Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Pillow Pets - a must-have!

My daughter is an advertisers dream!  Everything she sees on the telly instantly goes on her Christmas/Birthday list.  But toys drop in and out of favour and only a few remain a constant when family members ask her what she'd like for her present.

Pillow Pets are one such favoured item.  She's been banging on about them to me ever since she first heard of them.  As luck would have it, I was offered one to review.  I was secretly hoping to keep it hidden for the next fortnight so I could present it to her on her birthday, but, as only a 3 year old girl can, she bounced up and down constantly shouting "What's in the box? What's in the box? Whatsintheboxmummmmmmy?"

Yes, I am weak. I gave in. She got her Pillow Pet earlier than planned.


Talk about love at first sight!  Ms Lady Bug has been everywhere with her since the moment she came out of the box.  Her regular pillow was quickly relegated; she's become an ever-present car companion; she's been star of the nursery show and tell, and she's even been a comfy seat while watching a film!



Pillow Pets are a premium quality plush toy.  Super soft, cuddly chenille make them irresistible.  With the concealed velcro strap, they quickly transform from a cuddly animal, into a comforting pillow. A reassuring friend for nap time; car journeys; overnight stays or just for playtime.

Eight different animals are now available in the UK from Mookie Toys.  Choose from Silly Monkey; Playful Penguin; Comfy Panda; Snuggly Puppy; Magical Unicorn; Wiggly Pig; Bumbly Bee and of course Ms Ladybug.  There will also be a range of special pets coming out in time for Easter.



Priced at £19.99 they are available from Toys R Us and Amazon.

Disclosure: We were sent a Pillow Pet for the purposes of this review.  However, and opinions expressed are my own.

Monday, 27 February 2012

Tots 100 Book Club - my recommendation



Tots100 Parent Blogger Book Club


What a lovely idea this is, I'm happy to be a part of it.

For my recommendation, I've picked a book that stayed with me long after I'd finished the final page.  Night Music by Jojo Moyes, is one of those hauntingly beautiful stories that make finding the time to sit down and read a real pleasure.


                                                    


Isabel is recently widowed, and left with two children and no funds she struggles to cope with day-to-day tasks.  As her pile of unopened mail and bills becomes too much to bear, her daughter, maturer than her tender years takes charge.

It is then they discover a letter informing them that Isabel has been left a crumbling mansion by her reclusive uncle.  The description of this rambling wreck and tales of hardship and lack of comfort will ring true with anyone who loves stately homes, doer-uppers or has simply suffered when building work goes wrong.

Frequently unable to face up to what's happening, Isabel takes to the roof to lose herself in her violin playing, the sorrowful music reaching out across the woods.

As their new life unfolds, there are challenges, surprises and new friendships and loves.  A beautifully moving and evocative romantic story.

I'd like to recommend it specifically to Amanda as I think she'd appreciate the art and architecture as well as the underlying story of a strong, passionate beautiful woman. 

Beat the Throwaway Culture

It drives me mad that we're encouraged to buy new rather than re-use or fix our old stuff.  Retailers often price things so it works out cheaper to buy a new item rather than a refill - plugin air freshners are a classic example. It's almost always cheaper to buy a whole new unit with fragrance than it is to just buy a refill.

But perhaps we should think about the other costs before we simply chuck things out and buy new.

Many electrical and technological items contain precious metals and other substances which are dangerous and expensive to source.  Lots contain harmful chemicals such as lead and mercury which can damage the environment when disposed of.

And what of CFCs?  Most fridge freezers manufactured pre 2000 contain these harmful ozone depleting substances in their insualting material.

In Britain, aproximately 3 million fridges each year are disposed of and replaced with new.

So next time you're thinking of upgrading or you're faced with the dilemma of fix fridge / buy new one why not think of the alternatives and the implications.

Dislosure: Sponsored Post.

Win a £50 voucher from Experience Days




Don't I spoil you with all these great competitions?

Well, now you have the chance to win a fabulous £50 voucher for Experience Days so you really can get the chance to spoil and pamper yourself.  You could choose a makeover and fashion shoot; a pamper day or a chocolate workshop.  Perhaps you'd like to create your own perfume or treat a friend to afternoon tea for two?


Or maybe you'd like something more exhilarating like an off-road 4x4 driving experience, a speedboat trip down the Thames (I can thoroughly recommend this!) or a helicopter flight?


In order to enter, please leave me a comment below saying what you'd fancy spending the voucher on (this is just for fun, it doesn't commit you to this experience should you win).  Browse the site and see what's on offer.  Don't forget to leave me a method of contact such as an email or twitter ID.

For an extra entry, please tweet the following and leave a separate comment saying you have done so: " I'm entering @missielizzieb 's blog competition to win a £50 voucher with Experience Days. you can too here: http://bit.ly/zVQnZ4"

This competition is open to UK entrants only and will close at 5pm on Sunday 4th March 2012.  The prize will be fulfilled by Experience Days.

Disclosure: This competition is sponsored by Experience Days.

Magpie Monday - Let there be light

This week's find is unusual for me in that it's electrical.  Sadly not all charity shops sell electrical goods for fear of litigation, and not all of them have a qualified PAT tester available.  If you're donating electrical goods, please check first that the shop is able to sell them otherwise you might find that they end up chucked anyway.

I spotted this pair of chrome lights way up high on a shelf, and really liked the Atomic style of them.



They're not designer, only from a DIY store, but I think they're kinda cool.  They were only £4.99 for the pair, so that's about a quarter of their new price and it's saved them from landfill, and saved the manufacture of new ones.  I needed a pair of bedside lights anyway.  Previously we only had one on my side, so now this negates me of my responsibility as light-turner-offer - most annoying when you've just got all comfy!



So what second-hand items have you rescued this week?  Grab the badge and join the party.

Me and My Shadow
Grab my button
and link to my blog



Sunday, 26 February 2012

Let's Relate to young people

If you thought Relate were all about marriage counselling, today's findings about counselling and young people may surprise you.






In their latest survey, Relate counsellors reveals that the most common reason why young people need counselling is because of issues with anger, followed by self esteem and not getting on with parents.

The research also revealed that nearly three quarters of young people said they felt stressed at least sometimes, with nearly a third saying they felt stressed often or all the time.

Relate are the largest provider of counselling to young people in the UK.  They hope to understand the pressures and hopes of younger people and highlight the issues they bring up in the counselling room:  

The most common issues that young people come into Relate counselling with are:

Anger 58%, self esteem 44% and not getting on with parents 43%

The new issues that young people have been bringing up in the counselling room are:


Young people being depressed / suffering with mental health conditions 64% Increase in family break-up (41%) Parents having mental health conditions (23%) Pressures of social media (21%)

The most inspiring people in young people’s lives were their parents with 41% saying they felt inspired by them. Followed by 27% who said a friend and 26% who said a teacher. Yet one in ten teenagers said no one inspired them.

Girls are more likely to be stressed than boys 37% of girls said they often or all the time felts stressed compared to 24% of boys.



Please support Relate's Talk to Us campaign.  You can follow them on Twitter@relate_charity with the hashtag #talktous or visit their websitewww.relate.org.uk 

Smooth as Silk



Charlotte and Co



It used to be the case that silk bedding was the reserve of playboy bachelors, but not anymore.

Silk bedding - in particular pillowcases are widely recommended by beauty experts and skin specialists for their anti-ageing effect.  They are also reported to help reduce skin dryness and improve hair condition.

Now, when you get to a certain stage, skin loses it's elasticity and you can find your self waking up with huge creases on your face - especially if like me you sleep on your side or face down!  As I get older I also notice that these creases take longer and longer to bounce back. They can still be there after I've had my morning cuppa, showered and dressed.

Silk Pillow Case

With an impending wedding on the horizon, it's high time I started taking better care of what I have left, so the lovely people at Charlotte & Co sent me a beautiful white silk pillowcase to try out.

I have to say, after using it for about 2 weeks (with washes of course, I don't mean continuously!) I have definitely noticed a real improvement.  My skin seems more hydrated and supple, I don't wake with the dreaded creases and even my hair seems easier to tame.

The only 'snag' if you'll pardon the pun, is keeping the other half off.  With his grizzly stubble I worry he'll ruin my silky snowy haven, so I do find myself regularly muttering "get your head off my pillow!".

Charlotte & Co also sent me a divine, soothing bottle of Lavender mist pillow spray which also aids restful sleep.  Simply spritz a few squirts on your pillow before bed, to help you naturally drift off to sleep.


Charlotte & Co. Lavender Pillow Mist


Both products from Charlotte & Co's Lavender Beauty Sleep Range are currently on sale at £7.50 for the Lavender mist and £29 for a pillowcase or buy two for £55.

Check out also their gorgeous other home accessories - eye masks, scented candles, hot water bottles and wheat filled heated pillows are all bound to help you drift off to a peaceful sleep.


Cotton Flannel Eye Mask


I have shopped with Charlotte & Co online several times and am pleased to recommend their customer service, delivery, packaging and quality of products.  Try them for yourself.  Give them a follow on Twitter too for exclusive offers; discounts and competitions.  Tell them I sent you!

Disclosure: I was sent a pillowcase and a bottle of spray for the purposes of this review. However, any views expressed are accurate and honest and are my own.

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Fantastic gift ideas for a special Mum

Guest post by Buy a Gift

Mother’s Day is a time to show our gratitude for the one lady who has always had our best interests at heart. But if you’re at a loss in finding the perfect gift for Mother’s day 2011, you needn’t fret, because we’ve compiled a list of five fantastic gift ideas for mum.

Treat her to tea for two

She’s probably spent years slaving over your tea, and now she can have a fantastic time unwinding with a different type of tea, scones, and a selection of scrumptious cakes on her tea for two experience. Whether you opt for afternoon tea at Harrods or you whisk her away to any of 20 elegant rural locations across the UK, she’ll simply love this traditional treat.

Take a picture, it’ll last longer!

What better way to cherish a memory than with a photo? Mums love family pictures and now you can spoil her with a complete family photo shoot. A study from experience days company Buyagift found that 41.5% of mums would like to spend Mother’s day 2012 doing something with the children and this is a great excuse to get everybody together on the day. What’s also good about this is that she’ll receive a complementary 10”x8” print for her troubles – fantastic!

Treat her to relaxing spa days

The research from the company who also offer experience gifts found that 40.1% of a sample of 550 UK mums would prefer to be pampered on Mother’s Day. So, get her some spa day vouchers, she’ll absolutely love you for it. You’ve a range of great places to choose from – from the famous banntayne spa to the illustrious Clarice House. She’ll be able to escape her everyday stresses and indulge in some relaxing treatments before splitting the rest of her day between the sauna, steam room, and Jacuzzi – bliss.

Take the fast lane this Mother’s day

For mums with a need for speed, you’ve a selection of fantastic driving experience days in the UK. Let’s face it, you’ve driven her mad for years, so watch her beam ear-to-ear as she puts her foot to the floor in a supped up racing car. She’ll get to put any of 8 supercars including a Porsche, Lamborghini, Ferrari, or an Aston Martin through its paces across a range of tracks in the UK.

Wine tasting

If your mum enjoys a glass of the finest, then give her the chance to sample some of the most delectable wines on a fantastic wine tasting day. Either pay a visit to some of the fine vineyards of the capital, or treat her to a combination of afternoon tea and wine tasting in serene locations in the UK.

Whatever you choose, make sure she has a fantastic day this Mother’s day 2012!

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Mums with Tums - Put your Hands up for Justin!

Hands Up - The Album




I guess like many homes, Justin Fletcher is a god in our house.  Everything he does is pure gold and Ruby adores him.


We've been lucky enough to have a pre-view copy of his new album Hands Up for a while now.  It's due for release on 5th of March so not long to wait and you can pre-order it now.


A lively and up-tempo mix of children's classics it's perfect for party times, making car journeys fun and for dancing around the living room.


The title song 'Hands Up' is super catchy and one that we dance to a lot. We do get some odd looks at traffic lights when the windows are down and we're all singing along like loons, but who cares!


So high energy are these songs, that Justin can be your friend if you're trying to fight of a bit of flab or improve your fitness levels.


I noticed how pooped I was after doing the whole routine to 'Heads, shoulders, knees and toes', but now Steve Teasdale,  a celebrity personal trainer and stay-at-home dad has taken it one step further.  By making the moves more high impact, he's devised a great aerobic workout which you can do at home while having fun with the kids.






Isn't that brilliant??


Here's what Steve has to say and his tips on getting the most benefit from your dancing:



"Having danced to the album with my 3-year-old daughter I would say that participating in the full album is the equivalent of 40 minutes of low-impact aerobic exercise.

This would be similar to going for a brisk walk, or dancing! Based on a 200lb adult, this sort of exercise generally burns around 350 calories per 40 minutes.

This is the equivalent of
40g of kettle chips (Any flavour) and
175ml glass of white or red wine.

However, I've come up with ways to make the Hands Up Album a more HIGH-impact aerobic activity, by incorporating lunges, squats and jumps for the adults (see below) in order to make the songs more cardio vascular. This sort of exercise works the large muscle groups in the legs i.e. the glutes, quads, hamstrings and calf’s and some of the movements would help to work on the core too. This would take the calorie burn for a 200lb person up to around 420 calories.

420 calories is the equivalent to
Pain au chocolate and a Skinny Latte from Starbucks

Calories burned during exercise depends on your weight and, more specifically, your BMI (Body Mass Index) so while it would be correct to say that you can burn up to 420 calories doing the Hands Up Album, this figure is based on a person of 200lbs (14 stone). 

The average woman weighs around 11 stone so the calorie burn would be closer to 283 calories. Which would be the equivalent of
A Mini Milk Chocolate Bar
And a large Cappuccino with skimmed milk!
From the M&S cafe


“As a “stay at home” parent myself I think it would be great for health conscious mums (and dads) to know that while they’re singing along and dancing with their children in doors, they’re “earning” calorie treats to have later. If they spend 40 minutes participating in the CD in the more high impact ways I’ve suggested, they can enjoy a “guilt-free” treat later!”

How to make the Album more high impact:
Here are a few examples.


"Here We Go Round The Mulberry Bush"

The key to making this song more high impact aerobically is for adults to keep fit together and "jump" around the Mulberry bush to the beat of the music, rather than just "walking around". This would make the motion during the song, similar to skipping, which if carried out for 3 minutes (the duration of the song), is a GREAT cardio work out.

"The Hokey Cokey"

I suggest holding light weights while doing the actions to give the arms a work out (you can use wrist weights or there are objects all around the house you can use as weights) while making a punching action for the left and right arm "in/out" sequence.  Also, when you do the Hokey Cokey, you should be jumping, legs together, into the middle, rather that just walking forwards and backwards.  The "knees bend, arms stretch, rah rah rah" part can incorporate a squat.  For the part where you put your left leg in and take your left leg out, adults could perform a lunge, which works the Glutes.

"The Laughing Policeman"
Marching on the spot during the verses with high knees is an excellent cardio work out, but the key to this song is holding a plank position for the duration of the policeman's laugh. Four 15 second bursts of laughter, which is a great core, work out and the kids will love seeing you trying not to laugh.

"Heads Shoulders Knees And Toes"
A classic song for bending, stretching and touching your toes but we could make it a bit harder by doing dynamic squats.

Finally, the title song “Hands Up” is such a good dance tune that you can do all kinds of high impact dance moves with jumps etc that will really get the heart and lungs working!

The CD can provide a fun “home work-out” for parents. Because most of these songs have a fast beat and high tempo rhythm, they lend themselves brilliantly to a work-out for adults and a fun time for kids, which is healthy to everyone.

If you can cut out 500 Calories from your daily intake then you will lose 1lb per week which is a really healthy weight loss and because it’s done gradually it’s more likely that you will keep the weight off, so by doing this album with your kids daily you are more likely to hit this target."

Wow!  Well clearly I don't need to do this (*cough*), and anyway, I'd spill my wine and Kettle Chips.  But, the old man who pays a ridiculous amount of money each week to torture himself at circuit training has agreed to give it a go.


So, come on, leave me a comment telling me why you'd like to see my other half making a fool of himself getting fit on my blog and I'll set up my hidden camera!  You can also share your videos on Justin's Facebook page, and tweet him and Steve to let them know how you're getting on.

Imagine Children's Festival

Imagine Children's Festival


There is all sorts of fun and frolicks going on at the South Bank in London right now and until Sunday 26th February.

The children are taking over this year and will be running the festival of literature and the arts.  There are loads of free events and activities as well as ticketed ones.

We'll be attending on Sunday for the Roald Dahl Funny Prize hosted by poet Micheal Rosen, and previous winners Louise Rennison (Angus, Thongs & Full-frontal snogging) and Phillip Ardagh (Grubtown Tales).

It's going to be awesome.  We might even join in with the family ballroom dance!  We love books; stories; music and dance so this is right up our street.



The perfect way to get ready for World Book Day on 1st March.

Disclaimer: Imagine Children's Festival is sponsored by the Book People. We have received complimentary tickets to attend an event.

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Gifts which grow

How to make seed shapes

It's Ruby's birthday next month so I've been having a  trial run of something I want to make for her party bags.  That's if I do a party - after last year I'm not sure I can face it!  If not, I will make these as birthday treats for her to take into nursery for her friends.  The custom is to take sweets or cake in, but I think these are nicer.

They'd also make nice Easter gifts, an alternative to Easter eggs and it means giving something that will last and last.

A long-lasting gift to plant & enjoy the flowers

I experimented and made this up as I went along, but I'm really happy with the end results.  It's a great craft that kids can join in with, it's perfect for spring time and it's practically free!

These go in the ground not in your mouth!

You will need:

Newspaper 
Seeds
Cookie Cutters or shaped silicone ice cube moulds/cake tins
A blender
Sieve
Natural food dye (optional)


1. Tear up the newspaper into pieces.  You don't need to be precise but try not to make them bigger than a couple of inches.


2. When you have a nice lot of newspaper pieces, pop them in the blender a couple of handfuls at a time.  Add some water.  Judge this by eye, but it's better to have the mix too wet than too dry as you are going to squeeze the excess out anyway.  If it's too dry or you put too much paper in, you risk jamming your blender.  Give it a good blitz until you have a pulp.  Work in batches, transferring the pulp you make into a sieve resting over a bowl.  If you don't have a blender (or if you think your motor won't cope!) you can do this by hand in a bowl but you will need to tear your paper up into teeny tiny pieces first then mix and squidge together with water.

3. If you want to add food colouring, now is the best time to do it.  We weren't able to get an even distribution of colour throughout the mixture and I tried it at various stages.  But if you put a few drops onto your wet pulp now and squidge it in your hands, you'll get a hint of colour (and also on your hands!).  Remember, these are to be planted so don't use chemical colourings.

4.  Squeeze out the excess liquid.  Get as much out as you can.


5. Add your seeds.  I used one pack to make six large 'cookies'.  We chose wildflowers as these are gifts for young children so I didn't want any complicated growing instructions.  Thompson and Morgan have a trial price on their meadow flowers at the moment of only 99p.  You can find them in garden centres, or try Wilkinson's and pound stores for cheap seeds.  Vegetable seeds would be great too, especially if you match the shapes to the produce.


6.  Next fill your cookie cutter shapes with the seed mixture.  We chose butterfly and bee shapes because that's what we hope the flowers will attract.  You might find it useful to stand the cutters on some kitchen paper to absorb any liquid that will be squeezed out.  Push the pulp down very firmly.


7. Carefully push out your shaped pulp from the cutter, and leave on some greaseproof paper in a warm place to dry.  You want them to dry quickly so the seeds don't start to germinate.


8. Once fully dry (ours took about 24 hours), wrap up in pretty packaging.  I placed a seed cake on a piece of card to keep it stable, added a lolly stick so the planter can remember where they put them, and wrapped in cellophane salvaged from a bouquet of flowers.  Add a pretty ribbon and a label and you're done.


Linking up with Red Ted Art.
and

Inspire Me Beautiful

Monday, 20 February 2012

Magpie Monday - Scarf Laughs

This might seem like an uneventful find, but let me tell you if you have young kids you'd be hard pressed to find a greater value for money buy than coloured scarves.  You know the kind, the silk or polyester chiffon old lady headscarves. Especially if you're lucky like me and pick up a handful of brightly coloured ones for 10p each from a jumble!


When Ruby was a baby, she loved playing with these.  They are perfect for peek-a-boo games, for exploring textures and colours and early learning of colour mixing.

"No Paps"

Now she's older, she loves to use them as dress up, draping them or tying them round herself to make elaborate dresses and skirts.


She uses them to tuck her teddies up in little make-shift beds; gathers toys up in them and uses as carriers and hammocks.  They are beautiful tied up in front of open windows gently billowing in the breeze.

But most of all, she loves to dance with them.



Swirling; twirling and whirling. Watching the shapes they make as she moves them to the music.


A perfect tool for helping activity and expression.

*Cough* Sometimes Mummy joins in too.

Butt-covering disclaimer: Do not leave young children unsupervised with scarves.

So, what second-hand goodies do you want to show off? Grab the badge and join in. I'm off for a little dance of the seven veils.


Me and My Shadow
Grab my button
and link to my blog



Sunday, 19 February 2012

We’re a nation of savvy shoppers!


A new study has revealed that the recession has turned parents in to savvy shoppers. Two thirds of those surveyed admitted becoming more cautious as a result of the economic downturn.

A huge 83% of parents confirmed they were using vouchers and discount codes in a bid to become more savvy. And impulse buys are long gone with 78% admitting they carefully research, try and compare before making a purchase. 

93 per cent of parents are worried about their financial situation and as such, the stats reveal 55 per cent of parents did not take a holiday whilst planning for their children. Also 34% had cut down on their weekly food shop and 72 per cent confirmed they had stopped buying as many clothes.

57% admitting they have received hand me downs and 40% said they were buying things from Ebay.

The survey shows 90 per cent of parents spend more on their children than they do themselves and just under a half of respondents shop for their own clothing in budget high street stores to be able to do so.

Melanie Hall, a spokeswoman for leading baby and parenting show The Baby Show (www.thebabyshow.co.uk), who conducted the poll of 1,000 parents said:

“This poll is very insightful and highlights that parents are trying to adapt to these hard times. 

The financial pressures on families are huge and parents are trying to make the wisest possible choices.

Parents are taking the time to find out about products, investigating the quality of it and comparing the prices before buying them. This savvy shopping is helping them to save money which can be used for other things such as paying bills.

The Baby Show is the perfect place for parents to come, research buys, trial products and also get some great offers.”

The Baby Show is running from the 24th-26th February at London ExCeL. To book a ticket log on to www.thebabyshow.co.uk.

 Guest post - Material provided by The Baby Show

Friday, 17 February 2012

Gorgeous Giveaway from The Little Ark



It makes me very happy to bring you this lovely giveaway from the generous people at The Little Ark.  If you've not had the pleasure of shopping with them before, let me tell you a little about the company and their products.

Designing and making unique, high quality wooden children's furniture, the team pride themselves on attention to detail. The furniture is made in the UK, and the quality materials and workmanship ensure beautiful, individual items of furniture that are built to last.


Although the business has now expanded to include a range of beautiful traditional wooden toys; quality soft toys and gifts the core of their business remains the iconic animal design chairs; stools and tables.

Using high end Farrow & Ball or Zoffany paints, the customer can personalise their order and choose to add the child's name to the piece making them perfect gifts.



Alternatively, at a reduced price you can buy the item unfinished to paint yourself - great if you have an unusual colour scheme or you like to craft individual items - how gorgeous would a decoupage chair be?



Little Ark have very kindly offered to giveaway one white chair in your choice of either the dog (2nd from left in above image) or the dinosaur design shown below.


Entering is simple.  Just pop over to the Little Ark site and sign up to their newsletter. Then leave a comment here confirming you have done so, and which chair you'd like - either the dog or the dinosaur.  Please remember to leave me a way to contact you such as a Twitter ID or and email address.

For additional entries, you may do any or all of the following, but please leave a separate comment here for each one, otherwise your extra entries won't be counted:

Follow Little Ark on Twitter
Like Little Ark on Facebook
Tweet: "I've entered @missielizzieb's giveaway to win a beautiful wooden child's chair from Little Ark. You can too here: http://bit.ly/ytrMaA"

This competition is open to UK only.  Closes at 5pm on Sunday 26th February 2012.  The winner will be chosen at random.  If no reply is recieved from the winner, I reserve the right to re-draw.

EDIT: THIS COMPETITION IS NOW CLOSED. THE WINNER CHOSEN AT RANDOM WAS  @xXrach_louiseXx Rachel Moss CONGRATULATIONS!!

Disclaimer: The Little Ark have generously sponsored this giveaway.

Monday, 13 February 2012

Get some Sun Magic in your life!


We buy a lot of fruit juice in this house, but have to confess, we are a bit snobby about it.  I'm not particularly brand loyal, and will buy what's on offer, but I always buy fresh from the chiller section and have never bought cartons of juice from the drinks aisle.

Why is that? I guess I have the preconception that longer life drinks and juices made from concentrate are not as good as fresh, or that they're full of artificial nasties.  So when we were asked to try out some Sunmagic juices, I can't say I exactly had an open mind!

When they arrived I was pleased and surprised to see that they contain:


  • No artificial colours
  • No artificial preservatives
  • No artificial sweeteners
  • No artificial flavours


In addition, their orange juice is certified fair trade, and all their drinks are made from the highest quality concentrates and each juice drink counts as one of your five a day.

The second thing that struck me was their huge range.  Not just the fact that they make juice, drinks and smoothies, but they offer a practical solution to different needs - whether it's a family sized 1 litre carton, or 200ml cartons with straws perfect for lunchboxes.    There are currently a total of 32 different drinks in the range, and they offer excellent value for money.

You can currently pick up 2 x 1 litre cartons of Tropical Juice for just £1.75, that's under half the price that I usually pay for juice from the chiller section.

But I guess the most important verdict is the taste test...

We each had our particular flavours we liked and disliked, but the drinks were well received by the family.  Ruby particularly liked the fact that they didn't have 'bits' in them.  Whilst she loved the apple; orange and the blackcurrant and apple flavours, the other half enjoyed the blood orange and pure orange.  My personal favourite was the mango flavour, but it was too sweet for everyone else.

Well, Sunmagic, I think you've changed my mind!  Buying juice from concentrate is not only much more economical, it keeps longer, it can be kept in the store cupboard before it's opened meaning I can stock up and it doesn't compromise on taste!

Do pop over and check out their Facebook page for news, offers and competitions.

Disclosure: I was sent a selection of juices to review, however all opinions and words here are my own.

Magpie Monday - The cat in the hat

With temperatures reportedly as low as -15 degrees during the night and hovering around -5 during the day this past week, my Magpie Monday find was a welcome and timely one.

I was somewhat goaded into the purchase by a bunch of pensioners haranguing me in the Salvation Army shop telling me how stylish it looked - I really don't know why I let them talk me into it, I should have more confidence in my own decision-making.

Once I got it home, I wasn't sure if it made me look like a deranged Russian Hooker, or like I was wearing Blofeld's cat on my head, but once the snow came I really didn't care.

Toasty warm, pure sheepskin, I can stroke it reassuringly when I'm not wearing it. Maybe even offer it a bowl of milk.


When I went to collect Ruby from nursery wearing it, all the kids turned to look - it seems she'd told everyone that 'my Mummy's got a mad hat'.  Huh. What do they know, they wear Upsy-Daisy T-Shirts for cripes sake.

Anyway, while I'm here I just wanted to say that it's Magpie Monday's 1st birthday.  It all started with this post, and I wanted to thank you all for your support, for joining in and for spreading the word about buying second-hand.  I wonder if Magpie Monday has converted anyone?


Join me in celebrating this first anniversary by grabbing the badge and linking up x

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Saturday, 11 February 2012

Wear your heart on your T-shirt



For Valentine's this year I've made a T-shirt for Ruby to wear.  It was very simple, and kids could do their own, but we'd done a lot of painting that day and frankly she'd had enough and got bored!


You'll need:

a plain TShirt (clean and ironed)
a heart shaped paper doily (you can get these in Poundland)
Dylon fabric paint (I used Deep Pink)
a sponge
low tack tape such as masking tape
buttons to embellish (optional)


Place a protective layer of cardboard or plastic inside the t-shirt to prevent the paint seeping through to the back.  Lay your garment our flat and position the doily where you want it, gently taping around the edges to hold in place.


Apply the fabric paint with the sponge to the doily stencil.  Don't use too much or it will saturate the paper and tear it.  Work all around the stencil, removing the tape as you go - remove the tape before you get paint on it, otherwise it will rip.



Once you've covered the whole area, carefully peel off the doily and leave to dry for a few hours.  Use a hot iron to seal the image and make it washable - place a clean cloth over the top and iron for a couple of minutes on high heat.



Embellish with buttons and wear with love!




Happy Valentine's Day x

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