A Lifestyle & Parenting Blog

Saturday, 25 March 2017

Skinn Skincare - A Birthday Gift From Idealworld.TV

It's Idealworld.TV's 17th birthday this March and to celebrate they have a great offer on one of their hero skincare products - the Skinn Collagenesis range from Skinn.

Skinn skincare products from Idealworld.tv

Skinn is a top selling international skincare and colour cosmetic brand and the brainchild of industry veteran Dimitri James, a professional makeup artist and licensed esthetician whose work has been seen on the runway and the red carpet, as well as national and international TV shows and magazines.  As well as training makeup artists and estheticians for renowned beauty brands, he is the author of two books, "Becoming Beauty" and "Naughty Makeovers for Nice Girls".

Skinn say they focus on what goes into the jar and how it will make you look, using the company motto “what counts is inside” and they only use pure, natural ingredients and traditional methods of preparation. It is this, they say, that makes Skinn different from other cosmetic brands.

I was sent four products to try:-

* Skinn Collagenesis 24 Hour Cream 50ml
* Stem Rejen Face Serum 30ml
* Stem Rejen Eye Serum 15ml 
* Lip Stem Rejen 15ml

The 24 hour youth preservation cream is fortified with plant derived peptides, Collagenesis which contains no waxes, no parabens, no petrochemicals and no mineral oil.  It can be used both day and night to help keep skin feel softer as well as help to even the skin tone and firm the skin.

The facial serum is formulated has three key ingredients, Glacier Water, Snow Algae Powder and Alpine Rose. Glacier Water helps to keep the skin moisturised, whereas the Snow Algae helps to increase the longevity of skin’s smooth, radiant appearance. Alpine Rose helps to enhance skin’s natural vitality and allows skin to cope better with climate changes.

The eye serum is formulated with a natural plumping active derived from the resin of the Indian tree Guggul, as well as the key ingredients from the facial serum.

Lastly the Collagenesis Lip Stem Rejen Serum Elite 15ml is formulated with a naturally derived active obtained from sesame seeds that help to smooth lines around the lip including, marionette and nasolabial folds, for a more rejuvenated and youthful appearance.  You can use it morning and night on your mouth area and laughter lines and as and when needed throughout the day.

I liked the value for money advanced skincare formulations, the elegant packaging and the lovely colours of the potions - a bright pink and yellow.  I found the 24 hour preservation cream curiously springy in texture but with all four products a little went a long way.

I found the products to be gentle on my skin, easily absorbed and unfragranced which my skin certainly appreciates.  I have found that as I have got older, my skin has become increasingly sensitive and prone to break out.

My favourite of the four was the lip serum designed to minimise those annoying tell-tale lines around your lips - you know the ones - the lines that seem to absorb red lipstick!  I found it had an instant effect and will be popped in my handbag.

If you would like to try the four Skinn products above, you can find all of them at Idealworld.TV. Usually this collection retails at £120 but from Wednesday 29th March they are giving you a birthday gift by offering them at £39.99.

Not only that but they are including two extra products, Skinn Insta-Fill for Eyes,  a line filling treatment designed to instantly create smooth skin around the eye area, and Insta-Fill for Lips,  which will stop your lipstick from feathering and make your colour last longer.

Skinn Insta Fill Lips

Skinn Insta Fill Eyes

If you would like to try premium skincare at a budget price this March then remember to visit Idealworld.TV from the 29th March.

Disclosure: I received a selection of Skinn skincare for review. The opinions below are my own and unbiased.


Friday, 24 March 2017

No Or Low Cost Mother's Day Gift Ideas

It's Mother's Day in the UK this Sunday and if you haven't bought a gift yet or are struggling to find the funds to get your mum something nice, the following articles list a selection of cheap gift ideas which are within most people's budgets - or even free.  Just click on the link.

Every mum wants the chance to relax!

This is an American site so the costs are in dollars but the ideas would work just as well here.

Sample ideas:-

* Create a Memory Journal

"Every family has made plenty of funny, sad, and crazy memories over the years... Ask everyone in the family to write down their favorites in a journal. It can be serious or silly, whatever you choose, and you can continue to add to the memory journal when the next Mother’s Day rolls around.

* Give the Gift of Sleep

For mums of babies or young kids, this is the ultimate gift. Let her sleep in for once, and make sure she knows beforehand that she has the entire morning to lie in bed. Alternatively, consider setting aside a few hours during the day for a much-needed nap...

Last Minute Mother's Day Gifts That Are Cheap, Easy & Surprisingly Thoughtful - Time.com

9 more brilliant ideas from our friends over the Pond.

Sample idea:-

* List the reasons you love her

Among the DIY Mother's Day gifts suggested by Today.com is a decorated mason jar stuffed full of adorable and funny messages about why mom is the greatest. For example: "You give the best hugs," or "You don't snore as loud as dad." The idea is that mom can open up the jar each day or whenever she needs a pick-me-up, and get a reminder about how amazing she is, and how much all of you appreciate her".

Pink candle and crystals on a bed with white bedding, glasses, cup of tea, magazine and laptop

24 Ridiculously Easy DIY Mother's Day Gifts - Buzzfeed.com

Sample ideas:-

* Transform thrifted tea cups into candles to dress up any tea party.

* Stencil your mom's most inspiring words on a tea towel to let her know you've been listening.

* Make a DIY box for your mum's favourite bon-bons

Cheap Mother's Day Gift Ideas - The Balance

Sample idea:-

* Cut flowers are nice, but they don't last very long. For a gift with longer-lasting appeal, choose a flowering perennial for her garden instead – she'll enjoy your gift this Mother's Day and every one thereafter. For an even cheaper take on this idea, just place a packet of seeds inside a card, and schedule a time to help her plant them.

So there you have it - plenty of ideas to make Mum's day special.  In my book though, you can't go wrong with letting Mum have a nice lie in and bringing her a cup of tea in bed.  Bliss!

What's your favourite Mother's Day treat?

New Releases, Free & Bargain Books Link-up Week 13 2017

New Releases Free & Bargain Books Link-up Badge

How are you all this week?  It's Red Nose Day today so Caitlin and Ieuan have duly gone to school wearing their noses.  I'm not sure I'll be sitting through tonight's telethon although I know a lot of people are excited about seeing the cast of the film Love Actually back together again.

Happy Red Nose Day!

The clocks go forward on Sunday (just in time for Mother's Day) so lighter evenings are on their way. Time to get out in the garden and hose down the garden furniture in time for a little early evening reading with a glass of wine.

Did you catch my review of Into The Air by A.K. Downing?  It's a fabulous debut novel for young adults set in a post apocalyptic world with a feisty young female heroine searching for her lost father.

As usual, there are some 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!

Thursday, 23 March 2017

Problem Page Edition 12 2017

This week - your partner's cheating when you've just had a baby and jealousy when your friend makes it big and you feel left behind. Plus, can gift giving mean you're hitting on someone?

Woman's arms hugging a man's back

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: Would you date someone you’re not attracted to because they offer you financial security?

A: Interesting question. In the past, marriages were often made entirely to secure land and wealth but then women didn’t really have much option.

Personally I couldn’t marry someone I didn’t love - particularly if they didn’t know I didn’t love them. Big lies like that have a habit of coming back to bite us.

And seeking financial security from a man is still a little 19th century, don’t you think?

Wouldn’t you feel better about yourself if you made your own way, earned your own money and took control of your own destiny?

Rather than letting a well off bloke you don’t fancy all that much lock you in to a relationship with all the appeal of mud.

Q: If a female friend gives a guy a gift, do they automatically assume she has an ulterior motive? 

My friend got accepted to nursing school (he is the first college attendee in his family). I got him an antique book of medicine that we love. I am afraid if I give it to him, he will think I'm hitting on him. Anyone who knows me knows I am a giver- it is in congratulations for this big step.

A: It’s a lovely gesture you are considering, but there’s a chance he may wonder if it is a romantic overture.

I guess it depends what kind of relationship you have and whether you exchange gifts at any other time - Christmas, birthdays and so forth. If you don’t this may come a bit left field. 

Do you know his family? Have they met you? 

If you will get a lot of pleasure from giving the gift then just accept he may wonder about your motives and shrug it off. 

I think lots of people would say the gifts should be coming from his family though.

I would look for a new boyfriend I can actually spend time with on a regular basis - and closer to home.

Q: I have a best friend who made it to Harvard and I feel worthless when I see all of his achievements. How do I stop comparing myself to him?

A: You know that everyone has different talents and abilities. 

It does not make one person better than another, just different. It is natural to envy someone’s success and to compare their life with ours. 

Rather than wallow in self pity though, why not ask yourself a couple of questions like did your friend work his butt off to succeed? Are you as dedicated? Do you work as hard? Did your friend have a clear idea of his goal in life? Do you know what you want? 

My point is you can use these feelings to examine your own life and see whether you need to make changes. 

In this case comparison might be the impetus you need to take stock and then take action. 

I am entirely sure you are not worthless and even if he succeeds at Harvard that is not necessarily a golden ticket to a dream job, a dream family, a dream life. It’s just a very good starting block to run from. 

Why not make a list of your achievements and then ask yourself what you’d like to add to it in the next few years. 

And go for it.

Q: How bad is it that my boyfriend is very upset with me and I don't really care? 

He stormed out just now and I was just relieved that he was gone. Why? Now I don't have to hear him curse at me or listen to his angry rant about me going out while he does the exact same thing way more often. 

A: It does seem an extreme reaction from him if the only issue is that you go out without him and he goes out without you. Is there more to it than that? 

If not, your boyfriend is being a hypocrite. It sounds like there’s a battle for control going on here and it certainly doesn’t sound like a fun relationship to be in. It also sounds pretty immature. 

You sound as if you have had enough of him and you shouldn’t put up with anyone cursing you or ranting at you. 

I think the pair of you have to sit down and have an honest conversation about what is acceptable in a relationship to both of you - and whether there is enough to salvage to make it worth putting more effort in. 

Because for it to work, BOTH of you might have to change. 

And if you’re already too angry to care, it might be time to find a new boyfriend.

Q: I have just found out that the father of my 6-month-old daughter has been cheating on me with his female friend. What should I do?

A: I am really sorry if this is the case because when we have just had a baby our self confidence may sometimes be at an all time low as we adjust to the pressures of becoming a mum (whether for the first time or subsequently). 

I am sure you are torn between feeling awful and wanting to kick him to the kerb. 

Pregnancy is often a difficult time for fathers to be and affairs during this time are very common. 

Some men do not have the maturity to cope with lack of sex during their partners pregnancy or may feel pushed out of the new family unit as their partner is totally (and naturally) absorbed with the baby. 

This is no way excuses this behaviour and men like this need to grow up fast. It may, however, explain the reason for his wandering. 

Was everything OK before the baby? You have no doubt heard the term “sticking plaster baby” where a couple is having problems and decides that having a baby will make everything better. It very often doesn’t. 

Do you have proof of the affair? Make sure you have your facts straight and then sit down with him and ask him for an honest explanation. I would speak to him first before you speak to the ‘friend’. 

If he confesses then you either forgive him and gain his reassurance that this was a one-off or you tell him to leave. 

Either way the trust has been broken and it will be difficult to put it all behind you and move on. 

He may, however, be a useless partner but there is no reason why he can’t, in time, be a decent father.

Your initial job is to find out what happened and decide whether your relationship is worth saving. And the female ‘friend’ needs to go if that is to happen. 

I doubt very much that this was anything to do with you. Time for your partner to grow up and face his responsibilities. 

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. 

Beck Valley Book Review: Into The Air by A. K. Downing

Like everyone else in the world, Mia Bryn lives in the dark. Buried in an underground compound, her life is spent in brief allotments of florescent light and dwindling food supplies. But when a letter arrives, Mia and her father are invited to embark on a journey that no one else has been allowed to take for over a hundred years. They are asked to leave the ground and travel into the air. But the outside world is more surprising and dangerous than Mia could have ever imagined. To survive, she must trust her instincts, learn about a world she knows nothing about, and accept her destiny.

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

“Downing’s Into The Air is that fresh take on the YA post-apocalyptic vision we’ve all been waiting for. Mia Bryn is a wonderful character—one who starts out charmingly mortal but soon becomes the heroine we, and her people, need her to be. Can’t wait for the next Mia chapter!” Bruce McAllister, Author of the Cybils-nominated The Village Sang to the Sea: A Memoir of Magic

“There’s a new star in the Young Adult firmament—A. K. Downing’s series, beginning with Into The Air, is sure to be a reader favorite right up there with The Hunger Games and The 100 trilogy.” Richard Snodgrass , Author of There’s Something in the Back Yard

“Did you ever feel so lost that you didn’t know if the ground was above your head or below your feet?”

My Review

Despite the fact that this is story is written for young adults, I have to say I barely noticed, I was so engrossed with this debut novel.  My resolution this year has been to read a wider range of fiction and I am enjoying the challenge immensely.  

Set in a post apocalyptic world where the air has been contaminated and the population forced to survive underground, change is afoot and whilst mutants roam the forests, the government has plans to rebuild and regenerate their world.  

The heroine, 17 year old Mia, is feisty, brave and determined to stand up for herself.  Let loose from the compound in which she has been forced to survive with her father Marshal, she finds herself a fugitive on the run from unseen forces, desperate to find him at any cost to her own safety.  

Her flight takes her deep into the forest where she rescues a little girl and joins forces with a band of renegade guards who find her more than a challenge.  Are they helping her or just waiting to hand her over to the authorities?

I loved that Mia is a well-drawn, modern female character and although the ending of the novel didn't answer all my questions, I suspect Mia's story may continue in further novels.  As the mother of a 9 year old daughter, I would be perfectly happy for Caitlin to read Mia's story.  There is a hint of romance but it is entirely appropriate to the story and not overdone.

I thought the novel was a refreshing change from many of the more saccharine and traditionally 'female' stories available for young adults. This one is certainly an adventure with a bit more bite.

About the author

A. K. Downing is the author of the young adult, adventure novel Into the Air. She grew up in the hills of southwestern Pennsylvania and spent her summers exploring the fields, woods and orchards of her grandparents' farm. She studied graphic design at Kent State University and currently works as a Creative Director. She enjoys history, camping, and walking through fields of tall grass, and feels there is no better way to see the world than from the top of a horse. She currently lives in the woods with her husband, daughter, two cats and five chickens. Into the Air is her first novel.

Find the author on the following sites...


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Wednesday, 22 March 2017

8 Tips For Parents To Make Coping With The Clocks Going Forward Easier

This year the clocks go forward on Sunday 26th March at 1 am just in time for Mother's Day!

This is clearly bad news for the sleep deprived and if you have very young children you will probably find you'll be up as soon as they open their eyes.

Baby girl in a pink tutu sleeping on a big white double bed

Luckily, Caitlin and Ieuan are now at the age where we can negotiate with them (i.e. bribe them) to stay into their rooms till a vaguely decent hour (anything past 7 am).  It does get easier I promise you.

I remember though how tough it was when they were younger.

Whilst it is easier for us adults to adapt to the effect of the change to our body clocks, it's less simple for our kids.

I say easier for adults, although I once had a friend who would spend the entire day following a clock change asking "but what time is it really"?

Are there ways to make it easier on yourself?

Here are some things you could try.

Prepare yourself a few days before

You may find you cope better if you adjust your own sleep routine, starting a couple of days before.

You could try going to bed 10-15 minutes earlier each night and waking up 10-15 minutes earlier each morning. When Sunday arrives, you will already be adjusted and when the kids bound into your room at 5 am it won't be so much of a shock (hopefully!).

You could also try the same approach with the children's bedtime / wake-up time.

Watch what they eat close to bed time

We know that certain foods help us to feel sleepy.  For example, milk contains tryptophan which increases the amount of serotonin  - a natural sedative.  Eating a banana with milk also provides vitamin B6 which helps convert the tryptophan to serotonin. Needless to say, high sugar foods close to bedtime are a no-no!  

If your children haven't eaten much that day you could always try a small portion of porridge (not a high sugar cereal) to help settle little tums or even a couple of cubes of cheese.

Reduce nap times

If your children are still napping, consider reducing their nap time by a quarter of an hour or so the day before to ensure that they are a little more tired at bedtime. If you're extra brave, do away with the nap altogether, although this isn't a good long-term strategy because you may find their sleep patterns are disrupted because they get too tired. A one-off won't hurt.

Get busy the day before

Plan a few activities the day before so that you are out and about in the fresh air. It's hard to feel naturally tired if you are indoors all day. We are spoiled for places to visit near Cardiff and can be in the open countryside in about half an hour.

Stick to your usual bedtime routine

Make sure you stick to your usual bedtime routine so that the children are able to go to sleep easily. A warm bath, milk and a cosy story - all the usual weapons in your sleep armoury should be used!

Block out the sun

When the sunlight comes streaming through the curtains it's hard for anyone to sleep. Good blackout blinds or a blackout lining added to the curtains in your children's bedrooms will really help, as will something simple like a venetian or roller blind.

Change the clocks the night before

Get it over with I say!  If you don't change them till you wake up there's a risk you might forget the time has changed and be late for football/church/the pub (kidding!).

Don't forget to alter the clocks on anything that doesn't automatically update.

Make the most of the extra hour

If you're pretty sure you're going to be up extra early, why not prepare a special breakfast with one or two treats like some pastries and fresh orange juice.

You could even go for an early swim, cycle or walk.

Yes I know most of us will be slumped in an armchair clutching a mug of coffee but the thought is there ...

Go to bed a bit earlier on the Sunday

If all else fails, you can all have a slightly earlier night on Sunday, safe in the knowledge that at least you won't have to do the school run.

Here's hoping you all have a restful Saturday night.

*contains affiliate links

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

An Easy Simnel Cake Recipe Just In Time For Easter

Just in time for Easter, Executive Head Chef at Sopwell House, Gopi Chandran, has shared his fool-proof Simnel cake recipe.

SImnel Cake from Gopi Chandran, Executive Head Chef at Sopwell House

Sopwell House is a stunning Georgian manor house located in the city of St. Albans deep within the Hertfordshire countryside. Located only 20 minutes from London St. Pancras, the hotel is the idyllic getaway just outside of the hustle and bustle of the capital.

The traditional Easter treat has been enjoyed since the Medieval times as a cake symbolic of the Easter story. Simnel cake is a light fruit cake with a hidden almond centre and is adorned with eleven almond paste balls to represent the disciples (minus Judas).

Sopwell House Executive Chef Gopi Chandran
Sopwell House Executive Chef Gopi Chandran

* 175 g soft butter or margarine
* 175 g light muscovado sugar
* 3 eggs
* 175 g self-raising flour
* 175 g sultanas
* 45 g dried apricots
* 45g dried apples
* 90 g glacé cherries, quartered, rinsed, and dried
* 30 g candied peel, roughly chopped
* Grated Lemon zest
* 1 tsp ground mixed spice

For decorating:

* 500g almond paste
* 2tbsp apricot jam
* 1 egg white


7 inch deep round loose bottom cake tin.


1. Preheat the oven to 165°C.

2. Roll out one-third of the almond paste. Using the base of the cake as a guide, cut out an 18cm disc.
3. Grease the cake tin, then line the bottom and side with greaseproof paper.

4. Combine all the cake ingredients in a bowl. Beat well until thoroughly blended. Spoon half of the cake mixture into the prepared tin and smooth the surface. Top with the pre-cut disc of almond paste.

5. Spoon the remaining cake mixture on top of the disc and smooth the surface.

6. Bake in the preheated oven for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until golden brown and firm to the touch. If the cake is browning too quickly cover the top of the cake with greaseproof paper.

7. Leave to cool for 10 minutes, then remove from the tin, and leave to cool fully.

8. Warm the apricot jam and brush on top of the cake.

9. To decorate the cake, roll out half of the remaining almond paste and use the tin to cut out another 18cm disc. Put it on top of the jam and crimp the edges. Roll the remaining almond paste into 11 even-sized balls. Place the balls evenly around the edge of the cake, attaching them with egg white. 

10. Brush the tops of the balls and the almond paste top with egg white. Place under a hot grill for 1-2 minutes until golden.


Sopwell House Dining Room
Sopwell House


Monday, 20 March 2017

Isn't Time The Ultimate Birthday Gift?

Readers of this blog will know that I am hopeless when it comes to choosing birthday gifts for myself.  This is largely because, once you're a parent, your first thought is more likely to be about replacing worn out kids' trainers than treating yourself to a manicure.

bunch of pink roses in a vase

As you get older you also acquire an appreciation of craftsmanship and quality which become more important that the current fly-by-night brand or trend.

I've probably inherited a parsimonious streak from my dad whose prime consideration when buying anything is "whether it will see him out".  Not particularly cheerful, but eminently practical, as I'm sure you will agree.

Another consideration is the fact that by the time you get to your 50s, you have most things, in fact almost everything you need.  That doesn't stop us from longing for a little bit of luxury.

"Fashion passes, style remains" - Coco Chanel

There are, though, some things that have been on my personal wishlist for a long time.  I was lucky enough to be given a Louis Vuitton Alma bag for my 50th by the Husband, but I have always had a hankering for a Rolex watch.

My late grandmother, Jessie, had a Rolex dating from the 1930's which is one of my dad's treasured possessions, and a pretty special family heirloom.  I would be perfectly happy with a pre-owned Rolex from a company specialising in second hand watches to hand down to Caitlin in many years to come.

As you get older you certainly come to treasure your time and I think its natural to create special celebrations and little rituals to mark its passing. The years seem to pass quicker and quicker.

Woman kneeling in the grass playing with flowers

"I think the older I get, the more I realize that the ultimate luxury is time." -  Michael Kors

Time has a special resonance for me since I had my kids in my forties and am aware that I might not have as much time with them as younger mums.  I obviously wouldn't change them for the world but I do think the experience of an older mum is different somehow.

I also prefer a perfume which is a little out of the ordinary such as Guerlain's Mitsouko (which means mystery in Japanese) and was created in 1919 . It is a Chypre fragrance with notes of peach, jasmine, may rose, spices (cinnamon), oak moss, vetiver and wood. It is a world away from lots of the synthetic, me-too fragrances currently on the market.

And of course as a massive Agatha Christie fan, I'd love a full set of Agatha Christie novels and a trip to see her holiday home near Torquay - Greenway, now in the safe hands of the National Trust.  You can even get there by steam train or boat.  How romantic is that?  I will be hinting largely to the Husband.

Tea in a white porcelain cup with a lipstick stain on the rim
Sometimes a cuppa in bed in the morning is all you want

But ultimately, whilst our things may give us pleasure, it is memorable experiences which stay with us and I am sure that for most mums a special snuggle from their kids and a cup of tea in bed means just much as a glitzy present.

Saturday, 18 March 2017

Review: I'm Wrecked This Is My Journal - The Alternative Baby Book For Frazzled Parents

If you're not a fan of cutesy pastel coloured baby books and fancy recording the real experiences and emotions you felt as a frazzled new parent, Shannon Cullen’s I’m Wrecked, This is My Journal is a unique diary which will allow you to do just that.

I'm Wrecked, This Is My Journal by Shannon Cullen book front cover

Mother-of-two Shannon who is the publishing director for children's books at Penguin Random House UK, has created an entertaining and honest journal. She has a new baby as well as a toddler and aspires to wake up naturally - without the aid of children - one morning.

It’s a book for parents to record their own experiences – both the highs and the lows – and to chart the extraordinary transition to parenthood.

Shannon says "I created this journal for new parents who are looking for a bit of downtime, which probably amounts to about 96 seconds per day. I wanted to reflect my experience of parenting, which is that everything is a balancing act - balancing your baby with one hand and a glass of wine with the other. But alongside the more frazzled moments there are all the wonderful memories that you think you’ll remember forever, vastly underestimating sleep deprivation. My journal is intended as a playful way for parents to remember the ups and downs of their parenting adventure."

Illustration from I'm Wrecked This Is My Journal: "What Song Is Number One This Week"?

The book is fully interactive with space alongside funny comments, quotes and activities for new parents to fill in, including pages to smudge your child’s fingerprints on, design parenting emojis and play baby bingo.

Inside you'll find  a wealth of fun ideas to do and doodle to take your mind off the fact that you're probably knackered and don't have a clue what you're doing (at least I didn't).

Illustration from I'm Wrecked This Is My Journal "List 5 Reasons Why You're A Good Parent"

For example you can create your ideal playlist, do a dot-to-dot or challenge yourself to see how quickly you can get the baby into the babygrow.  Or how about this for a quote:-  "The quickest way for a parent to get a child's attention is to sit down and look comfortable".  Actually that one is STILL true almost 10 years later.

It's a fun way to record how you were feeling in the precious early days and to keep and feel slightly smug later on when you realise how far you've come and how well you adjusted (because you will).

I'm Wrecked, This Is My Journal would make a great present for a new parent, parent-to-be or just to cheer yourself up when you feel that your life will never be fully under your control again.

Illustrations I'm Wrecked This Is My Journal "Smudge here the first solid food your baby ate"

Looking back on your experiences you'll soon find that you've had more #parentingwins than #parentingfails even through the haze of sleep deprivation and pureed fruit.

I'm Wrecked, This Is My Journal is published by Michael O'Mara Books RRP £9.99.

*contains affiliate link

Friday, 17 March 2017

Will This Help Your Loved One To Reduce Their Smoking Habit?

It's a no brainer that giving up smoking is one of the best things you can do for your health. And we all know that smoking is an addiction which is hard to kick.

woman smoking a cigarette

For many smokers, including my Dad, quitting is something they just cannot do and for us non smokers (or those of us who managed to kick the habit a long time ago), it is very frustrating to watch them indulge in the habit.

It's even more frustrating where there are children in the picture and I think most parents and grandparents would do all they could to avoid exposing their kids to cigarette smoke.

Since 2007 smoking has been banned in all enclosed public places in the UK including pubs, bars and restaurants and all enclosed work places as a consequence of the Health Act 2006.

The law changed in 2015 to make smoking in a car in the presence of children (anyone under 18) an offence with a penalty fine of £50 if you're caught.  It appears that actual prosecutions for this have been negligible.

So what can you do if you want to encourage a smoker to stop?  They will be well aware of the risks to their health and, in my experience, there's nothing like nagging a smoker to make them more determined to persist with their habit.

One of the best things you can probably do is to encourage the smoker to cut down. My dad limits himself to smoking his pipe after 1 pm.  Pushing the time horizon for that first ciggie of the day may help.

Other options to try are nicotine gums and patches or trying vaping.

Vaping is inhaling vapour from e-liquid through a personal vapourizer - a tobacco free version of the traditional cigarette. E-liquids usually consist of propylene glycol or vegetable glycerin combined with natural or artificial flavours.

The jury is out on the long term effects of vaping but studies so far seem to indicate that vaping is better for you than the traditional cigarette.

Here's what the NHS has to say on the subject of vaping. There are clear indications though that the benefits are for those who swop entirely to vaping. You can't vape and smoke traditional cigarettes and expect to see any benefit.

Newer research also indicates that you still should NOT vape if you're pregnant.

As Cancer Research UK says, what we have here is the principle of harm reduction, where even though vaping is likely to be better than traditional cigarettes, the practice may not be entirely risk free.

It should be remembered too, that vaping still involves varying degrees of nicotine and the practice was never designed as a quitting aid.

Anecdotal evidence suggests too, that whereas the cost of smoking traditional cigarettes could easily be in excess of £300 in the UK, vaping could cost around £30 a month - a significant saving.

The long term aim of any smoker should obviously be to quit the habit entirely but as a way of mitigating immediate damage to their health (and their wallet), vaping seems to be a viable alternative.

New Releases, Free & Bargain Books Link Up Week 12 2017

New Releases Free & Bargain Books Link-up Badge

How are you all this week?  I've been doing a bit of spring cleaning and have realised I now have so many books I need another bookcase.

My Kindle is equally stuffed with great reads but I am very fond of a hard copy book.

It's been the usual week, Tae Kwon-Do, swimming and ballet for the kids and, um, nowhere near enough exercise for me!

Once the weather gets a bit warmer I might have to take drastic action and dust off my trainers!

Did you catch my review of review of Scars (Time of Myths: Shapeshifter Sagas) by Natasha S. Brown?  If you like Tolkein and stories set in a fantasy world you'll love this one.

As usual, there are some 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!

Thursday, 16 March 2017

Problem Page Edition 11 2017

This week - who should text first, what "taking a relationship break" really means and a worrying case of stalking.

Woman on a grey sofa typing on a laptop

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: My parents yell and hit me and throw objects too when I do not do my school work or get poor grades. Is that abusive? 

Every time I play on my phone instead of doing work they yell at me. Every time I bring back a D grade they hit me and throw objects at me. Is this abusive?

A: Yes it is and I am so sorry to hear that this is happening to you. 

It is clear that your parents want you to do well but reacting like this is not acceptable. Have you tried telling them how you feel? 

I appreciate this is unlikely to improve matters but it may pave the way for a conversation and some solutions - for example finding you a tutor if you are struggling with a particular topic. 

On your part though, I hope that you are doing your best and not bunking off school. That’s not going to help either. 

Is there another family member or close friend you could confide in? 

You do not say what country you live in but if it is the UK you can call Childline confidentially on 0870 336 2920. 

Rest assured that you won’t be the only one putting up with this. 

Q: Why does he rarely text me first, even though we are dating? 

I’m in a long distance relationship with a guy but he rarely texts me first.  I usually text him first. He sometimes take a long time to respond and then only with “sorry for not replying”. A day after (still rarely) he'll text me as if nothing’s happened.

A: It really doesn’t sound as if this man is very interested and, since it’s a long distance relationship, that’s not altogether surprising. 

Rather than concentrating on the frequency of the texting, ask yourself how often you actually SEE him. 

Have you made plans to get together? Do you SKYPE or Facetime? Forgive me but it doesn’t sound much of a relationship if all you do is text one another. 

I would stop texting him and let him do the running but it sounds as if things have petered out, at least on his side. 

I would look for a new boyfriend I can actually spend time with on a regular basis - and closer to home.

Q: When your significant other says they want to "take a break" from the relationship, should you take it as "break up" and forget them and move on with your life?

A: I would, in all honesty because I suspect lots of people use “taking a break” as shorthand for “I want to break up but I don’t have the guts to tell you” or “I fancy sleeping with someone else but I’ll keep you on the back burner just in case”. 

I’m sure you’re feeling really hurt and disappointed but I would be strong and tell them “OK but don’t expect me to be still here when you decide to come back” and then go out and enjoy yourself, date other people and don’t be permanently attached to your phone so that you respond immediately to any casual text, call or Facebook message. 

Let them wonder what’s going on with you and then decide if they’re worth the bother of keeping in touch with anyway.

Q: A boy has loved me for a long time, but I don’t feel the same for him. I think that I can get someone better in the future. So should I commit to him or not?

A: If you don’t feel the same then don’t mess with the poor boy’s feelings. 

Make sure, though, that you are clear what you mean when you say “I can get better in future”. 

Better how? Better looking, a nicer person, a better earner? 

Of course you shouldn’t commit to someone you don’t love but it means having the bravery to tell him and to stand firm in your belief that there is someone better out there. 

Just make sure you’re not about to ditch a really nice guy because you think a millionaire in a Ferrari is waiting around the corner to whisk you off. 

That seldom happens I’m afraid.

Q: My friend has been having a guy follow her and sitting outside her work. The police say he is not a threat. Can she make them take the report?

A: I’m sure lots of women reading this will be totally exasperated at the police’s apparent lack of concern. 

I would tell your friend to go back and report it AGAIN until she is taken seriously. It may also be worth speaking to Citizens’ Advice Bureau (or similar) for some legal advice. 

Do you have photographic evidence of this guy stalking? Does she know this man? Are you sure you have all the information about the story? 

Are you and her family / friends making sure she is accompanied and not left to travel on her own? 

Has she reported this man to her employer because if he’s making a nuisance of himself outside her place of work, they have a duty of care towards her as well. 

Please don’t take any chances. Call 999 /911 if you have to.

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. 

Win Guinness World Records 2017: Blockbusters Book & Goody Bag

I'm sure you're all familiar with the Guinness Book of World Records.  Growing up I remember watching Record Breakers with Roy Castle - that's a fair few years ago now!

Guinness World Records 2017 Blockbusters Book Front Cover

But 23rd March will see the publication of the Guinness World Records 2017: Blockbusters book and to celebrate its publication I have a great giveaway for you which the kids will love.

Read on for more ...

Lights, camera, action! Brought to you by Guinness World Records 2017: Blockbusters! is here, packed with the latest records from your favourite films, social media, toys and beyond… Which movies took the box office by storm? Who’s the world’s best-selling kids’ author? Which YouTube stars have the most fans? What’s the most used emoji?

The latest edition of Blockbusters! holds all the answers to your need-to-know pop-culture questions. Plus, don’t miss the exclusive challenges for a chance to set your very own blockbuster record!

Find out more at www.guinnessworldrecords.com/blockbusters.

The Giveaway

There's a great prize on offer.  It consists of the following all for one lucky winner:-

GWR Blockbusters book and a copy of the 2017 Annual

Plus a Goody bag, containing: · 1 X Backpack; • 1 X Stopwatch; • 1 X Headphones; And • 1 X Mini Chocolate Egg Basket.

Entry is via the Rafflecopter and the usual terms and conditions apply which can be viewed on my competitions page.

The giveaway is open to UK entrants only and ends at 11:59 pm on Friday 31st March.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck!


Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Dream A Bit Bigger With Lottoland

What would you do if you won the lottery? If you're as obsessed with Pinterest as I am, you probably have your own vision board chock full of posh houses with pools, improbably large gemstones and a supercar to make Top Gear's Matt LeBlanc green with envy.  (I still miss Jeremy Clarkson, the Hamster and Captain Slow, but I digress)...

Image credit
We all know that winning is, shall we say, not guaranteed, but it doesn't stop us dreaming. If you fancy dreaming a bit bigger then I've found a way to enter international lotteries with huge jackpots - for example the US PowerBall or the US Megamillions with Lottoland.

Welcome screen of the Lottoland website

The US PowerBall created the biggest jackpot of all time - $1.6 billion (£1 billion) in January 2016 on Lottoland whilst the US Megamillions created the second biggest win of all time.

At Lottoland you have the chance to win the world's biggest lotto jackpots, as well as the lotteries we know and love such as the UK's Euromillions and the Irish Lottery.

Screenshot showing the various lotteries you can enter at Lottoland

So how can you do this?  You might assume that you are buying a lottery ticket but at Lottoland you are betting on the outcome of the official draw by doing something called lotto betting.

Lotto betting is conducted through a separate company, such as Lottoland and any money you win is paid out by them and not the official lottery operator.

So, if I win big on the US Powerball this week (I'm feeling lucky!), Lottoland will pay me the prize money, not the official PowerBall operator in the US.  It won't change me, honest.

You play in exactly the same way as you would other lotteries - select your numbers, sit back and wait for the draw.

The only real difference is that you have lots more chances to win big jackpots that you otherwise wouldn’t have access to, with Lottoland taking your bet and paying you if you win.

And this form of betting allows Lottoland to offer extra cash prizes not available by buying a ticket. For example, using the DoubleJackpot feature on Euromillions allows you to bet for twice the official lottery jackpot.  You do this by paying double the ticket entry price of £4 (entry is 50p cheaper on Lottoland at £2).  If the lottery jackpot is £50M, Lottoland will pay you £100M.

You can play on your PC or download the mobile app and Lottoland also offer new players a no deposit required free line Welcome Bonus to get you started.

To register you will need to supply a copy of photo ID (passport or driving licence) and a utility bill valid within the last 3 months to confirm your current address.  Simply snap with your phone and upload. Topping up your account with credit is easy and you can set a deposit limit to ensure you don't overspend.

Note that Lottoland does not permit underage players (you have to be 18+) and they recommend the installation of software such as Net Nanny, Cyber Sitter or the Parental Control Bar filter if you share your computer with your kids.

If you're looking for alternative lotteries to play, with more flexibility and even the chance to join syndicates with other players, take a look at Lottoland.

*collaborative post


Is Your Work Life Damaging Your Health?

Work can be tough for just about everyone. There's nothing particularly surprising about that. If it were easy and fun all of the time it wouldn't be called work, would it? It's completely natural to find yourself unwilling to even get out of bed from time to time. Of course, when that starts to be more of the rule than the exception, then there's a chance that you may have more of a problem than the standard job frustrations.

A really bad job can have a serious negative impact on your life in a lot of ways. It can take away a passion for something you used to care about, it can damage your personal relationships, and sometimes, if it's really bad, your job can actually end up being hazardous to your health. It might seem unlikely, but there's actually a much better chance than you might think that your job is damaging your body in some pretty significant ways. In order to help you prevent this from happening, here are a few ways that your work can damage your health, and what you can do to stop it.

The hours are too long

Image Source

There's an incredibly dangerous assumption made by far too many employers that their workers are always happy to do overtime. Not only that but many employees are made to feel as though they don't actually have any choice in the matter. People often think that they will be punished, passed over for promotions or worse, if they don't volunteer for every single piece of overtime that comes up.

Now, there's nothing wrong overtime in and of itself, but when it starts to take up huge amounts of your life, then it can lead to some serious problems. Exhaustion is one of the most common sources of workplace illness after injuries. If you're working something like fifty hours a week then you're not going to be able to concentrate, you're going to feel exhausted all the time, and it's going to negatively impact just about every aspect of your life. Not only that but studies have shown that people who work for ten hours or more a day are at increased risk of heart disease as well. Make sure that you speak to a member of human resources to find out what your rights are. You'll find that your employer can't penalise you just for wanting to work your contracted hours. Then you can take more time to rest, and you'll not only feel better, but you'll be a more productive employee as well.

You hate what you do

Few things in life are more frustrating than getting stuck in a job you hate. Spending eight or more hours a day doing something that you're not even remotely interested in can be enough to practically suck the life right out of you. Not only is it inevitably going to be very boring, but working a job like this can make you lose all sense of direction in life. Feeling like their job is pointless is one of the most common complaints among people suffering from depression. If you feel as though you're suffering from depression, then you should always speak to a professional, but you might also find that the best thing to do is to remove yourself from that job altogether. Of course, being unemployed and doing nothing isn't really going to solve the problem either. The best thing that you can do is to find a job that you really love. If you're the artistic type, then try something creative. Becoming a freelance writer or blogger is a fantastic option and gives you the kind of creative freedom that might be otherwise lacking. Or if you feel like you'd get more out of a job where you spent your time helping people, there are lots of nurses vacancies in hospitals all over the country! Being able to do something that you genuinely care about it going to help you find a much greater sense of direction and purpose in life, potentially helping to pull you out of that malaise.

Too much pressure

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Not everyone is meant to be a manager or business owner, and that's just fine. After all, sometimes you don't want your work to be your entire life. This is especially true if you have kids. With kids, you'll find yourself tired enough as it is without also dealing with employees, business finances and all of the other pressure and responsibilities that come with a high-level position. Stress isn't just something that can cause problems with your mental state either, too much stress and pressure from work can have a nasty impact on your physical well-being as well. Stress has been linked to heart disease, hair loss, weight gain, as well as many other alarming symptoms. If you feel as though the amount of pressure that your job is constantly dumping on you is causing you real harm, then it might be time to step back. Perhaps you need to drop down to a position with slightly less responsibility, or it might even be worthwhile dropping down to part-time hours in order to spend more time focussing on your family life. Whatever is best for you, it's a good idea to talk to your employer. The chances are that they'll be more than happy to support you and help you find an appropriate balance. This also might be a sign that you’re not working the right job. A career where you’re in charge of other people such a management role might simply be too much pressure and you’d be better off doing something with a little easier. Retail and service industry jobs allow you to stay busy and active without constantly piling on the kind of pressure than an office manager might deal with.

You're constantly sitting at a desk

Far too many jobs these days leave people just sat behind a desk for eight hours a day or more. Not only does this mean that many people are spending their entire days completely sedentary but it can also lead to some pretty serious back problems. The vast majority of people who work desk jobs and spend their days at a computer aren't sitting in a position that is either safe or comfortable. There are a few ways to deal with this. A standing desk is a great option and can also allow you to stretch your legs and stay active even while you're working. You can also get padding and back support for office chairs that encourage you to maintain the correct posture all day. Even something as simple and easy and just standing up and doing a short walk around the office every half an hour or so can work wonders to combat the stiffness and soreness that can often result from spending all day sitting behind a desk. There are also plenty of jobs that you can do instead that allow you to stay active. Working in a retail store allows you to be on your feet moving around all day and landscaping and gardening are often ranked as some of the healthiest jobs available.

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It's often surprising to people that many of their health issues can often be chalked up to their work life. Luckily, as this list shows, many of these things can be dealt with pretty easily before that become too serious. However, if you find that any of the symptoms that work can cause become severe or overly persistent, then it's crucial that you go and see a medical professional immediately. They will not only be able to advise you the best possible ways to counteract the effects of your job, but the doctor may also want to sign you off sick for a little while until you're fully recovered. There's no sense trying to push yourself too hard when all that's going to happen is that you're going to burn out and make things far, far worse in the long run. There's nothing wrong with needing some time away from work to rest and recover. Not only is it going to do you a world of good but it's also going to help you come back to work feeling more fired up and ready than ever.
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