Sunday, 28 July 2013

Lumie Acne Treatment Light Review

This is a long overdue review, so I really must apologise, but it's not the easiest thing to write about.  Once upon a time I believed there would be a time between the spots and the grey hair.  But the grey hairs started to appear when I was 15, and at 37 (yep), the spots are still hanging around.  Not quite as much as in my teens, but they're still there.  So when I heard about Lumie Clear LED light therapy for mild to moderate acne, I thought it might be worth a try.

It's an impressive piece of kit.  The light machine has a pattern of red & blue LEDs, apparently the red soothe inflammation & the blue kills acne bacteria.  The light part itself comes away from the base, so you can use it either freestanding, or directly on a small affected area, and it comes with protective goggles, because the blue LEDs may cause damage to your eyes if you look into them unprotected.  The light therapy treatment is offered as an alternative to creams & drugs and is safe to use during pregnancy.  I wish someone had mentioned this to me then, because my skin was a mess while I was expecting.

The length of time you use the light for depends on how far away from your skin you have the LEDs.  The machine works in blocks of 15 minutes, and automatically turns off at the end of this, but if it's further away you will need to start it again for another block, or however many are required.  I concentrated on my forehead because that tends to be the site of the majority of my breakouts, and I was able to hold the light on or close to my forehead, so I could use the shortest time.  I found the light was really easy to use, I took it off the base unit, and I could read a book or watch tv with one hand while holding the light with the other.  The base unit's useful if you want to treat a large area such as your back or need both hands free.

Lumie reckon you'll see visible results after a month of regular daily use, so I've given it my best shot (which is why this review is so delayed), though I have to admit I haven't always been able to make the time, and there have been days I've missed.  And I haven't taken before & after photos because no-one needs a close up of my spots!  Sorry. If that floats your boat, I'm sure there are other bits of internet out there for you.

Did it work for me?  That's the question you really want to know, isn't it?  Honestly.  I'm not sure.  It hasn't stopped the breakouts, but then I don't think anything short of a total head transplant will!  But it has reduced the length of time they last, and their severity.  I haven't had any of those horrible painful spots that hang around for a week getting bigger & redder, those that I have had have gone away pretty quickly.  The downside is I felt (and looked) a bit of a prat using it, and it does take a regular time committment.  Laugh away. It's not easy to light your face with one hand & take a selfie with the other while wearing protective glasses.  That said, I think I feel a new facebook userpic coming on.  I'm going to persevere with it, though I can't promise it'll be every day.

My one criticism is that the power cable is a bit too short.  I was quite restricted where I could use the light, as I had to be close enough to a plug socket, a longer cable, or battery power option would make the light a little bit more user-friendly in my opinion.

The Lumie Clear light therapy machine is available direct from Lumie, and also from other retailers including Argos and Amazon, RRP £149.00.  You can also buy a refurbished model for cheaper, which is probably worth the saving.

Disclosure: I was provided with the Lumie Clear light free of charge for the purposes of this review.  I was not told what to write and all opinions are my own. Links are provided for convenience, I am not a member of any affiliate scheme & will not receive reward for their use.

Saturday, 27 July 2013

Row, Row, Row your boat

When I was a lass, there was only 1 verse of Row, Row, Row your Boat.  And the most interesting thing about the song was that episode of Men Behaving Badly where they sing it in the pub.

Then along came Squeaky and language & play groups, and we learned "if you see a crocodile, don't forget to scream", and shortly after "Rock, rock, rock your boat, gently to and fro, Watch out, give a shout, into the water we go."

And a little while later we discovered CBeebies podcast and learned verses about polar bears and lions.  To be honest, I'm getting a bit concerned about this rowing expedition - it seemed to be going a very long way & through some very dangerous territory.

However, Squeaky is bored of the limitations of these, and has now made up her own verse. Inspired, I believe by our trip to Folly Farm last year. I'm kind of impressed, it rhymes & everything. Ladies & Gentlemen, I present the final verse.

Row, Row, Row your Boat
Gently to the sea
If you see a giraffe
Don't forget to wee-wee.

Thursday, 18 July 2013

Preparing for Denmark

Way back in time (May, actually), I was sat watching the Eurovision Song Contest with my beloved husband, and keeping up with the snarky comments on twitter (how did we watch the Eurovision before twitter came along?), when a tweet went past my eye that I couldn't look away from. Kenco Millicano were running a twitter competition during the Eurovision to win a trip to the winning country. Wild horses couldn't keep me from that one.  So I was amazed when I had a tweet a few days later telling me I'd won a trip to Denmark!  Copenhagen here we come!  (Secretly I was slightly relieved that Azerbaijan didn't win, I can't see them having a big tourism industry)

We've picked our dates, arranged a sleepover for Squeaky, and preparation is firmly afoot.  I'm not great at geography, but I've figured out where Denmark is, and a few important facts.  Denmark is the home of Danish Bacon, Danish Pastries, Carlsberg, and Hans Christian Andersen.  We're off to Copenhagen, the capital city, home of the Little Mermaid statue, and the Tivoli Gardens which seem to be a mix of theme park, showground, concert venue & everything else you can imagine!

I'm in the middle of researching places to go & see, so if you've got any suggestions, or know anyone who knows anyone, if you know what I mean, please do tell!

In the meantime, if you want me, I'll be here, getting in the mood...

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Fresh Gourmet - Sesame beef & noodle salad. Review & Recipe

I was recently sent a selection of Fresh Gourmet salad sprinkles (I'm sure there's a better term), to try out for you, my lucky readers.  Fresh Gourmet are the leading brand in the US for salad toppings, and have now launched in the UK.  I received 4 bags to try out:  Crispy Onions, Cheese & Garlic Croutons, Sea Salt & Cracked Black Pepper Croutons, and Basil Pesto Ciabatta Croutons.

I set to making a special summer salad to try out some of my new noms... why not give it a try yourself?

Sesame Beef & Noodle Salad
Serves 1 as a main meal, or 2 as a side
100g beef strips
1 tbsp maple syrup
1 tbsp sesame seeds
60g rice vermicelli
Half red pepper, diced
Handful lambs lettuce
Splash of olive oil for cooking.
Fresh Gourmet crispy onions to taste
Fresh Gourmet cheese & garlic croutons to taste

Pour the maple syrup into a bowl, add the beef strips & toss to coat well.
Add the sesame seeds & coat the beef strips well.
Heat a frying pan with a small amount of olive oil, add the beef strips & cook on a medium heat until cooked through.  Place to one side to cool.
Boil the kettle.
Place the vermicelli in a large bowl, and cover with boiling water, cooking to the instructions on the pack (mine said 3 minutes)
Rinse the cooked vermicelli under cold water to cool down, and place into a serving bowl
Place the lambs lettuce & diced pepper on top of the vermicelli.
Add the beef strips, you can use some of the maple sesame glaze as a salad dressing if you like.
Sprinkle on the crispy onions & croutons.

I enjoyed putting together something a bit different, all too often my salads are just a boring mix of lettuce, tomato & cucumber, which is why I don't bother with them all that often!  If you've met me, that will be all too obvious.

The crispy onions were great, they added a lovely hit of flavour, the only danger is I can see myself tucking into them straight from the bag, and I'm sure that's not what they're designed for!  The croutons are baked, rather than fried, which gives them a slightly softer texture than fried croutons, which is quite welcome.  I find many commercially bought fried croutons are too hard and rip my mouth to pieces.  And the flavour of the cheese & garlic were lovely, they really added something extra to the salad.

I haven't yet tried out the sea salt & cracked black pepper, I'm thinking that they will go well with some homemade tomato soup, and the basil pesto ciabatta croutons are waiting for me to do some sort of chicken caesar salad, they'll work well with the flavours in that I think.

Fresh Gourmet toppings are now available in Tesco stores in the UK for around £2.00 a pack, which I think is really good value, the packs will last for ages (unless, like me, you decide to eat them instead of crisps!)

Disclosure: I was provided with the above 4 packs of Fresh Gourment toppings free of charge for the purposes of this review. I was not told what to write and all opinions are my own. Links are provided for convenience, I am not a member of any affiliate scheme & will not receive payment for their use.  By producing my own unique recipe using the ingredients I was provided, I have been given the opportunity to enter a prize draw to win kitchen utensils.

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Bacardi Cocktails with #cbias

Bacardi Cocktails with #cbias

Disclosure: I am a member of the Collective Bias® Social Fabric® Community. This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias and their client.  I have not been told what to say, all opinions are my own. Links are provided for convenience, I am not a member of any affiliate scheme & will not receive payment for their use.

We've just got back home from a weekend away in (very) sunny Tenby, staying at a gorgeous little holiday park, and making the most of the chance to relax & soak up some sunshine.  We've been on quite a few £9.50 type holidays now, and we've got it down to a fine art.  Squeaky doesn't want to stay up all that late, we go to the kids disco, and sometimes she'll decide to join in, maybe we'll stick around for the quiz, then we head back off to our caravan, tuck her up in bed & kick back with a couple of drinks before going to sleep ourselves.
Club dances
Club dances, hooray!

Don't panic, my daughter does actually have shoes, she just preferred to take them off, for reasons best known to herself.

Well, a couple of days before we went, I spotted a "Shoppertunity" through Collective Bias to have a Bacardi cocktail party, and I thought this would go down pretty well with Daddy once Squeaky's dropped off.  You can have a look at my Google + album here to see how I got on shopping.

Wines & Spirits
My favourite aisle in Tesco

I made a mad rush to Tesco in Merthyr Tydfil, before we set off to the caravan to stock up on the essentials for a cocktail party in a new location.  It's amazing the things you never notice on a day to day basis.  I'm sure that flag has been up on the wall there for years, but I'd never noticed it until I took this picture.  I'm usually too busy looking at the wine!

Bacardi, and other rums
Checking out the rum

Rum is great stuff, though I didn't know there were so many variants of Bacardi.  Looking through my cupboard at home now, there's Bacardi, dark rum for drinking neat, dark rum for mixing, and navy rum for when I've got a sore throat.  That's not excessive, is it?  I mean, there's far more types on the shelf, aren't there?

Well, after piling everything into the back of the car, off we set for Pembrokeshire, a lovely drive down and settled into our caravan.  Friday evening we just had a quiet visit to the clubhouse, and an early night.  I had plans for Saturday!
Manorbier swimming pool
Don't you just want to dive in?

 Plans that admittedly involved a swim, and a trip to the beach.  But they're still plans.  Picnic sandwiches, sandcastles, and a paddle in the sea, all to build up an appetite.

Sandy sandwiches
Sand in my sandwiches. It's traditional.  Nails: Speciallita - Gracc Jelly - Queimada

Appetites built up, we headed back to the caravan for cocktails & a bit of a barbecue.  Daddy, while happy to join me on the cocktails, flatly refused to have his photo taken.  I think the umbrellas may have been a step too far!  I made up a selection of cocktails, with the Bacardi & peach schnapps I'd bought in Tesco, and a couple of other spirits I'd picked up from home.  I tried to recreate a few cocktails we'd had on holiday in the past, so there was the obvious Cuba Libre and Mojito (Daddy opted for the Cuba Libre, the Mojito was all mine.  Never come between me & my Mojito, unless you're offering me another).  Then there was a brown cow, made with Bacardi, dark rum & chocolate milk. Not quite as sweet as you'd think, but very rich, and I probably couldn't drink more than one of them.  Daddy wasn't impressed, but he's a hard man to please sometimes.

Cocktails, ready to drink
L-R Liquid Cocaine, Brown Cow, Cuba Libre, Mojito, Drama Queen
My last pair of cocktails were a bit more experimental - I remembered a cocktail from my dim & distant past called Liquid Cocaine, but couldn't find a recipe online that matched what I knew was in it.  There should be some pineapple juice in here, but I'd only got orange, so it's Bacardi, Amaretto & Orange juice. Sweet, addictive, and I could drink it all night.  The other is a twist on a "Sex On The Beach", as I was using Bacardi rather than vodka, and the internet tells me that Bacardi, Peach Schnapps & Orange Juice is a Drama Queen.  Again, very sweet, but Daddy preferred this one.  He must like drama queens, otherwise he wouldn't have married me!

Somehow, in amongst all the cocktail making, we safely managed to have a little barbecue as well.  Squeaky was safely tucked up in bed, having insisted on "normal" hot dogs for tea.  I love summer evenings, it stays so light so late, we were still sitting out til well past my bedtime!  Sausages, pork chops in a gorgeous BBQ sauce, and jacket potatoes with cheese oozing out.  Once we'd finished our barbecue, we were considerate caravan neighbours & made sure the fire was safely out before going to bed for a very well earned rest.

an ex-barbecue
The aftermath

Friday, 12 July 2013

Parenting Classes - The Incredible Years

It seems a bit of a big confession to say that I've spent the last ten weeks attending parenting classes.  There's a bit of a misconception that you only go to classes if you're a bad parent, or social services have made you go.  But that's really not the case.  While it's a "course", it's not a classroom type "sit at a desk, write an essay" sort of thing, it's more like a chat with your mates over a cup of coffee & a chocolate biscuit (Yep, that's important)

Some things are important, OK?

The class I attended was The Incredible Years - Basic programme aimed at parents of children aged 3-8, and it was run by the parenting team of my local authority.  There were a group of 6 of us on the course, I already knew a couple of the other mums, all with children much the same age, and it was really easy to talk to them.  I think the first week we all felt a bit nervous, and it can be quite difficult to admit that there are times when you feel out of your depth, but the two course leaders really put us at our ease, and we were soon chatting like old friends.  In fact, there was a really funny moment towards the end of the course where we'd all arrived & were having a good old gossip session over our coffees, and giving our respective partners & in-laws a bit of a pasting, when one of the girls' phones rang.  It was her partner, her phone had accidentally called him from her pocket & we'd left him a 5 minute answerphone message of our conversation.  Oooops!

It's a real relief to find out that other people have the same difficulties with being a parent as you, that everyone else's child does the same (really annoying) things, we all face challenges, and you're not alone.  Equally it was great to get feedback where you're not sure whether you've handled a situation well, only to find out that, yes, you're doing OK, and it's a good way to deal with it.

The focus of the programme is on positive behaviour management, that rewarding positive behaviour, and spending positive time with your child is not only more rewarding, but also much more effective in managing their behaviour than punishment & negative attention.  Yes, there are times when you need to take action with a negative behaviour, but that is the exception, rather than the rule.  By investing positive time with your child, you develop a better relationship with them, they learn that positive behaviours get attention, and you are able to remain calm when they do act up, because you already have a strategy in place to deal with it.

Wherever you attend the Incredible Years programme, it's the same content, the same course.  The DVDs and course information come from a central source, and while the course may be tailored to a group's specific needs, the main structure, elements & methods remain the same.  There's lots of DVD to watch in the group and discuss.  Honestly I could have watched the short films all day, the films we watched were shot in the US in the 1970s, and the haircuts, clothes & furniture were beyond entertaining!  Humour aside, they serve a great purpose, as even though they're in an artificial setting, they use real children, real families to show ways to implement the methods used in the course.

I asked permission from the course leader before I wrote this post, I wanted her to know what I was doing.  She was more than happy for me to write about the course and told me that the Incredible Years programme is used around the world, and that every local authority in the UK has a parenting team. While they may not be running this exact course, they all offer parenting classes, and you don't have to be at risk, or a failing family to take part.  If anything, recognising that parenthood is difficult & seeking out support to deal with those challenges is, in itself, a strength, and shows that a family are further from risk.  There's groups for parents of children of all different ages, and those with certain other difficulties.

If you're thinking "I wish I knew what to do when ..." or "I'm sure mine is the only child who ...", it's worth getting touch with your local authority's Parenting Team, and finding out about parenting classes in your area.  I really would recommend it, even if you're a parent to more than one, and think you've seen & done it all before.  I would never have known about this course without a colleague mentioning it, but it's made a real difference to my confidence as a parent - all I need now is a similar course in how to manage husbands!

Thursday, 11 July 2013

Learning to Lie

As our little ones get older, the milestones get less obvious. First tooth, first word, first step, we all know about them, but as they reach pre-schoolerhood the milestones aren't so easy to notice, and they can just pass you by if you're not paying attention.  I'm trying to keep an eye out, but it's difficult.  And I'm not 100% sure how I feel about our latest milestone.

Over the weekend, we spent the most of our time out in the garden, including having tea outside, as the weather's been so good.  I popped into the house to get something, and Squeaky followed me.  She asked for an ice-lolly.  I knew she'd just been at the table eating her tea, so I asked her how much she'd eaten (knowing she hadn't actually had much), she said "lots", so I said "what would daddy say if I asked him?"  Quick as a flash, she says "Don't ask Daddy!"  Hmmmm...

Ice Cream, motivation to lie
Image courtesy of nuchylee /

Then yesterday, Daddy & Squeaky went to the beach, while I was slaving away over a hot computer at work.  When I got home, she told me what they'd been up to, and the first thing she mentioned was a smarties ice-cream she'd eaten.  About an hour later, again she asks for an ice lolly.  I asked her if she'd had an ice cream that day, she said no.  Just like before I said "What would daddy say if I asked him?" And just like before, she replies "Don't ask Daddy!"

I know it's part of a wider stage of development, not just lying, but becoming aware that different people know different things, that she can know something I don't, and vice versa.  But when it comes in the form of lying, I'm just not sure what to do. I want to encourage her development, to learn independently and to enjoy that learning, but I don't want the whole motivation being more ice creams! And I certainly don't want to encourage her to expand her lying repertoire, at least right now she's not very convincing!

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Don't Forget The Lyrics

It's the heat.  It gets to me, certain songs just go better with the warm weather.  And so, my brain started singing In The Summertime.  I got to thinking about the song, and the 1995 cover version by Shaggy. More so, I got to thinking about the lyrics.

I love the Mungo Jerry version, with its crazy sound effects.  But if you listen to it, it's a pretty nasty song.  I can fully see why Shaggy changed "have a drink, have a drive, and see what you can find" for the sanitised "driving round, to see what I can find".  In fact, if my memories are accurate, I think the original lyrics were used as a public safety film against drink driving.  Even away from that bit, though, it's still an uncomfortable listen. "If her daddy's rich, take her out for a meal, if her daddy's poor just do what you feel".  Excuse me?  Is a woman's value & virtue entirely linked to her father's bank balance?  Gee, thanks 1970!

Shane - Doesn't Forget The Lyrics

And I carried on thinking, while listening to Squeaky's choice of music in the car.  Justin Fletcher.  No, don't panic, he's just got some good examples.  On one of his CDs he sings Nelly The Elephant.  And his elephant doesn't slip her iron chains, she simply runs away.  I don't think she goes to Hindustan either, but I'm too warm to go & find out for sure.  Fair enough, animal cruelty isn't something to encourage in toddlers.

Then on his latest CD, he sings The Clapping Song. You know, "3, 6, 9, the goose drank wine..." Only his monkey doesn't choke, he thinks it was a joke. And I still have no idea what his momma wouldn't buy him, but it's not a rubber dolly (and I was very disappointed that he didn't kiss a soldier!).  The thing that strikes me strangest about this particular sanitisation is that the goose is still drinking wine and the monkey chewing tobacco, two things that really aren't pre-schooler appropriate, probably more so than the monkey choking.  Couldn't the monkey chew spearmint gum or something?  And the goose drink lime?

(While I was googling for the non-existant lyrics for the Justin version, I found more covers of The Clapping Song than I ever wanted to know about. Aaron Carter, Lady Gaga, dear oh dearie me)

I'm not sure how I feel about sanitising lyrics. On one hand, I'm glad that drink driving isn't an acceptable theme for pop music, but on the other, aren't there enough other songs to cover that don't need the dettol treatment? They're the product of a different time, with different norms.  There's plenty of S Club, Steps, Hannah Montana, TakeSpiceBoyzLife type songs out there, just dying for a cover for a new audience, that don't need their lyrics messing with.  It gets to the point of that atrocious "Christmas Is All Around" from Love, Actually.  Seriously, that was just horrifying.

Sweet Dreams Aren't Made Of This

Don't even get me started on switching the gender of a song for the cover version. Especially when it's completely irrelevant. Cher, I'm looking at you.

What do you think?

Friday, 5 July 2013

Don't Stop Me Now!

Have I ever told you something very special about me (and a few hundred/thousand other people born in the UK within a month or so of me).  Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody was number 1 in the UK charts on the day I was born, and on my 16th birthday.  Some of my earliest memories are of listening to Queen in my dad's car.  And I get really excited when I hear the Queen songs I grew up with on the tv or radio.  They're part of me, who I am, and I don't even need to think to sing along.  In fact, on my good friend (and fellow blogger)'s hen night, I'm fairly sure I was singing Don't Stop Me Now louder than the drag queen with a microphone.  Some things just happen, I can't apologise.

Well, on the subject of Don't Stop Me Now... have you seen the new Visa ad?  Where Grandad doesn't want to be stopped from getting to the birth of his grandchild?  I love him, I really do. The haircuts, the trainers, it's just so happy-making.  (Yes, that is a real word, don't look at me like that!)  I've got to be honest and say I haven't used contactless payment yet myself, my main bank account is with someone small & behind the times, but they do what I need them to.  But I love the idea of contactless & quick payments, and mobile payments, as long as I keep good hold on my phone.  That said, my phone is almost as old as Grandad on the video, so the likelihood of someone wanting to steal it is pretty slim.

Have you seen the advert yet?

Honestly. how cute is that?  I think I'm in love!

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post, as part of the Spreaditfast network. I have not been told what to write and opinions remain my own.

Thursday, 4 July 2013

Pepsi's Gone Crazy

You know me, internet. I need my caffeine.  Particularly, I need my cold, fizzy caffeine.  I'm the only person in our office who doesn't chip in to the tea/coffee fund, because I'm always armed with a can, bottle, or multipack of something carbonated.

So, now you know this about me, you can imagine how excited I was when I saw Dynamo levitating alongside a London Bus alongside a huge Pepsi Max poster.  Seriously, I always thought the best way to catch a bus was to stand at the stop and raise your hand to the driver, not just grab it as it drives past!  Move over Superman, Dynamo's in town!

Don't know what I'm talking about? Well, take a look at this video...  Go on, seriously, it's amazing.  Even more so as he comes from a notorious area of Bradford (I worked there for a while, and saw things I'll never forget!)

I love magicians & illusionists.  Particularly, I love trying to figure out how it's done.  I remember, many moons ago, being in the front row of a Wayne Dobson show (I'm showing my age now, I know), in a really intimate theatre.  And while I was amazed by the tricks, I was close enough to, not quite see how they were done, but to get a good idea.  They are tricks, illusions, the clue's in the name.  Magicians & illusionists are incredibly talented people, and I've got no idea how Dynamo is floating alongside that bus, but I'd love to find out, and to try it myself!

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post, as part of the Spreaditfast network. I have not been told what to write and opinions remain my own.

Lizi's Granola - Review

This is a long overdue review post.  The problem is, see, I promised SqueakyDaddy (and myself) that I wouldn't open another carton of breakfast cereal until we'd finished at least one of the existing boxes, because the cupboard is bursting at the seams.  And so the packet of Lizi's Granola has sat tormenting me on the side of the worksurface for far longer than it should have done.

However, today that long-awaited day arrived, and I was able to rip the top off the packet & pour myself a bowl of very grown-up Belgian Chocolate Granola.  This is great, chocolate isn't just for children's cereals any more! Equal opportunities breakfast, though admittedly I'm not one to shy away from a bowl of coco pops when I'm faced with a hotel breakfast.

Not a hotel in sight!
Well, anyway, yeah. Granola. That was the point here, right?  Granola seems to be the in-thing in breakfasts at the moment, and I can find it a bit hit & miss.  I've tried some that I've loved, and then I ended up feeding a rather expensive box to the birds because I just couldn't get on with it.  Open minded though, I approached the bowl of Lizi's Granola.  And with the first mouthful I wasn't quite sure.  The chocolate flavour is quite subtle, but the seeds are pretty strong.  I'm not sure which seed I could taste, as there's pumkpin seeds, sunflower seeds & linseeds, along with dessicated coconut, cashew nuts, almonds, hazelnuts, and the obvious oats & chocolate.  And no added sugar.  Healthy breakfast!

As I said the first mouthful, I wasn't quite sure, but I persisted, and after a couple of spoons I got used to the seed flavour & actually quite liked it.  It is definitely one for the adults, the combination of the seed flavour and the bitter chocolate would be too much for children.  I did offer Squeaky a try, in the interests of a full review, but she declined, saying "It's got bits in!" and went back to her jam on toast.  I don't know, it's a little bit "marmite", you'll either love it or hate it.  Personally I love it, and I'm glad I didn't just go with that first taste & turn my nose up.  It's grown on me, and I'm glad.  I stayed properly full until lunchtime, despite a crazy morning of running around, shopping, delivering, and preschool dance club.  As I'm the person whose sandwiches are usually gone by 10 o'clock, this is quite an achievement.

The packaging really impressed me as well.  The granola is in a light bag, heavy & opaque to protect the contents, but lighter and easier to transport than a traditional cereal box, meaning less environmental impact.  But ahead of most other cereals I've seen in bags, it's got a reseal strip at the top, so I don't have to get all Stepford Wives & pour it out into my plastic cereal dispenser boxes.  A brilliant bit of thought, and makes my life much easier.

Lizi's Granola is available in a range of flavours, including the Belgian chocolate I was sent to try, and is available to purchase directly online, or from Tesco, Ocado & Waitrose.  And you can keep up with all the Lizi news on their twitter feed: @lizisgranola

Disclosure: I was provided with a package of Lizi's Granola free of charge for the purposes of this review. I was not told what to write and all opinions are my own.  Links are provided for convenience, I am not a member of any affiliate scheme & will not receive reward for their use.

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Discovery Instagram Competition

You know me by now, dear reader. There are two things I like (aside from cocktails!), competitions and food.  What better way to make me smile than something that combines the two?

Well, Discovery Foods, the fab Mexican food people, have just launched an Instagram channel, and to celebrate, they want people to upload their Mexican food creations, made with Discovery ingredients.  The competition runs for 4 weeks from 1st July 2013, and each week there's 10 chances to win £25 of Amazon vouchers.  And you know what Dale Winton says, you've got to be in it to win it!

Lacking in inspiration?  Well, take a look at their recipe page, there's plenty of ideas there.  I rustled up a Spanish/Cajun fusion dinner over the weekend, of Cajun Chicken & Chorizo wraps with soured cream & salsa, and had enough of the filling left over for tea the next day with some rice & veggies.  I'm not going to show you my final creation - that's my entry for the competition, but here's the work in progress!

Think you can do better?  Well, whip up something amazing, get your camera out, and upload it to instagram, using the caption "My #deliciousdiscovery entry for a chance to win a £25 Amazon voucher with @Discoveryfoods"

What are you waiting for? Get to it!

Disclosure: I was provided with a selection of ingredients from Discovery Foods in order to be able to take part in the competition in return for this post. I was not told what to write and all opinions are my own.  Links are provided for convenience only, I am not a member of any affiliate scheme and will not receive reward for their use.

Monday, 1 July 2013

Retail Royalty Challenge with Money Supermarket

Money Supermarket.  You know them, the price comparison people that DON'T have a really annoying advert.  Well, they've set a challenge to bloggers.  On signing up, and picking a charity, they sent me £30 and challenged me to get shopping.

It was a difficult decision to pick a charity to support.  After all there's so many.  I work for a charity myself, it would be so easy to find ways to spend that money on our services, but they get my time, and the sweat of my brow on a daily basis, I couldn't do that!  People might get the wrong idea!  So I thought a bit wider, and about some of the charities that support the work we do.  That's when it came to me, and I paid a visit to the Merthyr Cynon Foodbank, part of the Trussell Trust.

The work they do amazes me.  This is the 21st Century, we're a developed nation, filled with internet, mobile phones, satellite tv, cars, double glazing, and the kind of comforts people in the developing world aspire to, comforts that only a couple of generations ago wouldn't even have been dreamt of.  And yet every night, here in the UK people are going to bed hungry, parents are going without food to make sure their children are fed, people are relying on local foodbanks in order to get a decent meal.  In the 18 months since the Merthyr Cynon Foodbank opened their doors, they've fed over 3,500 people.  Over 1200 children.  And that's just in one small area of South Wales.  There's over 350 foodbanks in the UK, and they fed over 350,000 people last year.

The foodbank provides 3 days worth of emergency food, non-perishable & nutritious food to get people through a crisis - losing a job, benefit delays, banking problems.  And they're amazing people too.  Whenever you visit our local foodbank centre, they greet you at the door with a smile and a free cuppa, a chat, advice, a friendly welcoming place to go when the world seems a bit greyer than usual.  They're a ray of sunshine.

As I said, I paid the foodbank a visit, and asked them for their wishlist, which items were they most in need of?  They hold collections at the local supermarkets & through churches, but obviously what they receive through that can be a bit hit & miss, so I wanted to make sure I spent my £30 on the items they needed the most.  I was asked for variety packs of breakfast cereal (so they can split them up for single people, rather than giving huge boxes), 500g bags of sugar, and tinned fruit.

So, armed with my shopping list, I hit the internet, and browsed to see who had the best deals, and marched around the local discounter stores to see if they could beat them.  I found my best bargains, and popped out to fill my car.  And fill it I did!  What you can see in the picture below is: 12 variety packs of breakfast cereal, each containing 8 boxes, 16 500 gram bags of sugar, and 11 tins of mandarin oranges.

My haul!
I got some rather odd looks in the supermarket when I filled my trolley up with this little lot, let me tell you!  But it came to a grand total of £30.08.  I subbed them the 8p, it's the least I can do.

I was amazed how much I could get for my £30.  I really didn't think I'd get a trolley load.  It sounds like an insignificant sum, I know I spend way more than that a week on our shopping, but I managed to buy so much food, that will make a real difference to people in crisis.  Someone will be able to go to bed tonight having eaten well, be able to get up in the morning & have a decent breakfast, and that could make all the difference.

Many thanks to Money Supermarket for giving me the opportunity to support their work.

This is my entry to the Retail Royalty Challenge, from Money Supermarket.