just can’t help but wonder what makes them so special that they get to cherish more time with their Dad. It lasts only for a brief moment, before that jealousy is clouded with goodwill… I hope they know they’re lucky. Really, really lucky. Good on them for treasuring what they have. Keep sharing those Facebook statuses about how wonderful they are, post with all your might. Wish I could. I often go to post about my Dad, but wonder if people would get bored/annoyed with the ‘old news’ that he’s gone. Not saying that people are intentionally mean, of course, but you just don’t want to wear people down do you? 

Yesterday was Carson’s 7th Birthday. It was a year to the day that I last physically saw my Dad alive… and conscious. It was one of those very rare days that I didn’t stay on the doorstep and wave until his car was out of sight. I just said ‘see ya later’ and turned my back – going back in to Carson’s tea party. 

My Dad’s 52nd birthday would have been tomorrow, the 12th August. Last year, I was away for his birthday. Something I’d never missed before. You just don’t expect it to be the last birthday that someone will ever celebrate… “There’s always next year”… you think. So we’re going to gather as a family and have a BBQ to celebrate his birthday for him. Being honest… I’m feeling emosh about it already. Should I be happy? Should I be sad? Is there a ‘should’ at all? Is it silly to wish a happy birthday to a dead person? How can it be happy? 

Next week is my hubby’s birthday and I am dreading that too. His birthday is also the first anniversary of my Dad’s passing. I’ve told myself that I’m going to focus my attention on my hubby, but I just know I’ll be clock watching thinking “this time last year”. Why are we humans so intent on self-torture? 

So, 9 days shy of a whole year without my Dad… Does it get better with time? 

That’s a question that I’m not ashamed to admit that I’ve Googled aplenty. 

Well, for me, the last 3 months I seem to have been able to control my tear ducts a little better, and I am able to laugh about funny things he said/did, but the pain? I’ll be completely honest. The pain remains the same. That heavy solid pulling in the pit of your stomach, the butterflies of anxiety that seem trapped up in your lungs making it hurt to breathe sometimes, the deep burning heat of your tears. It all just as bad. 

So if you’re here from Googling the same thing… 

Time is no healer. It just allows you to practice being OK to the outside world. You just… get used to it. 

Which is shit, I know. Sorry! 

At least once the first year is complete, there'll be no more "firsts" without him any more. I do like that thought, as horrid as that sounds. The first time at anything is always the hardest, so who knows? I could be contradicting myself this time next year... mind you, I could also be dead! I guess what I'm saying is the best thing to attempt to do is to live life appreciating what you do have, not what you don't have. It could all change at any moment. Tell those closest to you that you love them and not just on their birthday or at Christmas, but any boring old day, for no reason at all, other than making it known.  Who cares if it's 'weird'? Just do it. 

Love, Me xx

Arts & Crafts Activities Delivered: Koalapak Review

When it comes to arts and crafts, Carson is a huge fan. Sometimes though, it is difficult to come up with new and exciting ideas. Would you agree?

Well, fellow mum of 2, Georgina, thought so too and came up with the idea of Koalapak – fun, exciting and educational arts & crafts boxes delivered to your door, with all materials you need included. Koalapaks are curriculum linked and aimed at children aged between 3 and 8 years old.

Asked if Carson would like to have a go of Koalapak’s service, it was a no-brainer as far as I was concerned and the proof was in the pudding when he took delivery of his very own box…

Our box was filled with weird and wonderful single items that, initially, made no sense to us. What on earth were we going to create?! It was exciting for me, never mind Carson. I do like a product that’s engaging from the very start. Here was what we had…

Handily there is a little card with some step by step instructions will see your project take shape nicely. As our box was the Mega Pak, there were quite a few mini projects that we were going to have to take on. There was a gnome and paints to colour him with, a cardboard box and stickers, pots seeds and compost discs and an apron. Not forgetting tape, pipette and paintbrushes, so when they say that all materials needed are included, it’s really true.

It soon became clear that we were creating our own little mini boxed garden. How Carson loved it! He made two little pots, complete with signs, of both cress and carrots. He painted ‘Gnomey McGnomerson’ with such care in order to for him to take pride of place in the centre and we decorated the box with plenty of bright foam stickers. We folded the apron, after using it as a ground sheet, and will keep that for another day using the leftover paints to decorate it.

This was our result at the end of a good couple of hours ‘playing’ together and note that we even made use of the yellow tissue paper that surrounded our materials in our pak…

The seeds actually worked too – unlike other ‘sets’ he’s had before from discount stores. The cress grew within days and he proudly ate it with his salad one night and the carrots are really looking bushy on top, I wonder how they’re doing underneath the soil!

Koalapaks come in 4 different sizes: Mini (£3.95), Mini Plus (£8.95), Jumbo (£13.95) and Mega (£16.95) and are subscription based in that a box is shipped mid-month, every month. If subscriptions aren't your thing, no worries, you can cancel at any time and aren't obliged to join for any set amount of time. 

Carson loved his box and it still sits proudly in our kitchen near the windowsill. Would we purchase one ourselves? Absolutely. I think it would be a lovely gift for a littlun’ to receive too. I always wanted post as a child!

Carson’s final say…
“This Koalapak was so much fun. I have to say thank you. My cress was delicious and my mum still displays my garden in the kitchen which means it must be good! I want another one with a different activity in it next time. I had lovely arts & crafts time with my mum with this box. The end.”
So, why not check out Koalapak, the company that delivers children's arts and crafts activity boxes to your door now? Perfect for those rainy days this summer... there's bound to be a few!

Carson was sent a Koalapak free of charge for the purpose of review. All thoughts are our own., pub-8301510335931825, DIRECT, f08c47fec0942fa0