HayMax Balm – A Natural Way To Help Relieve The Misery of Hayfever & Giveaway

It’s that time of year when the hay fever symptoms start to strike.  The Husband suffers quite badly and has to take Beconase nasal spray to relieve his symptoms.  The problem with this is that it tends to give him nosebleeds and, if he doesn’t start taking it quickly enough, he gets all the symptoms anyway.

HayMax Organic Drug-Free Allergen Barrier Balms - Hayfever Relief - motherdistracted.co.uk
HayMax Organic Drug-Free Allergen Barrier Balm Varieties

We are of course familiar with all the traditional ‘home cures’.  We tried this year to find locally sourced honey as the country wisdom is that taking a spoon of local (i.e. within a few miles) honey every day before the hay fever season starts can prevent its onset.

Unfortunately our local bee keepers in Dinas Powys had a very bad year.  We had high hopes for some honey from the hives at National Trust Dyffryn but nothing has materialised for sale.

Caitlin and Ieuan suffer some mild symptoms of hay fever so we were curious to try HayMax Organic Drug-Free Allergen Barrier Balm which can be used to ease and even prevent the miserable symptoms of hay fever and dust or pet allergies.

HayMax Organic Drug-Free Allergen Barrier Balm Pure - Hayfever Relief - motherdistracted.co.uk
HayMax Pure Balm

HayMax comes in a number of varieties but we tested HayMax Pure which is made from organic sunflower oil and beeswax.  There is no added fragrance or essential oils making this the best variant for those with sensitive skin.

HayMay Pure - the balm itself
The Balm itself

How does it work?

The theory is that when the amount of allergens in the body rises above a certain trigger level, your symptoms kick in.

HayMax Allergen Barrier Balm works by trapping the allergens so that the trigger level is not reached.

The products have been featured by doctors on TV and in the press and in one survey 80% of those who tested it said it worked for them.

It is suitable for adults and kids (although a new version, HayMax Kids is now available) and both pregnant and breast-feeding women can use it too.

How do you use it?

Simply apply around the nostils and /or the bones of the eyes when you start sneezing or your allergy symptoms start.

Caitlin & Ieuan testing HayMay Pure - Hayfever Relief - motherdistracted.co.uk
My crack testing team at work

Use it morning and evening and you will have to reapply when you blow your nose.

Caitlin applying HayMax Pure to Ieuan - Hayfever Relief - motherdistracted.co.uk
Add caption

Did it work?

The Husband and kids applied the balm liberally before a trip to Cosmeston Nature Reserve, guaranteed to make them all sneeze even though we love the place.

And whilst it did help the kids a little, it had little effect on the Husband.  This may be because his symptoms were already in full force before he tried it.

Ieuan, in particular, usually sneezes quite a bit but he was fine, even after a good hour and a half.

I think for HayMax to work you really need to be on the ball with your application and make sure you religiously reapply each time you blow your nose.

On the plus side, this is a very gentle way to help relieve some of the symptoms and, because it is non-drowsy and drug free I would certainly consider it as a supplementary aid to ease hayfever.

As I said, I am not sure we were applying enough or frequently enough.

There are other versions you can try – aloe vera, lavender, pure or frankincense, and the new HayMax Kids.

Caitlin applying HayMax Pure - hayfever relief - motherdistracted.co.uk

Haymax retails at £6.99 a pot and can be purchased from Holland & Barrett, selected Boots; independent chemists, pharmacists and health stores.

You can also buy direct from the company at haymax.biz.

If you would like to try HayMax for yourself, I have a pot of the Lavender and a pot of the Aloe Vera varieties to giveaway. (one pot each for two winners).

Simply enter via the Rafflecopter below.

The giveaway ends at 23.59pm on the 18th of April 2016.

UK entrants only and terms and conditions apply (on my Competitions Page).

Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*collaborative post

Win A Dozen Red Roses For Your Valentine

There is nothing like a dozen red roses to say “I love you” is there?  And I just such a prize to give away from Beards & Daisies – The Letterbox Florist guaranteed to melt the frostiest heart this Valentine’s Day.

Red roses in vase and box - Valentines Day Roses - motherdistracted.co.uk
Beautiful Valentines Day Roses From Beards & Daisies – The Letterbox Florist

Using Beards & Daisies couldn’t be easier.  You simply choose your flower box and select a delivery date. Their florist carefully packs your flowers and greetings card and the flowers are delivered straight to the recipient’s doormat.

There are currently 6 boxes to choose from, each one named after a bird:- the Hummingbird, the Nightingale, the Wren, the Dove, the Firecrest or the Skylark. Each box has a different combination of flowers and colour themes.

You can choose from a one-off box or a three month gift subscription – which would be an ideal Mothers’ Day gift too.  (This year Mothering Sunday falls on Sunday 6 March).

I was sent “The Hummingbird”  and this box is filled with Alstroemeria, Solidago, Wax Flower, Madiba and Hypericum.

Beards & Daisies Hummingbird - Letterbox Florist - motherdistracted.co.uk
The Hummingbird Arrangement 

Each box contains fresh, locally sourced flowers posted straight through your letterbox in a purpose designed, 2ft ventilated flower box. It’s as easy as receiving a letter and the flowers will be waiting on the recipients doormat when they get home!

Beards & Daisies - The Letterbox Florist - flower box - motherdistracted.co.uk
This is how the flowers arrive.

The flowers are lovingly packed in premium gift wrapping, including an A6 ‘A Little Note to Say’ greeting card with a hand written message, perfect for any occasion.

Beards & Daisies - The Letterbox Florist - Flower packaging - motherdistracted.co.uk
The flowers are beautifully packaged.

Beards & Daisies - The Letterbox Florist - Additional cards - motherdistracted.co.uk
Lovely additional touches to your flower box

As you can see, the box contains a card which explains which flowers you have received and, on the reverse, there are detailed instructions for both caring for, and arranging your flowers – a great help for those of us who tend to use the “plonk them in a vase” technique!

There is also a discount code to save 10% on your next order.

The Hummingbird box costs £25.99 for one box and £59.99 for a 3 month subscription (a saving of approx £18).

This includes free Royal Mail 1st class delivery in a ventilated box which fits through a standard letterbox.

Order by 4:00pm for free next day delivery.  Note that to ensure the freshest flowers, Beards & Daisies deliver Tuesday-Saturday.
Flower boxes are delivered to mainland UK only.
The recipient doesn’t have to wait in, it’s as easy as receiving a letter!
Protective packaging ensures flowers are delivered in perfect condition.
Signature gift wrapping is included with every flower box, together with a free A6 gift card ‘A little note to say’ with every flower box.

I found the flowers to be in great condition and they have added a lovely and much needed touch of spring to the house.  The quality of the Beards & Daisies box is excellent and would make a great gift.

Now, to my giveaway.

To win a beautiful dozen red roses for your Valentine (or to cheer yourself up!), just enter via the rafflecopter below.  Mainland UK entrants only.  The giveaway ends at 11:59 on Monday 8th February.  Terms and conditions, together with details of other Mother Distracted giveaways are on my Competitions page.

Note:  Beards & Daisies are only able to deliver to mainland UK. The winner will be required to respond with their details within 48 hours in order that their flowers can be received on Valentines Day.

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Giveaway: £45 Off Your First FoodZube Online Shop At Tesco

There are loads of food sites which offer meal plans.  There are also lots of supermarkets who deliver.

What if there were a site that helps you to combine your meal planning with your shopping in one location and suggests suitable recipes into the bargain?


FoodZube is a very clever site that allows you to plan your meals according to your taste, budget and the time you have available.  (I’m guessing limited if you’re a parent).

FoodZube helps you to organise your favourite recipes in one place, create meal plans and do your weekly shopping in one go, either on your PC or your mobile.

If you would like to try the service, FoodZube offers a free one month trial which doesn’t require a credit card sign-up.

Once you have filled in your basic personal information, you will be asked about your preferences – the food you like, dietary requirements (e.g. gluten-free), any nutritional limits (for example protein or carb limits), the time you have and the number you are cooking for,

There is also an option to choose low budget recipes and a very handy ‘up to 30 minutes’ flag for when there’s little time to cook.

You then have the option to add your own recipes, together with the date you intend to cook them so that you create a meal planner.

You can also import recipes from other websites to keep them in one handy location.

Or simply click on “Instant Organizer” which gives you a great list of recipes to choose from based on the requirements you have input on the preferences page.

For someone like me whose repertoire tends to revolve around a combination of pizza, spaghetti bolognese and fish fingers, this is a fabulous tool.

I actually find thinking what to have for tea more stressful than having to cook it.

Once you are happy with the recipes suggested, simply click on “Weekly Shopping” and FoodZube will create a shopping list for you.

It’s easy to edit the ingredients you would like and you can also add other non food items to complete your weekly shop in one go.

Click “Buy Online” and you’ll be asked to confirm which recipe ingredients you would like FoodZube to add to your shopping list.

Then, very cleverly, FoodZube does your shopping by filling your virtual basket for you to sort through, adding and removing items as necessary.

Currently the supermarket used is Tesco but I imagine there will be a wider choice in the near future.


From this point, all you have to do is check out in the usual way and wait for your shopping to be delivered.

You’ll find you’ve saved quite a bit of time on your shop because you don’t have to look for all the ingredients – and you might even save some money since I find when I’m searching it’s very easy to add one or two extra treats to the virtual trolley!

You can even start your own food blog on FoodZube’s site and connect with other FoodZube bloggers.  This is a service I have never seen offered by any other food-based website.

There are over 50 specialised designs from which to choose and dozens of recipe templates to give your blog a professional edge.

The FoodZube team will even set up your blog’s Pinterest account and help you launch it!

FoodZube is free for the first month and costs £7.99 per month thereafter, which I think is incredibly good value.

And I have a fabulous giveaway of £45 off your first FoodZube shop at Tesco.com.

Please note that the winner must sign up to FoodZube in order to receive the prize.  This is free and you can cancel after one month.  No credit card details are required to sign up with FoodZube. The prize will be delivered from Tesco.com which will require an online account with them. Again, there is no charge to do this.

There is no cash prize. The winner will be required to send an email with their home address to FoodZube who will sort out their delivery for them.

Entrants must be over 18 and able to receive deliveries from Tesco.com.

Not in the UK and want your meals delivered?  Click here for more info.

Entry is via the Rafflecopter.  Terms and conditions apply.  UK entrants only.  The giveaway ends at 11:59 pm on Saturday 30th January 2016.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Further information about FoodZube is available at www.FoodZube.co.uk, on Twitter or Facebook.

Smiggle Giveaway – Funky Stationery From Australia – 2 Prize Bundles

This giveaway is now closed but you can find all my current competitions on my giveaways page.

Smiggle is an Australian stationery brand with over 200 stores worldwide and they pride themselves on being the ultimate creators of colourful, fun, fashion-forward stationery.

The first Smiggle store opened in Melbourne, Australia and word spread fast about the bright pens, notebooks and gadgets that filled a tiny, but very special place and, in 2014 Smiggle opened its doors here in the UK.

In case you’re wondering, a Smiggle is a cross between a smile and a giggle and the team at the Smiggle Design Lab draw inspiration from all over the globe to create products with bold colour, quirky graphics and good value prices.

I have two prize bundles each worth £15 to give away.  Each bundle contains a selection of Smiggle items (a pen, pencil, pencil case and slapband).  Ideal for restocking those back-to-school pencil cases to make a grey January a bit more bearable.


Smiggle Yums Scented Silicon Pencil Case - Giveaway - motherdistracted.co.uk
Smiggle Yums Scented Silicone Pencil Case – £12.50

Smiggles’ first ever silicone scented 3D shaped pencil case has 2 fun YUMS characters! Pineapple & cola scented!

Smiggle Yums Pencils - giveaway - motherdistracted.co.uk
Smiggle Yums Pencil – £2.00 each

These HB pencils have interchangeable scented eraser toppers and match the other Yums designs – ice cream, cupcake, pineapple, drink cup and hamburger.

Smiggle rainbow pens - giveaway - motherdistracted.co.uk
 Smiggle Yums Rainbow Pens – £3.50 each

I used to love multi-ink pens when I was in school.  These pens have 8 colours in 1 pen (pink, purple, red, orange, yellow, green, blue and black) with graphic epoxy on the clip.

Smiggle Yums Scented Slapband – £3.50

These new scented slap bands are available in 5 yummy smelling scents – Cola, Blueberry, Vanilla, Apple, Strawberry.  They’re made from rubber and steel and have large icons designed to be worn like a bracelet.

To enter the giveaway, just complete the Rafflecopter widget.  The usual terms and conditions apply. UK entries only.  The giveaway ends at 11:59 pm on Thursday 7th January 2016.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck!

A Colourful Stationery Giveaway For Kids From Maped Helix

There’s nothing like the incentive of colourful, fun pens, pencils and stationery to encourage kids to do their homework.  Well, that and various bribes and muttering about the removal of WiFi privileges.

Maped Helix is a stationery company with a long history and has been making educational and stationery products for many years.

Although best known for educational stationery, including the Helix/Oxford Maths Set, this year Maped are all about colour.

Maped Helix Stationery Products - giveaway - motherdistracted.co.uk
A Selection of Maped Helix Pens & Pencils *note prize bundle differs

They also have some quirky ideas which my two loved. What about the Zenoa Collector eraser (PVC free) which has a happy or sad face or the pink Twin Tip Girly ballpoint pen which has four colours,two at each end.  Then there’s the strangely bendy Flex Box full of coloured pencils which you can bend to fit in your backpack or satchel.

Maped Helix Colour Peps Flex Box - giveaway - motherdistracted.co.uk
Maped Helix Color Peps Flex Box

Maped Helix Zenoa Eraser - giveaway - motherdistracted.co.uk
The Zenoa Eraser

We found the products to be solidly made and good quality.  We have got through endless packs of cheap supermarket ‘value’ pens or pencils which give no colour and last precisely 15 minutes before they’ve been dropped on the floor and are impossible to sharpen ever after.

Caitlin testing Maped Helix Girly Pen - giveaway - motherdistracted.co.uk
Caitlin has claimed the Girly pen as hers

I have a great prize bundle to give away which contains some ideal stocking fillers for Christmas.

There is:-

Maped Color Peps Flex Box with 12 coloured pencils
Maped Zenoa Collector Eraser
Maped Twin Tip Girly Ball Point Pen In 4 Colours
Maped Graph Pens – Fine Point In 4 Colours
Maped Geo Custom 15 cm ruler.

Please note some of these are different products to those pictured above.

Entry is via the Rafflecopter widget – just click on the link.  Terms and conditions apply.  UK entrants only.  The giveaway ends at 11:59 pm on Saturday 19th December.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Further information about Maped Helix products, including stockists, is available on their website www.mapedhelix.co.uk/products.

Review: Salcura Bioskin Junior & Giveaway

Having had two kids who have occasionally suffered from mild eczema, I was interested to discover Salcura Natural Skin Therapy.

Salcura is a British Skincare Brand that creates natural formulations for problem skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis, acne and sensitive skin.

Salcura Bioskin Junior Bathtime Bath Milk - Giveaway - motherdistracted.co.uk
Salcura Bioskin Junior Bathtime Bath Milk – £9.99

One of Salcura’s most popular ranges is the award-winning Bioskin Junior, which caters to dry skin conditions in children. In particular the range is designed for babies and children prone to eczema and psoriasis.

Bioskin Junior offers a range of products to form a skin therapy regime which uses only naturally active ingredients. The products are free from steroids, SLS, parabens, lanolin, phthalates, antibiotics and paraffin.

The products are designed to work with the skin to aid its own natural healing process and will also help sooth dermatitis, dry and itchy skin. We were invited to try some of the Bioskin Junior products.

We tried the two step system (Daily Nourishing Spray and Outbreak Rescue Cream) and the Bath Milk.

The bath milk is designed to cleanse, soften and soothe and has chamomile as the active ingredient. There is also a face & body wash and a shampoo. The product has quite a botanical, natural fragrance and is non greasy – helping to avoid dangerous slips in the bath.  Salcura suggest using 2-3 capfuls of bathmilk per bath.   We found the bathmilk gave a soothing, gentle bath with no harsh aromas and no greasy residue left to scrub off the tub.

Salcura Bioskin Junior Daily Nourishing Spray - giveaway - motherdistracted.co.uk
Salcura Bioskin Junior Daily Nourishing Spray – £9.99


Eczema can damage the skin’s protective membrane. Traditional creams and emollients can help to manage this by creating an artificial barrier but the Bioskin Daily Nourishing Spray works differently.

Salcura says it penetrates deeply to nourish and support the growth of new cells, helping the skin to repair itself and rebuild its own protective membrane.

The nourishing spray is designed to be used on affected areas of skin twice a day. The spray can be used on the face too – just take care to avoid the eyes.

We found it to be a light, colourless spray which is easy to use, pleasantly fragranced and quickly absorbed.

The Daily Nourishing Spray is part of a two-step system.  The spray is for regular maintenance when the skin is not flaring up. Its active ingredient is Sea Buckthorn, rich in Omegas.

Salcura Bioskin Junior Outbreak Rescue Cream
Salcura Bioskin Junior Outbreak Rescue Cream – £9.99

The Outbreak Rescue Cream is designed to be used during flare-ups. It should be applied liberally to the skin as often as required and can also be used on the face.  I tried it on a sore patch of skin I have on my hand and the cream did not sting, was very soothing and left a definite protective layer.

The active ingredient is Natural Volcanic Zeolite, said to be rich in rejuvenating minerals.

I was quite impressed by the Bioskin Junior products and like the fact that there are no harsh additives. The spray, in particular, is a great way of applying skincare to wriggly, grumpy little ones! Older children could even apply it themselves.

There are some brilliant customer reviews on the website too.  If your child has eczema you tend to work your way through all the ‘usual suspects’ – Doublebase, Diprobase etc until you find one that works but the customer reports here are promising.

The Salcura Bioskin Junior products are available at  www.salcuraskincare.com and have a 30-day money-back guarantee. Alternatively, you can find them at Boots and some wholefood shops.

Further information at https://www.salcuraskincare.com/bioskin-junior/.

Win A Christmas Lily & Rose Bouquet From Debenhams Flowers

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

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

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

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

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

Christmas flowers-Christmas gifts-Flowers by post - motherdistracted.co.uk
Christmas Cheer – including red Asiatic Lilies, Grand Prix Roses and white Reagan Chrysanthemums – £24.99

A bouquet is also an ideal gift for someone who is difficult to buy for, or who is a long way away during the festive season.

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

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

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

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

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

Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Book Review: Goodbye Tootsie By Delynn Royer

Mystery and Romance in 1920s Manhattan…

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

New York City, 1925

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

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

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

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

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

Available to buy from…

Amazon.com   Amazon.co.uk   Barnes and Noble   

Also Available…

It Had To Be You

New York City, 1924

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

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

Sean’s childhood sweetheart, the victim’s widow, who has gone missing.

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

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

Available to buy from…

Amazon.com   Amazon.co.uk   Barnes and Noble   

About the Author

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

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

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

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

Find the author on the following sites…

Twitter   Goodreads   Amazon Author Page

My Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Win A Festive Degustabox In Time For Christmas

I have another fabulous giveaway from the lovely people at Degustabox – a surprise festive Degustabox.

As you might remember from my last post, Degustabox is a monthly subscription food box service with each box containing between 9 and 14 products from well known and / or up-and-coming brands.

October Degustabox contents
The contents of  my October Degustabox

Each box costs £12.99 including delivery and the value of the box contents is promised to be far greater than this, based on what you would expect to pay if you bought the items in the shops.

Once you have received your box, you are encouraged to review the products and let the brands know what you thought – whether you liked the item or not.

I was sent the October box to try and it contains a lovely mix of sweet and savoury treats. There is a selected list of products for each month published on the website but not everyone receives the same combination.

Here’s what was in mine.  This is not the festive box – the contents will be a surprise!

Once again, there was a mixture of brands I already knew but quite a few I’d heard of but not got round to trying – which is really the point of Degustabox.

There were 11 products from October’s selection and 2 which Degustabox call their “Db’s Discoveries”.

Box of 9 Bar Original Carob Bars
9Bar Original Carob Hit Bars – £2.49

9BAR Original Carob Hit is a delicious, natural source of good energy for people who lead active lives.  The bars are packed with naturally nutritious sunflower, pumpkin, sesame and hemp seeds with a smooth carob topping.

Cirio Passata and Chopped Tomatoes
Cirio Passata & Chopped Tomatoes – £2.25

These are really useful, given the volume of pasta we get through in this house – Cirio La Classica Passata and Cirio Chopped Tomatoes. Great to have as storecupboard staples,  we make sure we have a stockpile to hand!

Lorena Premium French Lemonade - Coconut-Lime
Lorena Premium French Lemonade – Coconut-Lime – £1.49

There was a bottle of Lorena Premium French Lemonade in Coconut-Lime flavour.  Lorina has been making lemonade since 1895 and use 100% natural ingredients with no artificial colours, flavours or preservatives.  It comes in a range of flavours and this one, Coconut & Lime would taste delicious with a splash of rum.

Snacks from The Snack Organisation
Rice Crackers – £1.00 and Freeze Dried Fruit – £1,00

These are two products from The Snack Organisation.  We have rice crackers, which come in Lightly Salted, Sweet Chilli and Teriyaki flavours which are baked, not fried and are gluten free. The second product is Freeze Dried Fruit which comes in Strawberry, Apricot, Apple and Pineapple. Freeze drying preserves the fruits nutrition without any unhealthy oils.  The fruit can be snacked, crunched and sprinkled and, again, a gluten free and suitable for vegetarians.

Fairtrade nuts from Liberation Foods
Fair Trade Nuts From Liberation Foods at £2.00 per pack

These nuts are from Liberation Foods, owned by small-scale nut farmer co-ops in Africa, India and Latin America, Liberation’s mission as a Fair Trade nut company is to bring producers and consumers together so that everyone gets a better deal.  Flavours include Fairtrade Oven Baked Salted Cashews & Peanuts, Fairtrade Oven Baked Chilli & Lime Cashews with Peanuts and Roasted Corn and Oven Baked Mixed Peppercorn Peanuts with Cashews & Habas Fritas.

Kabuto Noodles with coconut, chicken, chilli and coriander
Kabuto Noodles – £1.99

Kabuto Noodles are a fresh tasting noodle dish with coconut, chicken, chilli and coriander, inspired by the warm coconut laksa dishes of Malaysia.  There are no additives or preservatives and to eat you simply top up with boiling water.

Cooke's Chip Strips
Chip Strips – £2.00

There was also Chipstrips savoury potato snacks and a voucher for £2.00 for President Unsalted Butter.

The 2 “DB’s Discoveries” this month were Provena Gluten Free Oat Muesli, suitable for those suffering from gluten intolerance and Coeliacs, and Appy Drinks, award winning juices which contain 50% less sugar and calories than regular fruit juice, making them a better choice for children than some juices.

Provena Gluten Free Oat Museli
Proven Gluten Free Oat Muesli – £3.79

Degustabox also include a cheat sheet detailing all the brands and what you could expect to pay for them in the supermarket and a couple of handy recipes to try out the contents of the box.

The total retail value of the box is £22.00, good value given the cost of the box was £12.99.  If you like the excitement of a monthly present and enjoy trying out new brands, I think Degustabox is a great scheme.  I’d place it firmly in the ‘treat’ category but the price is low enough to make it attractive.  Currently, if the four of us go for a coffee and a bun, for example, we usually end up paying around the £15 mark.  (Yes I know, find the thermos!).  A Degustabox subscription would also make a great gift.  You can cancel at any time, as long as you give them sufficient notice to stop next month’s box.

Please note, though that Degustabox can only deliver to Mainland UK and not to Northern Ireland, the Scottish Highlands and Islands and you must be over 18 to order.

I have a festive December Degustabox to give away to one lucky winner and no, I can’t tell you the contents because it will be a surprise.  Simply enter via the Rafflecopter below.  Sorry, but Mainland UK entrants only.  The giveaway will end at 11:59 pm on Sunday 15th November 2015.

If you don’t win but would like to give Degustabox a try, I also have a discount code for first time subscribers for a very generous £6 off your first box. Simply enter BLDEG15 at checkout.

Reminder: all entrants need to be resident in mainland UK (excluding Northern Ireland and Scottish Highlands and Islands) and over 18.

In order to receive your box in time for Christmas, Degustabox will need the name and address of the winner no later than 20th November.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Have you entered my other competitions?  Just click HERE.

Further information is available at the Degustabox UK website,  or you can talk to them on Facebook or on Twitter.

Win A Footcare Bundle From Scholl

Since I had kids I must confess that most of the time I am in flats or boots – largely so I can keep up with Caitlin and Ieuan.

Just occasionally, and usually for a date night with The Husband, I put on a pair of heels.

There is a definite art to walking in heels and I think I’ve lost it.  It’s a bit ironic that in my working days I lived in heels and thought nothing of sprinting for buses and trains wearing them.

Nowadays I find I’m teetering like an old lady whilst holding on to The Husband’s arm!

Having big feet doesn’t help.  I take a size 8 shoe and it’s only in recent years that footwear manufacturers deigned to make shoes in that size!

Actually, I’m in good company.  Look at the celebs below who have less than dainty feet!

Elle Macpherson – size 12 feet

Elle Macpherson – size 12

Kate Winslet – size 11

Uma Thurman – size 11

Paris Hilton – size 11 feet

Paris Hilton – size 11

Oprah Winfrey – size 11

Meg Ryan – size 11

Audrey Hepburn – size 10.5 feet

Audrey Hepburn – size 10.5

Cindy Crawford – size 10

Jacqueline Kennedy – size 10

Surprising, isn’t it?

But when I do find heels that fit, I usually have to sacrifice comfort for style.

I rely on products like Scholl’s Party Feet, thin gel inserts which just slip into your shoes and stop that awful burning sensation on the ball of your foot.

I also make sure my feet are well moisturised and that I’ve removed any uncomfortable hard skin.

Scholl have just brought out a new Dry Skin Instant Recovery Cream which moisturises and exfoliates to give an instant soothing effect that lasts for up to 24 hours.

Scholl claim that your feet will look much healthier after 7 days which is a time-scale I definitely like!

Shoes and boots can also be kept fresh with Scholl’s Fresh Step Shoe Spray which has a 24 hour formula.

Very useful for trainers and keep fit shoes!

Scholl products are widely available at supermarkets and chemists.  For further information, visit their website at www.scholl.co.uk.

If you would like to try some Scholl products, I have a bundle of Scholl Footcare products to give away to one lucky winner comprising:-

Scholl Dry Skin Instant Recovery Cream 60 ml
Scholl Fresh Step Shoe Spray 24 Hour Performance 150 ml
Scholl Party Feet Ultra Slim Invisible Gel Cushions – 1 pair

Just enter via the Rafflecopter below.  UK entrants only.

The giveaway ends at 11:59 pm on Friday 30th October 2015.

Please note that the prize will be sent out by a PR company and I cannot be held responsible for items lost or damaged in transit or which do not arrive.

Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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

Add A Sparkle To Your Dinner Party With Some Fantasy Guests

Regular readers of this blog know that one of my prevailing urges (of which there are many) is to host a festive dinner party.

I love to peruse the weighty Christmas editions of the women’s monthly magazines and fantasize about smoked salmon blinis, a handmade Beef Wellington with seasonal veg, and a cheesecake smothered in a wild berry compote with a sprinkling of the darkest chocolate.

My dining room will be a-glow with candlelight or even fairy lights (primarily just to annoy The Husband) with beams dancing off gleaming champagne flutes and wine goblets.

The wine will be chilled, the canapes prepped and I will have a leisurely hour or so to dress and do my face and hair.

Anyone who has kids, of course, knows that this is about as likely as snow in July.

The reality is that time will drift away so we’re late putting things in the oven.

The crockery won’t match.

There will be, for some paranormal reason, several dessert spoons missing and the kids will have hidden the teaspoons.

I will probably have bought a cheesecake and forgotten to defrost it and the local supermarket will have absolutely no cream.

By the time we have finally got the kids to bed, I’ll have approximately 10 minutes to change into a dress and will be barefoot because I won’t be able to find any tights.

Bed socks are not a good look for a dinner party.

Then there’s the question of the guest list.

It’s usually us four, plus my mum and dad.

The last time we ‘entertained’, the guests got so tipsy on red wine we found a pair of them lying outside on the pavement counting the stars.

If I hadn’t gone to put the rubbish out for the bin men at 11 pm, I suspect they would still have been there in the morning.

No, to play it safe, I think I’d choose from the ranks of the famous, past and present for a memorable dinner party with less chance of any health and safety infringements.

These would be my top 6 guests.

Hercule Poirot 
although he’d probably spend the time in my kitchen rearranging my crockery in order of height

David Suchet as Hercule Poirot

Queen Elizabeth The First
because Caitlin has Elizabeth as a middle name in her honour and good Queen Bess was a great feminist role model.

Stephen Fry
So many fabulous stories to tell and he could take charge of the after-dinner quiz.

Albert Einstein
to explain quantum physics and to find out his views on “The Law of Attraction”.

Dame Helen Mirren
for her great pro-age stance

Dame Helen Mirren

Greta Garbo
to see if she’d turn up or just wanted to be alone

The Husband would just invite the Welsh Rugby Team or Five Finger Death Punch to provide the music.  I say music.  Everyone has their own interpretation.

Still, at least these days the phrase “do you need a hand with the dishes” is practically redundant now many of us have dishwashers.

Who would you invite to your Christmas dinner party?

Wingz – A Clever Cover-Up For Arms And A Giveaway

I recently discovered a brilliant way to add a bit of versatility to your wardrobe whilst covering your arms – Wingz.

Neither bra, lingerie, top or outerwear, Wingz are a one-piece pair of sleeves you add to your outfit by pulling them over your head so that the band sits just underdneath your bra.  You then simply put your dress or top on in the usual way.

I’m sure many of us find hiding any upper arm wobbly bits more flattering and, now that the temperatures are dropping, Wingz are a great way to wear with some of your favourite summer outfits to create ‘transitional’ looks.

It’s easy to work out your size.  Just measure under your bust and use Wingz’ size guide.  Wingz fit from a UK size 6 to 28.

They are also a great addition to your suitcase when you are travelling to countries where local custom requires you to cover your upper arms, for example in India or Turkey.

There are a number of styles and colours to choose from, some classic and some more glam depending on the look you want to create.

I was sent a pair of the black, full length fitted stretch Wingz and a pair of  black chiffon flare Wingz to try.

Black Full Length Wingz & New Look Dress

These are the black full length fitted Wingz worn under a New Look sleeveless dress.

And these are the black chiffon flare Wingz worn under a jumpsuit from Wallis.

Black Chiffon Flare Wingz, Wallis Jumpsuit & Bertie Shoes

Wingz are really easy and comfortable to wear and really add a bit of versatility to your existing wardrobe.  It’s not obvious that they are not part of the outfit, either. They are also very reasonably priced, most of them being under £20 a pair.

I have a pair of Wingz to give away to one lucky winner – either the black chiffon flare, as above or a pair of the black beaded angel Wingz.  Just enter via the Rafflecopter in the usual way.  The giveaway ends at 11:59 pm on Friday 2nd October 2015.  UK entrants only.

Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Further information is available at www.wingzfashion.com.  You can also contact them via Facebook or Twitter.

*PR samples were sent for the purposes of this post