Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Let's Keep Christmas Special

Is it me, or does 'Christmas' seem to start earlier each year? I am a strong believer that the Christmas period starts on the first of December. This is mainly because Christmas starts to feel diluted if you start eeking it out for a longer period. It seems to me that the early start of Christmas is rooted two things, basically we can't get enough of a good thing, and a cynical attempt by retailers to maximise their profits.

It all starts when the first supermarkets start stocking Christmas items as soon as the temperature drops by 5 degrees.

Now I know that shops want and need to make a profit, but do they really need to start selling christmas items so early.  I think a month is ample time to get everything you need but maybe I'm missing something.

As I'm driving home we have been spotting houses with their Christmas Lights blazing all through November. My daughter keeps excitedly asking if it's Christmas, and then looks so disappointed when I tell her its weeks away. Instead of bringing magic to little children, these people who light/trim up early are actually bringing disappointment. That's food for thought surely...

Now I know Christmas is a lovely and special time, and that is why people want to experience it for longer, but I just think the specialness starts to wain if it occurs for months of the year. I love hearing the first Christmas Tunes, but I think 3 weeks of these is enough. If we start celebrating Christmas for months on end, the time will surely come when we get sick of it and it's not special anymore.

Santa is arriving in our town on Saturday to turn on the Christmas Lights, which is the last day of November. I guess I can live with that but I would love for Christmas to be celebrated in December. Not sure what your thoughts are?

Monday, 25 November 2013

My week on the Exante Diet- The results are in!

Well yesterday was the last day of my week on the Exante Diet. It has been a challenge but I am proud to say that I have totally stuck to it and not cheated once. So this is how my week has gone...

The first three days were tough, as your body has to adjust to the reduction in calories (600 per day). I was pleasantly surprised by the taste of the shakes and the soups but the quantities aren't that much compared to what this greedy girl is used to! Every soup, and shake is about the size of a mug of water. I had a shake in the morning (Vanilla, chocolate or Strawberry- all very nice) and a soup for Lunch and Dinner. The soups I got to try were Thai Chicken, Mushroom, Vegetable, and Tomato and Basil. Thai Chicken was my favourite but I wasn't as fussed on the Tomato and Basil. You have to give the soups a really good stir as they can be quite lumpy otherwise. Exante recommend using a blender but as I was in work this wasn't possible.

 To get me through the first few days I became a domestic goddess in the evenings as I found cleaning the house took my mind off the hunger. My husband was very pleased, although he did have to cook for himself as I didn't want to be around temptation. I also ended up going to bed early as I found that easier than sitting around craving food.

After three days it got remarkedly easier. I found I wasn't so hungry all the time, and I was able to stay up later without feeling ravenous. I also started to see some changes in my waistine and was delighted when my old size 12 work trousers fitted me again.  Exante recommend you drink at least 2 litres of water a day and I found this no problem as I did feel quite thirsty. I am usually rubbish at drinking water, so drunk sparkling water which I love. I also find sparkling water fills you up for longer. My skin definately became radiant due to all the additional water.

By the end of the week, I got to give one of the Exante diet bars a try. It was Chocolate and Orange flavour, and I had it for my breakfast on the last day. It was actually quite filling and tasted yummy so I would highly recommend these.

With Trepidation, I stepped on the scales this morning and was over the moon to see that I had lost half a stone... in a week. I just think that's amazing and I hope you do. This is such a fast diet and I would definately do it again. The great news continues as my BMI is now within the healthy range and comes in at 23.6. If my weight were to stay the same or decrease even further (which I am really hoping!) I would not be able to continue with the Total Solution as my BMI is less than 25 but I can continue with the simple solution. This means that you have 3 Exante Diet products per day plus 600 calories. You can either choose to have a 600 calorie meal or snacks equivalent to 600 calories. I really like the sound of this, and hope to do this very soon.

In summary the things I like about this diet:

  • There is no thinking or planning involved. Your meals are pre-prepared for the day/week and you only need to worry about adding water
  • The calories are all measured for you and the products give you all the nutrients you need to sustain yourself
  • Its an extremely fast diet
  • It is relatively cheap compared to other products on the market
  • The majority of the products are tasty and there are a lot of products to choose from.
Things I was wasn't so fussed on:
  • You are incredibly hungry and tired in the first few days so you have to be committed
  • Having no solid food for nearly a week did play havoc with my teeth so make sure you brush them often
  • I wasn't too fussed on the Tomato and Basil Soup but that was the only one
  • The soups can be a bit powdery and lumpy if not stirred enough.
Overall I am really pleased with how this week has gone and just want to say thanks to Exante for letting me trial their products in return for an honest review. Onwards and Upwards from here!

Friday, 22 November 2013

Xmas Gaming Gift Ideas For The Out Of Touch Parent.

My daughter is just four years old, yet she knows how to play computer games, upload photos and watch you tube without any help from me. It's mindboggling really, how quickly todays children grasp technology and I am in no doubt in years to come, my children will know far more about computers than me. As my daughter loves online gaming, and has actually learnt a lot from them, we have actually invested in a games Tablet for her this christmas.

There were a number of considerations we looked at when choosing the right console

  • Price (well everyone knows I'm on a budget!)
  • Educational Value-Will it have games that will help my daughter learn
  • Safety- Will it only allow my daughter to access safe and age appropriate content
  • Durability- Is it quite hard wearing as my daughter is nearly as clumsy as me
  • Reviews- Did the console have favourable reviews
These were our main considerations, and this is a good place to start when you are looking at games consoles.  We were very lucky in that we found a games tablet that was age appropriate, had plenty of educational games on it and it was on sale. It also came with an indestructable  bright pink case so I know my little pink obsessed lady will be very pleased. 

If you have children a little older than mine, then they will probably be hoping that santa will be bringing them a games console. There are a number of  games consoles on the market with next generation models being released in time for Christmas. I would strongly suggest chatting to your kids about what their favourite consoles are, and what they like about them. They will know what they are looking for, so listen to what they have to say. There are plenty of online review sites such as this where users give honest reviews of consoles, so these are useful if you want a second opinion.

It is also really important to go Bargain Hunting. You can often find much cheaper deals online, rather than on the high street. Some people are worried about shopping online, but I have done all my christmas shopping online for the last few years. I have never had any problems and it's cheaper aswell as less stressful.

You also have to bear in mind the price of games. These can add up so it may be a good idea to buy a console with games thrown in. These deals can often work out much better value than buying the console and the games seperately. You can also buy games second hand relatively cheap so it's worth bearing this in mind.

Another thing you should bear in mind is that it is essential that your child has a good gaming TV . There are a variety of TV's on the market that enhance the gaming experience.  A TV such as this is a good budget option. It has a high quality19 inch screen which is essential for a great gaming experience, and a scart connection so you can plug your console in.

 If you have more money to spend, this would be an even better option. It has a fantastic ultra high definition 32 inch screen. It has 2 HDMI ports perfect for gaming. Finally it has an A grade energy efficiency rating which is obviously a bonus. There is no point in owning a super duper games console if you don't have the appropriate TV to play it on.

There are a wide range of accessories that you can buy for games consoles, but one of the accessories to really gain popularity in recent years are gaming headsets. This can really enhance the experience and bring console games to life with life-like sounds through state of the art speakers contained in headphones . They also offer a big bonus for parents as they minimise noise. Unfortunately the market in Gaming Headsets for the new generation of consoles is quite limited at the moment, but there is some good news in that Gioteck are due to release some new PS4 gaming headsets for the next generation PS4 in the next few weeks. These headsets will be just in demand as the consoles so my advice would be to get in there quick, if you really want to make your little monsters happy.

I hope this post has helped you out in your search for a games console and accessories for christmas. It's not easy being a parent, and don't believe anyone who tells you it is.

*This is a sponsored post.

Sunday, 17 November 2013

The Shred Begins! The Start Of The Exante Diet

My readers will be aware that this bad mutha has rather let herself go of late. A combination of too much cake, wine and little exercise has left me a little over weight  and a not so yummy spare tyre. I have lost a little weight by cutting down on the wine, and cake but progress has been slow!

I saw that the Exante Diet were looking for bloggers to review their weight loss plan. I signed up and crossed all my fingers. I was delighted when they contacted me and said they were going to send me a weeks worth of samples so I could review the diet. It's perfect timing as I have a friends wedding in a few weeks time so it would be brilliant if I could lose half a stone before the big occasion.

They have sent me 21 products which is all I need if I follow the Very Low Calorie Diet (VLCD) Plan for a week.

 There are a number of options you can follow with this diet depending on your BMI. I wasn't too sure what my BMI was so I used the handy online calculator that Exante have on their site which can be found here. My BMI came back as follows as 25. 3 which is overweight. My weight is 10 stone 3 lbs. Although this was not great news as its never good to be overweight due to the increased risks of serious ill health, it meant that I could try the total solution... Let me explain! The Exante diet has three solutions which are as follows:

  • Total Solution which is 600 calories a day. You have 3 Exante products each day with a break after 3 weeks. You must have a BMI of 25 or above to be able to follow this diet. This is a Very Low Calorie Diet (VLCD). 
  • Working Solution which is 1000 calories a day which comprises of 3 Exante Products and one 400 calorie meal. You must have a BMI of 25 or above too be able to follow this diet. 
  • Simple Solution which is 1200 calories a day which comprises of 3 Exante Products and one 600 calorie meal. You must have a BMI of 20 or above to follow this. 
As I only have a few weeks until the wedding, I am going to be brave and follow the Total solution. If I can get my weight to 9 stone 7lbs for the big day I will be very happy. I don't expect to lose all this weight within a week, but I am really hoping it will help me reach my goal by the 07th of December 2013. If it is a success, I may well carry on with the diet as it is also very afforable, in fact its the UK's lowest price total meal replacement plan. This is very important to me as money is tight in the James household at the moment.  The plan starts at £3.87 a day which I think is amazingly cheap. You can also order online and it is with you the next day. 

Some of you may be worried that the Total Solution Diet may be dangerous for your heath as it's so low calorie, but it contains all the vitamins and nutrients your body needs to sustain itself. Meals consist of shakes, bars and soups which are already measured out. The diet works by reducing your calories to a level where your body achieve Ketosis. This is a metabollic state where the body uses fat stores to produce energy. The plan has been tested and found to produce positive results. Weight loss of one and a half stones in a month can be achieved which is such a fast diet. 

I know that the next week is not going to be easy but I am really looking forward to seeing the results!

Thursday, 14 November 2013

My Selfish Neighbour.....

I am posting this for two reasons, one to get it off my chest, and one to see what people think. I may be totally overreacting, but this really gets my goat.

We are lucky in that we have a reasonably good relationship with our neighbours and that includes our next door neighbour, but there is something going on that I think is beyond the pale. My neighbour is single and in her forties. She has not been in the best of health lately so perhaps I shouldn't be too harsh as I think that is part of the problem, but there again she is managing to work in a pub, so perhaps not.

She has a little terrier dog that she used to walk but this seems to have stopped. Obviously dogs need walks for exercise and also to go to the toilet, and that is where the problem lies. She simply opens her front door, and lets her dog out on the communal path outside our house. I have lost count of the times the dog has come and left its dirty business outside our front door. We are left to clean it up and its disgusting. I have two young children, and I am worried for their health as a result as I can't always stop them picking things up outside the front of the house.

At the moment we do not have any fence around our front patio so we are now looking at having the expense and hassle of fencing this off, due to my selfish neighbour. Does anyone else think this is disgusting?

Thursday, 31 October 2013

(My) History Of knackered Vacuum Cleaners

Me and Vacuum cleaners have never had an easy relationship. Our relationship is full of pain, frustration and disapppointment, and I don't think I am alone in this. It all started when I was a child. My parents had a succession of vaccum cleaners that promised the world but never quite delivered.  This was made worse by the fact that we always had hairy pets, so you were facing a daily battle against the dreaded pet hair. My parents always made sure we did our share of the housework (to my teenage horror) and I still have painful memories of doing the vaccuming without any of the attachments as the vaccum cleaner wouldn't suck anything up. You basically had to pick up the dirt by hand and shove it down the nozzle. They also used to get regularly blocked which was a thoroughly nasty job, which involved having to prize free nasty rubbish that had inadvertantly been sucked up- usually my brothers lego and lots and lots of manky hair. I once found a sock that had been sucked up. I blame the brother...

One particularly vivid memory was when one of our useless Vaccum cleaners packed in. My dad, who is universally known as being crap at DIY, attempted to fix it. He started to take it apart and was fiddling with the wiring, when he gave himself a massive electric shock. He had only forgotten to unplug it. He was crying for quite awhile...

As time went on, I grew up and finally became a fully accredited adult. This meant one thing.... I was now in the vaccum cleaner market. Initially I inherited one of my parents hand me downs that was frankly past its best ten years before I had it . Matters got worse when we acquired a big fat ginger cat called Ginge. I do love him, but I have never seen such a hairy cat. I remember going to my local electrical store with a modest budget in the hope that we would achieve vaccum cleaner perfection i.e. one that worked. We couldn't afford a Dyson so we had to get a middle of the range one. There was one that boasted super suction and was built for pet hair, that wasn't too expensive. Perfect, I thought.. so I got my money out and paid. Things started off well, and it seemed to initially cope with the copious amount of hair that my cat produces. Sadly it didn't last and before I knew it, I was having to attempt the hoovering without any attachments as the suction was so poor, whilst swearing loudly.

Since then I have had a few terrible Vaccum cleaners and am still aspiring to own a Dyson ten years later. Everyone knows that they are the creme de la creme of Vaccum cleaners, and owning one of these should end my pet hair woes. I have my eye a Dyson, and I am hoping and praying that the husband is reading this, and picks up on my not so subtle hint.  It may not be the most romantic or exciting christmas presents, but I'm 35 now with 2 kids, so owning a super duper vaccum cleaner is all that I want and need! Please santa, I've been a good girl...honest!

* This is a sponsored post.

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Review: Braun Thermoscan 3 Ear Thermometer IRT 3020

The James family must have been good boys and girls this year, as we have been lucky enough to receive The Braun Thermoscan 3 Ear Thermometer which retails at £32.99 and is available at Asda, Mothercare and Tesco.

The timing couldn't better, as the dreaded lurgy struck the James Household last night. My Son Bryn started vomiting in the middle of the night, and we have all been feeling a bit under the weather. We do own a cheap ear thermometer but it doesn't give accurate readings so I jumped at the chance to review this one, in the hope that it would actually work.

The Thermometer boasts a 1 second reading which can be extremely handy when you have a wriggly toddler/baby. I initially balked at the sight of the chunky instructions- I am a bit of an instructaphobe, but don't be put off as the Thermometer is actually very easy to use. With the touch of a button the Thermometer is ready to use, and you simply position it in the ear and after the beep it gives a super quick reading on the LCD display which shows in either Celcius or Farehnheit (depending on what you prefer) Celsius (34 - 42.2°C) or Fahrenheit (93.2 - 108°F) . The memory also recalls the last temperature reading so you can track temperature changes.  There are also no hygiene worries as it comes with a pack of 20 disposable lens filters. Once you have used the thermometer, dispose of the lens filter, and then replace with a new one. You can buy packs of 40 disposable lens packs at Mothercare for a very reasonable £8.16. These should last you a very long time unless your very unlucky in the illness stakes. The Thermometer also comes with a free 2 year warrranty and is suitable for the whole family. It also shuts off after 60 seconds which saves the battery. This has been professionally tested to ensure its accuracy and is the number one ear thermometer recommended by doctors. You can't get a higher recommendation than that!

The Thermometer seems very sturdy and well made so it gets a big thumbs up from the James Household. I also think it would make a fantastic gift for new parents, as its extremely useful and gives super quick results. I always have nightmares about a time when my daughter was a young baby. I bought a cheap digital thermometer off the internet, and the instructions said that I should take the temperature rectally. I thought it was a bit odd but I did as it said. I phoned NHS Direct and when they found out how I had been taking her temperature, they gave me a proper telling off. Apparently I could have done some real damage because I didn't know what was doing. I would have been so grateful if someone had bought me one of these thermometers rather than a cute outfit which my child would only wear a handful of times.

If you are on the look out for an effective Ear Thermometer, I would highly recommend this. It's affordable and it works! If you want to buy one, you can find out more by clicking on the following link

* Disclosure- I have been provided with the thermometer free of charge in return for providing a comprehensive review. I have not been told what to say, and all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Monday, 28 October 2013

Is it ok to criticise your childs school on social networks?

Well I have to admit that I am a bit of a newbie to being a mum of someone in school, and there has been a few suprises along the way. So much has changed since my first day at school 30 odd years ago, and technology has definately played a part in this. I was a bit supprised when I attended my daughters open day, when they mentioned the use of social networks by Parents. That's odd I thought. Why would a primary school have an interest in what I post on social media. The headteacher explained that they have had problems with parents criticising the school on social media, and they had had to bring parents in to discuss it. Initially I thought this was a bit over the top, as surely a school can't dictate what I post online.

That was then, but it has now been a year since my little angel stepped foot in school for the first time. Since then she has loved school and thrived on a daily basis. I don't suppose I ever took much interest before, but I since then I have been shocked about how many times I have seen parents criticising their children's school on Facebook, Twitter etc. I know schools don't always get things right but surely it is better to have a conversation with the school directly about the issue, rather than loudly declaring on social networks how terrible your childs school is. Children are also bound to pick up on their parents negativity, and I wouldn't be suprised that those children are less apt to work hard at school, because their parents obviously think it is not up to scratch. I also don't think its fair on the school for parents to take to social media if they are unhappy with their childs school, as the school don't get an opportunity to explain their decision, or why something went wrong. It's a very one sided argument.

Social Media just makes it so easy to react without thinking, and get things off our chest, but sometimes this can be to the detriment of our childrens schools and their education.

Am I totally wrong, or do you agree? I would love to hear your thoughts?

Thursday, 24 October 2013

The battle of the veg!

As a mother I have become more conscious than ever of the need for a healthy diet. I am consciously trying to lose weight at the moment as I have gained a few pounds too many, but the main problem I have is with my portion sizes and lack of exercise. I do have a relatively healthy diet, and really enjoy fruit & veg.

Sadly the same can't be said for my 2 year old son. He is an absolute niightmare when it comes to food, and won't eat any veg at all. I have tried hiding it in his food, but he notices and then refuses to eat anything. The only things he seems to enjoy eating are spagetti hoops, and porridge. I wasn't too worried at first but this has been going on for ages and I am starting to despair. I may be just another neurotic mother but I so want him to be healthy. I was shocked to hear that 1 in 5 people in Wales suffer with diabetes. Childhood rates of diabetes are on the increase too, so I think its something that all parents should be aware of. I always make a point of encouraging my daughter to eat healthily, but as Bryn is a little slow to talk I can't really have this conversation with him.

He does eat some fruit, and bananas and grapes are a favourite so it's not all bad, but does anyone have any tips on how I can get him to eat some veg? At the moment he takes one look and hands it back to me. Forcing the issue just makes it worse and I find it so frustrating! Any advice gratefully received!

Monday, 21 October 2013

Happy Birthday Bryn!

Well, I can't quite believe that my little man is 2 today!

I never expected child number 2 to come along and I have to say I was very overwhelmed at the idea. It is hard work with two kids, but I love them both dearly. Bryn is such a little personality. He loves animals, and tractors (I'm sure he will become a farmer when he grows up), and he loves dancing his little 'river dance'. He enjoys being read to, but he is an incredibly fussy eater. Vegetables don't pass his lips but I am hopeful this will change soon

Bryn has a terrible scream when he doesn't get his own way, that brings stares from everywhere, but he is also really friendly and says hiya to everyone! He is a little slow to talk and is having speech therapy to help him long, but he seems just as clever and bright as his sister.

I was smitten with him, as soon as I laid eyes on him, and I still feel the same. Happy Birthday Bryn!

Sunday, 20 October 2013

Silent Sunday 20/10/2013

The Frump needs to lose the plump!

We've had a typically jam packed weekend again. I've been to work twice, stayed at my dads in Barry Island and been to a kids party. At the party I bumped into two friends that I hadn't seen in awhile and gosh they both looked fab. They had both lost lots of weight and they had both had children after me. Since having my son two years ago, I haven't lost the baby weight. In fact I have added to the baby weight and it's starting to make me self conscious. When I went swimming a few weeks ago, I even wore a swimming skirt to cover up my big bum and thighs. It's not rocket science, why I am chubby. I have always had a big appetite, and my desk job means that I get very little exercise.

I would say that I am approaching a size 16 now which is probably the biggest I have ever been. It's time to take action! It's not all about vanity. I want to set a good example to my kids. I make sure I reinforce the idea of healthy eating to them, but having an overweight mother is not the best example.

I need to get a set of scales that works as I don't even know how much I weigh. I guess this is important as I won't be able to set myself a weekly goal otherwise. My best friend has lost a lot of weight also (and she also had a baby a year after me!) and she doesn't deny herself. The secret to her success seems to be, being active and smaller portion sizes. My diet is quite healthy but my portion sizes are just too big.

I am also going to start using my Slimpod again as I found that really good the last time I used it, but I fell off the wagon! Its a unique voice recording you listen to for just 10 minutes a day which trains your brain to control your appetite so you feel full quicker and eat less. It really did seem to work last time so I'm going to get cracking. 

Wish me luck!

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Competition! Win a £20 Amazon voucher.

I originally started this competition to promote by blog and also promote a competition I was entering on French Connection. I now have no wish to promote FCUK and it's flawed 'most likes' competition.

I have a £20 Amazon voucher for one lucky follower of my blog. There are also additional entries for those who share the competition on facebook/twitter etc. The Competition is Open Worldwide and the voucher will be given in the equivalent value in Dollars etc.

Please make sure you carry out the steps required in the Rafflecopter as I will be checking every entry, and deleting those which don't comply with what I have asked for.  Be lucky!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Win competitions at

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

I Have Problem Skin! SK:N Clinics To The Rescue

Lets talk about Spots and acne! I used to think that spots and acne were a teenage problem, that would disappear in a massive puff of smoke as soon as people reached their twenties. We are all subjected to the stereotype of the moody spotty teenager, but the reality is that many people are affected by spots and acne throughout adulthood. Acne can be either teenage acne or mature acne. 

 I have to be honest, since my teenage years I haven't had flawless skin. My acne problem got so bad in my late twenties that I visited my GP, as I was fed up of being constantly embarrassed with my spotty skin. My GP didn't seem very sympathetic and simply gave me some cream which didn't really work. Luckily after stopping taking the contraceptive pill my problem acne has reduced, but I still get spots and acne at the grand old age of 35.

I often find myself green with jealousy when I go out with friends who have flawless skin, and had resigned myself to the fact that my skin would never look as good. That was until I heard of Skn clinics. They have an expert medical team including consultant dermatologists who have 20 years of experience in treating Acne safely and effectively. 

Adult acne is caused by excess oil production on the skin which clogs pores and causes the skin to react with red spots and blemishes. It can also be caused by high levels of testosterone. I don't think I have a lot of testosterone so I think it is the oil production that is the problem in my case. Many people are left with acne scars even when their acne has reduced. Scarring is caused when the dermis (which is the tissue below the surface) becomes inflamed when it tries to repair the damage caused by Acne.  The skins produces collagen in order to repair the skin but too much is generated and this causes scarring and pitted skin. This can be just as upsetting as the acne itself. I have to admit that I do have acne scars caused by my problem skin over the last twenty years, 

Treatments at Skn include Chemical Peel treatments, skin peels and laser treatments for acne. The high tech laser treatment is Isolaz® which uses pore-purifying technology. The laser treatment removes the problematic surface cells without causing damage to ordinary, healthy skin cells.The treatment is long lasting and the skin is purified from the inside and out

You may be slightly reluctant to undergo laser treatment due to concerns about pain or anaesthetic. There is no need to worry as the acne treatment is pain free and carried out by qualified skincare experts. The clinics are regulated by the the Care Quality Commission and the Independent Health Advisory Service so you can be assured you are in safe hands. 

 In most cases after a 6 week treatment programme, people experience effective and long lasting results. The acne begins to fade, and skin does become clearer, with scarring significantly reduced.You can take advantage of a free consultation and prices for laser treatment can be found here with prices starting at just £105!

InnerPeel™ is  another treatment that you may want to consider. It's a programme of chemical treatments that are designed to exfoliate your skin and encourage it to refresh itself by creating fresh new skin cells.

Skin peels on offer for an acne treatment include Microdermabrasion techniques which use tiny crystals to physically remove the cells as well as unclogging pores.  These treatments are versatile as they treat both the acne itself as well as the scars. Skin Peels generally work by removing dead skin cells and encouraging new ones to grow.  Whatever your skin dilemma, there’s sure to be a skin peel that will transform your skin. 

Chemical peels work as an acne treatment by gently rubbing the skin with a non-toxic chemical solution to remove the unwanted top layer of skin.  This encourages collagen production and skin cell regeneration. All skin/chemical peels are pain free which is always good news in my book! They can also help slow down the ageing process and give you a youthful glow, which is helpful especially if you want to bag yourself a toyboy. 

Popular peels include Advanced Salicyclic peels and Advanced Pyruvic peels

The expert staff at the Skn clinic can advise you on what treatment is best for your skin type in a free no obligation consultation. Laser therapy, skin peels and microdermabrasion are effective for virtually everybody.

There is also no need to worry about aftercare, as Skn clinics offer a comprehensive aftercare package for all their customers. You can book a free consultation here or by phoning 0121 567 8368. 

The final thing that I was impressed with after looking at what Skn clinics have to offer was how affordable it was. I initially thought I would need a six figure salary in order to afford one of their treatments, but this is simply not the case.  Prices for skin peels can be found here and start at just £40.  I have already mentioned that the laser treatments start at just £105! I am sure you will agree that it is well worth it for these effective treatments for acne that can give you that skin that you have always craved. 

Skn Clinics are based all over the UK, and you can find details of your nearest clinic here

Skn Clinics also offer a huge range of other treatments such as laser hair removal, mole removal and birthmark removal. Their full list of treatments can be found here 

I am hoping that with treatments such as these I can banish my acne prone skin and bag myself that toyboy I have always wanted (only joking husband!).

What are your experiences of acne and how does it effect your life? I would to hear your thoughs

* This is a sponsored post. 

Monday, 14 October 2013

Review: Badge it!

Well winter is well and truly on the way now, and that means one thing in the James household. The prospect of having to entertain the kids/monkeys when we're stuck inside sheltering from the Rain. My daughter Iola loves all things craft so when I was contacted by Bandai and offered the chance to review Badge It! I jumped at the chance. Bandai are an established company founded in 1950 which have brought us such infamous toys such a Power Rangers  and Ben 10

We have tried a couple of cheap badge making kits in the past, which involved making 'badges' out of plaster of paris. These are messy to make( which can be ok if you like messy play) and very fragile, so they don't usually last five minutes. Badge It! is different, it gives you the chance to make genuine metal badges, with real ease and no mess. 

Did I also mention that it's affordable too! For only £20, Badge it! can be yours. It was time to see if Badge it got the James family stamp of approval.

The package arrived on the weekend and as luck would have it, Sunday turned out to be a Rotten Welsh Wet Autumn day so it gave us the perfect chance to get Badge It! out. My daughter was itching to get started which is always a good sign. Not only were we provided with Badge It! starter kit but we also lucky enough to receive a free Badge It! 30pk Refill Kit which is available from Bandai for a very reasonable £9.00

 The Badge It! starter kit comes with the Badgemaker and materials to make 15 badges. It is not suitable for kids under 36 months so we left my 24 month son out of the equation. Iola was more than happy with this.

I Badge It! Badgemaker is quite compact which is good news as my little house doesn't have a lot of room. I wasn't looking forward to reading the instructions as I can be a bit of an instructaphobe-Is that even a word! These are usually left with daddy but he was otherwise engaged watching the rugby. The instructions were remarkably easy to follow which was good news. 

There were a collection of pretty pre cut designs to choose from, so Iola set about making her badge which was really easy. I have to admit that our first effort didn't work as I don't think we screwed the maker into place properly. It does warn you about this on the instructions but I guess that was me rushing and not supervising Iola adequately. The second attempt was really successful and we had our own homemade badge which is just the same as the real thing, complete with safety pin. 

I am sure you agree that they look pretty professional and Iola was really chuffed with them. 

We then got a little bit more adventurous and decided to make Daddy James a badge from a picture of a 70's rugby player in a newspaper. One of the big bonuses of the Badge It! maker is that you can make a badge out of any design you want, simply by finding a picture and cutting it out with the template. This is our effort which Daddy James was very pleased with

Overall the Badge It! Badge Maker got a big thumbs up from the James household, and Iola is asking me everyday to make badges! The quality product that you make yourself is really great, and it is so easy to use! I also think that it is really good value and would make an excellent gift for most children/teenagers. 

Badge It! Badge Makers are recommended for those aged 6 and above. You can check out and buy this fabulous item here

* Disclosure, I was provided with the Badge It! Badge Maker and Refill set free of charge. I was not told what to write and all opinions in this review are honest. 

Tuesday, 1 October 2013


This photo brings back such happy memories for me. When I found out I was expecting my second child I have to say that I was quite daunted. As he wasn't planned, worries replaced the elation that I should have been feeling. Would we be able to afford a new baby, where would he sleep in our small 2 bedroom house, would the labour be as bad as last time... These worries carried on right until my beautiful baby boy arrived into the world. One look at his face, and my worries melted away. I think my contented face says it all.

* This is my entry into the competition running on Hollybobbs Blog in conjuction with Truprint. Details can be found here

Monday, 30 September 2013

Giveaway Chanel Makeup

Whilst on my blog travels, I stumbled across this great giveaway on fellow blogger Miss Make Up Magpies blog. As she is a lovely lady she is giving away some quality Chanel Make up comprising of some Chanel Cream Blush and Chanel Rouge Coco Shine Lipstick

Chanel Le Blush Creme de Chanel Blusher in the shade 62 Presage
Chanel Rouge Coco Shine Lipstick in the shade 87 Rendez-Vouz

To enter you just need to complete the rafflecopter form on the following Link. Good Luck!

Review: The Little Yellow Bird childrens clothing.

I stumbled across The Little Yellow Bird whilst reading the blog of fellow blogger Mummy Alarm a few weeks ago, and I instantly fell in love. I was on the look out for a gift for my best friends daughter, and the quirky dresses on this site really fitted the bill. I have to say that I had a real difficult job choosing! Not only were the dresses right up my street, they were only £15 with free delivery.  Once the dress arrived, my four year old daughter loved it so much that she begged to have one herself. I promised her one if she read her first book at school, and she read it in super quick time! Both dressess arrived quickly and I was pleasantly suprised to have some lovely wooden fridge magnets included in with my second order. It's personal touches such as this that really make the difference.

Check out these dresses for £15 each and I am sure you will fall in love too

The Little Yellow Bird is a new family run company, and they are currently on the look out for product testers. Basically in return for a short review, you get to keep one of the fabulous items on this website. Details can be found here  

I wish Sophie all the success with her company, and I have no doubt that I will be buying lots more from her!

* Disclosure, I have not been compensated in anyway for this review. All thoughts are my own, and I have not been told what to write. 

Friday, 27 September 2013

The day my daughter nearly drowned...

I still can't quite believe that I came close to losing my daughter, and I can't quite believe I nearly let it happen. I am so angry with myself about being so stupid. I forgot how dangerous water can be, especially with young children.

It all started last Sunday, when I suggested going swimming with my best friend and her daughter. As our daughters have both turned four, I grabbed the opportunity to take both my kids on my own (without the hubby). The admission policy changes when your child reaches four, and one adult take two children in so I arranged for my friend to take the two girls in, and I took my boy.

It started off well, and all of them were loving the water. My daughter is such a water baby and is so confident in the water even though she can't swim.  She loves doing somersaults in the water, and diving to the bottom to pick up her swim stick. With her being so fearless it is easy to forget that she can't swim. My best friends daughter wasn't wearning armbands so my daughter wanted to follow suit. Initially I wasn't too happy with this as I knew it would be a tougher challenge watching 2 kids rather than one, but I gave in.

They were both playing in the water and having fun. I was keeping an eye on both her and my one year old son which is where the problem began. My daughter came over and said she wanted a large float. I pointed across the pool and told her to go and get one as I was catching up with my friend. I carried on chatting to my friend and keeping an eye on both children, but they were over different sides of the pool so I was failing miserably. My friend caught sight of Iola in by the floats and asked me if she was alright. I looked over and she was blatantly in trouble. She was thrashing around trying to keep her head above water, and obviously had ventured too deep. My heart was in my mouth. I dashed over and as I got closer, she stopped thrashing and sank to the bottom. The look on her face was one of desperation.  I was terrified. I raced as fast as I could (which isn't easy when you are wading through water) and pulled her out of the water, Luckily she was still conscious, and apart from coughing/crying a lot, she was fine. I felt absolutely terrible and annoyed with myself for letting her go across the pool unaided. There was a lifeguard right by her but he didn't notice she was in trouble until I leapt to pull her out. He looked a bit sheepish and asked if she was OK but ultimately she was my responsibility so I didn't feel too aggrieved.

Tonight we went swimming again, but I made sure that she wasn't more than a couple of meters away from me.  I also took the husband with me so that there was 121 supervision. The good news is that she was fine with the water, and was back to her daring self. As we were getting changed, she was amazed watching the swim club practicing, so I really hope she keeps up her interest in swimming. I still can't help feeling awful, but I guess this blog is not called the Diary of a Bad Mutha for nothing.

Thursday, 26 September 2013

Giveaway with confessions of a secret shopper

Who doesn't love a good giveaway! The lovely Confessions of a secret shopper blog is giving her readers the chance to win a Christmas beauty advent calendar. Wouldn't you love to wake up each day and open up the door to a great beauty treat.

Well here is your chance. Click on the following link and fill out the rafflecopter entry form to have a chance of winning

Follow my blog with Bloglovin</a>  Bloglovin

Giveaway! Win clothing

In the James household, we love a bargain. I have to be honest and say if I spend over £20 on an item of clothing, it hurts. Some may say I'm tight but the reality is that we are on a budget so budget fashion retailers are a must in our house. 

Imagine my delight when I heard of MRP, a brand new fashion retailer from South Africa who have just launched in the UK. Even though they are based in South Africa, they post to the UK for a piffling £4. That;s cheaper than I pay on ebay half the time!  

Check some of these beautiful bargains I found on the website

This beautiful striped cardigan is just £6.50!

These skinny jeans are just £10.00

These wonderful dresses are just £5.50

I really think you should check out the website Here to discover the great range they have at fantastic prices. 
To celebrate their launch in the UK, MRP are running a fab competition to win a whole years of clothing!

click this link to enter the competition

* This is a sponsored post

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Big Body Shop Giveaway!

For those of you who love a giveaway, check out the lovely Megs budget boutique shop blog as she has a fab giveaway to celebrate reaching 1000 followers. You can win Vitamin E face mist, gorgeous honeycomb bronzer, seaweed mattifying day cream, define and lengthen mascara, a facial buffer, coconut body scrub and hi-shine lip treatment. To enter, just complete the rafflecopter form here

Bullying and how it shaped my life.

When I look back to my childhood I am afraid that the memories are not that great, even with my rose tinted specs on. Don't get me wrong, there was plenty of love and some good times but the overriding feeling I have about my childhood is that is was a sad time.  The main reason for this, was the relentless bullying I suffered at primary school. I can't help feeling that my childhood was taken from me, and I guess it has played a part in the person I am today. Thankfully most of the bullying stopped when I went to comprehensive school and I was able to form some firm friendships which I still have today. 

I have had many years to reflect on the bullying and why I found myself a victim to this bullying. I think part of the reason was that my family were on a low income, although both my parents worked. My clothes were second hand and I guess I didn't look like the other trendy kids. The main reason though is that I was a quiet shy child, unable to assert myself. This led me to being a bit of a doormat, and I still have that with me today. Children have an uncanny ability to pick up on weakness, and unfortunately this was my downfall.

Anyway years later, I have a reasonably paid job, a handsome husband and two beautiful children so life didn't turn out too bad for the little bullied girl. My daughter is now four years old and is in her second year of school (they start them young in Wales!). She knows her own mind and is not afraid to speak it! Some people may think she is high maintenance, as she is liable to have the odd meltdown if she doesn't get her own way. I can't help feeling proud of her though. She is clever, and confident in social situations. She is feisty and sometimes acts like a spoilt brat, but I love her! I am hoping that she never has to experience bullying in her, and with her strong personality I know that the chances are reduced. Unfortunately most of us experience bullying in our life, even in adulthood. 

I have a guilty secret as when I was in my early teens, I was involved in the bullying of another child in my local choir. I enjoyed the feeling of power, which I have always felt ashamed on. Thankfully the bullying didn't last long and we all became friends again, but I also now know how easy it is to be drawn into bullying behaviour. The pack mentality takes over. 

For anyone concerned about bullying, check out the following link as it has lots of great info on how to spot the signs of bullying and how to deal with it.  I just wish that my teachers all those years ago, had not just turned a blind eye to the bullying that was to steal my childhood. 

Monday, 23 September 2013


I know most of you love a good giveaway and they don't come much better than this! The lovely Bump To Baby blog is offering it's readers a chance to win this wonderful prize. Just click on the following link to enter
The competition ends on the 05th of October 2013

Yummy Mummy equals leaky bladder! Femsoft to the rescue!

Well it does in my case anyway. Perhaps I shouldn't be broadcasting this, but I suspect that many fellow mummies that I know also have a bit of leakage but are too ashamed to admit it to friends and family. I'll start with my story and be prepared for brutal honesty!

I have always had a bit of a weak bladder, and memories such as weeing my knickers on stage in primary school, and having to be escorted to the toilets by my teacher are still vivid! I have a few amusing wee stories from my youth and I will leave those for another time (perhaps after I have had a glass of wine!). I was too ashamed to mention anything to my family so just lived with it through out my childhood and adult years.

After the birth of my first child, matters came to a head when I attempted to get fit. I went to a circuits class, and I was mortified to find that I was leaking Urine, even though I had been the loo right beforehand. By the end of the class, I was soaked. From that day on I was reluctant to take part in any exercise, and found that  had to wear pads when I had a cough, and I dreaded the moment when someone made me laugh too hard etc. Even though I religiously did my pelvic floor exercises whilst pregnant with my second child, the problem got worse. At 34 years of age, I sat and thought about whether I just wanted to live with my leaky bladder, or whether was going to do anything about it.

I decided to pluck up the courage and visit my GP. The circumstances were less than ideal.  I had an appointment with a male GP and had to take the 2 toddlers with me. As he had to do an internal examination, a chaperone from reception had to come in. I was told to lay down on the bed behind the curtain whilst the receptionist stood outside the curtain. Well of course having a one year old and a three year old in tow, they decided to run in and out behind the curtain, leaving me exposed to the female receptionist! Matters where made worse when the GP said I had very minor signs of stress incontinence, making me feel like I had wasted his time. Believe you and me mate, I wouldn't be lying down on a bed half naked, with your hand up my nether regions whilst a horried receptionist looks on, unless I had a problem! I got him to agree to refer me, but he referred my daughter in error which led to a long wait. Not a good start!

I finally met with the consultant who I have to say was very sympathetic and understanding. He arranged for me to have a test where a nurse would fill my bladder up and get me to jump around to see if I leaked. Again I didn't appear to leak, which I found quite frustrating. The nurse told me that there were no signs of stress incontinence so again I felt like I had wasted everyones time. To top it all off, I had to wee into a bucket and ended up kicking it over all over the floor. I nearly died of shame!

I had a letter through asking me to see the consultant. I nearly cancelled the appointment because I felt that maybe I was over exaggerating the problem, and wasting everyones time. I started to think I would have to live with it. I reluctantly attended the appointment and expected to be sent away after being told that there was nothing wrong. Thankfully the consultant again confirmed that he did find signs of stress incontinence from the tests and he also recognised that I wouldn't be putting myself through this if there wasn't a problem. He offered me two solutions. One was having a n operation where a sling would be input in my bladder to help stop leakage, which was the only option I expected. The second option was something I had never heard of. He asked if I would consider using Femsoft which was an insert I could use to plug my bladder at times I needed it. This sounded perfect for me as I only have bladder problems at certain times, such as when I exercise, or jump on a bouncy castle! He referred me to a nurse who would tell me more, and I have to say I was intrigued!

I met a lovely nurse called Tiff, who explained that she was a user of FemSoft and found them brilliant. The insert is placed directly into your Urethra and stops any leakage. They are single use, and if you are signed up, you get them delivered in the post each month. She asked me if I wanted to give them a try and I said Yes. I liked the idea of not having surgery, but being able to solve the problem quickly when I needed it.

I attended a follow up apointment and was shown how to use them. I won't go into the nitty gritty, but it is quite fidly to begin with, but once you get the hang of it, it's fine. A bit like Tampons I suppose. Here is the official blurb

'FemSoft is a small, single-use product, available by prescription and currently the only urethral insert for sale. Once you insert FemSoft into your urethra, it gives you immediate control over unwanted urine loss, odor, and wetness–without surgery or medication. A long-term FemSoft study showed that 93% of women were completely dry when using FemSoft, and 95% said they would recommend it to a friend. FemSoft consists of a narrow silicone tube that's encased in a soft, pliable, mineral oil-filled sleeve. To protect delicate tissue, the FemSoft Insert is smooth and seamless, with no hard surfaces. The insert conforms to your body, creating such a comfortable fit that users report hardly knowing it's there.'

 I have since gone running, and worn them on a few other occasions and had no leaks at all. I am really pleased and finally feel like I have control of my problem. I understand that this option may not be for everyone, and that surgery may appeal more than using these inserts. My advice is, if you are suffering from a leaky bladder, don't suffer in silence. It's taken me a while but I am so much happier now!

* This is not a sponsored post and I have not been asked by anyone to write this.

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Scrimping without scrimping on life

I don't think it is any secret that money is currently very tight in the James household. The unexpected arrival of our second child coupled with atrocious money management over the years have led to us being in a bit of a financial pickle.

Instead of wallowing in my own self pity, and waiting for the baliffs to arrive, I have decided to seize control. This has actually been quite positive as I feel like I am in control of my life again, and this has been really empowering! I can actually see the light at the end of the tunnel now.

This is my top 5 tips for seizing control of your finances;

  1. BUDGETING. In my past life, the monthly wage used to go into my bank and the feeling of wealth meant the next two weeks were spent high living. This inevitably meant by the last two weeks of the month, we were absolutely broke. This in turn led to spending on credit cards which just compounded the issue. This has now stopped, maily because I knew we couldn't continue to spend more than what we had coming in. I now know exactly what I have to spend each week on food, fuel, childcare etc, and everything is recorded on a spreadsheet. This is really liberating, and I know don't have to hope for the best to know that all the bills will be covered each month.
  2. GENERATING EXTRA CASH. We can just about to cover the bills on our wages, but every month there seems that there is something else to pay for. Our MOT, new tyres, School uniform etc Instead of reaching for the Credit Card again, we have found a variety of ways to generate extra cash to pay for these additional costs. I have been taking all the overtime I can. This is a big help but the trade off means I don't get to spend as much time with the kids, and I don't get many days off. The way I see it is that, this overtime may not always be available so I should grab it when I can. I don't really think the kids miss out as I always make a point of spending quality time with them when I am not working. We also regularly have clear outs, and sell items on Ebay and Car boot sales. This is a great way of a quick cash injection. I also used to do a bit of freelance writing for a website which helped but alas this has come to an end!
  3. CHANGING MY SHOPPING HABITS- My old shopping habits would be to do a big monthly shop in one of the main supermarket chains. I would invariably run out of things all the time, and this used to lead to me to doing multiple top up shops each week. This meant that I often spent more than I needed too, and it was difficult to make sure I had enough provisions in the house before I ran out of money at the end of the month. I now do a weekly shop with a list and a strict budget. I have also changed my shop to Lidl, which I have found much cheaper than the main supermarket chains. They don't have as many special offers but the prices of goods are consistently lower.  I find that I am able to do my weekly shop for the four of us for between £50 and £60. There is also a weekly offer on the Lidl facebook page where I can get £5 off a £30 shop. If I split my £60 shop into 2 seperate shops, I can get £10 off. This is a massive help when your on a tight budget. I also plan my meals for the week so I know exactly what I need to buy and don't generate food waste. 
  4. BUDGET FAMILY ACTIVITIES-Everyone knows that taking a family out for a day can be an expensive business. By the time you have paid petrol, shelled out for entry tickets, food and goodies from the gift shop, you need to take out a mortgage! I have found that there are plenty of places that you can take your kids for free or very cheaply, where they can have just as much fun. For a few hours out, a trip down the local park, combined with feeding the local chickens, can be great fun, although you are reliant on the British weather. There are also lots of nature reserves and forestry very close to where I live. The kids love exploring and just letting off steam.  In the rain, a trip to the childrens section at the Library can be great fun, and my children always love a visit to the swimming pool. The natural History Museum in Cardiff is also not too far away, and is a great place too see Dinosaurs! 
  5. ENTERING COMPETITIONS-Since I had my first child in 2009, I have found a great new hobby and that's entering competitions. In fact this blog post is going to be entered into a competition. The chances of me getting rich through entering competitions is slim, but it has really helped us when we have been on a tight budget. Last year I won two midweek breaks in the UK for our family. This was a godsend as it meant that we could have a couple of holidays last year that we would never have been able to afford otherwise. Every month I seem to win a few things, and it just gives us little luxuries that we wouldn't have had otherwise. Yesterday the husband and I were able to go out for a meal with vouchers that I had one. Normally we just couldn't afford the eat out. Once the kids are in bed each night, I spend an hour or so entering competitions, and it really does reap rewards!

These are my tips, but there are plenty of other tips contained on and also on the Pinching Pennies Facebook page aswell as the Penny Pinching Twitter Page

This is my entry in the Penny Pinching Blogging competition. Details on entering can be found here

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

It has been a while

Well, It's been quite some time since I have settled down to write a blog post. Things have been hectic and I have to admit that I have been feeling quite withdrawn of late. I have been working 7 days a week trying my hardest to be able to pay the bills. We seem to be just managing but I don't half feel guilty about missing out on time with the kids. I did manage to spend a couple of weeks with them recently as the mother in law was in Australia, and it was lovely. I could definately cope with being a stay at home mum- toddler groups, coffee and cake, and managing to keep on top of the housework for a change.

I am hoping our situation  will improve at the end of this year as some of our debt will be paid off, and it should mean that I have to work less. I look back on my life and with hindsight I definately regret getting in so much debt. It really is a curse but with a bit of luck and a lot of hard work, we should come through it. Our plan is to be debt free within the next five years (not including the mortgage) so I really hope we can stick to that!

Our plans this summer are going to be simple, a few camping trips and spending quality time together in the great outdoors. Roll on the sunshine!