Monday, 30 June 2014

My Must-Have Running Kit

Since I took up running just under a year ago I've become a little bit addicted. I run a lot and I talk about running even more... I've even convinced a couple of people to have a go. One think I do get asked a lot is what kit you need. Really you don't need anything other than a pair of trainers and leggings and a tee to get started but wants the bug gets you, you'll want to invest in some extra pieces of kit to make your running even better. Here are my top pieces of kit that I couldn't live without...

What to wear...


I have LOADS of running tops from the likes of Primark, Matalan and Aldi but my absolute favourite is this Adidas that I bought from Sports Direct a couple of months ago. It's long enough to cover my bum so I don't have to worry about the wobble as I run!

My capris were from Lidl - although I need to invest in a new pair since I fell at the start of the Mersey Tunnel 10k and scuffed them.

My trainers have been with me for a year and will soon need replacing. They are lightweight New Balance that I got in the John Lewis sale - I ran with them for 10 months before I started using the orthopedic insoles.

Other than clothing here are some great additions to your kit...

Yurbuds Women’s Pro (RRP £25)


I love running with music, it helps me pace and allows me to forget about my breathing and run naturally. When I first started out my earphones were my biggest bugbear - constantly falling out of my ears and slowing me down. After a while I moved on to a cheap pair with ear cuffs but they didn't work either. I decided to ask the ladies in my RunMummyRun Facebook group and everyone was recommending the same brand - Yurbuds.

Since my Yurbuds arrived I've never looked back. I pop them in my ears and forget them. You don't feel them, they don't move, they stay were they are meant to be- they are AMAZING!

Next time you need new headphones (runner or not) I can highly recommend Yurbuds - and I do recommend them - ALL the time!

A bit about Yurbuds:
yurbuds sports earphones are designed to contour to the human ear so they never hurt and they never fall out. Designed by athletes for athletes, yurbuds provide premium sound quality, even while in motion. With exclusive TwistLock Technology - they never hurt, never fall out. Sweat and water resistant design FlexSoft comfort fit Ambient noise awareness Available in two ranges: Inspire for Women (pictured above) available in aqua, orange, yellow, green, pink and purple. Designed for women to fit smaller ears, two sizes in the box. Inspire Pro features a 3-button sweat and water resistant microphone that gives you full track, call, and volume control on your iPhone and iPod and a lifetime guarantee.


SOLE Softec Response RRP £35.00


About 6 weeks ago I was sent a pair of SOLE orthopaedic footbeds to trial. They basically mould to your feet and give you added support when you run. Until then I had always just ran with the standard trainer insoles. You basically pop them in the oven on a tray for a couple of minutes than pop them in your running shoes (once the existing soles have been taken out). You have to stand in them for a minute or so to allow the moulding to begin, then after that everytime you run you're shaping them to your natural stride. The first few runs felt a little odd and it felt like I was working new muscles in my legs but since then they've been great and I love the added support.

A bit about SOLE footbeds:
SOLE orthopaedic footbeds  give you unique support just where you need it by equalising pressure distribution, reducing plantar fascia strain, increasing balance and feel and providing natural heel cushioning. The moisture-wicking top sheet helps to keep your feet dry while the 1.6mm of Softec cushioning eases the pressure on your feet. You can achieve custom support from SOLE in minutes: simply heat the footbeds, place them in your shoes and step into them. The footbeds will mould to the shape of your feet as they cool to give you a unique, customised fit. SOLE Softec Response Footbeds cost £38 from www.yoursole.co.uk

SOLE Dual Layer Socks  RRP from £11.50

One thing I did struggle with was socks - especially when I first got my trainers and again when I started running longer distances. Sometimes blisters can be inevitable on those occasions but with dual layer socks it's a lot less likely. I love the SOLE dual layers because they give you a lot of support for a sock and the two layers rub against each other rather than rubbing on your feet. I can definitely recommend these - I just wish they made them in brighter colours - and I'd love to see some compression socks from them too!

A bit about SOLE dual layer socks:
 
SOLE Dual Layer Socks have two layers of blended Tactel, Coolmax and Lycra to reduce friction on the skin and prevent blisters from developing. They have a TensorFit arch band that ensures the socks stay in place and provide additional support. The seamless technology gives added comfort, the super soft materials wick away moisture and the mesh panels in the socks ensure feet stay cool and dry. Available in different lengths from www.yoursole.co.uk.

ActiPatch RRP £19.99

If like me, falling over is part of your game then it's inevitable that from time to time you'll be out of action. A couple of weeks ago I fell at the start of my 10k, I still finished but afterwards my ankle swelled and it was quite sore. To be honest I was really skeptical that the ActiPatch would have any effect but I used it for a few nights and it reduced the swelling and pain very quickly. Chris has used it on his shoulder too and it's really helped - definitely a great thing to have in the house!

You just attach the device where the pain is and turn it on. You can wear it overnight or all day long - and the best thing is it REALLY works!


A bit about ActiPatch®:ActiPatch is a perfect solution for people, who suffer from any pain (especially after exercise) including sore muscles. ActiPatch® is an award-winning drug-free micro medical device which uses Electromagnetic Pulse Therapy to reduce pain and inflammation and accelerate healing. Its effectiveness has been clinically proven in eight medically published trials and has been shown to treat back and musculoskeletal pain on the body 5x better and 100% safer than over-the-counter drugs.

So there you have it - my must-have kit. It won't stop there either - Ive just treated myself to a Garmin Forerunner 220. I'm just getting to grips with that and I'll post a little review on here too!

Disclosure: I recieved the SOLE insoles and socks, the YurBuds and the ActiPatch to review for this post.

Thursday, 29 May 2014

The One Where I Run My First Ever 10k

I did it... 10 days ago I ran my first ever 10k. Yes, I'm overweight, no I'm not an athlete but I did it... on the hottest day of the entire year. At first I was disappointed with my time but given that I started the race with a bad knee and the addition of all of the other mishaps that happened along the way I am proud that I completed the race and even got up and did it at all.



This time last year I had just accidentally won my place on the 5 mile National Lottery Back to the Stadium run on Twitter. I hated running. I'd never run anywhere in my entire life. Running for the bus was a struggle. But that day... that day that I got the tweet...


...it really changed my life. I HAD to get fit. Gradually I began to run a couple of times a week. I didn't enjoy it - I was running because I had to, running because I was going to be in a race. As the weeks past I got in to it... I went from running to train to running for me. Then somethnig strange happened.. after the race, I didn't stop. I carried on running a couple of times a week and I enjoyed it.

So when work were gathering a team to compete and raise funds for the NSPCC I didn't hesitate. It would be my longest ever run but I wanted to do it... for me... and and for the kids.. obvs!

On the morning of the run I was so nervous. It was hot... really hot and I didn't start until 12.30pm when the weather would reach 25 degrees. Being an amateur I wasn't sure on how much water to drink pre race. I took it easy and gathered at the start line. The atmosphere was fabulous and then boom... we were off.

The first 1k was slow and steady but as I jogged round a corner I was distracted by something going on to the side of me. Something kept coming in to my line of vision, just on the corner of my eye.... I ignored it but it didn't go away. Finally I glanced to my left, only to see that it was my dad trying to take a picture of me! I slowed to help him out but as he still struggled to keep up he ran straight in to a car park meter. I giggled and ran off.

Soon I spotted the 2k marker. I was happy with my progress but the heat was starting to take its toll. My mouth was dry and I felt desperate for some liquid.

The water station was just before the 5k marker, just after my run past Old Trafford. I grabbed a bottle with the intention of slowly sipping but my body told me to drink drink drink. BIG MISTAKE. After that I really struggled. I soon got a stitch in my left side and after that it was less of a run and more of a hobble.. jog... walk.. hobble... jog...walk.

I reluctantly headed for the run through shower at 6.5k and that spurred me on a little but the stitch would not subside. By the time I hit 8k I was virtually walking and that's when my extremely hungover - been out on the Razz in Leeds the night before - friend Emma, caught up with me. She was feeling ill, I was broken. We jogged, talked and walked.

At 8k we were met with what I can only describe as a hose shooting a jet of water in to the air. It looked refreshing and we figured that the cold mist of water that we could see would refresh us. As we ran through it was like someone had poured a bucket of water on to our heads from a great height. As refreshing as that was on such a hot day, it meant all of the sweat from my head was washed in to my eyes. The salty water mixed with my contact lenses and a hint of mascara meant I was temporarily blinded just before the 9k marker!

I slowly regained my vision only to hear my son, Mister A shout "Mummy". My emotions got the better of me and tears filled my eyes. We upped the pace, we were nearly there... we ran but slowed again when we were safely out of view.

As we neared the finish line we spotted Emma's family and upped the pace again to cross the finish line in 1 hour and 24 minutes. I'm pretty sure I looked like I was going to vomit as I crossed the line, it was hard work in the heat but we did it!

Here I am at the start of the Great Manchester Run with my friend Cat - I'm smiling because the sun and stitch hadn't 'got me' yet!!!
I'm so proud of my achievement and proud that some of my friends have been inspired to start running too. I do get asked a lot about basic kit  so look out for my post this Saturday where I'll share my reviews in some fantastic must have buys if you love your running.



GREAT MANCHESTER RUN
SPLIT TIMES
3k time 00:21:26
5k time 00:38:12
8k time 01:05:28
Finish 01:24:30


Sunday, 11 May 2014

#MorrisonsMums - Bank Holiday Shop

Last week, over the Bank Holiday weekend I was challenged by BritMums to become a #MorrisonsMum and complete my weekly shop at my local Morrisons store. Usually I do my 'big shop' at the local Tesco store (purely out of convenience) but to coincide with Morrisons new 'I'm Cheaper' campaign, I was given £80 in vouchers to spend.

I shopped on Friday and bought everything I had on my list for the Bank Holiday weekend - we were planning a BBQ so meat and salad items were a priority as well as our usual cereals, snacks and fruit.

One thing I did notice was that the fresh raw meat was a fantastic price. I regularly shop at Tesco and I've noticed that over the last few months the price of meat has rocketed. Asda has always been cheapest locally, however I find the meat to be really fatty and for that reason I would never do my big shop there as we tend to cook all of our meals from scratch.

The shop I did was focused on us hosting a family BBQ over the weekend however the weather was awful so we ended up eating the BBQ food for dinner over the course of the week. One of my favourite meals being the Morrisons Signature Kebabs served with cous cous and salad. I bought 2 flavour variations:Spiced Lamb with Apricot and Lamb and Mint Shish with the apricot versions being my favourite. The meal was delicious and fed the 4 of us for only £2.02 each..






If processed kebabs aren't your thing and you want something a little cheaper then why not try these delicious home made kebabs we had later in the week for only 95 pence per serving!!




The Verdict

I had always thought Morrisons to be a false economy - plenty of offers but all on the items that I believed were over priced in the first place. This shop has been a real eye-opener for me and I am really impressed. We cook from scratch at least 5 nights a week and Morrisons has really impressed me with the quality and price of their fresh meat - great value for money.

The shelves are amased with the new 'I'm cheaper' logo wherever you look from own brand ready meals through to famous brands like Coca-Cola, Birds Eye and Pampers.

Going forward I will seriously consider traveling the few extra miles to Morrisons, the only down side is that I'll miss out on my Tesco Clubcard points but maybe I'd prefer to take my value in the here and now.

For now, I would definitely recommend you shop there if you like home-made meals.

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

The future of laundry? The one where I meet the Samsung WW9000 Washing Machine

Two weeks ago I headed to John Lewis’ Peter Jones department store in Sloane Square to take a sneak peek at the brand new Samsung WW9000 Washing Machine.

I've got to be honest, usually I wouldn't be interested in domestic appliances but I absolutely love Samsung and couldn't pass up the chance to see their latest invention. I wasn't disappointed...



First off, I should tell you that this picture really doesn't do it justice, the washing machine design is sleek and streamlined and I love the attention to detail the designers have given the machine. Even so far as the circle design to the side of the machine that allows you to place it at the end of a work surface without looking bland and boring.

But let's face it, design isn't what we necessarily look for in a washing machine is it? It's a device of necessity and what I was really interested in was the machines performance and durability. Will it get grass stains out of PE kits on a daily basis? Will it take the constant stream of Lego bricks/coins/action figures that will accidentally be added to the laundry basket? Will it be cost effective because we're on a water meter? And the question I always ask myself as a working mother of 2 - will it save me time? Well it appears the answer is yes to all of the above...

We were shown all of the incredible benefits of the machine by Nick Bevan, Senior Product Manager  - Laundry at Samsung UK and Ireland and he was happy to answer all of my questions on the new machine.

The first thing I was attracted to about the machine was the intuitive smart touch screen. I have a retro dial on my washing machine and I have to admit I've only moved that dial once in the past year because I have absolutely no idea what the other settings are for. In fact I have a very strict set routine when doing my laundry which I guess I should tell you before I go on...

1. Gather the laundry (not as simple as you may think) This usually involves emptying the laundry basket on to the floor of the landing then frantically searching the children's rooms for various socks/vests/school uniform that the children have left lurking under their beds.

2. Attempt to carry said washing load by hand (why?!) to the washing machine, dropping several socks en route like a modern day version of Hansel and Gretal dropping bread.

3. Drop washing on the floor in front of the machine then trace the steps back up the stairs to locate dropped items.

4. Search for washing up tablets..

5. Scream at the top of my voice "Chris? Where the washing tablets? I cant find them"

6. Locate washing tablet right in front of my eyes, throw it in to the machine.

7. Add washing and close door

8. Glance at the dial... realise I don't know what any of the settings mean.

9. Press 'Start'

10. Question whether I should have added an extra rinse/spin/extra washing tablet.

11. Realise I missed the one item out of the machine that needed to be washed for tomorrows ballet/athletics/swimming lesson.

12. Go off and forget that the washing load finished 6 hours ago and is now creased to death and starting to smell.

13. Sniff it...It smells... start over.

Sound familiar?! Yes, well read on...

The WW900 has a touchscreen rather than fiddly buttons and dials. Samsung say "Every other smart device has a touchscreen - why not your washing machine?" and I like their style, the 5” LED screen responds straight away with just one touch of your finger. The machine automatically shows your 'Most Used' cycle as soon as you switch it on, so if you are a one cycle wonder like me then you can start your wash with literally one tap.

There are different programmes too that can be selected for every stain scenario: a 'Gardening' cycle that shifts soil and grass stains, 'Cooking & Dining' gets rid of food and grease marks, and 'Active Sports' that would be perfect for the kids' football kits.

I particularly love the idea of having no detergent draw. Mine gets scummy quickly if I use powder (which is why I usually buy tablets that go straight in to the drum) and I hate cleaning it. This smart machine holds up to a month’s worth of detergent in the drum (in a similar place to the filter in your tumble dryer) and magically dispenses just the right amount you need for each load by weighing the laundry as well as sensing how soiled it is. Amazing!

It has a Super Speed Wash for those items you need washed in a rush. You can wash an average load of 5kg in just 59 minutes – or a load of 2kg or less with light soiling on a 15 minute wash!

If that's not enough to entice you then how do you fancy controlling your machine from your smartphone or tablet - very futuristic. With the WW9000 you can pause or start a wash using your mobile or tablet, so if you don't want to put a wash on in the morning and leave soaking in the drum all day until you get home, then you can load it in the morning and switch it on as your leaving work - that way it’s done by the time you get home.

You can also get notifications telling you how long there is left and when a cycle has finished so if your snuggled up on the sofa watching your favourite soaps, then you don't need to keep getting up to check if it's finished.

The WW9000 also uses Samsung's ecobubble technology, producing special bubbles which dissolve faster and deeper into your clothes - making them cleaner but also meaning you only have to put your laundry on a cool wash as the bubbles (rather than the heat) do all the hard work.

It has a huge door with double hinges, meaning it can fully open back on itself (my current washing machine is always bashing my legs as I'm loading so this would spare me the bruises) but as a mum this also worried me as the door, combined with it's 10kg drum, could easily attract children as a hiding place. Nick assured me that safety was key - both the door and the touch screen have child locks, however, should the unthinkable 'hiding' happen then the door is easily pushed open from the inside.

Finally, it’s quiet too (or so I'm told) thanks to its motor and 3D vibration sensor  the machine creates minimal noise even during fast spin speeds of up to 1600rpm - so you can put a load on at night and it won't disturb your little ones.

The verdict?

So all in all the WW9000 sounds amazing.. so much so that I decided I must have one... which is why I was a little down-hearted when I heard the £1700 price tag. Don't get me wrong, I have no doubt that this machine is worth the money but at that cost it would definitely have to be an appliance we'd need to save up for. And this is why meeting this machine has really got me thinking about the way in which we perceive our appliances - I really feel that in the future our appliances buying decisions will no longer be made out of necessity but, much like we want the best mobile with the best operating system, we will want the same for our every day appliances too.

I for one really want this bad boy in my life but by the time I've saved up my pennies I'm sure that they'll have invented a robot that can load the washing and press all these buttons for me! Well, a girl can dream!



The Samsung WW900 is available now at John Lewis and at other retailers later in the year.

Monday, 28 April 2014

Help... I think I'm Turning in to a Runner

In less than 3 weeks time I will be running the Manchester 10k to raise money for the NSPCC. It feels strange to be telling you I'm running another race. After all my previous 5 mile run was an accidental win on Twitter!

In fact, if you'd have told me a year ago that I was even considering running 10k I would have laughed in your face. But strangely, at the age of 31, I find myself dragging myself out of bed at 6.30am on a Saturday morning so that I can eat my breakfast early enough before my 9am Park Run. Errr... WTF??

At school I hated running, I would get so out of breath within the first 100m that I would make myself ill. No one ever taught me about controlled breathing or starting out slow, I would bomb it for 30 seconds and then struggle for breath.

This is pretty much how my first runs went last year when I realised the mammoth task of a 5 mile run was approaching. Id sprint and walk, sprint and walk... and it was ok... it worked at the time. Gradually, after the race was over I began going out running for me... as a way of winding down after a long day. Still I'd exert myself and then slow down to catch my breath.. until one day, I started out slow. I jogged at a slow steady pace, controlling my breath and I jogged... and jogged... and I didn't stop. I couldn't believe it! I was running... albeit slowly... I was running non stop!

My biggest run so far (without stopping) has been 6k but over the next 20 or so days I'm going to hopefully ramp that up.

I'll keep you posted on the progress but in the meantime feel free to sponsor me.. it's for the kids!!

Sunday, 27 April 2014

Haven Presthaven, Prestatyn Review

Over the first April Bank Holiday we headed over to North Wales to take the children on their first static caravan holiday. Eeek - exciting! We booked the holiday (our first of three) through a national newspaper deal and so in all honesty we weren't expecting much but that didn't stop us. Both Chris and I have fantastic memories of similar family holidays when we were children so we were looking forward to the adventure.

The Park

We stayed at the Haven Presthaven site on the coast of North Wales. Arriving at around 5.30pm on Friday evening, we drove right through the park following the signs to check in. The signposting wasn't great and we did wander around the restaurant before being directed to the reception desk.

The lady at the check-in desk was lovely, really taking time to talk to the children and ask if they were excited about the trip. She handed us our key and our entertainment pass wrist bands and showed us on a map the location of caravan where we would be spending the next 3 nights. As well as having each area of the park sign posted by name they also feature a Haven character so Little E and Mister A were always able to locate the character and find their way back (with us obviously!)

The first thing we noticed as we made our way to the caravan was how huge the park was and we panicked a little about getting around the site.

The Caravan

We had booked the cheapest and most basic 4 berth caravan so we were pleasantly surprised when we arrived to find we had been upgraded to a 6 berth caravan. It was really spacious with 3 bedrooms, a lovely living area that included an LCD TV, a kitchen with oven, hob and  microwave and of course a dining area...




Things to Do on the Park
The weather was slightly un-predicatable during our stay but there were plenty of things to keep us busy come rain or shine. There are 2 indoor pools on site that the children loved one with a water slide that even Chris and I loved. We stayed during April so unfortunately the outdoor heated pool and lazy river weren't open during our stay.

There are so many activities from a climbing park to go karts to pool activities and sports. Too many to share but all available to view on the website.



There are plenty of kids activities and clubs available but Mister A and Little E preferred to not to join in so we took to exploring the sand dunes and the playground instead.




In the evening there was plenty of entertainment for all of us to enjoy from Character FunTime shows for the children to live acts and bingo for the grown ups. My real bug bear about the site was that to get to the Live Lounge where the children's disco took place, we had to walk right through an arcade that was open to under 18s. It was filled with tweens gambling and I hated exposing my family to it. Immediately Mister A (7) and Little E (3) were asking for 'monies' to put in the 2p and 10p slots, fruit machines and grabbers. It was so frustrating. When we made it though the migraine inducing arcade the lounge was packed and we had to wait for someone to leave to get a seat.


The children loved the entertainment though and we found ourselves singing 'What does the fox say?' constantly for the entire hoilday much to Chris' annoyance! We obviously had to treat the children to  flashing toys, Mister A choosing a sword and Little E choosing a light up fish shaped bubble gun!! We were sat quite far back during the show but the enteratiners did make there way around the lounge and came over to talketo Little E and Mister A and asked them about thier toys. Little E even showed the entertainer her dance moves!

By 9pm the children were worn out so we headed back to the caravan, popped them in to bed and Christ and I cracked open the win and played cards!



The VerdictWe were worried the children might get bored but in actual fact we would have liked to have stayed longer. There was so much to do but make sure you do pre-book activities at the very start of your stay as they do fill up quickly. We really enjoyed the weekend and hope to visit Haven again soon. There was a real family vibe there and the staff paid great attention to the children which was lovely. Definitely worth a visit - we made some great memories during our stay.

Checklist


As with most holiday parks, you do need to remember to take your own essential items with you. Luckily this wasn't a surprise to us as we researched before our trip, however a lot of people do get caught out and end up having to head to the shops unexpectedly and spending more than they'd anticipated. Here's a handy list to help you to know what to take on your trip...

Bedroom:
Sheets.
Bedding
Additional pillows if you like more than one

Bathroom:
Towels
Toilet Roll
Toiletries

Kitchen:
Cooking Oil
Condiments
Food if your planning to eat in
Washing Up Liquid
Washing up equipment
Tea towels

If you do forget anything at Presthaven than there is a large Spar on site and a retail park 10 minutes away with a large Tesco supermarket and a pound shop.


Park address: Presthaven Sands Holiday Park, Shore Road Gronant, Prestatyn, North Wales. LL19 9ST  Park open: 14 Mar – 2 Nov

Monday, 14 April 2014

Happy Anniversary to us - 1 year married!

This weekend we celebrated our very first wedding anniversary!! I really can't believe that one year today we were enjoying our secret wedding on Bangtao Beach, Phuket. We celebrated with a lovely weekend away in Chester and the most amazing dinner at The Grill on Newgate Street - OMG - my first taste of chateaubriand steak!! AMAZING!!!


Anyway this little post was just a little one to tell my husband, my best friend and the best daddy to our wonderful children that I love him so much and yes I will go now so you can all throw up!!


Saturday, 22 March 2014

Mothers Day Gift Guide 2014: Tried & Tested

Struggling to know what to buy for your Mum this Mothers day?  We've reviewed some great gifts ideas so you can find the perfect gifts to treat her to something special on Sunday, whatever your budget.

 

If she needs to unwind...



Potters Crouch Floral Fragrances £8.50 each
Reviewed by Vic: I tried Lily of the Valley & Hyacinths and Bluebells candles but there are a huge amount to choose from depending on your mood and preferences. The candles have a real premium feel and look really special. I lit the Lily of the Valley candle first, once the initial wax had melted the beautiful aroma filled the room. The scent reminded me so much of my grandma as these were her favourite flowers. Next I tried the Hyacinth and Bluebell scent. The colour of candle is amazing and the scent was delicate but lovely. I burnt each candle for a couple of hours and both were really slow burning which is great. Potters Crouch say each candle burns for 50 hours meaning these are a great value buy costing only 17p an hour! These candles are beautiful and would make an ideal gift for mums and grandma's this Mothers Day.


If she loves music...

JAM PLUS Wireless Rechargeable Bluetooth Speaker
Reviewed by Chris: "There's nothing I love more than dancing around the house to my favourite tunes. Usually I use my phone but the sound isn't great so I was so excited to review this HMDX Jam wireless speaker. I connected it to my iPhone wirelessly via Bluetooth and it connected immediately. The sound quality was amazing, very impressive and it has a wireless range of up to 10 meters meaning I could leave my phone and just move the speaker around the house. This is going to be amazing for our Summer camping trips this year - a great little device that will be used ALL the time. Highly recommended, a great investment - buy one today!"



If she needs a feet treat...


Elle Macpherson The Body by Homedics Aromatherapy Footspa
Reviewed by Emma: I've recently taken up running so my feet have taken a bit of a battering and I was excited to try the foot spa (my mum had one in the 90s but it didn't really do much so I didn't have high expectations!) This particular foot spa comes with aromatherapy oils too so it's a real treat and if it's good enough for Elle then it's good enough for me! The spa claims to have double the bubbles of a normal foot spa as well as LED mood lighting and the aromatherapy mist diffuser.

I absolutely loved it,I felt so pampered and it was so nice to relax after my run by dipping my feet in to the warm bubbles and using the (removable) massage rollers. There's also a pedicure attachment in the centre meaning that you can give yourself a mini pedi as you relax. It's a great gift - a little pricey but a lot cheaper than regular trips to the salon.


Emjoi Micro-Pedi Portable Pedicure Device
Reviewed by Leanne: Being a mum I never have the time or money to pamper myself these days but
one thing I did used to enjoy was a pedicure at my local salon. It's been quite a few years since my last one and to be honest my feet are a little worse for wear so I've really been putting this to the test! First off I should tell you, it takes 2 AA batteries which aren't included so make sure you gift the batteries too.

It's really, really easy to use- with the flick of a simple on/off switch the roller starts up at 30 rotations per minute. You just hold the micro-mineral roller against any hard skin on your feet and it goes to work. It didn't take long at all and the results were fabulous even after the first try. Ive used it 3 times now and my feet are silky smooth. The MicroPedi isn't something I would have thought to give as a gift but having tested this one I'm planning on getting one for my mum AND my sister!

If she loves fashion...


Just Blue Coral Block Colour Shift Dress £34.99
Second Time Mummy loves fashion so we had to test this one ourselves. First off we should say Just Blue have an amazing range of dresses but we chose this ponte stretch panel detail shift dress which is perfect for giving you a slimmer appearance due to its black side panels. The real thing we love about this dress though is that it's the perfect dress to take you from work to bar because it's so easy to dress up or down.

The fabric is a great quality and with it's neon coral and black colour it's on trend too - I know I'll be wearing it a lot this season.



Mothers Day Necklace & Bracelet (Aldi £3.99 each)
Reviewed by Carol: When I was told these items came from Alsi and they were priced at £3.99 each I was stunned. They come in thick plastic for protection but once you get them home and open them you see that they come with indiviual gift boxes. They certainly look a lot more expensive that the RRP.

I wore the set this weekend for a family meal and I had two compliments (which is epic when you have a family like mine). I'd certainly head to Aldi to get a couple of sets as gifts - once they're in the gift boxes they look at least 3 times the price you'd pay! A surprising thumbs up from me - I'd never have considered Aldi as a go-to for gifts!

If she loves beauty treats...


Iconic Youth Serum
Review by Molly: Coming soon

An exclusive complex of 10 active ingredients at full concentration makes this uniquely formulated serum an essential part of every skincare routine. Skin appears youthfully vibrant and radiant.






If shes a new mum...


Keep Calm the New Mum's Manual, by Dr Ellie Cannon
Review by Erika: Coming soon

Turning the tables on the wealth of huge parenting manuals and their conflicting advice, GP and mother-of-two Ellie Cannon will empower you to relax, trust your instincts, have faith in your parenting and enjoy more time with your baby.





If you want to treat her on a budget...

The entire Aldi beauty collection is being reviewed as we speak - check back on Tuesday night to see the verdict on thee fab products...

Lacura CC Face Cream (£4.99) is one of the most exciting new Specialbuys to hit Aldi’s shelves this weekend. The CC cream promises to banish dull, red and sallow skin. It’s a little too dark for me (MAC NW20), but mixed in with some moisrusier to lighten it, it looks great. It provides good coverage as a base for my foundation – I’ve used it for 4 days now and I’m looking forward to seeing more changes to my skin.

The Lacura Nutri Build-Up Face Mask (£3.99 for 40ml) and Lacura Anti-Fatigue Face Mask (£3.99 for 40ml) have been specially designed to rejuvenate dry and tired skin. 

Lacura Shimmering Day Cream (£1.99 for 50ml) is also back on shelves on as a Special Buy. The cream contains light pigments that give a silky-shimmering effect to make the skin appear more even and radiant and is enriched with DEFENSIL® - a special complex that helps condition and protect sensitive skin. Pro-Vitamin B5 provides skin with moisture and botanical oils to support moisture retention.

And for the body, Aldi has range of body-butters available. The sweet-scented Shea Body Butter (£1.99), Coconut Body Butter (£1.99), and Raspberry Body Butter (£1.99) are all nourishing moisturisers with vitamin complex to leave skin feeling noticeably soft and smooth - perfect for pre summer preparation.



Gallo Family Vineyards Summer Red & Summer White RRP £6.99
The red is a refreshing, sweeter wine, bursting with flavours of cherry, pomegranate and raspberry. Best served chilled, it's perfect for serving on Mother's Day alongside a traditional roast beef dinner with all the trimmings, followed by rich blackcurrant cheese cake. It has an RRP of £6.99 and is available from from all major retailers.

The Gallo Family Vineyards Summer White is packed with sumptuous fruity flavours of ripe apple, pear and citrus with subtle floral notes. This sweeter, light wine is a perfect treat for mothers relaxing on a crisp spring evening this Mother's Day, paired with a light salad or pasta dish. It has an RRP of £6.99 and is available from all major retailers.

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Savoury Pancakes

We absolutely love pancake day in our house - after Christmas and birthday's it's definitely our top day! Every year we have an array of fruit, chocolate, syrup and honey and the pancakes are very much a dessert. This year though, with the help of our fabulous new Tefal Ingenio pan we've decided to go superior with savoury...

and make...

Creamy Garlic Chicken & Mushroom Pancakes

Ingredients

For the pancake mix:
Ooo-er  *Cheat Alert* We just used Aunt Bessies!!

For the filling:

A handful of sliced mushrooms
300ml milk
25g nob of butter
3 tbsp plain flour
1 clove of garlic - finely chopped
250g chicken
1/2 tsp medium curry powder
Half an onion - chopped.
  • Whether you are making your batter mix from scatch or cheating like us you will need to prepare the mixture first. You can make the batter a good few hours in advance if you like - just store it in the fridge.
  • First, sautee the onion and the chicken in the pan and add the curry powder to taste.
  • Once browned add the garlic and leave on the the hob for a further minute.
  • Once cooked through, transfer the chicken, onions and garlic to a plate.
  • Now add the milk, butter and flour to the pan and whisk the mixture as you bring it to the boil. A smooth sauce should begin to form.
  • Simmer for 1 minute, then remove from the heat and stir in your garlic, mushrooms and chicken.

    Your filling is complete!
Just carefully use the batter to form your pancakes then wrap the mixture and you're all done!! Spectacular Savoury Pancakes!! 

If you love Shrove Tuesday as much as us then make sure you check out the Tefal Pancake Day website and have a go of the Pancake Day selfies app - it’s also filled with tons of great inspiration if you’d like to create something a little more unusual! And if you need anymore inspiration after that then take a look at their Pancake Day Pinboard!

HAPPY SHROVE TUESDAY!!



Disclosure: I received a free pan to allow me to review and write this post. Pan review to follow.

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Did You Nose? (sp)

The Otrivine Brand is one that's been very close to our hearts noses over the past couple of years - for the children from when they were babies through to me and my horrible nose. Unfortunately, I suffer from regular/chronic sinusitis and over the past 2 years I have suffered at least 10 times with sinusitis. It's an awful infection that causes me a lot of pain and can last for up to 8 weeks at a time.

Desperate for some kind of prevention, I begged my doctor to help. He suggested that rather than trying to constantly treat the infection, I should take a daily dose of Otrivine Nasal Spray as a way of prevention. I wasn't convinced to be honest and felt a little cheated that he couldn't offer a more spectacular cure. However, since I started using the spray around 4 months ago, I have only suffered once with the infection. RESULT. Usually during the winter months I'm a constant mess of mucus - sorry TMI!

So already feeling a sense of trust with Otrivine,  I was really interested to hear that there is an Otrivine Natural Nasal Spray - a really unique product made from completely natural ingredients that claims to give effective relief from nasal congestion in less than 3 minutes.

Now you might not suffer from sinusitis like me, but we all know what it's like when you're full of cold and all bunged up. It's not something parents can dwell on they just have to get on with it.  Being blocked up can make everything feel that much more stressful and tiring so strangely I cant wait to try the natural version and se if it has the same effect! I'll certainly let you know how I get on but in the meantime here's a couple of really interesting facts that I bet you didn't nose (sorry - it's them not me!)



Find out more about Otrivine's full product range at www.otrivine.co.uk

Disclosure I was paid a fee to host this blog post however the content and opinions in this post are my own.

Monday, 24 February 2014

The One Were I Hold A Millipede #BreakfastSurvival


Last week we headed to London for the Nestlé Cereal #BreakfastSurvival blogger event. It was an early start but the children love train journeys so they were really excited. We arrived in to Euston and headed straight there to be greeted by the lovely Nestlé peeps.

Nestlé had a whole host of creepy crawlies for us to meet courtesy of The Wiggly Wild Show. To be honest, I'm a bit of a scaredy cat and I hate anything with more than 4 legs, so when I was offered the chance to hold a millipede it made my hairs stand on end! Not one to freak out, I decided to be brave and managed to hold him and eventually a hermit crab too!

Chris got involved as well - only he went one better and was brave enough to hold the cockroach, the hermit crab AND eat some bugs!!!

It was great fun, although Mister A and Little E decided against holding any of the 'live' creepy crawlies, instead they settled for dead ones in glass.

There was also a lovely lady called Annie who was face painting. Little E chose a lovely butterfly design where as Mister A went for an Angry Bird which Annie kindly copied from his trainers!


Finally we headed in to the cereal room where we got to try some of Nestlé's cereals. With over two dozen different Nestlé Cereals to choose from there was something for all of us. Each cereal is made with whole grain and is a great source of at least seven vitamins and minerals, what’s more, each serving of Nestlé Cereals only costs 26p per bowl and that’s including the price of the milk!

Ok, so what's it all about?


The event was launch Nestlé's new #BreakfastSurvival campaign. We heard about Nestlé's recent research in to school day mornings which confirmed that almost two thirds of parents (61%) juggle more than 10 tasks in the morning pre-school rush hour - with less than 6 minutes to complete each one! This gave way to the fact that us parents are always on the look out for nutritious speedy breakfasts for the whole family.

With so much to juggle, it can be hard for us to make sure our children are getting the best start to the day. There are so many cereals out there and I do find it tough to make food choices that are nutritional but tasty and affordable. 

We met nutritionist Juliette Kellow and she explained: “Breakfast is considered the most important meal of the day. You haven’t eaten for about 12 hours so it’s vital your body gets the kick start it needs to help see you through the morning. By eating whole grain cereals with milk, you can ensure you get a mix of fibre, together with vitamins and minerals such as iron and calcium.”

I quizzed Juliette on the importance of calcium and iron and she answered so many questions that I had always wondered about.

We also met lovely celebrity mum of two, Marina Fogle who is supporting the campaign. She says: “Just like most families, sometimes we find it hard to navigate the jungle of the morning routine. But, however busy we are, making time for a nutritious breakfast is key. A bowl of cereal is not just quick and easy but a source of important nutrients my family needs to start the day in a nutritious balanced way.”

All in all it was a fabulous day out, the children loved it and we learned a lot too. Thank you Nestlé!



Twitter