A Lifestyle & Parenting Blog

Monday, 30 November 2015

Beck Valley Book Tour: Laguna Lights By Kaira Rouda

New Release....
Welcome back to Laguna Beach...

Laura Kinkaid’s glamorous Hollywood life is falling apart. After years of reality television stardom beginning in high school on Laguna Nights, her career and relationship with her long-term boyfriend Scott are fizzling out.

Laura decides to go home to Laguna Beach for the weekend to attend a baby shower for her high school friend. That decision – and a car accident – will lead her to a new future, if she’s ready to take a chance at love. 

Paul Dorn’s former life in New York City is far behind him and he’s working in a popular Laguna Beach surf shop when fate brings the most beautiful woman he’s ever met into his life. The attraction is instant and he has an overwhelming desire to protect her. While Paul’s retail sales career is a short-term job for market research purposes, his focus on Laura is long-term.

Will Laura allow a handsome stranger to help her create a future unlike her past, or will the bright lights of Hollywood pull her back to LA?

***Laguna Lights can be read and enjoyed as a stand alone read. And if you enjoy Laura and Paul's story, please consider reading the rest of the Laguna Beach series.

Book available to buy from....
Amazon.com    Amazon.co.uk   Barnes and Noble   iBooks   Kobo

My Review

This is a light and frothy enjoyable romance with characters who'll remind you of your favourites in TV shows "The Only Way Is Essex" or "Made In Chelsea".  The book is part of a series but can be read as a stand alone story.

When ex-reality star Laura meets handsome surf-wear designer Paul after her life in LA implodes, the die is cast for a whirlwind romance which turns into something which changes the course of both their lives.  In fact, their romance is so perfect I spent most of the novel waiting for something terrible to happen.  There are one or two challenges but I won't spoil the story for you.

If you like your romances with a little more depth and action, this may not be for you.  The sex scenes are also pretty explicit which I felt was unnecessary in places.  But, as an entertaining romantic tale to while away an hour or two, this is perfect.  

Also available
Laguna Nights (Laguna Beach Book 1)
Madison Alcott was back in her hometown, caring for her sick mom and working long hours at the best resort in Laguna Beach. She never imagined she'd return to the place where she became famous on the hit reality TV show Laguna Nights, and the place where she was humiliated on national television. Fortunately, the past had stayed tucked away until her old high school boyfriend appeared in the lobby.

Josh Welsh was a superstar by age eighteen, the bad boy break-out star of Laguna Nights. Since then, his star had lost its shine and he barely was holding onto his Hollywood status. When he was asked to host a new reality travel show, he jumped at the chance. The only problem was the first episode was shooting in Laguna Beach. Of all the reasons Josh didn't want to return home, he hadn't even imagined the worst scenario: running into Madison "Holly" Alcott.

Josh's connection to Madison was still as strong as her anger at his betrayal. When the new reality series forces them together, they must face Laguna Nights past and present, and navigate a journey where nothing is as it seems.
Book available to buy from....
Amazon.com  Amazon.co.uk Barnes and Noble   iBooks   Kobo

Laguna Heights (Laguna Beach Book 2)
Annie and Hank have created a perfect life in Laguna Beach but when a dark secret is revealed, will their marriage survive?

In high school, Annie Johns was the calm, supportive sidekick to the rest of the tumultuous female stars of the hit reality TV show, Laguna Nights. Today, she's living the happy life as a mom that she predicted on the show long ago. There's only one problem: the secret from her past that haunts her most nights, a secret that if revealed could ruin everything she shares with her husband, Hank, the man who saved her from the heartache.

***Laguna Heights can be read and enjoyed as a stand alone novella. And if you enjoy Annie and Hank's story, please consider reading the rest of the Laguna Beach series.
Book available to buy from....
Amazon.com    Amazon.co.uk   Barnes and Noble   iBooks   Kobo

About the Author
Kaira Rouda is a USA Today bestselling, multiple award-winning author of contemporary women's fiction and sexy modern romance novels that sparkle with humor and heart. Her women's fiction titles include HERE, HOME, HOPE, ALL THE DIFFERENCE and IN THE MIRROR. Her bestselling short story is titled, A MOTHER'S DAY. Kaira's work has won the Indie Excellence Award, USA Book Awards, the Reader's Choice Awards and honorable mention in the Writer's Digest International Book Awards. Her books have been widely reviewed and featured in leading magazines.

Her sexy contemporary romance series set on INDIGO ISLAND includes: WEEKEND WITH THE TYCOON, Book 1; HER FORBIDDEN LOVE, Book 2; THE TROUBLE WITH CHRISTMAS, Book 3; and THE BILLIONAIRE'S BID, Book 4. Each of these novellas can be read as a stand alone, or enjoyed as a series. Her new series is set in LAGUNA BEACH and includes: LAGUNA NIGHTS, Book 1; LAGUNA HEIGHTS, Book 2; and LAGUNA LIGHTS, Book 3 coming winter 2015. She also helped launch Melissa Foster's The Remington's Kindle World with her bestselling novella, SPOTLIGHT ON LOVE, and is part of Carly Phillips Dare to Love Kindle World with THE CELEBRITY DARE.

Her nonfiction titles, REAL YOU INCORPORATED: 8 Essentials for Women Entrepreneurs, and REAL YOU FOR AUTHORS: 8 Essentials for Women Writers (available for free download on her website) continue to inspire.

She lives in Southern California with her husband and four almost-grown kids, and is at work on her next novel. Connect with her on Twitter, Facebook at Kaira Rouda Books and on her website, KairaRouda.com.
Find the author on the following sites...

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I received this book to review through Beck Valley Books Book Tours, all the opinions above are 100% my own.


Win a $25 Amazon.com GC / Paypal Cash (winners choice) PLUS 
Signed Book of Laguna Lights with bonus content of Book 2 Laguna Heights
Giftcard/Cash Open Worldwide / Signed Book Open to US
Ending on Sunday 6th December at 11.59pm EST

Enter Below and Good Luck !!
a Rafflecopter giveaway


Saturday, 28 November 2015

Review: Infruition - Fruit Flavoured Water The Healthy Way

I was recently invited to try out these rather inventive water bottles from Infruition.

Infruition's mission is to help people to drink more water naturally. The concept is simple: a standard re-usable water bottle with a chamber to store fruit, veg, herbs, tea - whatever you like, which over the day infuses your water with your chosen flavour.

Infruition kids bottles - Caitlin & Ieuan - motherdistracted.co.uk
Caitlin & Ieuan with their Infruition Kids bottles
I am not a big fan of manufactured, flavoured bottled waters, many of which contain Asparatame - a controversial artificial sweetener which is said to be responsible for a whole host of health problems such as Tinnitus.

Aspartame is what gives the sweetness to many diet drinks, yoghurts and low fat foods and it's everywhere. The NHS refutes what it calls these scare stories but I'll leave you to make up your own mind.

Infruition adult and kids bottles - motherdistracted.co.uk
Infruition Bottles

Infruition Adult Sport Bottle - motherdistracted.co.uk
The Adult Size Infruition Bottle

Either way, giving your kids the pure, healthy goodness of fruit has to be better than a cocktail of sweetners and additives.  And anything that encourages them to drink more water, such as these Infruition bottles, is a bonus.

The bottles are very sturdy and well made.  They are made from 100% BPA free plastic and stain resistant materials.

You can put the actual bottle in the dishwasher but the fruit chamber and caps need to be hand-washed.

Infruition Adult Sport bottle, lid, bottle & fruit chamber - motherdistracted.co.uk
The cap, bottle and fruit chamber
The bottles have a leak proof design and a well fitting lid.  The adult size bottles (700 ml) come in yellow, green, red and blue, and the kids' bottles (450 ml) come in pink and blue.

The fruit chamber can be filled with a selection of chopped fruit.  We tried strawberries but you could add mint leaves and blueberries.  Or, you could try orange, kiwi and watermelon.  You could even add a herbal tea-bag for, say, a cold mint tea in summer.

Much better than sugary drinks
I felt that the bottles could have benefited from an instruction leaflet but there is a recipe booklet on the way which suggests delicious combinations such as cucumber, raspberry and grape, kale and avocado or even lemon and lavender. I am assuming this will be available when you buy the bottles.

Also there is a rubber bung in the lid which can be taken out and I am assuming it has to be in order to wash it but it wasn't entirely clear.  The fruit chamber has to be screwed in to the lid with care, being made of a thinner plastic than the bottle.

You do have to turn the bottle so that the cap is on the side when you drink if you're a glasses wearer.  (You know what I'm like about my glasses!).

Once the kids had drunk some water they wanted to get the fruit out and eat it, which was not a problem but it would mean dismantling the bottle when you're out and about.

On the plus side, if my two drink more water and eat more fruit, that's fine by me!

The adult Infruition bottle is £15.99 and the Infruition Kids bottles are £12.99. They are available on the Infruition website.

I think the bottles would make a great Christmas gift for the health-conscious family, or your favourite gym bunny.

You can find out more about Infruition on Twitter @InfruitionWater, Instagram @infruition.water or Facebook. @Infruition.

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Friday, 27 November 2015

Darling, I'm Going To Have To Cancel - Sound Familiar?

Is there anything more annoying than trying to arrange an event and having people drop out at the last minute?

party food - excuses for not turning up - motherdistracted.co.uk
I don't think you'll be needing all that party food
Anyone who has organised a children's birthday party will know EXACTLY what I'm talking about.

Yes, they say they will be there and then whilst you're frantically stuffing party bags you'll receive the text.

Little Jimmy's much missed aunt from Atlantis has just turned up with an unfathomable chill and the entire family is in quarantine for the next fortnight - but DO have a lovely time.

But, according to mint makers Mentos, the average Brit makes 104 social arrangements every year – but will only actually turn up to half of them.

Mentos polled 2000 Brits in their quest to encourage people to make the first step to make more friends, especially as Christmas approaches. Presumably having minty fresh breath will help with this.

One in three Brits admit that they say “yes” to every invite - whether they intend to go or not.

The majority of Brits (49 percent) claimed they are usually “too tired” to go out – with a further 36 percent admitting they would simply “rather stay in”. A staggering one in ten (7 percent) claimed they would avoid a night out if their “favourite TV programme was on”. And it would appear honesty is not the best policy for the majority of us – with almost 60 percent claiming it is “easier to make an excuse” to get out of something.

Topping the list of excuses was “sickness” – with 60 percent of Brits saying they regularly use illness as a way out of an arrangement.

Other excuses included “I double booked” (20 percent), “I thought it was a different day” (18 percent) and “the children are poorly” (15 percent).

One in ten Brits have even wheeled out the old ‘I’m waiting for a delivery” line.

The ease at which we are now able to cancel was revealed as the main reason for the “cancellation nation” – with 80 percent claiming it is easier to cancel in this day and age because of email, text and messaging apps.

The study also found we are most likely to blow out work colleagues (54 percent), with friends (28 percent) next in line.

Psychologist Dr Linda Papadopolous says, “What we all have to remember is that stepping out of our comfort zone and making fresh connections is good for our physical and mental well-being. We all need to make the time to say yes because the simple act of getting out and connecting with new, and old friends is so important.”

It also emerged around one in three of us (30 percent) will happily say yes to anything to avoid hurting friends’ feelings.

Fortunately though the report did reveal around six out of ten (62 percent) do feel guilty when they cancel.

Overall the stats show that of the 104 social engagements we agree to each year, we only make 52.

Three percent said they have even cancelled on their other half.

Text is the preferred method of cancellation (49 percent).

I'd love to see you all up the Ferret & Wood Fettler for a swift Christmas drink but I'm afraid I'm waiting in for a delivery.

Further information: Mentos candy is the number two candy brand in the world with four million UK customers enjoying close to 100 million rolls a year. www.Mentos.co.uk / facebook.com/mentos.

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Shakespeare's "Kitchen" Discovered During Archaeological Dig

As an English graduate, I am passionate about preserving the works of our great writers and the teaching of these and the corresponding history of the time in our schools.

2016 will be the 400th anniversary of the death of William Shakespeare, so I was interested to read that an historic find has been unveiled during a dig at Shakespeare’s family home, New Place, in Stratford-Upon-Avon.

The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust has today announced that significant new findings have been unearthed during an archaeological dig, led by Staffordshire University’s Centre of Archaeology, at its ambitious New Place project.

Drawing of New Place - motherdistracted.co.uk
What New Place might have looked like

New Place was Shakespeare’s family home at the height of his career for almost two decades and the latest discoveries include the site of Shakespeare’s ‘kitchen’ including the great dramatist’s ‘oven’ and ‘fridge’.

Shakespeare's 'oven and fridge' - motherdistracted.co.uk
Hearth & Cold Store
In addition to identifying Shakespeare’s ‘kitchen’, the dig has also helped establish the size of New Place. This has enabled the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust to commission new evidence-based drawings of New Place, which depict an accurate version of how the house would have looked during Shakespeare’s ownership.

Shakespeare’s New Place was the largest single residence in the borough of Stratford-Upon-Avon, and was purchased for the considerable sum of £120 in 1597 (a Stratford school teacher at this time would have earned about £20 per annum). It had an impressive frontage, a Great Chamber and Gallery, over 20 rooms and 10 fireplaces.

The ‘kitchen’ not only had the ‘oven’ (or fire hearth) and ‘fridge’ (or cold storage pit), but the team also found evidence of the brew house where small beer was made (drunk instead of unsafe water) and where pickling and salting took place.

Fragments of plates, cups and other cookware were also found. Facsimiles of the cookware will be available for visitors to handle, and will be on display at New Place in the neighbouring Grade 1 listed Nash’s House (Tudor in origin), which is currently undergoing a major refurbishment as part of the project.

The latest dig was undertaken earlier this year in preparation for the re-presentation of Shakespeare’s New Place as an exciting, and modern, retelling of Shakespeare’s family home and the living, breathing man behind the great works – husband, father and son of Stratford. Shakespeare’s New Place is scheduled to open in July 2016.

The £5.25 million project – the most ambitious and permanent initiative to mark the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death being celebrated throughout 2016 – is being funded with support from the Heritage Lottery Fund and Historic England and through public donations raised through a host of initiatives spearheaded by the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust.

New Place was William Shakespeare’s family home from 1597 until his death in 1616. It was the largest single residence in the borough of Stratford-upon-Avon. Built in the 1480s by Hugh Clopton in Chapel Street opposite the Guild Chapel, New Place was described by John Leland – librarian to Henry VIII – as being ‘a pretty house of brick and timber’.

Following Shakespeare’s death, New Place passed to the ownership of his eldest daughter Susanna and her husband Dr John Hall. Their daughter, Elizabeth, inherited New Place from her parents but the house left the ownership of Shakespeare’s surviving family in the 1670s, and was substantially remodelled.

New Place was demolished in 1759 by its then owner, the Reverend Francis Gastrell, mainly to avoid paying taxes (it was his second home). But tradition tells us that he had also become exasperated by the constant stream of enthusiasts and pilgrims wanting to visit Shakespeare’s house and see the mulberry tree he had planted (which Gastrell felled a couple of years earlier). Public disapproval following the demolition – Gastrell was virtually hounded out of town – served to preserve the site, which passed into the care of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust in 1876.

The £5.25 million project is being funded with support from the Heritage Lottery Fund and Historic England and through public donations raised through a host of initiatives spearheaded by the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust.

More information on donations can be found at http://www.shakespeare.org.uk/about-us/new-place-the-next-chapter/ways-of-giving-new-place.html).

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Thursday, 26 November 2015

How To Care For Your Poinsettia - THE Christmas Plant

Some of us are not very good with houseplants.  In fact, some of us find keeping a Spider Plant alive a bit of a challenge.  I am proud to say, though, that I have a Poinsettia which I have managed to keep alive for nearly 3 years.

Poinsettias-tips to care for poinsettias-motherdistracted.co.uk
Poinsettias come in a variety of colours

So I was a little miffed to hear claims in a recent report from Thompson & Morgan claiming Poinsettias have fallen out of fashion in the UK.

This 12th December has been declared International Poinsettia Day and, Stars For Europe (SfE), a marketing initiative founded by a coalition of European Poinsettia breeders are striking back.

They say that sales of this classic Christmas plant, which comes in white, coral and 'spattered' colours as well as the traditional red, saw a 15% increase in UK sales last year.

If you follow a few of Stars For Europe's care guidelines (#1 remember they HATE cold and draughts so keep away from doors and windows) then they should last until Christmas, and after that, just chuck it away or, if it's like mine see how many Christmases you can make it last for.

Poinsettia - tips to care for poinsettias - motherdistracted.co.uk
The Traditional Red Poinsettia Is THE Christmas plant
How to Care for your Poinsettia (from Stars For Europe)

* Inspect before buying. Dense foliage and yellow-green flower buds are a sign of freshness. Don’t take any standing in breezy entrance areas.

* Keep them in a bright, warm spot (around 20° C). They can even be close to a radiator, but not in direct sunlight or near draughts – so keep away from open doors and windows.

 * Don’t over-water them by leaving a pool of water in bottom of the pot or saucer they’re sitting in. Only water when the soil is almost dry (preferably with lukewarm water).

* To keep your poinsettia going long after the festive season, do not fertilize during its flowering period. Afterwards, fertilize monthly using conventional nutrients.

* To produce colourful leaves for years to come, keep the plant in complete darkness for at least twelve hours per day for several weeks.

Did you know that Poinsettias got their name from Joel Roberts Poinsett, the man who introduced them to the US in 1828.

Poinsettia Day is 12 December, commemorating the death of Poinsett on 12 December 1851.

Poinsettias originate from Mexico and have been associated with Christmas since the 16th century.

Poinsettias are not just red! You can get them in cream, pink and vintage apricot.

Poinsettias make great cut flowers. Immerse the stems in hot water for 20 seconds and they’re good to go!

Poinsettias are grown in black-out conditions for days so that they develop their colourful leaves.

I'm off to put my Poinsettia in a dark place to see if I can get the leaves to change colour......

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Wednesday, 25 November 2015

10 Tips To Beat The Christmas Bloat

Christmas often results in us piling on the pounds, with some stats claiming that we gain up to five!

Here are the top ten tips to staying healthy over Christmas.

Apple and tape measure
You need a strategy to avoid piling on the pounds at Christmas
Sam Benjamin of No.G: Too Good to Be Gluten Free, makers of gluten free food products, has compiled the best ways to avoid overindulging over the festive period.

1. Sugar

Get rid of sweet cravings by swapping sugary treats for a low calorie hot chocolate. Guilt free and still delicious.

2. Exercise

Skip a ‘Home Alone’ movie marathon and make the most of family time with a festive walk instead. A half an hour brisk walk will burn off 200 calories.

3. Gluten

Beat the bloat and embrace gluten free options. Many celebrities have endorsed the diet, reporting a positive impact on digestion, mood and general wellbeing.

Gluten Free Treacle Tart-Food-motherdistracted.co.uk
No G Gluten Free Treacle Tart
4. Sleep

Adopt hibernating habits and say no to late night partying. Catching up on some zzz’s will improve your overall health and wellbeing.

5. Alcohol

Fend off the hangover, and the calories, by switching to non-boozy cocktails. Or stick to lower calorie drinks, such as gin and slim line tonic (drink responsibly)!

6. Sanitise

Christmas often brings an unwanted gift to many- the flu virus. Keep your hands clean by frequently washing or sanitising them and ensure nasty germs are kept at bay.

7. Turkey

Embrace tradition and have turkey for your Christmas dinner. It’s leaner than other meats, high in protein, naturally gluten free and has low saturated fat content, making it the perfect choice.

8. Desserts

Christmas pudding is full of fibre, B vitamins, potassium, iron and calcium making it a relatively guilt free dessert (just make sure you stick to one portion). Or knock the lid off your mince pie to lose a third of its calories!

9. Breakfast

Trade bucks fizz and croissants for a more nutritionally filling alternative. Smoked salmon and poached eggs or a bowl of hearty porridge will keep you satisfied until dinner is served. 

10. Cleanse

Reduce your consumption of pasteurised fruit juices and swap to cold pressed alternatives. Cold pressed juices give you a higher content of vitamins and antioxidants, without having to consume as much.

Sam says “We’re all guilty of over indulging over the festive period but with these tips you can still embrace the Christmas treats without increasing your waistline.”

Win a Bumper Minions Book Prize - 3 To Give Away

Who doesn't love the Minions?  Hot on the heels of their recent movie success, leading creative children's publish Centum Books have produced a selection of books to delight any Minions fan.

I have 3 fabulous bumper prizes to give away, just right for Christmas and Centum have also included a Jurassic World sticker book too!

Included are:-

Minions The Junior Novel RRP £5.99

Join the Minions journey with this Junior Novel, which retells the whole thrilling movie story, whilst helping young readers improve their reading skills.

Minions Long Live King Bob RRP £6.99 

With full-colour movie stills and bursting with Minion humour readers will feel part of the action in this beautifully presented story book.

Minions Seek and Find RRP £6.99

Keep little Minions busy for hours as they try to spot one single Minion in a sea of yellow!

Minions Mega Sticker Book RRP £7.99

Full of puzzles, games, colouring and doodling as well as 1000 amazing stickers of everyone’s favourite Minions. This is a sticker book in a Minion!

The minions range of titles will be painting the UK yellow and available in supermarkets, toy shops, out of town retailers, gift shops and garden centres as well as leading online sites

Centum are also adding one of these beauties.

To enter to win one of these 3 prize packages, just complete the rafflecopter below.  Terms and conditions apply and the giveaway is open to UK entries only.  The giveaway ends at 11:59 pm on Tuesday 15th December.

Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, 20 November 2015

Christmas Shopping? 8 Ways To Keep Your Cool.

There are times when those of us prone to getting a little 'tired and emotional' need to treat ourselves with a little more care than usual.  And Christmas shopping is definitely one of those times.

If, like me, you find yourself getting too hot, too tired and decidedly cranky with kids in tow, here are eight ways you can mitigate the damage before you either blow your top or end up spending far too much money because you just want to go home!

Decide how much you are going to spend on presents

This is THE most difficult aspect of all but you really need to be clear about your budget and how much you can afford to spend on each present.  It's so easy to feel pressured into spending too much but we all know that after the kids have the thrill of ripping the wrapping paper off, so many toys languish ignored after a day or so.

Make a list of what you're going to buy.

An oldie but a goodie.  Make a list of what you're planning to buy for everyone and stick to it.  The list should include stocking fillers as well as main presents. It is amazing how bits and pieces such as novelty chocolates and tiny games can add up.

Research prices online before you go.

For bigger ticket items, it makes sense to at least have an idea of what the big retailers are offering and most of them will price-match (John Lewis, for example).

If you're shopping for gadgets, make sure you are comparing the like for like technical specification and check what extras are included.

You might also want to check any consumer reviews you can find in magazines like Which? or on Amazon. Whilst you need to be able to read between the lines when looking at reviews, generally you will get a sense of whether a product is OK or a complete dud not worth your precious cash.

Check sites like Topcashback, Quidco, and Vouchercloud to see whether there are better online deals for your gifts.  Sites like these also have mobile apps you can use to check prices and earn cashback on the go.

There are numerous other price-checking apps for your smartphone that you can use in store such as Red Laser or Price Grabber.

Plan Your Route

Once you know what you want to buy and where the best deals are likely to be, it's easier to plan your route.  Make allowances for the day and time you go shopping.  If you hate crowds, first thing on a Sunday morning will be a nicer experience than mid afternoon on a Saturday!

Dress Appropriately

I like to wear warm, casual clothes in layers with a stylish but comfy pair of boots that I can walk for miles in. You can find a great selection at Esprit.

Comfortable Boots-Christmas Shopping-motherdistracted.co.uk
Wear stylish boots you can walk miles in

If you've got kids, make sure they don't get overheated in all in one bodysuits and that their clothing is easily removable for dashes to the toilet!

Plan A Break

Particularly if you have kids, you'll need to schedule a toilet / drink break.  We like John Lewis as there is a good choice of food and snacks for kids, plenty of room, clean toilets and a welcoming environment for families.  Trying to cram into a tiny coffee bar with a pushchair and umbrellas is never a nice experience!

Make sure you have some bottled water and some healthy snacks (mini boxes of raisins or bananas) to stave off hunger pains.  If you're on a diet, a little snack pot with some fruit and nuts and perhaps a few cubes of cheese may help you avoid an enormous slice of fudge cake and a calorie laden festive coffee.

Keep Receipts

Why not start a folder specially for Christmas present receipts?  Just pop them straight in when you get home and you'll know when to find them should anything need to be taken back after Christmas.

Do It All Online Instead!

If you can't face the crowds, online shopping is the answer.  Just make sure that you take into account any delivery charges, last order dates and returns policies.  Not all online retailers offer to cover the postage costs of returning item.  If you're ordering a perishable gift, such as a cream tea hamper,make sure the recipient will be in to receive it.

It also helps to sort out a safe place for delivery as there is nothing more annoying than coming home to a missed delivery card.

With a bit of planning before your shopping trip you can minimise the stress and hopefully save yourself some cash into the bargain.

Like what you've read?  Why not join me on the Mother Distracted Facebook page, tweet me on @lindahobbis or follow me on Instagram.

Thursday, 19 November 2015

3 Ways To Get Your Children Excited About Nature

In the society we live in, we as adults are obsessed with mobile phones, tablets and laptops. While there are perks to life online, it’s not a great example to set for our children.

It can be a challenge for parents to get their children outside and interested in something other than the computer or games console. It’s a difficult balance to get right.

When you were a child it’s likely that you spent more time outside than your children do. It’s sad to think we live on such a beautiful planet and our children could be missing out on some of it’s wonders and magic. So here are three ways you can get your whole family more interested and at one with nature.

Photo credit:  Flickr

Start a nature reserve 

This doesn’t require you spending a fortune on acres of land. Your children’s nature reserve is your garden. Encourage them to look for and count all of the birds, insects and flowers that have made a home in your garden. Create a project book or folder where they can store their findings. Get them to check again every few days to see if any new creatures have arrived. Nature charities would love to know what they have found, so they can track species numbers.

In the autumn and winter months you can get them building makeshift shelters for hedgehogs to hibernate in. Or give them the responsibility of their own bird feeder that they have to fill every day. Your children will feel they are making a difference and it will fill them with knowledge about all kinds of animals and insects.

Rock pool in Caswell Bay, Swansea
Explore a rock pool 

When you’re at the seaside with your kids, go and find some rock pools you can explore. This is a great way of getting your children to interact and be curious about the ocean. You want them to be safe, so use nets when picking up anything you aren’t sure about. Get them to touch slimy seaweed and gentle hold a small crab. Encourage them to look at every part of this fascinating sea life.This is guaranteed to become a highlight of your day at the seaside.

Take them to see natural phenomena 

Natural phenomenons are unforgettable and almost inexplicable. Showing your children an example of this is a great way of sparking their interest in the natural world. Treat them to a trip to see the Northern Lights in Lapland for an evening watching those unearthly colours. Or take them to see the starlings murmurations in Somerset. These little birds can create wonderful liquid like shapes in the sky which you could watch for hours.

Filling your children with wonder and intrigue is what it is all about. You want them to question and ask why these things happen. You can find out the answers together by asking experts and tour guides for more information. These days out will stay with them forever and it’s even more special because you shared the moment all together.

The trick to getting your children interested in nature is being curious about it yourself. Children are natural mimics, so if you look interested, it’s likely they will follow suit. Leave any other distractions like mobile phones at home and get discovering wildlife together.


Beck Valley Book Tour - Booker Dead Heat & Giveaway


A new breed of killer has hit Dallas. The victims? They bleed blue. And the brotherhood is calling in the cavalry: one Booker T. Adams, PI.

Excommunicated from the Dallas Police Department for refusing to overlook conduct unbefitting an officer, Booker has every reason to slam the door shut when the chief pleads for his assistance. But Booker can’t turn his back on the community he’s always felt drawn to protect, even if it means getting in bed with someone who tried to ruin his life.

As pandemonium floods the city from the inside out, Booker chases an invisible plague. He can’t stop what he can’t see. And then the unthinkable happens. Another killing…and this one guts him.

Driven by an eternal camaraderie he’d once shared with his long-time partner, Booker shifts into overdrive to end this sinister game, some sort of sick vigilante justice.

A vengeful fury of his own takes hold. And the damned can hear him coming.

Available to buy from.....

Check out the other books in the series

About the Author

A veteran of the corporate wars, former journalist, and true studier of human and social behavior, best-selling author John W. Mefford has been writing novels since he first entered the work force twenty-five years ago, although he never put words on paper until late 2009.

John writes novels full of intrigue, suspense, and thrills, but they also evoke an emotional connection with the characters.

When he’s not writing, he chases three kids around, slaves away in the yard, reads, takes in as many sports as time allows, watches all sorts of movies, and continues to make mental notes of people and societies across the land.

John lives in Frisco, Texas with his beautiful wife, three opinionated kids, and a feisty fat cat who rules the world.
Find the author on the following sites...
Website   Facebook   Twitter   Google+   Goodreads   Amazon Author Page

My Review

Although this is the 6th Booker novel, I have only previously read the 5th, Booker:  No Mas (Spanish for "no more").  You can read that review here.  I enjoyed the last one enormously and was only too happy to re-enter Booker's hectic, crime-filled world.

Once again Mefford combines a terrific story line with a speed of action that makes you feel as if you are actually watching the plot on the big screen.  The action is incredibly fast-paced but this time we learn a lot more about private investigator Booker T. Adams, his family and his will-they-won't-they partner Alisa and Uncle Charlie, who seems to be suspiciously well-informed about what is happening in Dallas, where Booker: Dead Heat is set.

The lovable teenager, Bolt has come from Santa Domingo to live with Booker and is still keen to help out, whether his help is wanted or not.

In Booker Dead Heat we also meet Henry who works in the District Attorneys' office and who becomes, along with Alisa, Booker's crime-fighting partner on an undercover mission that will see the body count rise and the plot thicken dramatically.

A serial killer is on the lose and they are killing cops and judges but why?  Nothing appears to link the murder victims and the manner of each death is different.

It becomes a race against time to save those whom Booker holds most dear, spurred on by a loss which strikes much too close to home.

Throw in a police chief whose motives are a whiter shade of grey, a dangerous mobster and an old school friend who suddenly turns into an enemy and you have all the elements of a gripping read.

Like the 5th Booker novel, No Mas, Dead Heat reads well as a stand alone novel but I am definitely going to  return to the earlier Booker novels to spend a little more time in Booker's world.

Highly recommended.

Follow the book tour

I received this book to review through Beck Valley Books Book Tours, all the opinions above are 100% my own.

Win ALL 6 ebooks from the Booker Series
4 Winners!!
Ending on Sunday 6th December at 11.59pm CST
Open Worldwide 

Enter HERE

Good Luck !!

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Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Win A Christmas Lily & Rose Bouquet From Debenhams Flowers

You may remember I recently reviewed an absolutely beautiful bouquet from Debenhams Flowers which was sent to my mum to celebrate Grandparents Day.

Christmas flowers, gift ideas, motherdistracted.co.uk
Christmas Lily & Rose Bouquet - £24.99

Well, Debenhams Flowers are kindly offering a stunning Christmas Lily & Rose Bouquet worth £24.99 for one of my lucky readers.

Take a look at their selection of Christmas flowers because nothing sets off a Christmas table or a Christmas display like fresh flowers.  As you know, I'm a big fan. The Christmas Lily & Rose bouquet is my favourite but I also love these.

Christmas gifts, flowers by post, motherdistracted.co.uk
Winter Wonderland including oriental lilies and  avalanche roses £29.99

Christmas flowers-Christmas gifts-Flowers by post - motherdistracted.co.uk
Christmas Cheer - including red Asiatic Lilies, Grand Prix Roses and white Reagan Chrysanthemums - £24.99
A bouquet is also an ideal gift for someone who is difficult to buy for, or who is a long way away during the festive season.

You can also choose a Christmas hamper, or wine and champagne which are always popular gifts.

Debenhams offer next day flowers 7 days a week across the UK with a beautiful range of seasonal bouquets. For guaranteed next day flowers you need to order before 9pm on weekdays, 4pm on Saturdays and 2pm on Sundays.  Next day flowers are available by courier or you can choose flowers by post which are delivered in secure packaging by Royal Mail to any UK address.

You can send your best wishes with a personalised gift message delivered alongside the bouquet you choose and add a gift, for example chocolates, fine wines or balloons.

I also have a special discount code which gives 25% off on all bouquets, with the exception of flowers by post - DFBLOG25.  Just go to www.debenhamsflowers.com.

Entry is via Rafflecopter in the usual way and the competition is for UK entries only.  The giveaway ends at 11:59 pm on Sunday 13th December. The name and address of the winner must be received before 20th December in order for the bouquet to be sent in time for Christmas.

Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Monday, 16 November 2015

Beck Valley Book Tour & Giveaway - Goodbye Tootsie By Delynn Royer

New Release....

Mystery and Romance in 1920s Manhattan...
A homicide detective and a tabloid reporter are on the road to romance but at cross-purposes at work when they investigate the New Year’s Eve murder of a young heiress after she comes into control of a family fortune.

New York City, 1925

It’s after midnight on New Year’s Day, and the richest girl in America has just fallen to her death from the top floor of the posh Cleveland Hotel in Manhattan.

When Detective Sean Costigan arrives at the scene, he learns it’s the day after Abigail Welles’s twenty-first birthday—the day she inherited a family fortune. It’s not the kind of coincidence that warms a detective’s heart. Neither is the fact that she wasn’t alone when she fell. Her new husband, Long Island party boy Nick Welles, lies incoherent in the master bedroom.

Sean’s girl, tabloid reporter Trixie Frank, is the first newshound on the scene. It’s a bigger scoop than she dreamed. The young heiress’s death will make national headlines. More importantly, this story hits close to home. And heart. The victim’s husband is Trixie’s ex-fiancé.

When Sean focuses on Nick as his prime suspect, Trixie is certain he’s dead wrong. But will saving her first love from the hot seat prove fatal to her new romance?

GOODBYE TOOTSIE is a stand-alone romantic mystery sequel to IT HAD TO BE YOU. It’s a complete mystery that can be read alone, after the first book, or before the first book. It contains romantic elements, which means it may include love scenes (sensual but not graphic).

Available to buy from...

Also Available...

It Had To Be You

New York City, 1924

Determined to pursue her dream of becoming a crime reporter, heiress Trixie Frank believes she's off to a running start when she lands a job at the most successful tabloid in Manhattan. Unfortunately, her high hopes fade fast when she's assigned to the rewrite desk.

Sean Costigan is a demoted homicide detective on the commissioner's blacklist. The last thing he needs complicating his life is a perky debutante with delusions of becoming the next great American journalist. Too bad she happens to hold one of the keys to solving his latest case, the Central Park murder of a notorious gangster. The other key?

Sean's childhood sweetheart, the victim's widow, who has gone missing. Sean soon has more trouble with dames than any good man deserves. But that's the least of his worries. When he suspects deadly corruption within his own department, it's not just his and Trixie's careers that depend on finding the killer. It's their lives.

It Had to Be You, a finalist for the 2014 NJRW Golden Leaf Award

Available to buy from...
Amazon.com   Amazon.co.uk   Barnes and Noble   iBooks   Kobo   GPlay

About the Author

Delynn Royer is the older, smarter, funnier, more ornery alter ego of author Donna Grove, who, as a young mother, published several lighthearted historical romances. The first, A TOUCH OF CAMELOT, won a Romance Writers of America Golden Heart Award. Soon after that, Delynn set aside her pen to concentrate on her day job and raising her two sons.

Motherhood never ends, but kids eventually fly the nest. Delynn has returned to her first love, writing. She has updated editions of her backlist to be available as ebooks and is working on new titles that she hopes will entertain and lighten readers' hearts.

Delynn's latest ebook release is GOODBYE, TOOTSIE, the sequel to IT HAD TO BE YOU, a romantic mystery set in 1920s Manhattan.

Aside from delving into the historical research that inspires her novels, Delynn enjoys classic movies, reading, travel and yoga. She lives with her husband in Pennsylvania.

Find the author on the following sites...
Website   Twitter   Pinterest   Goodreads   Amazon Author Page

My Review

Set in the 1920's, Goodbye Tootsie is a real page turner of a murder mystery.  Poor little rich girl Abigail Welles falls to her death from the top floor of a swanky hotel on the night before her 21st birthday, a day on which she is due to inherit millions.

Handsome cop Sean and newspaper reporter Trixie join forces, both crime-solving and romantic to track down Abigail's killer. It's a will-they, won't-they romance, complicated due to Trixie's prior involvement with prime suspect Nick Welles, who just happens to be Abigail's husband of 6 months.

There are some fabulous characters in this book, including a medium who knows more than she's saying and a supporting cast of louche, rather unpleasant friends who were there on the night Abigail died.  

Throw into the mix the suspicious death of Abigail's mother from falling down the stairs (or was she pushed?) and a family who can't wait to get their hands on Abigail's money and you have a recipe for a story which keeps you gripped till the end.

The 1920's detail is very well researched and you really feel as if you are in the period, from the description of the characters' clothes, to the music they listen too and the jargon the cops use.

And no, I didn't guess who the murderer was either!

I'd highly recommend Goodbye Tootsie to while away a blustery winter evening.

Follow the book tour

I received this book to review through Beck Valley Books Book Tours, all the opinions above are 100% my own.

Win $20 Amazon.com GC / Paypal Cash
(winners choice)
Open Worldwide
Ending on Sunday 29th November at 11.59pm EST

Enter Below and Good Luck !!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

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