A Lifestyle & Parenting Blog

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Here's What You Need For Healthier Skin, Hair & Nails

The health of our hair, skin and nails is extremely important as these are a reflection of the natural balance within our bodies - a barometer of our health.

Eating for healthy hair; hair loss; skin health

You can always tell someone who is less than healthy.  Their hair is lank, their skin is dull or spotty and their nails are discoloured, ridged or broken.

For great skin, hair and nails, we need to eat foods that are rich in antioxidants, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, B vitamins, water, healthy fats, and naturally low in sugar. These foods will enhance our blood flow, reduce inflammation, and aid in healthy blood sugar levels.

We all know that sugary foods do little for the overall health of our bodies but a diet too full of the sweet stuff can take its toll on our hair, skin and nails.

Did you know for example that too much sugar can affect your collagen -important for my age group and especially so for mine (50+).  Collagen and elastin are the protein fibres that keep skin firm and elastic.  Besides damaging collagen, a high sugar diet affects the type of collagen you have - and how prone you are to wrinkling.

Whilst we should all be trying to retain our natural good looks with a vitamin and nutrient rich diet, life tends to get in the way and we end up indulging in high fat, high salt takeaways or, my particular vices tea and coffee.

So as well as eating a vitamin rich diet, we should make sure that we have sufficient amounts of the following vitamins and minerals which have a particular benefit for glowing skin, strong nails and glossy hair.

These include Riboflavin (vit.B2), Niacin (vit. B3) and biotin which contribute to the maintenance of normal skin, and the minerals selenium and zinc which contribute to the maintenance of normal hair and nails.

Riboflavin (Vitamin B2)

This water-soluble vitamin helps the body to use the other B-vitamins, all of which assist with helping our body use energy from food and may also help protect cells from oxidative damage.

If you are deficient in this vitamin, you may have symptoms such as cracks at the corners of the mouth, sore throat, hypersensitivity to light and migraine headaches.

A deficiency in riboflavin also effects the formation of collagen, needed to maintain healthy skin.

You can find vitamin B2 in meats such as beef and lamb, milk and yoghurt, mushrooms, spinach, almonds and eggs.

Niacin (vitamin B3)

Niacin, also known as vitamin B3, is a water-soluble vitamin that is a part of the coenzymes that assist with energy metabolism.

If you consume a diet of mostly processed and sugary foods, processed grains, white bread, white flour, wheat products and corn syrup you risk becoming deficient in this vitamin.

 A niacin deficiency will lead to symptoms such as diarrhea, dementia, dermatitis, poor concentration, anxiety and depression.

Good sources of Niacin include turkey, chicken breast, peanuts, mushrooms, liver, tuna, sunflower seeds and avocado.

woman's hands on pink flowers showing off white manicure and diamond rings


Biotin (or vitamin H) is one of the B complex vitamins that help the body convert food into energy.

B vitamins, and particularly biotin, help keep your skin, hair, eyes, liver, and nervous system healthy and it's also a important nutrient during pregnancy as it aids the growth of your baby.

Generally we can get the biotin we need from eating a healthy diet, but there are now claims that getting more biotin can regulate your blood sugar, promote healthy hair, skin and nails, and help pregnant mums have healthier babies.

Biotin deficiencies are rare but symptoms include hair loss or a scaly red rash, anemia and fungal infections.

Good sources of Biotin include seafood, meat, whole wheat bread, eggs, dairy products and soya.


Selenium is an essential trace mineral important for cognitive function, a healthy immune system and fertility for both men and women. 

Selenium works in close conjunction with vitamin E as an antioxidant to prevent the formation of free radicals and in turn, may reduce the risk of skin cancer and prevent sunburn.

Selenium is found in a variety of foods, the richest sources being Brazil nuts, seafood and organ meats.


Zinc is another essential trace element and it is needed in small amounts every day to maintain our health.  For example, zinc helps with hormone production, growth and repair, improves immunity and aids digestion.

Although it is actually present within all bodily tissue, if you don't have enough zinc in your diet you may find you are frequently falling ill, feeling constantly tired with poor concentration and wounds that take ages to heal.

Zinc has numerous benefits for your skin, particularly if you are prone to acne or spots which may actually be a sign of a zinc deficiency.

Other signs that you are deficient in this trace element include white spots on your fingernails, dry skin, frequent colds, hair loss, diarrhea and low sex drive.

Good sources of zinc include spinach, beef, kidney beans, flax seeds, pumpkin seeds and oysters.

Granola. Yoghurt and Blueberries

But when you're pushed for time, it isn't always easy to make the best food choices and what if you are don't eat meat, dairy or are wheat intolerant?  

A supplement such as Perfectil Original for Skin, Hair & Nails by Vitabiotics may be the answer as will swopping some of your usual food choices for the foods listed above. For example, swopping your sugary breakfast cereal for a healthy oaty porridge, adding extra green veggies, particularly broccoli and eating more fish such as salmon and mackerel.

If, though, you are finding you have problems with your hair, skins and nails you should see your GP to get a medical check up. For example, problems with the thyroid gland may lead to hair thinning or hair loss and dry skin.

You should also look at your lifestyle in general and make sure you are taking adequate steps to manage your stress and get enough sleep.

Meditation and the practice of Mindfulness are two easy, free ways to take control of unruly thoughts and to stay calm and centered.

*pr collaboration

Monday, 22 May 2017

How Has Your Kitchen Changed Through The Decades? Prestige know.

I always think that the kitchen is the heart of the home and, if you're lucky, you have enough room in yours for a table to eat at.

Ieuan Hobbis about to tuck into some curry
The Husband's curry night - unheard of when I was growing up
It seems, however, that fewer families are eating together or even sitting down to three regular meals a day.  We are becoming a nation of grazers - and that's a shame because if we don't sit down to eat together we lose more than just the chance of a decent meal.

We miss conversation, sharing and the chance to bond and grow together as a family.

Back in April 2015, a study commissioned by Highland Spring into family life discovered that 25% of parents spent just 34 minutes with their kids each day. Six in ten parents said they struggled to get the whole family together and just four meals a week were eaten as a group.  And usually, the kids can't wait to get back to their gadgets these days, can they?

Caitlin Hobbis whisking eggs in a bowl at home in the kitchen
Caitlin helping me bake a cake earlier this year

Not only that, but despite the huge numbers of TV cookery shows, we are cooking less too.  It's all too easy to rely on the popty ping (microwave) as we call it here in Wales.

A study by market research institute GFK in the same year asked more than 27,000 people between the ages of 15 and 60 (from 22 countries) about their home cooking habits. Whilst India was the nation creating the most meals from scratch spending over 13 hours per week cooking, we Brits managed a below average 5.9 hours a week in the kitchen.

Cooking certainly seemed to play a much more important role in family life in previous decades. Our kitchen has always been my mother's domain and as a child of the 60's I grew up on casseroles, pilafs, kedgerees and desserts like Symington's Table Creams, Creme Caramel, Angel Delight, Instant Whip and Dream Topping (all healthy stuff!).

Cheesecakes used to be made with a McVities Digestive Biscuit base, about a foot of Philadelphia Cream Cheese and a tin of black cherries poured on top.

Kitchens very much reflect the trends in cooking don't they?  Nobody had heard of a spiraliser back in the 70's and courgettes were strange relatives of the cucumber to be sliced, covered in salt and olive oil and fried.  The same with tagines or those enormous Parmesan graters - unknown in the majority of British households.  And, as Peter Kay once said "Garlic bread? It's the future.  I've tasted it!"

Prestige have prepared their own homage to the changing face of the nation's kitchens with a fun interactive timeline which revisits the kitchens of decades gone by. You'll see when key innovations such as the microwave or pressure cooker made their first appearance. The timeline can be viewed here http://kitchensthroughthedecades.prestige.co.uk/.

Take a look and take yourself back down memory lane (even my favourite Pot Noodles make an appearance).

Then, why not commit to a family midweek dinner.  Get your Prestige cookware or bakeware out and relive some of your past food favourites.

Kitchens Through The Decades A look back at Kitchen Design by Decade has been produced by Prestige.

Sunday, 21 May 2017

Win A Pair Of Eyejusters - Reading Glasses With Adjustable Strength

Being both a glasses and a contact lens wearer brings a unique set of challenges when you need a varifocal lens.

To date, there seem to be no varifocal toric lenses to meet my prescription on the market which means that if I wear my contact lenses I still need reading glasses for close work.

Olive and cream multilayer eyejusters
Olive & Cream Multilayer Eyejusters

Which rather negates the point of having contact lenses in the first place.

Still, despite this bugbear, I am assured that a varifocal lens to meet my needs is coming so I just have to soldier on with my cheap pair of shop bought readers which will allow me to do useful things like read labels on the back of tins and menus in restaurants.

Each pair of these has a fixed strength which means that I may still occasionally struggle to read things in small print and, of course, if my prescription changes, I have to buy a new pair of reading glasses.

Eyejusters, on the other hand, are British invented and manufactured adjustable reading glasses that allow you to change the focal strength of your reading glasses by adjusting two little black dials either side of the lenses.

Discretely placed, by simply twiddling them together you slide back a kind of inner lens which alters the strength of your lenses with a certain tolerance - this is known as Slidelens Tech.

Because your vision in each eye varies, Eyejusters can be adjusted to suit each eye separately.  And you can't see the little black dials from most angles either.

They are great for people who need to see the small stuff, for example when doing DIY or computing, hobbies like jewellery making and sewing or reading your mobile device. They would make a great Father's Day present too as you don't need to know the wearer's prescription.

I was surprised to find that I could alter mine to not only see my PC screen close up but I could almost adjust them to my distance prescription - that is to say matching the prescription of the contact lenses I wear.

Linda Hobbis wearing Eyejusters adjustable reading glasses

They are not, it must be said, a substitute for a proper optical examination and properly prescribed lenses, particularly for driving but they are a definite step up from the cheap and cheeful reading glasses you can buy over the counter in a number of shops these days.

Available on line, Eyejusters are unisex and there's 17 different styles and colours to choose from. They are priced at either £69 or £79 but they should last a lot longer than my over the counter readers because they will last through more than one or two minor prescription changes.  They are suitable for someone who requires a positive prescription up to 3 dioptres.

They also come with a money back guarantee.  Try them at home for 30 days and if you don't love them simply send them back. There's free delivery and free returns.

The frames are sturdy and pleasantly coloured (mine are olive and cream) and they come in a a strong grey case with a cleaning cloth.  I was impressed to discover that the lenses have an anti-scratch coating which often attracts an additional charge from an optician.

The only downside is that because there is a kind of double lens, I did look a little 'Joe 90' (retro reference there) but if it means I can choose my own restaurant food without having to hiss 'I can't read this' at the husband then I really don't mind.

The frame, being plastic, is heavier to wear than the cheaper readers but still quite comfortable. 

If you would like to try a pair for yourself. I have one pair of your choice to give away.

Entry is via the Rafflecopter widget below and the giveaway ends at 11:59 pm on Sunday 18th June. Terms and conditions apply which are to be found on my competitions page. UK entrants only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck!

Friday, 19 May 2017

Review: Zookiez & Wobbleez - Soft & Cute Play Pets With A Twist

Lots of Caitlin's and Ieuan's friends have pets and, loving mother that I am, I have discovered a fuss free solution that involves no vets bills.

Zookiez and Wobbleez from Sinco Toys are two ranges of plush, cuddly toy animals which will delight anyone from age 3 to 103.

Zookiez are toy pets which can be slapped on to your wrist and they will hold on tight with their furry paws.  Because their paws will grip, they can be carried about on your arm or even attached to a backpack or school bag.

There are 6 Zookiez to collect, 2 cats, 2 dogs, a bear and, Ieuan's new friend, a panda.

Collage of Ieuan Hobbis demonstrating the Zookiez Panda
Panda is lovely and soft and retails around the £10 mark.

Wobbleez is a range of pets who magically walk when you pull their lead - all without batteries. There's 3 to collect, a Golden Retriever, a Dalmation and a Shepherd Dog.

They have specially adapted paws which rock gently when you pull the toy along giving the illusion that your pet is walking.  You do have to pull gently though - if you pull too hard, your wobbleez will fall over.

We have not taken our Wobbleez dog outside as he is clearly designed for indoor use.


Again, this was a good quality toy with a very plush feel and Caitlin has named hers Apricot.  Ieuan being Ieuan has named his panda, Panda.  Wobbleez retail around the £20 mark.

Caitlin Hobbis with her Wobbleez Shepherd Dog toy
The dog's lead comes in three parts which you simply clip together and attach to a loop already round the neck of the toy.  It clips on quite securely and even with quite some tugging didn't come off when we got the dog walking.

Wobbleez are recommended for the 3's and over up to about 10 although I found them pretty cute myself.

Here's the last word from Caitlin.


You can find Zookiez and Wobbleez at major toy stockists including Smyths.

*PR samples were sent for the purpose of this post.

New Releases, Free & Bargain Books Link-up Week 21 2017

New Releases Free & Bargain Books Link-up Badge

How are you all this week?  We're off on our hols in just one week and the year seems to be flying by. Luckily the weather is perking up, although that means an added 10 minutes every morning to slather the kids in sun cream.

If you're more an e-book than a printed book type of person then I have a fabulous giveaway currently running to win an adult and a child's Amazon Fire Tablet HD.  You can enter here.

Hopefully you've caught up with my review of In Doubt by the incomparable John W. Mefford. This is an Ivy Nash thriller, a new detective for me and in this one, Ivy must protect a little girl from a wealthy egomaniac hell-bent on revenge. You can read my review here.

As usual, there are plenty more great books on the linky - and don't forget you can always add your own to spread a bit of the book love.

Don't forget that I still have plenty to be won on my competitions page and don't forget my problem page here.

Happy bargain and freebie book hunting on this link.

Have a great week!

Sharing the Love of Books
Enjoy our selection of New Releases / Free & Bargain Books this week

Authors please feel free to add your own books
Readers please free to add your own finds
(any genre except erotica welcome)

This weekly link up is hosted by Beck Valley Books & these awesome book loving blogs...
 Life as Leels | IrishdaisylovesRomance | Book Babble | All Romance Reader
It's My Side of Life | Celticlady's Reviews | First Time Mommy Adventures 
Beck Valley BooksCinnamon Hollow Reviews
Miki's Hope | Nicki's Nook
Ebook Addicts | I Love Romance | Colorimetry | The Ultimate Fan Blog Mother Distracted
Totally Addicted to Reading | 3 Partners in Shopping | Angie's Angle I Create Purty Thangs | Wishful Endings
Lynchburg Mama | LibriAmoriMieiAli - The Dragon Slayer | Wondermom WannabeDeal Sharing Aunt | Rambling Reviews 

For Pre-orders post - PRE-ORDER / genre / title /author
For New Releases post - NEW / genre / title / author
For Free Books post - FREE / genre / title / author / end date 
For Bargain Books post - SALE / price / genre / title / author / end date
(Strictly no Erotica please.  Steamy romance is fine but watch those covers people, incase any underage child is viewing it!)

Click here for this weeks awesome selection!

*this post contains an affiliate link

Thursday, 18 May 2017

FREE - The Ultimate Guide To Revision From Tutora.co.uk

No matter what age you are, or at what stage in your academic career, exams are a fact of life - and can be one of the most stressful times to get through.

The word STUDY spelt out on dice

Everyone has their own way of dealing with revision and the accompanying pressure but sometimes it's all too easy to succumb to panic or to leave your exam preparation to the very last minute.

Tutora.co.uk, the online platform which allows students and parents to connect directly with talented and trusted tutors, has published The Ultimate Guide To Revision.

Free to download or read online, the Guide contains 9 chapters containing a wealth of expert advice, tips and how-to's.

The chapters are:-

1. How to start revision
2. How to create a revision timetable
3. How to create the perfect study space
4. Revision techniques
5. How to be productive during revision
6. How to make the most of your study leave
7. Exam tuition
8. How to deal with exam stress
9. Exam day

Hand writing an examination paper

As a mum of two school-aged kids and having been an English Tutor myself, I am proud to have contributed some of the advice readers of my blog have already discovered when it comes to the joys of studying and exam-taking!

The Guide contains a wealth of expert advice from contributors such as:-

*Bradley Busch, Psychologist and Director at InnerDrive.
*Scott Woodley, Co-founder of Tutora.
*Dan Lever, Managing Director at StudentHut.
*Lucy Parsons, Academic Coach at Life More Extraordinary
*Keith Clifford, Marketing and Content Director, Revision World Networks Ltd.
*Eleni Cashell, editor of Whatuni.com.
*Matt Jones, Education Officer at Tutora.
*Sophie Coulthard, Associate Director of Judgement Index.
*Giorgio Cassella, Marketing Manager at Tutora.

In short, it's a fabulous free resource I suggest you check out as soon as possible now that we are well and truly in exam season.

You can find the guide on this link:-  https://tutora.co.uk/guides/the-ultimate-revision-guide.

Please share with anyone you know who is studying and parents will find this a useful guide to coach and encourage their kids.

Tutora.co.uk logo

If you have any questions either relating to the Guide or about revision in general, pop a comment below and I'll make sure the relevant expert answers your question.

And if you found the guide useful, be sure to let me know.

Good luck with your exams!

Problem Page Edition 20 2017

This week - whether it's a good sign if they text straight after your date, what to do when your affair goes toxic, and whether older women are ignored.

Woman in an art gallery nursing a cup of coffee

If you would like any advice, feel free to treat me as your agony aunt. Just message me or pop a comment in the comment box at the end of this post. I promise to be gentle.

Here are this week's questions.

Q: As a 22-year-old female, how do I attract a 30-year-old single male?

A guy I work with stares at me a lot but when I catch him staring he quickly looks away. He hasn't made a move, although he knows that recently broke up with my boyfriend. He teases me to see if I've got back with him and when I say no he grins! Other times he completely ignores me.

A: All you can do is test him out by asking if he fancies a coffee or a drink and gauge his reaction.
Either he wants to ask you out and hasn’t got the nerve, or he just enjoys teasing you.
Putting him on the spot and asking him for a date will sort this one way or another.
I have to say it doesn’t sound as if he’s particularly interested in a relationship - does he have a girlfriend or partner?
Make sure you know the answer to that one before you ask him out!

Q: I like this girl and we dated, but she is 300 km away and is obsessed with another guy. Plus for some reason she now dislikes me. What can I do?

A: I really can’t see the point in you pursuing this girl. She lives miles away and is interested in another man.

Also, when you say ‘because of something’ she dislikes you, are you sure you don’t know what you’ve done to annoy her? I suspect you do.
I would stop pursuing her because she clearly isn’t interested and, if she changes her mind and you dated, she’ll know where to find you.
Sometimes absence makes the heart grow fonder but I wouldn’t bank on it in this case.

Q: Are women attracted to guys who feel sorry for themselves and cry "poor me, life's unfair"?

A: Not really. Women are more attracted to men who focus on them rather than themselves and their own issues.
That’s not to say you won’t find a partner but if you are permanently miserable I suspect your partner will struggle.
If, though, you are suffering from depression then you need to talk to your doctor and seek advice and support so that you can get well and be better placed to find a supportive, loving relationship.

Q: How do you win your wife’s trust back when she comes to know that you were talking to someone behind her back for a month?

Things started at our office and she fell in love with me. Now is the time that we both want to move on. Things got so bad that the girl at my office wanted to commit suicide if her husband gets to know about this?

A: Oh dear. You have got yourself into a right mess, haven’t you?
Firstly I think you need to take a little responsibility. Things didn’t just start - you both flirted with one another and started a relationship. And it sounds like you have got the guilts and want to end it whilst she is using emotional blackmail to ensure that you don’t.
Why, I am wondering, will her husband get to know about this? You’re surely not going to tell him if you are concentrating on winning your wife’s trust back are you?
Which can only mean she is threatening to tell her husband if you don’t continue the relationship to force your relationship out into the open - and therefore making sure your wife knows about it.
All you can do is be completely honest with your wife and recommit to her - if you mean it.
You will just have to stand firm with this other girl. I doubt that she will do anything silly but it may be worth you having a private chat with your HR department.
If things are really difficult, unfortunately, you may have to look for another job.

Q: If a guy texts you immediately after the date is over does that mean he liked me?

A: He texted me to drive safe and thank you. Right before I left he said we should do this again. Are all of these signs that he likes me? Sorry it has been so long since I dated?

It certainly looks that way. There is a possibility that he is just being a gentleman though so try not to read too much into it at this stage.
Try not to spend the next few days attached to your phone and since it’s been a while, keep your options open too.
I would give it a week and if you haven’t heard anything perhaps text him asking him if he wants to go out again.
That will be the acid test.
I hope things work out for you.

Q: Why are older women ignored?

A: They aren’t, in my experience unless they are determined to be. Some of the most powerful women in politics are ‘older’, Theresa May, Angela Merkel, Hilary Clinton or in celeb land, Judi Dench, Helen Mirren, Charlotte Rampling, etc.
I doubt any of these women would give a fig if they were ignored and would just carry on doing their own thing.
A brilliant example of such an older women is Iris Apfel (look her up on Instagram) -she’s 90 and a fashionista.
The problem is not with women. It’s with the now vastly outdated attitude some people still have to ageing.

How would you have responded to these questions? I'd love to know. You can find more advice on my problem page 

Disclaimer: All materials included in this post are intended for informational purposes only. This post/information is not intended to and should not be used to replace medical or psychiatric advice offered by physicians or other health care providers. The author will not be liable for any direct, indirect, consequential, special, exemplary or other damages arising therefrom. 


Tips on Dealing with a Loved One’s Addiction Problems

Addiction doesn’t happen in a vacuum. It happens in loving families, relationships and supportive communities. This means that it’s not only the addicted person that is affected by their problems, and that it has an impact on all of those that they are close to. 

Woman looking sadly at a tree

While this can have a negative and often-hurtful effect on loved ones, it also means that there is a support network for addicts. Loved ones, family and community, can rally together to ensure that they can help those in need.

This doesn’t however; mean that it’s going to be easy to help someone that has addiction problems. In fact, recovery is a long and arduous process that has the power to tear families apart if not dealt with in a sensitive and strong manner.

Here are some tips on dealing with a loved one with addiction problems:

Educate yourself as much as possible

It’s almost impossible to understand addiction unless you have been through it. The next best thing that you can do is to learn as much as possible as you can about addiction and the particular addiction that your loved one is struggling with.

Educate yourself, and you will be able to pick up signs and signals about addiction that may allow you to catch it before it descends into its worst phase.

Make connections with others going through the same thing

It’s incredibly hard to live with some or support someone who is an addict. It’s also important that you need to get our own support. The best thing to do is to create connections with peers or other families that are going through the same thing as you.

They will have a better understanding of your circumstances, and by supporting each other, you can get through the worst of it with a shoulder to lean on.

Don’t enable or let yourself be abused

Addiction makes people act in crazy, selfish and often harmful ways. It’s important that you don’t allow yourself to be on the receiving end of physical, mental or emotional abuse from the person you are trying to support.

The same goes for enabling them in their addiction. Never hide, make up excuses or turn a blind eye to their addiction, or abusive characteristics that allow them to continue down the path unabated. This just enables them to continue with their addiction and behaviours as if nothing is wrong at all.


While having family and friends supporting you is great for everyday needs, you should also go and get some professional help to assist you.

Professionals will help you maintain your mental, physical and emotional strength that you will need in order to support your loved one in the ways that they need.

Get help

You can’t deal with addiction alone, and you should definitely seek professional care for your loved one. For the best support at such a difficult time, you should look to social care job agencies that have professional social workers on their books that would be only too glad to lend a listening ear. There are also therapy groups and rehabilitation facilities that you should look into in order to get the best advice and assisted care for your family member.

Your loved one – whether it’s your partner, a family member, a friend or a neighbour – might not always agree with your decisions, but you can’t take on your loved one’s road to recovery alone and he/she will thank you for it in the end.

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Baby On The Way? Sommer Pyne's Home Hacks For House Proud Parents

I don't know about you but housework often comes at the bottom of the to-do list when it comes to fitting in work and kids.  By the time you've run the kids to their various social engagements and after-school clubs and chucked something in the oven, there's very little time to flick a duster about.

There are though some parents who still manage to keep a stylish home when they have small children.  

I think I've missed a trick because I probably should have got myself a bit more organised before I had kids and, when you're in that nesting phase, it's a great time to prepare yourself for the nappy onslaught whilst still maintaining an elegant home.

If you'd like to know how your home can look more polished than demolished, then here are some tips from Tommee Tippee ambassador, Sommer Pyne, owner of House Curious and mum to Lyla and Indy.

And read on because I have another great giveaway.

Sommer says:

1. Get organised

As boring as it may sound getting organised and having everything in its place before the baby arrives will help you feel empowered and in control.

· When you have the energy, start sorting through your cupboards and do a big clean out. Get rid of anything that you don’t need to make space for all your new baby supplies!

· Some things you’ll want to store away; like bottles, sterilising equipment and toys, but there may be other things that you need on display for quick and easy access. The Tommee Tippee steriliser from the Complete Starter Set is handy to keep within easy reach because of its compact size and it looks stylish.

· Go through each room and think about how you’ll use the space.

· Make a list of the things you need quick access to or that can be put away.

2. Feeding

I had such a hard time with breastfeeding the first time around, I was feeding hourly and my daughter never seemed to get enough milk. My saving grace and something I recommend to all my friends is to swap the night feed for formula. It was life changing for me and my daughter slept through and gave my body a much needed break.

With formula feeding you have a lot more equipment so that’s why it’s good to be organised. Make things easy for yourself so when you need to prep the baby’s bottle at 3am you have everything to hand.

The Tommee Tippee Perfect Prep machine is brilliant because it looks cool and matches my black steriliser, so I don’t mind having it on display and it makes prepping a bottle a breeze, even when I’m half asleep. I’ve got the black version and have it on my kitchen counter. It’s quick and easy to use and anything that makes my life easier is welcome to stay!

3. Storage solutions

· Baby station

In the rooms that I spend most of my time like the living room, bedroom and kitchen I’ve set up baby stations that have all my baby essentials neatly packed away and on hand whenever I need them.

· Baskets

My daughter has a lot of toys but we cleverly hide them away so our house doesn’t look like a toy shop. Baskets not only look great but can also hide a mountain of things. Buy a decorative basket, put a sheet inside and fill it with all your child’s toys. Tie it up or just twist the top so it keeps everything together. On top place a lovely woollen blanket or throw to hide the sheet and toys. This makes a great decorative piece just like you’ve seen in those stylish boutique hotels.

· Chest

If you don’t have money to buy storage units or cupboards, a nice vintage chest is a great way to store games, toys or even blankets. You can also use them as side table for when guests show up.

· Built in units

If you’re doing a renovation or redecorating it’s worth investing in good storage. Don’t go to branded cupboard designers, a good carpenter should be able to knock something bespoke up for half the price.

4. Practical and fuss-free interiors

I don’t like to compromise on my interior style so I still have velvet and fabric sofas. My house probably doesn’t seem that kid friendly but it is in so many ways.

· Sofas

Comfort and style are high up on my list. So, what can you do? The simple answer to this is to have a large throw or sheet to hand that can be easily stored under the sofa or in a cupboard. When you are nursing, or playing with your baby on the sofa cover it with the throw or sheet so that it’s protected. Let’s be honest there are going to be moments of projectile vomit and if you’re already a mum/dad the chances are you have enough poo stories.

· Flooring

If you’re redecorating consider the flooring carefully because this not only has a huge impact on the overall style of your home but we also know how messy kids can be… carpet may not be the smartest idea! In our house we have concrete floors and wooden floors. So, no matter how many accidents we have they’re easy to clean.

· Clutter free

Get rid of the clutter and simplify your space with just the essentials and decorative pieces you absolutely love. In our family room there is no coffee table in the middle and most of my decorative pieces are up high on the fireplace or on shelves. This way my daughter can run around freely without bumping her head on sharp edges. The other alternative is to have a soft ottoman.

· Different zones

We have areas that are no go kid’s zones. We have a great family room and Lyla’s bedroom for her many toys, but there are certain rooms that are out of bounds.

· Low cost interiors

It can be expensive prepping for a baby’s arrival but there are so many low cost options. Ikea is brilliant for nursery furniture, Primark Home and the baby section for your essentials and Next is great for affordable clothing.

5. Decorating your nursery

Decorating the nursery can be a lovely experience but I know for some parents it can be a bit overwhelming. Here are some of my tips to help ease the pain:

· Don’t worry about matching furniture I think it looks more eclectic and fun when you mix it up.

· Don’t be fooled into thinking you must buy nursery furniture. Other than the cot the rest can be furniture that you already own. For example, for my first baby I didn’t buy a changing station I simply used my vintage chest of drawers and placed a changing mat on top with all my essentials on display.

· Be bold and creative; think about what colours appeal to you and how you want the room to feel. The baby won’t notice the décor but you will and you’ll be spending a lot of time in the nursery.

· It’s important to create a relaxing environment so you will want to invest in a comfy chair – you don’t have to buy a nursing chair buy something you like that will outgrow your children. Soft rugs are always a good idea and don’t forget your favourite candle.

Sommer Pyne is an ambassador for Tommee Tippee.

The Tommee Tippee Perfect Prep Machine
The Giveaway

I have one Tommee Tippee Perfect Prep Machine to give away.  The Tommee Tippee Closer to Nature Perfect Prep machine makes a fresh bottle at just the right serving temperature in less than 2 minutes. It is specially designed to make preparing formula bottles quicker and more accurate, a boon for those night time feeds.

Please note the colour of the machine you receive may vary.

Entry is via the Rafflecopter widget below and the usual terms and conditions apply which you can find on my competitions page.  The giveaway ends at 11:59 pm on Sunday 18th June.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good Luck.


Get ready for the great outdoors this summer with Milton (giveaway)

Festival and camping season is approaching as is, hopefully, the warmer weather. And if you are taking your little ones with you, hygiene is even more important.

Milton, the UK's number one sterilising and hygiene expert has a great range of travel essentials and read on because there's a giveaway coming up.

woman camping blowing bubbles outside her tent

It can be a nightmare ensuring that your kids' feeding equipment is properly sterilised but it's easy to use the trusted Milton Cold Water Method even away from the safety of your own home. Milton is clinically proven to kill 99.9% of germs, including bacteria, fungi and viruses, leaving items sterile, and keeping nasty bugs at bay.

Here's what you can use.

The Milton Solo Travel Steriliser is 2-in-1 microwave or cold water steriliser, ideal for sterilising when on the go. It cleans and sterilises bottles, teethers, plastic toys, breastfeeding equipment and other small baby equipment from 2 minutes in the microwave and in 15 minutes for cold water. RRP: £10.99.

The Milton Combi Microwave or Cold Water Steriliser - not only will this clean and sterilise bottles from 2 minutes in the microwave, you can also take it camping because it can be used for cold water sterilisation, killing up to 99.9% of bacteria in just 15 minutes.  Back home, it's small enough to fit into most microwaves but will take up to 5 bottles from any brand. RRP: £24.99

Practical and portable, Milton Sterilising Tablets are ideal to use when travelling. Made up with regular tap water, items are sterilised in just 15 minutes and stay sterile in the solution for 24 hours – meaning you can sterilise baby’s feeding equipment again and again. RRP: 2.46/ 28 tablets.

Milton Sterilising Fluid (500ml/£2.35) is a camping essential, as not only can it be used to sterilise baby’s feeding equipment, but you can also use it to clean the following:

· Outside of tents and gazebos
· Caravans inside and out
· Camp kitchens, even the outside kind exposed to all weathers
· Paddling pools

Camping is tremendous fun but let’s face it, it can get pretty messy so keep you family safe and well with Milton’s range of hygiene products.

Banish mucky fingers with Milton Antibacterial Hand Gel. Ideal for keeping hands clean and fresh when you are on the go and even when in the middle of a field! Kills 99.9% of germs in seconds, non-sticky and dries quickly. With an added moisturising agent to protect the skin, the gel is gentle, with a pleasant fragrance. RRP £2.20/100ml.

New and improved Milton Antibacterial Surface Wipes with ‘no rinse’ & food safe formula means parents can use them to wipe clean soothers, teats, teething rings plates and cutlery without worrying about the need to rinse afterwards. The formula is bleach free, preservative free and fragrance free, they kill germs quickly and leave no residue or odour so they are perfect for disinfecting babies’ small accessories as well as their general environment including high chairs, potties, changing mats, car seats, and buggy chairs/handles. RRP £2.19.

The Giveaway
If you would like to try a selection of Milton products for your next family camping trip or a solo festival adventure, enter my giveaway to win the following:-

Milton Combi Steriliser 

Milton Combi Steriliser

& a Milton Hygiene Kit comprising 

*Milton Antibacterial Surface Spray
*Milton Antibacterial Surface Wipes
*Milton Antibacterial Hand Gel 
*Milton Washing Up Liquid

Milton Hygiene Kit

Entry is via the Rafflecopter widget below and the giveaway ends on 14th June at 11:59 pm.  Terms and conditions apply which can be found on my Competitions Page.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck!

Interesting Ingredients With Incredible Health Benefits!

We all know the benefits of eating the right foods. They help you to maintain a healthy weight, protect you from diseases and improve your appearance by giving you healthy hair, skin and nails. They generally keep our bodies running at their best and provide us with everything we need to grow, repair and thrive.

Photo source

Eating a rainbow of healthy fruit and veg, whole grains and lean protein will generally do the trick- however, you can take it a step further by adding ‘superfoods’ to your diet. These come under the radar every now and again and are hailed by health buffs- generally, they’re ingredients which have been used across the globe for both food and medicine for centuries. 

Now that health food shops and even supermarkets give us access to all kinds of weird and wonderful ingredients, it’s worth getting on board and giving some a try! Here are some unusual yet very healthy foods to add to your diet.

Chia Seeds

Chia seeds, the seeds from a flowering plant in the mint family, have become one of the most popular superfoods in the health food industry. Thought to have been eaten by Aztec warriors in ancient Mexico to give them strength, energy, and endurance. Eating chia seeds has a number of incredible benefits. They can improve digestion, promote healthy skin (and reduce the signs of aging), help to build healthy bones and muscles and in some cases even heal diabetes. They’re full of fibre, are a good source of non-animal protein, omega 3 and 6, and calcium. There are tonnes of antioxidants and micronutrients which all help to support the body’s functions. 

You can add chia seeds to smoothies, cereal or yoghurt, if you’re not keen on the slight crunch then grind them in a pestle and mortar first. They have a non-offensive taste a little like poppy seeds, but you only need a small amount and added to other breakfast foods you won’t even notice they’re there. An easy way to add a huge boost of nutrition to your diet.


Ever wondered what the healthiest fruit, vegetable or herb you could possibly eat is? According to scientists and nutritionists, it’s wheatgrass. This is the young grass of the wheat plant, and contains every vitamin and mineral you could possibly imagine. It can heal your body and is said to be one of the greatest food healers known to man. Due to being an excellent source of living chlorophyll, it can clean and build the blood and reduce unfriendly bacteria in the body. 

You can get wheatgrass in tablet or powder form where it’s been dried and rehydrated. This is useful as it can be added easily to smoothies and other dishes. You can also buy the living grass which can be juiced and drank daily as a shot. If you’re looking to try just one superfood, wheatgrass is an excellent contender!

Cod Liver Oil
Cod liver oil is pretty gruesome, it's exactly what it sounds like. The oil pressed from the liver of a cod. However, if you can get your head around it, it will provide you with some awesome health benefits. It’s high in vitamins A and D, plus omega 3 fatty acids. These can help to reduce the risk of illnesses such as heart disease, dementia, depression, and arthritis.

Green Tea

Green tea is the healthiest beverage on earth- as well as gulping plenty of water during the day making up a big pot of green tea will do you wonders. It’s packed full of antioxidants which fight free radicals in the body. Free radicals come from things like chemicals in our diet and pollution, and cause damage from aging skin to cancers. So neutralising them is a smart move. 

Green tea can also help to decrease body fat, especially in the abdominal area which is a particularly dangerous area to carry weight. It can boost metabolism, with numerous studies showing excellent results. Nutritional cleanses such as Isagenix are also useful if you’re looking to reduce body fat, and you can drink green tea while you’re on them to help boost your results. 

Photo source


You heard that right- kelp is a superfood! Not just for fish to nibble on, it’s extremely good for us too. While brown algae isn’t the most appetising looking food, it can be bought in powder or tablet form. You can even buy things like pre-made kelp noodles made with it making it easy to consume. It contains a wide variety of unique minerals from Iodine and underwater antioxidants, iron, folate, and vitamin K. 

Another thing to note is that it also contains the highest natural concentration of calcium of any food. Great if you don’t consume dairy as it’s a fantastic form of calcium that’s 100% vegan.

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Review: The Super Lunch Menu at Jamie's Italian Restaurant, Cardiff

Readers of this blog will know that I am a big fan of Jamie's Italian and, in fact, was lucky enough to meet Gennaro Contaldo for a pasta masterclass a couple of years ago.

The Husband, sadly, remains unimpressed with my cooking prowess so taking him out to lunch to try Jamie's new Super Lunch Menu at their invitation was not too difficult.

What I really like about Jamie's Italian restaurants is that there is no 'chain' feel and you can watch your food being prepared so you know it's fresh.

There is always an interesting selection of specials which seem to experiment with tastes and textures in a way that always seems far more creative to me than just relying on popular combinations.

Pasta is freshly made on site and the general vibe of the restaurant is always relaxed but buzzing with a huge bar area and a cocktail menu.  Gennaro, it transpires, has now turned his hand to Mojitos.

Exterior of Jamie's Italian Restaurant Cardiff
Jamie's Italian Cardiff
The new Super Lunch Menu distills all this into a bargain £11.95 for two courses and £13.95 for three courses.  It's more than a taster menu but a little less than the large portions which leave you stuffed and unproductive on your return to the office.

Mat Hobbis reading menu at Jamie's Cardiff
Jamie's Cardiff
The Super Lunch Menu is available from Monday to Friday from 12 pm to 6 pm.

I'm more of a main and dessert girl so the Husband 'volunteered' to share a starter with me. Tempted both by the simplicity of the Tomato Bruschetta (slow roasted cherry tomatoes, whipped ricotta, basil & virgin olive oil) and the warmth of the Pea & Mint Soup (blitzed up pea & mint soup with a dollop of organic yoghurt, lemon zest and freshly baked foccacia), we settled on Silky Pate Bruschetta (Italian chicken-liver pate, pancetta, vin santo & Parmesan).

Jamie's Super Lunch Menu Silky Pate Bruschetta Starter
Our starter - Silky Pate Bruschetta
This was almost too pretty to eat.  The bruschetta had just the right level of crunch, whilst the pate melted in the mouth.  The portion size was generous too.

The Husband chose 'Nduja Rigatoni for his main course.  This was freshly made pasta with a spicy tomato and Cobble Lane 'nduja sauce with sprouting broccoli and cherry tomatoes, with aged Parmesan and extra virgin olive oil.

Jamie's Italian Super Lunch Menu Main Course 'Nduja Rigatoni
'Nduja Rigatoni Main Course
Nduja is a Calabrian sausage traditionally made from pork trimmings. Today it is made with pork fat, spices, herbs and spicy Calabrian peppers which give a chilli type heat and a particular red colour.

The Husband found the dish to be extremely tasty with the Nduja sauce adding a gentle but not over-powering heat.

I chose Gennaro's Chicken Club, brioche stuffed with chargrilled, marinated free-range chicken, crispy pancetta, spicy ‘nduja mayo, fontal cheese, tomato & rocket. Now I won't fib, I was hoping for some fries with it but it was a very generous portion and it didn't really need these.

Again, the 'nduja mayo added a very gentle spicy heat to the dish.

Gennaro's Chicken Club on the Jamie's Italian Super Lunch Menu
Gennaro's Chicken Club
Then it was time to share a dessert and although I was tempted by Jamie's Favourite Lemon Polenta Cake with 'summer berry rippled creme fraiche and lemon zest',  the Husband hinted largely about the Tiramisu, classic coffee flavoured sponge with Marscarpone and chocolate.

This was lovely, generously sized, soaked through with a good strong coffee and a lovely citrus tang from the orange zest sprinkled on top with the chocolate.

Jamie's Italian Restaurant Super Lunch Menu Tiramisu
Jamie's Tiramisu
We thought the price of the Super Lunch Menu was excellent value with fresh, tasty food just a little bit different from the usual lunchtime fare.  There are also clearly marked vegetarian, vegan, dairy and gluten free menu options to choose from.

Whilst it was a bit of a luxury to be child free, with Whitsun week approaching, Jamie's Italian have a good kids' menu with not a fishfinger or baked bean in sight. I'm not sure what Ieuan would make of that but I think he could be persuaded to try the Baby Organic Beef Burger.  Caitlin has always loved her pasta so Organic Mini Spaghetti & Meatballs will keep her happy.

Jamie's Italian Restaurant Flat White Coffee

*We tried the Super Lunch Menu as guests of Jamie's Italian.  All opinions are our own.

Monday, 15 May 2017

Win An Amazon Fire HD 8 Tablet & Fire Kids Edition Tablet in this Fab Bloggers' Giveaway

As we head into summer, there's always a wealth of new fiction to catch up with on those lazy beach days (or for those of us with kids, the odd 20 minutes snatched in the back garden).

And if your tablet or Kindle have seen better days read on to win a fabulous prize which should help brighten up any less than sunny days we might have here in the UK.  As I type, the rain is torrential!

Once again a whole host of amazing bloggers have teamed up to offer you the chance to win a great prize (something we couldn't do individually), but who are this group of amazing people; well check them out:

Mother Distracted | The Rare Welsh Bit | Renovation Bay-Bee | Pretty Big Butterflies | Probably Busy | Mums Wine HQ | Tantrums to Smiles | Cats and Contours | Hubby Helps | Really Missing Sleep | Bump and Beyond | The Reluctant Traveller | The Diary of a Jewellery Lover | Mum Dad Plus 4 | Ickle Pickles Life and Travels | Helerina Blogs

Melanie's Fab Finds | We Made This Life | Precious Little Worlds | Sparkles at Midnight | Spanish Mummy | Our Bucket List Lives | Boxes and Swatches | Testing Time Blog | Ladies Pass It On | EmmaDrew.info | Being Tilly's Mummy | Mrs MummyPenny | Me, My Life and the Tardis | Tilly's Travelling Telegram | Lotty Earns | Just Average Jen

Beautiful Things | Hex Mum Plus 1 | Life in a Break Down | UK Bloggers

Joining forces together has meant we can bring you the chance to win not only a Fire HD 8 Tablet (8GB) but a Fire Kids Edition Tablet (in pink or blue) alongside some accessories (think screen protector and a case for the Fire HD 8). Now that's going to make for one lucky winner!

So how can you be in with a chance of winning? Well all you need to do is let us know: What do you have planned for this summer? Anything exciting?

The only mandatory entry is to answer the above question, all following entries are optional.

However, we would, of course, love it if you could give the bloggers behind this giveaway some support.

Full T&C can be found within the Rafflecopter widget and the giveaway ends on 12th June.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck!

Review: Childcare.co.uk - A Safer Way To Find Your Babysitter

The thing about being an older stay at home mum is that it's pretty difficult, ironically, to find childcare.  No, it's not just a problem affecting working parents.

The Husband works away much of the time and my parents, being in their late 70's do what they can to have the children but, as you know, kids can be quite exhausting and I don't like to ask them to babysit at night.

Baby boy with a blue dummy in his playpen

I have no other close family nearby to call upon so if the Husband and I do want to escape for a quiet child-free meal or a date night, finding a great babysitter is really important.

This is even more important if it's your first time hiring a babysitter as you venture back into the adult world after possible months of seclusion surrounded by nappies and Milton.

It's always tempting, of course, to pay a couple of quid to a teenager to sit for you.  I used to earn my pocket money this way when I was about 14 but the children I minded were two doors up from my parents' house and their parents were friends of the family.

I have never been confident that a teenager would be able to cope in the event of a medical emergency and, in any case, it seems a bit unfair to put them in that situation in the first place.

I cannot find any UK law which is definitive in terms of a legal minimum age for babysitters but here is what the children's charity, the NSPCC has to say on the subject of leaving children at home alone.  They advise that children under 13 should not be left at home alone for long periods and children under 16 should not be put in charge of younger children.

I am sure most parents wouldn't even consider doing this but as the long summer holidays approach and stressed parents have to juggle work and family, the temptation to leave kids on their own "for a bit" seems to increase.

Whilst there is no minimum age at which UK children can be legally left on their own, the law doesn't specify how old someone needs to be to babysit either.  BUT, if the babysitter is under 16 then you, as a parent, remain legally responsible for your child's safety.

Be aware too, that the Children and Young Persons Act allows parents in England and Wales to be prosecuted for wilful neglect if they leave a child unsupervised "in a manner likely to cause unnecessary suffering or injury to health". That can cost you a fine or even up to 10 years' imprisonment. Similar legislation also exists in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

It also turns out that there is a whole host of things you need to check before you worry about providing tea, coffee and biscuits to your new babysitter or childminder.

Depending on the nature of their employment with you, you need to check their qualifications, insurances and even whether they have a valid driving licence if they are going to be driving your little ones anywhere.

Then there's the DBS check (for England and Wales).  These were previously known as a CRB check (Criminal Records Bureau), but are now known as Disclosure & Barring checks.

These provide information about whether an individual has a criminal conviction or has been charged with a criminal conviction which has now expired.  Anyone who works with children should have one so it's one of the first things you should be asking to see from your prospective babysitter.

So where do you find a suitably qualified babysitter and how do you vet them?

A great way to find a suitable babysitter is to use a service such as Childcare.co.uk which is the UK's largest online community of parents, childcare providers, schools and private tutors.

I am a member of their service and have used this successfully a couple of times to find good babysitters close to me.

Basically, their service allows parents to search for local childcare services such as babysitters, registered childminders, nannies, private tutors and nurseries using their postcode search facility.

This gives you an idea an idea of how close the childcare provider is to your home and you can then read the childcare provider's individual profile to find out more about them.

As a member you can also post a 'job' - a brief post about your requirements - to which interested babysitters can respond.  They can email you or telephone you if you have left your number in your 'job post'.

You can register for free and add a profile advertising your childcare/tutor requirements.

Here's an excerpt from my profile to give you an idea.

You choose whether to be a free member or whether to pay for Gold Membership.

As a free member you can read and reply to messages that have been sent to you from gold members. You can also send messages to gold members and view their direct contact details. As a free member, however, you have to wait for a response to your profile whilst Gold Membership allows you to contact childcare providers immediately using their secure private messaging system.

Gold members can also receive messages from free members and see their direct contact details if they have chosen to add these (email and telephone number).

Gold membership comes with a raft of other benefits such as 30 minutes free legal advice on childcare and family issues, access to 100 free online training courses, online access to Creative Steps magazine and free Tastecard membership.

Currently the fee for Gold Membership is £24.99 per month or £129.99 per year.

There are no booking or agency fees and you pay your babysitter directly.  You will find an indication of their hourly rates in their profile.

You can also check to see if parents have written reviews for their childcare providers and tutors.

If there is any downside to paying for Gold Membership, it is that once you have found your babysitter or childcare provider you may find that you don't use the service again until you need another one.  It is easy to find that 6 months have passed and you haven't visited the site.

BUT, in terms of being able to find a childcare provider quickly, Childcare.co.uk is excellent.  It just depends whether you feel you will make full use of the extra benefits Gold membership provides. You may find free membership suffices.

Once you have found your sitter, however, be aware that it is your responsibility to interview them and to thoroughly check their qualifications - for example request references and a copy of their DBS check.

This means you will still need to set aside some time to meet them.  I would never dream of letting someone who has never met my children babysit them!

So you will need to be organised and, if possible, start searching for your childcare well in advance of your special event.  This is a bit of a pain if you just want to sneak off to a quiet country pub with your husband but it has to be done.

You will find lots of helpful information, including a checklist to work your way through on Childcare.co.uk's site.

To be frank, when there is a resource such as this to guide you through the increasingly complex maze of regulations surrounding hiring a trusted childcare provider, not using a site like this is simply not worth the risk.

Yes, you still have do to much of the work such as telephoning the babysitter's referees to double check references or checking that your prospective childminder has a valid paediatric First Aid certificate but when it comes to your children's safety is there such as thing as too much work?

You may well find your ideal babysitter is just a mile away.

Find out more at Childcare.co.uk.

*PR collaboration, however, I am already an existing member of Childcare.co.uk
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