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Feeling all festive - It's Christmas in July!

Friday 31 July 2015

This is the first year I have got involved with Christmas in July and I have been so excited! Anyone that knows me, knows how much I adore Christmas. I love everything about it, everyone seems so much happier, I love choosing the perfect gift, decorating the house, eating and drinking delicious food and drink - what's not to love?!

Below are some lovely goodies we have been sent, let me know what you like best and what you are hoping for this year.

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The lovely Christmas Boutique kindly sent me some lovely items to set the scene for Christmas in July.

The impressive resin Stags head makes a real feature out of a blank wall. I love the way this looks on our white dining room wall. It is the perfect size for us at 30cm tall, 21cm wide and standing out from the wall 13cm.  I am pretty confident we have found something quite unique with this decoration! Priced at £29.99.

The lovely drawstring linen sack is printed with a black reindeer and the words 'Frohe Weihnachten' - which is German for Merry Christmas. Measuring 80cm long by 40cm wide it is the ideal size for us to carry our gifts around to Family on Christmas morning. Priced at £14.99.

How adorable is the Reindeer door mat?! We have tiny hall that we can't have any decorations in and I always think it looks bare. This will add a lovely touch of Christmas and also be functional. Priced at £14.99.

The glittery frosted pine cone wreath is so simple yet beautiful. It is a very similar colour to our internal doors and looks amazing just simply hung. It is 30cm in diameter and priced at £16.99.

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This traditional Christmas bridge light from LEDHUT is a safe alternative to candles. The warm white lights bring a lovely glow to the room without being overpowering. 

Here it is brightening our windowsill. Doesn't it look lovely? Priced at £9.59

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Once the house is decorated, and you have wrapped and tagged for hours, it is time to relax with a glass of your favourite Christmas tipple. My Husband and I love a nice glass of deliciously smooth Taylor's late bottled vintage port.

It is also a tradition in our house to leave a small glass for Santa alongside a mince pie on Christmas Eve. Delicious with cheese board or a nightcap in front of the fire. 

Available at around £15 a bottle at Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury, Morrison’s Waitrose and Booths.

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Gift ideas.

Do you know a stationary lover? 

Leitz kindly sent us some of their lovely pieces to review. 

The colour is gorgeous - my favourite and also the colour of our bedroom where our desk happens to be - a beautiful match.

The quality of the items are really fantastic, the softback notebooks are filled with quality lined paper, have a pocket in the back and some lovely metallic silver sticky tabs so you can mark any important pages for easy access. The hole punch and stapler have lovely rubberised texture to them making them easy grip.The iPad case is a lovely fit and the A4 lever arch folder has plenty of space inside with a good strong ring binder inside.

They are all very high quality and I would have loved to receive them as a Christmas gift.

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I have wanted one of these since we went to Florida in 2013. I absolutely love my drinks freezing cold so fell in love with snow cones instantly. It is so easy to use, and a lot quieter than I thought it would be. Simply place some ice cubes into the shoot, press them into the machine using the silver handle attached to the shoot and the ice comes out shaved into the drawer underneath! It takes seconds to do and has gone down a storm with Adults and Children alike. The machine comes with 4 plastic cones, a plastic scoop and a recipe booklet for making syrups but we just added some diluted squash for the Children or some alcoholic beverage for the Adults - delicious!                                       

It is so easy to clean too, simply remove the ice drawer and rinse it out! Even better, if you have a BBQ or Childrens party you can even buy paper cups and ready made syrup from too. I will certainly be stocking up. Every household should have one of these! Priced at £49.95

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I absolutely love this 1950's style retro radio from Gizoo, doesn't it look fantastic? 

It is easy to set up and use. Simply slot in the cable, plug in, extend the ariel, press either FM or AM depending in what station you would like to listen to and use the big rotating scale on the front to find the station you like. You can even take it out and about with you thanks to the carry handle and the option to use batteries (not included) 

I really love having a radio again, now I can save my sanity in the kitchen while drowning out the sound of Childrens TV! Thank you! 

Priced at £34.95 and available in a range of colours.

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Gift ideas from Varta

I have chosen this Indestructible 5 watt lantern for my Husband. He is spending a lot of time "updating" the loft. I think he has a pool table up their personally! At the moment there is no power source up there so he is trying to do jobs with a small torch as his only source of light so he was very excited to get to try this out. 

The lantern has a handle on the top for easy carrying and a hook under the base so it can be hung up easily. It is rubberized, so easy to grip & wipe clean, it is waterproof, has three levels of brightness and is extremely robust - it has been 4m drop tested! With up to 280 hours use per set of batteries, it is the deal gift for campers or people who spend a lot of time under car bonnets for example. RRP £31.99
I also chose the Indestructible 3 Watt LED Lantern torch (complete with batteries) for my Dad. He has a fascination with torches as he uses them for work and has built up quite a collection. Again this is extremely robust (4m drop test), water resistant and sports a shock-absorbing rubberized head - ideal for all of the times he has dropped tools down the pit while working on a vehicle. 

It also has a specially shaped reflector which provides an extra long light beam - this is what drew me to this particular product as I knew he would love this. RRP £34.99

They are both very happy with their early gifts and agree that they are high quality and definitely worth the RRP.

Visit Varta for all of your battery and flashlight needs.

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Karma Se7ven Earrings

How hard is to find gifts for teenagers? This year I have found the perfect gifts for my Nieces. Karma Se7en kindly sent me two pairs of sterling silver earrings to try. Both are bang on trend. 

The first pair are called an ear jacket, and are priced at £39.99. They are in the shape of two cubes filled with sparkling crystals and the other pair are feather shaped ear cuffs also adorned with crystals for plenty of sparkle.

The second pair are called an ear climber and are in the shape of a feather. I have always assumed that this type of earring requires two piercings, but these have one piercing at the bottom and a small clip near the top. Priced at £38.95

Both pairs are made from 925 Sterling Silver and are great quality.

My Nieces will love both pairs.

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Braun CoolTec shaver.

This shaver has been a Godsend for my super hairy Husband! He really struggles with shavers as he has such thick dark stubble, he usually has to resort to going over the same patch of skin repeatedly resulting in a sore red face. This shaver has a three stage cutting system which automatically adapts to the shape of your face and shaves short and long hair in one stroke. That in itself is great but this shaver has a very special addition, making it stand out from others.

Most electric shavers allow heat to build up uncomfortably, resulting in hot uncomfortable skin while shaving. This is where the CoolTec comes into it's own. Once activated, the integrated aluminium cooling bar drops in temperature by 20 degrees, this then transports heat away from the skin resulting in perfectly relaxed, smooth, hair free skin and minimising shaving irritation. 

There is also a pop up precision trimmer and blade guard as standard, this model is also very easy to charge by simply popping it onto the plugged in stand/base. 

Available at Boots, Amazon, Argos & larger supermarkets RRP £199.99. Visit www.braun.com/uk for more information.

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Sass and Belle Multi Photo Frame in Dark Wood.

This large wooden frame is the perfect way to create a beautiful focal point, allowing you to display nine 6" x 4" photographs in one place.  

Don't worry if you haven't got 9 pictures straight away as the pretty floral papers look lovely. The frame can be hung portrait or landscape. 

It is a great quality piece with a lovely smooth waxed feel to it. All of the joins are perfectly fitted and aligned making the finish real quality. 

I can see us buying a few of these and dotting them around the house as it is a high quality product and the perfect way to display Family memories.

Dimensions: L: 82cm x H: 37cm x W: 2cm. 

Priced at £33.

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Lastly, here is a sneak peek at some of the new Yankee Candle Christmas range called -Baby it's fun outside and cosy inside. I have tried Berry trifle, Bundle Up, Cosy by the fire and Winter glow. As you would expect from Yankee they all smell fantastic and are lovely festive colours too. I can't wait to stock up on more for the festive period.

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Would you like to wake up to any of these on Christmas Morning?

My baby is starting nursery! Matalan back to school range - review.

Sunday 26 July 2015

Unbelievably, Liv starts Nursery in September. I honestly don't know where the time has gone!

It all seemed quite a way away yet until the lovely Matalan team kindly got in touch and asked if we would like to review some school uniform. Then reality hit!

I readily agreed and was given a £50 budget to spend in the back to school shop. I had no idea how much uniform costs or how far this budget would go but I was very pleasantly surprised!

The colour scheme for the uniform at the school Liv is attending is grey skirt/trousers and light blue blouse/polo shirt, with this in mind I began shopping.

There was a huge choice available in a wide range of sizes and colours so I had no problem finding possibilities, the only problem was narrowing my choices down!

Here is what I ordered:
6 x pretty blue polo shirts - £6 for 2,
2 x trousers - £4 each,
2 x pleated skirts - £8 for a pack of 2,
1 x jersey skirt - £4,
1 x pinafore - £6,
6 x school socks - £3 for 3 pairs.
= £50 exactly

Liv is very big for her age, usually wearing clothes 3 years older than she is, so I used the handy Matalans measuring guide to determine her size rather than going for her age group. 

Not only is the price brilliant but the quality is fantastic too. My Mum used to be a seamstress so I have been well trained to test seams, check stitching and make sure buttons are secure - all of which were spot on with all of the items I received.

The little details on the clothing really takes the items to another level in my opinion. For example:
  • Polo shirts - have a lovely scalloped collar, flower shaped buttons, pretty cap sleeves and some embroidered flowers on the chest.

  • Pinafore - has a lovely flower shape for the zip toggle, flowers embroidered on the left hip area and it is coated with a Teflon stain resistant coating to repel water and stains.

  • Trousers - have a fully adjustable inner waistband to help make sure you get full use even during growth spurts!

  • Pleated skirts (pack of 2) - have an elasticated waist to the back and are also treated with a Teflon stain resistant coating.
  • Jersey skirt - elasticated waistband and heart charm.
  • The socks - are a lovely finishing touch to the uniform with either a frill or gingham bow in the corresponding school colours. They come in packs of 3 and are also available in yellow, purple, green, and red.

I am very happy with the items we chose, I have put them all through the washing machine and they have all retained their shape and the pleats are still in place.

I would definitely recommend Matalans back to School Range to Family and Friends.

Disclaimer - we were provided with the School Uniform for the purpose of the review, however all opinions are honest and our own. Images subject to copyright.

Parcelgenie unveil their new TxtGenie service - review.

Tuesday 21 July 2015

Last week the lovely people at Parcelgenie kindly sent me two codes to surprise my loved ones with a little gift.

I have both received a gift and sent gifts using this service previously so know how easy and fun it is!

For the purpose of the review, I sent one gift for my Mum and one to Liv so that I could get photographs and review them properly.

I chose this beautiful box of 8 scented tealights by Hana Blossom for my Mum. Don't they look amazing? 

Each flower petal is handmade by a local artisan in Central Thailand meaning your purchase will make a difference to the lives of adults and Children in the developing world.

The tea lights are so pretty, it would almost be a shame to light them! They have a lovely subtle scent and would love lovely it a clear glass tealight holder allowing you to admire the design.

They arrived beautifully wrapped in tissue paper and ribbon safely inside a cardboard box for posting. Priced at £5.99 delivered.


Next I chose this lovely Blues box for Liv as it is reminiscent for a certain popular Disney film! 

When the box arrived, the package inside was wrapped in lovely blue tissue paper. Once opened it contained two chocolate covered toffees, a bag of blue jelly sweets, a bag of blue sugarcoated marshmallows and a swirly blue lolly pop. Liv dived straight into the lolly pop while I was mean Mummy and popped the other treats away for another day. Priced at £3.99 delivered.
The process really couldn't be any easier, simply download the Parcelgenie App choose your gift and enter the mobile number of the person you wish to send it to. The recipient will then receive a text message letting them know that your mobile number has sent them a gift and asking them to reply to the text with their address. Simple!

As if that wasn't easy enough, Parcelgenie have recently unveiled a new TxtGenie service where you don't need a smartphone, laptop, PC or anything other than a mobile that can send a text. With this service you chose a gift from ten options then text Parcelgenie letting them know who you would like to send that gift to and their mobile number. Then just pay for the gift and sit back while they do the rest (text your Friend asking fir their address) Easy peasy! Even better, the first gift you send will be half price! A full 50% off.

Both of the parcels I ordered fitted easily through the letterbox so there is no need to worry about timing the delivery for when the recipient is home, they can just return to a nice treat instead.

As a little incentive to treat your Family and Friends, the App comes complete with a loyalty card which is automatically stamped whenever you send a gift. Once you have sent six gifts Parcelgenie will send you a little something just for being so lovely to all of your Friends and Family. Isn't that nice of them?

Disclaimer - I was sent two free codes to enable me to review the service, however all images and opinion is my own.

Making the most of our Summer!

Thursday 2 July 2015

If you are anything like me and your skin melts the instant the sun touches you, it can be quite difficult to enjoy yourself when everyone wants to be lying in their back gardens getting bronzed. A few Years ago I discovered the perfect way to tempt people inside while still having fun. 

Have you ever tried visiting a Foodies Festival? We went to the Llangollen Food & Drink Festival and had a fabulous time. With lots of stalls to look around, the sun lovers are happy while the more sensitive skinned of us can pop into the shade when required. This year it is back for the 18th time on Saturday October 17th and Sunday the 18th.

Did you know that Foodies Festival is on at Alexandra Palace this Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Celebrating its 10th anniversary with Michelin-star and celebrity chefs including Aldo Zilli – TV Chef and Master Chef finalists Saira Hamilton and Jackie Kearney

There will also be new food and drink tasting theatres where local experts will tempt you with tasty food while teaching you new skills like Oyster Shucking, Bee Keeping and Foraging.

If that isn't enough, how about some Summer cooking inspiration from the Aga Rangemaster Chefs, head to the theatre and watch them cooking their favourite dishes from their Summer menus. You’re guaranteed to find something new and delicious to try. I was inspired me to try new ingredients and create some lovely food at home.

Why not make a Weekend of it and stay at the fantastic Holiday Inn London Brent Cross, which is only 22 minutes away by car. 

Just £99 for a spacious double room which has a lounge area and a sofa that can be used as a sofabed, high speed internet and keep refreshed in this heatwave with air conditioning and quench your thirst with their complimentary tea and coffee. When you get back from the food festival you can relax in front of a movie or satellite channels on the TV, bliss!

Disclaimer - brought to ypu in association with Holiday Inn.

Planning a festive weekend away in November!

Wednesday 1 July 2015

Okay I know a lot of you probably haven't even been on your Summer holiday yet, but now we are back from ours I can't help but start planning the next getaway.

While looking around for something different to do towards the end of the year, I clicked onto The NEC's "what's on" section and straight away spotted the November Festive Gift Fair.

Complete with 325 stalls of Decorations, Toys & Stockings Fillers, Food & Drink, Health & Beauty, Crafts, Fashion and Jewellery, Gadgets, Home Interiors and much more I am bound to find plenty of gift inspiration.

I'm already excited to start getting into the Christmas Spirit there with Christmas musical entertainment throughout the day, including the talented Gramaphones and Rock Choirs. There will also be some characters keeping us entertained including the Grinch (Boo!), an outrageous Dame and of course the big Man himself - SANTA!

Yes I am aware that we are in Summer but anyone that knows me will tell you I LOVE Christmas. Love it. Everything from finding the perfect gifts and beautifully wrapping them to decorating the house and cooking up a storm. I just love it all!

Every year since Liv has been born we try our hands at crafting and add a new temporary decoration - not that our house looks like a grotto or anything! We take her to see Santa and to the local garden centre to meet some Reindeer and listen to a lovely group of OAP's playing Christmas Carols on the bells, it truly is a magical time.

Decorating the tree & our crafted decorations.

The icing on the cake is that with us living in Wales and not driving, we will be travelling by train and staying the night at the ever so lovely Crowne Plaza Birmingham NEC which is actually part of the NEC so after a long days shopping we can drop off the bags before enjoying a drink in the bar overlooking Pendigo lake, Dinner in the resteraunt and in the morning I can pop back to the fair while my Husband makes use of the balcony view, wi-fi and gym (honestly!)

If you are interested in attending the Fair, it is open from Thursday the 12th of November to Sunday 15th of November, priced from £8.50 per Adult.

Hi Ho, Hi Ho - It's off to shop we go!

Disclaimer - brought to you in association with Crowne Plaza Birmingham Hotel.