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?