Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Tea India Review

It seems to be compulsory in the UK to drink tea. Lots of tea.  Even more so if you live in Wales.  When Tea India got in touch & asked if I'd like to try out some of their teas, newly launched in the UK, I was intrigued.  What's so different from any other cuppa?  Well, the postie turned up obscenely early on my day off, and I answered the door with scarecrow hair, PJs, and eyebags too big for Easyjet hand luggage.  Clearly a cuppa was just what I needed.

I love Chai.  I can't convince SqueakyDaddy, because he's not a tea drinker at all, but to me, Chai isn't tea.  It's not.  It's a million times nicer, more complex, and just yummy.  I was sent the Masala Chai to try out, but they also have a Vanilla Chai & Cardamom Chai varieties, so one for every mood.  The Masala Chai is blended with ginger, cinnamon, black pepper, cardamom, cloves & star anise to give a really warming rich taste.  Just right for the autumn nights.  It's a really complex flavour, and hard to describe.  I've never been one for being able to tell you what drinks taste of, I'll never put Oz Clarke out of a job!  Even though there's quite a few sweet spices in there, it doesn't make it a sweet tea.  It's a big flavour though, one to savour, not to bolt down.  It'll last ages with us as well, as it's only me drinking it!

I'll confess to not being a massive "normal" tea drinker, so for the black tea, I realised I should enlist the help of some experts.  My colleagues are well known for their great tea-drinking skills, and they deserve a little treat every now & then, so I took the box of black tea in for them to try out.  First impressions were that I was really spoiling them, the box definitely looks like a step up from the supermarket norm.  The tea itself passed the taste tests with everyone, from the no-milk tea drinker, right through to the lots of milk & at least 2 sugars end of the spectrum.  Not too strong, not too feeble, and no tanniny aftertaste.  The tea leaves are picked from only the top two leaves & the bud, where the tea is freshest, which is what gives the rich & smooth taste.

The Masala & Cardamom Chais have both been awarded a 1 star gold rating in the Great Taste Awards 2012, and the Vanilla Chai and black tea were each awarded a 2 star gold rating, confirming the quality of the range.  Tea's what you want it to be, a quick pick-me-up, or a real treat.  Tea India makes the treat side a whole lot more sophisticated.  I'm never going to be completely converted away from coffee, believe me, it's for your benefit as much as mine.  But I'm very happy to have an alternative.

Tea India is stocked in selected Tescos & Booths stores, Tescos stores mostly in the South East, Booths in the North West & Yorkshire.  Including my former stomping ground of Ilkley.  That makes me very happy.

Disclosure: I was sent two boxes of Tea India teas free of charge for the purposes of this review.  All opinions are my own & I was not told what to write.  Links are provided for your convenience.  I am not a member of any affiliate scheme & will not receive reward for their use.

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Palmers Body Butters - Review

Christmas is fast approaching (sorry, but it's true).  If the men (I'm talking grandpa as well here, I'm not that sort of girl!) in your life are anything like the men in mine, then they're a nightmare to buy presents for.  Women are easy to please, or I am at any rate. If it's sparkly, or smells nice, I'm a happy bunny.    There's only so many jumpers & socks a man can usefully receive though.  And why shouldn't men have the chance to be pampered?

When Palmers offered me the chance to try out some of their Body Butters, and offered me some more "manly" scents, I was intrigued.  Palmers, to me, means cocoa butter, and much as I love it, it's not exactly manly.  I shouldn't have been concerned.  I received two tubs, the Shea Body Butter, and the Coconut Body Butter.

The coconut is a much lighter smell than I imagined, and SqueakyDaddy, who I enlisted as chief tester, said he liked it.  Strong words indeed.  It's subtle, and after 5 minutes, the smell has pretty much worn off, so he can use it before work, and by the time he's driven there, no-one would be any the wiser that he might be the kind of man who uses *shock horror* moisturiser!

L-R: Coconut Body Butter, Shea Body Butter
However, it was the Shea Body Butter that was the real hit.  I love Shea butter, it's rich and smooth, but there's very little smell to it at all.  Daddy's just spent a few days sunning himself in Spain, and he's come back with a slightly sunburnt head.  Apparently the Shea Body Butter is just the thing to soothe the tight & dry skin on his head.  I haven't been able to get anywhere near it, and my elbows are suffering as a result!

It might be an unusual gift for a man, but you know they're not going to get the same from anyone else.  Whether you've got a style-conscious teen in the house, a metrosexual man about town, a sunburnt hubby in need of a bit of TLC, or grandpa who's great at administering hugs, I think a Palmers Body Butter would make a great stocking filler.  Oh, and they're pretty cool for women too!  At £4.99 for a 170g tub, they're an affordable bit of luxury against the winter weather and a perfect Christmas treat.

Disclosure: I was sent the Coconut & Shea Body Butters free of charge for the purpose of this review.  I was not told what to write, and all opinions are my own.  Links are provided for your convenience, I am not a member of any affiliate scheme & will not receive any reward for their use.

Monday, 29 October 2012

Pip's Garden Review

Yes, that's her name. It's not a secret.
I was approached recently to review some personalised clothing for Squeaky from Pip's Garden.  I hadn't heard of them before, but they sell personalised children's clothing, as well as bedding and towels, all ethically sourced, making for a unique and very special gift.

Squeaky received a personalised pirate ship t-shirt with her real & proper name on it (though I wouldn't have argued with The Jolly Squeaky!)  Pirates are a big favourite in our house, so it was a great item to receive.  The pirate ship is embroidered on with appliqué sails & ship body, making each piece unique, before you even get to the personalisation.  The stitching is top quality - I've had a good old look, and there's not a loose end to be seen, so I'm quite confident that the shirt will look great for a good while.

 I mentioned above that the products are all ethically sourced, this was backed up further by the tag attached to the shirt - 100% organic African fairly traded cotton.  I know I'm not perfect, particularly when it comes to my own clothes, but where I can, I do try to make sure I buy ethically.  The small difference made to my costs makes a massive difference at the other end of the supply chain, and to the lives of some of the poorest people.  The content of this tag, and the detail in the shape, made me very happy.

Detail, yes, that would be the word.  Even the packaging was gorgeous.  I don't normally take many photos of paper wrapping, but I just couldn't resist.  Had wrapped, tied, with a hand written message on the tag.  The attention to detail in every aspect of the shirt, and its packaging, is just amazing.  It makes it a really special item.

And what does Squeaky think to it?  What do you reckon?  We were sent the age 2-3 sized shirt, she'll be 3 in January, but there's loads of growing room, so I think we'll be able to get plenty of wear out of it, before looking for another little pirate with the same name to pass it on to.

I always make sure I've given clothes a full wear & wash cycle before I review them, there would be nothing worse than writing a great review, & then finding something fell apart on the first wash. No such problems here.  The shirt washed beautifully, kept its shape, even with the embroidery & applique.

At £19.50, it's not the cheapest shirt ever made.  But considering that includes personalisation and shipping, it's not as pricey as it would first appear.  I think a Pip's Garden shirt, or romper would make a beautiful gift for a special child this Christmas. Or a personalised dressing gown for the favourite blogger in your life!!  (hint hint)

Disclosure I was provided with a personalised shirt free of charge for the purpose of this review.  I was not told what to write and all opinions are my own.  Links are provided for your convenience, I am not a member of any affiliate scheme and will not receive reward for their use.

Mystery solved!

A couple of weeks ago, when I picked Squeaky up from nursery, one of the carers told me how brilliant she'd been that day (naturally!).  They'd been looking at healthy eating & some vegetable flashcards, and Squeaky knew every veg, straight away.  Even the aubergine!  The carer said that she'd forgotten the name, and Squeaky just looked at her & piped up "aubergine", amazing everyone.

I wracked my brains, trying to work out how she knew that.  We'd been shopping over the weekend and bought an aubergine (it took me 3 shops to find one, grrr), so I put it down to that.  But I was still a little bit puzzled, they're not really an everyday veg, or not in our house at least.

Moving on, I'd almost forgotten all about that.  And then over this weekend, we were listening to the new CBeebies cd (more on that to follow), and Squeaky was singing along.  And it all made sense.  It was nothing to do with my shopping, and everything to do with Mr Bloom.  (about 28 seconds in)

"And Sebastian's a singing aubergine, la la la la, mi mi mi mi miiii!"

One more little mystery solved. Now if only someone could tell me where I put my hair straighteners!

Sunday, 28 October 2012

If I won a Guardian Pro...

The fabulous Mellow Mummy has set us a challenge.  She's got a Guardian Pro car seat for someone to win, and in return for this amazing prize, she wants a limerick.

Now, limericks have never been my strongest point.  I may have won a competition at the start of this year with a poem, but that was a piece of poorly rhymed doggerel featuring the words "love-handles".  You don't need to know any more than that!

There's a couple of starting lines, so let's see which one I get on best with, eh?

If I won a Guardian Pro
On adventures Squeaky would go
Strapped safe in her seat
Who knows who we'll meet
The fun would leave US all Mellow!

The other starting line was When taking our "kiddy" on trips, but my brain went to bed half an hour before the rest of me, and I honestly can't think of more than one word to rhyme with "trips" right now.  So I guess that decision's been made for me.  (ps, I know there ARE more words, but they're just not in my brain right now. They'll be there in the morning, no doubt, along with a lingering feeling of embarrassment, and a cold.) Blame it on brain flips & blips! Ah-hahahaha! I'm not as daft as I look.

If you think you can do better than me, and that's not hard, why not pop over to Mellow Mummy's blog and have a go yourself?

And the winners are...

Soon to be tucking into a tub of Kelly's Ice Cream are:

Esther James
Andy Cli
Craig Wallace

I've got contact details for 4 of you & will be in touch shortly.  If you are, or know lastkisstoo, can you point him/her this way please?  If I don't hear from them by next Sunday (4/11/12) I will redraw for the 5th tub.

(NB: In case you were wondering why I sometimes post a winners post, and sometimes don't... I don't when the draw is via rafflecopter, because it places an announcement anyway for everyone to see, and I always have a means of contact through rafflecopter)

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Scrubbing Up Clean. A post, plus a Palmers Cocoa Body Scrub review

This is a little bit of a puzzle for me, how to word this post.  I was going to write it anyway, and it would have been almost identical, because it's something that I found surprising, interesting, and important, and I wanted to share it with you.  And then I was approached by a PR company, working with a brand I already had in mind as an example of good practice.  So I ran the concept by them, they said "yeah, great", and sent me a sample to go with it.  The post is as it would be otherwise, but now there are some extra images, and a review at the end.  Please read this post as it is intended, a genuine post, the review hasn't changed my opinions or reason for posting in the slightest.

An email landed in my inbox recently, from the Marine Conservation Society.  I like to give them a read, there's often something interesting, but this one article really caught my eye.  It spoke about the increasing damage to our seas, caused by plastics, and specifically microplastics, which can be found in certain cosmetics, including scrubs & peels.  Now, I must confess I'm a bit of a scrubber, and I've found that a regular scrub has done wonders for the chicken skin on the tops of my arms.

This email really shocked me, I hadn't thought about there being plastic in my cosmetics.  And the first scrub I'd bought (at least in recent memory) was a very very natural one, filled with oats & sugar, more like my breakfast porridge than anything else. All it was liable to give a passing fish was a healthy breakfast.  But that one had run out, and I'd won a different brand's body scrub, which I was now using instead.  After reading this email, I went off to the shower to have a check, and there, among the ingredients, was Polyethylene terephthalate (PET).  Shock.  It did explain though, why there was now a layer of goop regularly appearing in the bottom of my shower, which there hadn't been previously.  It was at this point I started planning this post.

I checked the other members of my shower collection, and the majority were free of plastics, mostly because the brands I buy for myself tend to be at the more natural end of the market.  Plastics can appear in ingredient lists as Polyethylene / Polythene (PE), polypropylene (PP) or Polyethylene terephthalate (PET), so these were the words I was keeping an eye out for.

With Christmas fast approaching (there! I said it!), I know that pampering treats such as scrubs are likely to appear in many a Christmas stocking.  Wouldn't it be great if this year, we could all make an effort to make sure that the gifts we give are going to protect our seas, as well as treat our loved ones?  A minute checking the labels could make all the difference to reducing the plastic soup that is growing in the oceans as a result of the plastics that are washed down our drains & into the environment.

Before plastics started to be used in scrubs, companies used products such as salt, sugar, sand, coconut & cocoa beans.  So I was happy to give Palmers new Cocoa Body Scrub a try.  I'd tried their facial scrub in the past, and found it suited my skin, and didn't contain any of the plastics I was concerned about.  So the Body Scrub would be ideal to replace the offending scrub which has now been banished to the recycling bin, where its plastics can be melted down into something useful.

I wasn't disappointed.  The scrub smells divine.  Honestly, I've wanted to gnaw my arms off, because they smell so gorgeously chocolatey.  It's not sweet & cloying, just a subtle scent of chocolate, which gives me a lift when the day's getting too long for comfort.  The crushed cocoa beans have a gentle exfoliating effect, taking off the dead skin cells, and brightening the skin, whilst the shea butter smoothes & soothes redness.  I'd post a picture of my upper arms here as proof, but that's a difficult photo to take on your own!  To be honest, it's actually far more effective than the now-banished plasticky scrub, and I can kind of see why.  Microplastics are likely to be even shaped, round beads.  There's only so much effect something smooth can have. By their nature, crushed beans, sand, salt, sugar, etc are going to be slightly rougher. Not so much as to cause discomfort, but enough to work better.

I was already a scrubber, as I said (it's been said before, much to the amusement of certain people) but now I'm a plastic-free scrubber.  I'm definitely going to be checking ingredients more carefully from now on, both because I believe the natural products are more effective, and to protect the environment.  Will you join me in being a plastic-free scrubber?

Disclosure. I received an email from the Marine Conservation Society, but was not asked to blog about the issue.  I had already chosen to blog about the issue when I was approached by Palmers.  I was provided with the Cocoa Body Scrub free of charge for the purpose of this review. I was not told what to write, by Palmers or the Marine Conservation Society, and all opinions are my own.  Links are provided for your convenience, I am not a member of any affiliate scheme and will not receive reward for their use.

CLOSED Win Dark Shadows on Blu-Ray (Johnny Depp, yum yum!)

Now, I know, I'm being far too good to you.  How do the words Johnny Depp strike you?  Well, sadly I can't arrange for the man himself to make a personal appearance in your living room, but what about the next best thing?  Johnny Depp in Dark Shadows, on Blu-Ray, for you?

Warner Bros. Pictures is proud to announce the release of Dark Shadows on DVD and Blu-Ray October 15th 2012; along with the Dark Shadows Blog App

From the incredible mind of Tim Burton comes the hit film Dark Shadows, based on the classic US television series!  Barnabas Collins has been trapped for two centuries by an evil witch (Eva Green) who just happens to be an ex lover.  Barnabas now has to struggle with the ever changing 1970s and save his family’s business!  With an all star cast that includes Michelle Pfeiffer, Helena Bonham Carter, Chloe Grace Moretz, Jonny Lee Miller and more, Dark Shadows will be sure to whet your appetite for fun.

There's even a fun app to join in with, to get you right in the mood.  Perfect for your Hallowe'en preparations!

So, how does that grab you? Want to win it?

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck, and don't get too frightened!

Thursday, 18 October 2012

CLOSED Win Tickets to Sid's Show!

If you've got children in the house, this will be a very familiar face.  Sid Sloane, CBeebies' longest serving presenter, often to be found leaping around rapping about the number 4.  Well, this autumn, Sid's making the leap from the small screen to the big stage, with his very own live show!  And you could win tickets right here!

The Sid's Show tour has its official premiere in Brighton on 30th October, so I hope he's busy rehearsing now, in between episodes of Balamory!  There's a first cluster of shows in the autumn before a break (theatres full of  panto, I would guess) and the tour continues well into the new year, calling at over 30 venues.  Join Sid as he sets out on the quest to find where his favourite shoes & socks have gone - follow his adventures to the bottom of the ocean, outer space & deep in the jungle, in an interactive show filled with games & songs.

This sounds right up Squeaky's street.  We've taken her to a few live shows in the past and she's loved every minute of them - glowsticks at the ready!

And as if that wasn't enough, Sid's also going to be presenting his own show "Let's Play" on CBeebies later in the year.  Along with Rebecca Keatley, the show's all about encouraging children to discover the world around them through dressing up & creative role play.  Again, this is right on target for Squeaky at the moment, she's just discovered the joys of the dressing-up box, and spent a happy hour yesterday bouncing around the living room saying "I'm a rabbit! Hop Hop Hop!"  And then eating me, because apparently I'm a carrot.  The minds of children are fascinating!

If you'd like to join Sid on his adventure, it couldn't be easier.  I've got a family ticket to give away (2 adults & 2 children or 1 adult & 3 children) for Sid's tour, and I'd like you to win it!  (October dates are excluded, tickets subject to availability)  Just follow the instructions on the rafflecopter widget below, and you'll be in with a chance of seeing Sid's Show live, in a theatre near you.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Please do not edit the tweet, it is short enough to fit. Edited tweets will not be counted.

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

CLOSED Kelly's Of Cornwall Competition

Hands up who loves ice cream?  Hands up who wants to win some?  Yeah? Well, you've come to the right place!  You may remember back in the summer, I reviewed some fabulous Kelly's Of Cornwall ice cream.  Well, how would you like the chance to try some out for yourself?  I bet you would!

Kelly's of Cornwall are running a competition themselves at the moment, to find the Perfect Pud to serve with their Cornish ice-cream.  Whether you bake a terrific treacle tart, an awesome apple crumble, or a lush lemon meringue, get cooking, take a photo, and upload your recipe to their competition page.  If your recipe impresses the judges the most, you could win your pud being professionally made and photographed to feature on their website, a year's supply of Kelly's Ice Cream, and the admiration of all your friends & family (that last one's not guaranteed, by the way!)  Ten runners up will also receive a month's supply of ice cream.  The competition closes on 2nd November, and the judges will announce the winner & runners up on 9th November, National Pudding Day.  Yes, judges.  There's no voting involved, it's a judged competition, so get your chef's hat on & get cooking.

As if that wasn't enough to tempt you, here's a little helping hand to get you started, and to get those creative juices flowing!  I've got FIVE tubs of Kelly's Ice Cream to give away, to help with the inspiration, or just to pass a boring autumn evening.   You know how it is.

Want to win a tub?  It's dead simple.  Leave a comment below with your favourite way to enjoy ice cream.  I'll pick 5 winners using, and they'll get to enjoy a tub of Kelly's Ice Cream themselves.

Leave me a way to contact you if you're a lucky winner - twitter or email please, and keep your fingers crossed.

Standard SqueakyBaby terms & conditions apply, see above tab.

Entries close at 23.59 on Thursday 25th October 2012. Entries submitted after this date will not be counted.  One entry per person, multiple entries will not be counted.

Who Fights The Monsters Under The Bed?

L-R: Mickey, Big Peppa, Baby, George, Daisy 1, Peppa,
 Daisy 2, Daddy Soup-Dragon, Mummy Soup-Dragon, Nessie
Monsters!  A serious consideration in every home.  Not just Freezer Gremlins (they're the ones who eat the last bit of ice-cream & put the empty tub back in the freezer), or Sock Elves, but UnderBed Monsters.  A plague for right-minded families the world over!

Since we moved house, and Squeaky moved into her Big Girl Bed, we seem to be monster free.  At least this far.  We have had "people" under the bed, who turned out to be Mickey Mouse & one of the Upsy Daisy twins, and apparently Daddy was under there the other day (he wasn't, he was at work), but thus far our new house seems to be Monster Free.
The Soup-Dragon family portrait

Hooray!  But before we get too excited about that, lets consider why.  In our old, creaky house, Squeaky's bedtime companions consisted of Big Bunny, Little Bunny, an Upsy Daisy or three, and occasional visits from Peppa Pig.  Bunnies, Daisies, and Peppa aren't really known for their monster fighting abilities, and as a result, Squeaky's sleep was often disturbed by the monsters moving around beneath her.

In her new, Big Girl Bed, there's a lot more space for company.  Big Bunny & Little Bunny have moved out of the bed to a new home guarding her clothes and books, and in their place we have...
At least one Upsy Daisy (sometimes up to 3)
Mickey Mouse
Peppa Pig
Georgie Pig
Big Peppa Pig
Nessie Soup-Dragon & family.

Soup-Dragon family on patrol
The latter are the best at monster fighting.  Who better to defend your sleep from underbed monsters than the legendary Loch Ness Monster, Nessie, and her Mummy & Daddy?  Mummy and Daddy are in fact a pair of Soup Dragons, of Clangers fame, but according to Squeaky they are Nessie's Mummy & Daddy.  And who am I to argue?

As far as our bedroom goes, I'm waiting to find out.  There was no space for monsters under the bed in our old house, as the space under the bed was filled with suitcases, shoes, and discarded books.  Now there's a great big empty space.  Actually though, that might be better.  If there's nothing under there, there's nowhere for a monster to hide.  Is there?? Help?  What was that noise?

This post is my entry to the Warren Evans Who Fights The Monsters blog competition.

Friday, 12 October 2012

Domino's Gourmet Four Seasons Pizza Review

There are few things in life I like more than pizza.  I might have mentioned this in the past.  Maybe. Just once or twice.  So when the opportunity to sample Domino's new Gourmet Four Seasons pizza came my way, well, you just know I'm going to enjoy myself!

It's a hard, hard life, blogging!
I wouldn't normally have chosen the Four Seasons, but in reality, I'm not sure why.  Squeaky Daddy & I have different taste in pizzas, which normally leads to a very expensive order, as we get a different one each. The daft thing is, the Four Seasons is a great compromise, and the only quarter he doesn't like is the one that Squeaky & I claim as our absolute favourite.  The Gourmet range are on a special fresh thin crust base, with sundried tomato & garlic sauce, rather than the standard tomato.  This gives the pizza a lovely rich flavour, a little hint of luxury, and the overwhelming taste is of the toppings, not the base.  It was good to try a different pizza to my normal choices, and it's one I'll be including on my list of favourites from now on.

Let me talk you through the pizza above.  Clockwise from top left we have Rustica with chicken strips, bacon rashers, baby spinach & sunblush baby plum tomatoes, Florentine with baby spinach, sunblush baby plum tomatoes & feta cheese, Firenze with Ventricina salami, pepperoni & roquito peppers, and an un-named 4th quarter with just cheese & sunblush baby plum tomatoes.  So 2 for the veggies, and two for the meat-eaters.

Inspecting the pepperoni.
I ordered by phone, and was pleased to find that I was given an estimated delivery time.  The store took my phone number in case of any problems (they know where I am now, but I have had their delivery drivers call me in the past to identify my house as the numbers are all kinds of confusing on our street), and the driver arrived with a piping hot pizza well within the time quoted.  Great when you've got a hungry two year old & even hungrier Daddy in the house.

The Firenze quarter was pounced on by Squeaky & I straight away. I'm not going to risk losing all my pepperoni to her, and vice versa.  My biggest pregnancy craving was pepperoni pizza, and I think it must have passed through the placenta, as she's as much of an addict as I am.  The Roquito peppers gave it a nice twist, though Squeaky did insist on removing them as they look suspiciously like vegetables, and we all know that they're not acceptable in the diet of a two year old!  I tucked in as well, and enjoyed the different taste of the salami as well as the traditional pepperoni.  Very tasty.

Action shot!
Daddy started on the Rustica, and said that the chicken & bacon were a great combination.  He even braved a piece of the Florentine, after I denied knowledge of the feta cheese on top.  He doesn't like feta, whereas I love it.  Fortunately for him, when cooked it loses the distinctive salty taste, which kind of defeats the point of it being feta (this isn't a criticism of the pizza, I've experienced the same with cooked feta in other dishes).  And the two slices of the cheese and tomato turned into a battle between three of us. All in all, we didn't find a single quarter we didn't enjoy.  It was possibly a little bit too nice to share with Squeaky on a regular basis, she's quite happy with whatever pizza she's given, but as a treat I'm prepared to let her join in.

At £14.49 for a medium (11.5") or £16.49 for a large (13.5"), Domino's isn't the cheapest.  But it is convenient, and very very tasty.  And there's plenty of deals available. We get regular menus through our door with vouchers for money off, free side orders etc, and there's further deals online, all of which bring the prices right down.  I mean, yes, you could buy a frozen pizza for less, but you can really taste the difference between a shop-bought frozen pizza, and one that's been made fresh for your order.  Delivery pizza isn't really meant for everyday, in our house it's for special occasions, and for special occasions I don't mind paying a bit extra to get something I really enjoy.

Would I order again?  See you on Two-For-Tuesday!

Disclosure: I was provided with a voucher for a free Gourmet Four Seasons pizza for the purposes of this review.  I was not told what to write and all opinions are my own (and Squeaky's).  Links are provided for your convenience, I am not a member of any affiliate scheme and will not receive reward for their use.

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Going Potty!

The infamous Graco Potty!  It really does exist.
Yeah, I'm going potty, while Squeaky is considering the concept of going ON the potty.  We've been making slow, but steady progress over the last couple of weeks, and to be fair to Squeaky, she's doing really well.  As long as you remind her to go, that is.  She still hasn't mastered the art of telling you that she wants to go, and isn't quite recognising the cues herself.  If you ask her if she wants to go, she says "No", but if you insist she sits down, she'll go straight away 99% of the time.  It's a whole new challenge to me, as I have a cast-iron bladder, so I can't even use my own needs to remind her.  Daddy seems to be doing better on that count, maybe because he has the smallest bladder in the world!  (Don't tell him I said that, please!)

But we're getting there.  As I mentioned previously, we were away for the weekend (more on that later, maybe?), out & about, and generally having lots of fun.  It was quite liberating not to have to carry nappies, though I did have to carry (many) changes of clothes instead.  We plumped for using pull-ups, or Adventure Pants as we've christened them, if we were going to be out & about for too long, or if there was likely to be too much excitement, but honestly, over the whole weekend, there was only one accident.  And Squeaky managed to produce both number 1s and number 2s on the actual toilet, as well as on the potty!  It's amazing how exciting pooh can be!

Bribery? Of course!
We'd had a few false starts with the potty training over the last, ahem, almost a year, but finally we seem to be making progress.  Patience, encouragement, and a little bit of bribery in the form of chocolate coins & playing Happy Mrs Chicken on my phone seem to be having the desired effect.  Happy Mrs Chicken looks to be the best £1.99 I've spent in a long time (check your compatibility before you download, some people seem to have had problems with it)  Stickers, on the other hand, seemed to be a great big failure, which was a surprise.

I have to stop myself sometimes though.  In my job, blogging, and generally as a result of having Squeaky, I encounter a lot of people with similar aged children.  Some of whom seem to have mastered potty training overnight, before 18 months, without a single mishap, and their children poop nothing but pure rainbows.  It's hard not to compare myself, and Squeaky, with others, and the reality is, she ISN'T lagging behind, somehow I just only appear to compare myself against the people who have found it easy, and not those who are struggling.  I'm not really being fair on myself, I should compare against everyone, not just those who have done "better" than me.  And who's to say what is better anyway?  Being ready, to me, is better than being forced into a timescale laid down to suit the adults.  I try very hard not to be a competitive parent, but it's so hard.

Where I spend too much time
Well, anyway.  That's where we are.  We're weeing & poohing on the potty, at least some of the time.  The accidents are getting less, the successes are getting more, and my washing machine is being tested to the limit.  I'm learning to relax, again, before the next big competitive milestone comes along.  Reading? Writing?  What is next, anyway?

What potty training techniques worked for your little ones?  And what didn't?

This is not a sponsored post. I have not been approached by any of the brands shown or linked in relation to this post.  Links are provided for your convenience only,  I am not a member of any affiliate scheme, and will not receive reward for their use.

Friday, 5 October 2012

Bingo Lingo

We're off on our travels again this weekend.  It seems like we spend most of our free time, at least in the reasonable months, trekking off to some holiday park somewhere, and our evenings in the entertainment watching Squeaky hare around like a miniature maniac.

Part of the whole holiday park experience, and to be honest a pretty unavoidable part, is the bingo.  And they take it very, very seriously.  I'm rarely prepared, and have been known to use emergency substitutes, such as an out-of-favour lipstick to mark my bingo card, but I'm learning.  I've even bought my own bingo dabber now, look!

Trouble is, I get distracted.  The traditional bingo calls, well, what IS that all about, I ask you.  A Flea In Heaven?  (37, in case you didn't know)  I spend too much time giggling & not enough time marking my bingo card.

Costa Bingo have launched a competition for bloggers to come up with their own Bingo Lingo, something a bit more relevant, a bit more fun, and that maybe makes a little more sense.  I racked my brains, and came up with a couple...

All the twos, Noels Red Boxes, it's 22.
Deal or No Deal has taken the whole world by storm.  It was launched in the UK in 2005, but started in other countries a few years earlier.  One thing the worldwide shows have in common though is those 22 boxes, normally red, but they change colour for special shows.  A show all about luck, what better match for a game of Bingo!

Eight & Five, the Black Ball Final, it's 85

OK, this one might be a little less popular.  But 18 million of us stayed up past our bedtimes in 1985 to watch Dennis Taylor beat Steve Davis on the last ball of the Embassy World Snooker Championships, and I'm sure a few of them are playing bingo right now!  I'm a huge snooker fan, this would just make me smile so much to hear this bingo call.  Snooker is a game all about numbers, just like bingo, and can't you just picture celebrating a win, Dennis Taylor style?

I really wanted to find a way to include snooker's maximum break in my Bingo Lingo, but bingo only goes up to 90, far short of the 147 of snooker.  But Dennis' win was so memorable, and so much fun, I just couldn't resist.  You know how it is.

This post is associated with the Bingo Lingo competition from Costa Bingo. To find out more information go to

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Win a cooking lesson with Daniel Galmiche!

What are you doing on Saturday 3rd November?  I know what I'd like to be doing.  I'd love to be joining Michelin starred gourmet chef Daniel Galmiche, at The Vineyard, Stockcross in Berkshire, for a cookery lesson.  Daniel has appeared on programmes such as BBC's Masterchef & Saturday Kitchen and Sky's World's Greatest Dishes.  And now he's teamed up with food blog The Ideas Kitchen to give 4 foodies the cookery lesson of their dreams, a tour of The Vineyard's wine cellars and kitchens, and topped off with a five course tasting lunch.

Wow.  You'll find me tucked up in the wine cellar, clutching a bottle of something rather expensive, stroking it. My precioussss.

Well, if you think that you'd be a better person to go than me, and who can blame you, here's what you have to do.  Watch these three videos carefully, as Daniel meets his fish, vegetable and beef suppliers and cooks up some seasonal dishes.




Then, when you're done, Click here to answer a simple question about the videos you've just watched.  (That sounds like something out of the Krypton Factor, doesn't it? Do you remember the observation round?)

The competition is already underway, and closes on 17th October 2012, with the cookery lesson taking place on 3rd November, at The Vineyeard in Berkshire.  Good luck, I hope we both win, and I'll see you there.  Just don't come between me & my preciousssssss!

This is a sponsored post, which makes it no less interesting.

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Spot The Difference!

We were watching the telly earlier this evening, when Squeaky piped up "Look, Mummy!  Father Christmas!"  So look I did, and got a bit confused.  "Where's Father Christmas, Squeaky?" I asked.  "There, look! Father Christmas, on the telly."  and she pointed at the screen.  Where I saw a picture of... Winston Churchill?

Not Father Christmas
Not a former British Prime Minister

Now I know she doesn't know who Winston Churchill is, but let's compare & contrast.

Both are older men in pictures (though I'm sure both were young once)
Both have chubby round faces (and bodies)
Both have appeared in episodes of Doctor Who

Churchill is bald & clean shaven, Father Christmas has white hair & a beard
Churchill tends to be shown in a black suit, Father Christmas in a red suit
Churchill is not renowned for his team of flying reindeer
Father Christmas rarely appears on wartime posters

I couldn't help but laugh.  And then tried to explain that it wasn't Father Christmas but someone else, without going into too much detail.

Have your little ones had such an odd case of mistaken identity?  Or one you'd be prepared to admit to yourself?

Spammers, grrr

As the spambots have found my blog again, and are driving me round the proverbial twist, word verification is back on for the time being. If spammers continue, I'll put full comment verification back on.

It's nothing about you, unless you're trying to sell dodgy medications, dubious loans or other rubbish from my comments.