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