Review: Yankee Candles

I think we all know about Yankee Candles, they adorn most garden centres and gift shops with their massive selection of alluringly coloured shiny glass jars, willing us to add one or two to our shopping baskets.

I’m a big fan of scented candles, though, for the past few years have mostly avoided them, what with a small person in the house who is naturally attracted to pretty warm flames.  Now he’s a bit older I can burn them on occasion and out of his reach on a very high shelf that I put in my room especially for keeping things way out of his reach.

Most of the time I use an oil burner if I want a nice fragrance because candles cost quite a lot, and Yankee are no exception.  So what I suppose you’d like to know is: are they worth it?

My nose is quite sensitive and I can sometimes feel a bit headache-y if I burn a cheap candle.  The smell of the wax seems to be picked up by my senses more than the intended other smell and it spoils the whole experience.  yankee candles

I had this experience with Yankee too.  They sent me the Orange Dreamsicle in their Really Massive size. I could smell the waxy smell more than the orange smell, and the aroma was very localised to the area of the candle.  I wonder what their popularity is, maybe it is because they are so widely available.  My personal favourite and the only ones that I buy now are by a company called Lily Flame.  Their scent travels widely, and is really true to life.  My favourites are violet, baby powder and grass.  I buy them off e bay for the best prices, but always shop around.

My friend really likes Yankee though, so I’ve passed it on to her, so it has not gone to waste.  I must have a funny nose (no personal comments please!!).  What do you think of Yaneke? Bees knees or not sure what the fuss is about?


BONKERS! #tiedyequeen

I have been getting a little bit over excited with some Dylon dye I was sent to try.  It all started with a picture I tweeted of some Toms that I had revived and then the lovely people at Dylon twitter posted me an eye-popping selection of dyes to experiment with.  I’ve loved it, making the Cub and I matching t-shirts and even letting him have a go at creating his own.  I just can’t get enough of it, I’ve been reviving old towels and a bag, transforming plain t-shirts trying out new designs and methods, and I’ve not even finished yet.

I need some more white tees and a white hoody and some trousers from  At this rate, there will be nothing white left in this house!  Brilliant fun.

The Dylon website has all the instructions, it’s easier than I expected and especially if you pick a bright colour, the hand wash packet for three quid-ish goes a very long way.


lavender bath mats

Lavender transformed some greying and bleach-spotted bath mats

dip dyed t shirts

I love the dip dye effect

spiral  dyed shirts

Our favourites – matching Mum & Son t-shirts

secection of dylon dyes

Bahama blue and flamingo pink are my favourite colours.

khaki bag

An old very faded bag that had plenty of life left in it, restored to a good colour again.

bubble dip dye tees

I combined dip dying with the bubble effect for these

two more dyed t shirts

A bubble dye vest and a scrunch dye t-shirt. This was a dip dye job that went wrong with a paler pink so i scrunched it and popped it in the flamingo pink.

modelling the dip dye bubble one

Me, in one of my favourites

mummylion and cub in a field

We love our matching tees

vest and long sleeved t-shirt

Cub’s creation on the right and a corner spiral dye with dipped sleeves.

The Big Run

My running buddy

My running buddy

Last year -when I climbed over the hill and found myself in another decade of life and realised I can’t actually get drunk any more without a three day consequence after half a decade of near abstinence – I bought some running shoes and decided to put some extra oompf into my dog walks.   I was quite happy with no particular goals other than move a bit faster than usual for my usual couple of miles and enjoy the nice fresh air in my lungs and the endorphins in my brain.  No pressure, just a nice jog through the fields with my four legged friend.

It went in fits and starts, to be honest, and the muddy winter put almost a stop to my activities.  In the spring, I heard about the Skafell Pike climb for Refuge and wanted to join in.  I figured that if I could run six miles, I’d be fit enough to do the climb, so set myself that target, for the end of August.  Anyway, then I suddenly realised (actually my Mum realised for me) that the dreaded School starts this year, and the dates clashed.  I was so disappointed.

Somehow, around this time Crazy Running Sister (the one who has run marathons and half marathons and other crazy running activities) managed to somehow (hypnosis? word weaving? catching me on an optimistic day?) get me to say yes to signing up to the Robin Hood Half Marathon.

Yes, you heard right, a full half marathon.

Over a decade ago I ran the run for life and hated it so much that I vowed never to race again.  Never say never eh?  I joked that my big glutes and small feet made me more suited to sitting than running, as I drove to the corner shop for me fags n wine (way pre Cub, obvs).

Anyway, here’s me, bopping over the fields in my running shoes with my dog in all weathers and I was doing quite well. One mile to six in a little over a month, easy, innit? *ahem* then came eight miles.  Oh crikey.  I am so totally not loving it now.  Eight miles is crazy hard, and the time it takes is soooo long.

So I googled training plans and they suggest not doing a half marathon for your first race. Oh well, too late now! Add to this that the only training days I have are when the Cub is at nursery  and the times I have to run are always midday in the full midday sun and you might see why I am thinking that this challenge is working out to be a bit more of an effort than your bog standard everyday race runner.

This week though I got a little self-booster when I hit the 11 minute mile over a short run, and managed a four miler in not much more and in 27 degree heat without actually dying, so I suppose I am making progress.  The short runs are the ones I enjoy, though a year ago I would never have said that running four miles was short.  The plus side is that my legs and feet are changing shape for the better, and I’ve picked up a lovely tan along the way.

I’ve had no injuries except a lower back pain when I increased to five, but that subsided quickly.  The barefoot shoes have meant that I get no shin splints like I used to, although my foot arches and ankles are pretty stiff, and the long runs can be felt inside my hips.  I have the remains of one dark grey toenail on one foot and blisters upon blisters upon blisters.  Apparently I am now a bona fide runner, with this rather unglamorous foot casualty.

My seven year old running buddy is the same age as me now according to this (older according to others) and is coping marvellously, even in the heat, though he stops for a dip in various rivers or canals we pass.  He’s had a stiff back leg for years but since adding glucosamine to his diet it seems to have vanished.  There’s life in us oldies yet! He’s great company, and listens to me compassionately when I start complaining, always offering a furry ear to stroke and a look of gentle encouragement.

But I’ve said I will do it and do it I will.

An organisation called Elizabeth Finn Care/Turn2us has been a real godsend to me, so I decided to run for them.

I am not asking for a tenner, or a fiver (though that’d be nice), but if you could spare a quid to sponsor me, that would be so super-cool.  My page is here, or, you can text: MUMC73 £1 to 70070.

Which moisturizer works better for the summer time?

PaperArtist_2014-07-11_22-05-21I’ve been trialling two summer moisturisers for a month now, to see which is my favourite.  Shielo complexion moisturizer (US spelling, all the way from New York), and Citrus Clear Skin Repair Moisturizer.

Both are GREAT for the summer, but work in different ways. The Shielo Moisturizer is better at leveling the complexion and controlling oil, while the Citrus Clear Moisturizer is more moistening and for skin renewal.

Now that the summer is truly here, they have both been put through their paces.  I have sensitive skin that is prone to spots, and when I stopped using my Lacura Clear Skin moisturiser, my spots did return, unfortunately.

However both were lovely to use, and definitely performed on the soothing and moisturising front but miles away on the pleasure front was the Citrus Clear Moisturizer.  It is a truly indulgent smelling moisturiser  that soothes not only the skin but the senses too.  Used at night in a nice thick layer, it would help me drift off to sleep in a haze of sweet citrus fruit, a really comforting smell.  I didn’t notice any reduction in wrinkles, though my skin tone has improved, and it was only used for a few weeks.

Dawn and the tale of the scary fluttery things

Ever since I can remember I have been scared half to death by Things With Big Wings.  Bees, wasps, OK I can cope, but if a beautiful fluttery butterfly enters my airspace or a bird gaily flaps nearby I would break out into a cold sweat, have shivers down the spine and overwhelmingly nauseated.

Birds, butterflies, daddy-long-leg’s, dragonflies and the creepiest of all the fluttery creatures MOTHS, all activated my fight or flight mechanism so well that I could move faster than a cat out of hell (did I mention bats, also?) to avoid them, even before anyone else had spotted the darned creatures.  It was my Phobia, and though of course I had considered facing it, it was not such a biggie and I figured that I’d managed to pretty much avoid the creatures for 40 years, why put myself under the unnecessary bother of changing anything?  I like the fresh air in the evenings so I bought window nets to keep the flying stuff out.

I was so bad that once, a bird had entered and left my flat but left a deposit on my sheets.  I discovered this as I came out of the shower and ran from the flat still in my towel to get a neighbour’s (light fingered) son in my flat (alone) to check that it had definitely gone.  I slept on the sofa for a few days after that.  Last year, a moth died on the lawn and I was so scared of this dead thing that I had to chuck mud over it so that I didn’t have to look at it.  I couldn’t watch silence of the lambs – Hannibal was scary but the moths made me want to vomit.

And then I had The Cub.   Not wanting to pass on my fear, I hid it, for the first four years, so well, that he really loves birds and butterflies, even though I would secretly just want to run away and hide if he started chasing ducks or chickens.  But THEN, the zoo opened a butterfly house and I knew I couldn’t hide my fear any longer so I told him.  “That’s silly”, he said, and yes, it is silly, phobias ARE silly, but I wanted to sort it out so that I could enjoy my life with him without silly things getting in the way.  My Dad is scared of birds and I suppose in a way that reinforced the legitimacy of my own fear, so I decided to just think about breaking this silly thing of mine.

“I can cure that” (or words to that effect) promised Dawn aka Think It Change It.  She’s an amazing woman that has overcome so much in her own life (see her books) and has helped me in the past with cognitive hypnotherapy.  Take a look at her website, there are some free downloads and a very informative email newsletter that is worth signing up for.

The method she uses is so simple, but based on studies of human emotional evolution, that has some parallels with mindfulness training, along with a deep seated belief in you as a human being and an individual.  I know that I can trust Dawn one hundred percent, she is professional and discreet, but what I love the most is that she believes in me.  She knows I can do it, even if I don’t.  I think that’s what many of us miss, the missing link, somebody who wholeheartedly believes in you, the individual, without judgement or bias.  It’s pure, and simple, and a big difference from the internal dialogue and the negativity that life keeps chucking at us.

I think the session took around half an hour, via Skype, and that was it. Done. Phobia over. NOW….this is not to say I am 100% comfortable around fluttery things but I have lived with this fear for 41 years and my neural pathways are going to have to change a bit.  Two days later:

That's me, outside the butterfly house

That’s me, outside the butterfly house

Me, inside the butterfly house.

Me, inside the butterfly house.

OK, you can see from the second photo I was not comfortable, but I kept on going.  The butterflies were very big and very active, and a third of the way round I HAD to leave, but I did it! I went in (gung-ho, a bit too soon).

Then, a few weeks later:

Me, holding an owl,

Me, holding an owl,

Seriously, last year I would never have even contemplated doing this!  I couldn’t bring myself to have an owl fly to my hand and there was no way I was ready for the big one whose wings would have brushed my head but I did it!

At the moment on runs there are an awful lot of dragonflies and butterflies about.  I would have just avoided those routes in the past but now I don’t even get freaked if they brush my skin.  There was a massive moth in the house two nights ago and although its fluttering was definitely uncomfortable, I did get close enough to fly-spray it (yes, I know, sorry massive mothykins).  Yesterday a butterfly entered my living room but I passed the responsibility of removal to my sister.  Just because they don’t make me want to cry any more, I am not sure that I’m ready to be their best friends just yet.

The cold sweating fear, palpitations and tearfulness have been replaced by a little curiosity, and I am able to actually look at a butterfly’s markings without the discomfort of terror.

I call that a result, don’t you?  What fear would you have removed?

Boots opticians

I’ve been wearing glasses for a while now.  First for studying, later for driving and now, well, all day, when I am not wearing my contact lenses.  Sad to say, I can’t even see the telly clearly unaided now, though, I can still read clearly with no visual aids.  Over the years I’ve been through quite a few pairs of specs and it’s always hard to choose the right pair, so much so that I think I’ve only ever had three pairs that I really actually liked.

I visited a Boots opticians for the first time in many years, and the experience was quite different from my usual optometrist appointment.  I’ve been going to Adsa for years after falling out with Specsavers, just because they are cheap,to be honest.  They aren’t the friendliest front of house staff, but it’s a handy store and you can get your groceries afterwards.

As  contrast, Boots Opticians staff were very friendly and a lovely gent called Vikesh took me through the whole eye test procedure.  The process was nothing new to me, but each step was clearly explained and he even took a picture of the inside of my eye, which I was quite impressed about – I’ve never seen that before and apparently my eyes are healthy, which is reassuring from a bit of a sun-worshipper.

Then it was onto choosing the lenses and frames.  He explained that Boots Protect Lenses came as standard now.  If you scroll down, you will see a lovely graphic that highlights a few facts about sun and eyes.  In a nutshell, Boots Protect Lenses offer all year protection from UV rays with an eye sun protection factor of E-SPF 50 (high).  Loads of people go blind from to much sun exposure, and it affects every eye colour, not just us blueys.  So not only will my peepers be healthy but (I was thinking) it might help prevent wrinkles (I added that bit myself, this is not a confirmed fact). These lenses are also scratch resistant and reflection free to help you see out, and people see in, more easily.

I also wanted to try reactions lenses, so I added them to my package.  I’ve been on the fence about reactions lenses, one of my sisters tells me they are very uncool but as I like to wear glasses in the summer to protect my eyes from pollen, plus, I like multifunctional items, I opted for this.  My Mum says they don’t change fast enough when you come indoors (after chasing after my very fast son) but I’ve had them for a few days now and can’t see any problem there.  The brown tint matches my frames and I like them.

Boots Protect Plus Lenses (or fancy-pants lenses, as re-named by me) are amazing, so far.  They resist water, oil and don’t steam up as much.  In the few days I have worn them I have definitely not been cleaning them as much as my other glasses, and today when I was over some steamy water in the sink, they definitely de-steamed quickly.  In my other specs I would have had to wipe them or wait much longer for them to clear.   I’ve never had special lenses before, and at fifty quid it’s a big extra on the price of your glasses but I will update this post in a few more weeks to let you know if it’s worth it.

The staff at Boots (well, Vikesh really) has been very patient with me, and I’ve been back twice already for adjustments (hopefully for the last time today!).  I’d like to thank him, because I took sooooo long making my choice AND had my lively and rather bored son with me while I did (did I mention kids glasses at Boots are unbreakable?).

Anyway, time for a selfie? What do you think of my lovely new glasses?






Boots Opticians stats


Review: Stuck on you

I’m sure that my son is not alone in liking having his name on clothes and items and it of course makes it easier to identify items when he is at nursery.  When he starts school he will be taking responsibility for looking after his own things, so having clothes, shoes and bags labelled will make sure that he always comes home with his clothes and not somebody else’s.  Stuck on you not only provides name, clothing and shoe labels but also sells a really attractive and useful line of supplementary items such as lunch bags and drinks bottles as well as party paraphernalia and even towels.

The Cub and I browsed the lovely selection of cute and quirky designs together and he selected some pyjamas with his name and some monsters in a car.  When they arrived, they were such lovely quality that I wanted to use the top as an everyday t-shirt but he was insistent that they were his new pyjamas and so they have remained so.  stuck on you pyjama set

What a little cutie eh?  Now I have had the new starters meeting at school, I see I will need a whole lot more personalised stuff, from a drinks bottle with his name on to the whole range of clothing and show stickers.  I might also get him a bag tag for his book bag because although I’m sure school uniform is a lovely things and all, I can just see items being lost when their kit gets jumbled up together in the cloakroom.  The website is clear and attractive and the prices seem OK too. I’d be interested to see how many washes the stick on clothing labels survive through.

I quite fancy some pens with my own name on, but I’ve always been a bit of a stationery geek *blush*.


Summer is here, well almost, and on Sunday 29th June Aldi is extending its 5* Ultra UVA/UVB sun care range to offer more beach bag beauty bargains.

sun2 sun3 sun4

Following the success of the SPF30 Sun Lotion (£2.49), voted as the Which? Best Value sun care product, the new range features an SPF30 and SPF50 Anti-Skin Ageing Sun Cream (£3.99) with a DNA-Solar-Complex designed to reduce skin cell damage and minimise the appearance of brown spots. This non-greasy cream is also water resistant, easily absorbed and protects against collagen damage.

For easy to apply sun protection, Aldi is also introducing a Clear Sun Spray in SPF15 and SPF30 (£2.99) infused with Vitamin E and perfectly designed to spray from any angle.

And, for very high protection for sun sensitive skin, the SPF50+ Sun Protection Stick (£2.39) is especially suitable for sensitive skin areas such as nose, ears and face. The moisturising complex helps to lock in moisture leaving skin feeling soft and supple.

Aldi is providing even more great quality protection for the whole family. So whether you’re budget beaching in Brighton or hitting the sands in Corfu, Aldi’s newest beauty savers will see you through the summer!

To get your hands on Aldi’s latest sun care beauties get into your nearest store on Sunday 29th June, as once they’re gone, they’re gone!!

* press release, not sponsored



Festival goers set for a muddy good time with Aldi’s top tips for campsite beauty.

Packing light and the lack of hot showers means thinking very carefully about what you take with you – facial wipes become a must and hairspray turns out to be as vital a part of your kit as your tent and wellies.

And at less than a fiver, Aldi’s top picks take the hassle out of planning your look so you can focus on getting stuck in!

deodorant face spray1spray2spray3 wipes

Everyday pollution is nothing compared to the muck that ends up stuck to your skin after the average day on a festival pitch, and when you’re faced with a mile-long queue for a communal shower a full cleanse and tone isn’t an option. So Aldi brings you the next best thing, the Lacura 3 in 1 Facial Cleansing Wipes softly remove make-up and dirt to leave the skin feeling soothed. At 3p a wipe (89p per pack) that’s more savings than you could throw a festival hat at. It’s bargain beauty at its best.

And as if the wipes weren’t enough, the Lacura Ladies Roll-On Deodorant (59p) is a quick-drying, lasting deodorant that will help keep underarms fresh, and it’s small enough to squeeze into any backpack – so no excuses!

There’s nothing attractive about sunburn, so you need to wear at least an SPF15 with UVA and UVB protection to protect against short and long term sun damage. Luckily, Aldi has the ultra moisturising Lacura SPF15 Daily Face Cream for a quick application, its only £1.49 a tube so there’s no excuse not to reapply to stay safe in the sun!

Don’t forget your tresses, because by day three of the festival you’ll be calling in the big guns to regain luster to your locks! Meet your hair saviour; the Carino Hairspray Natural Hold (79p) is a lightweight spray that will condition and moisturise hair even when you think its past saving!

*press release, not sponsored.

Review: Charly the Vet app

I was recently sent the strangest kids game ever to review.  Charly the Vet is a game book aimed at kids aged 4-7 and the choices made while playing the game determine the outcome from multiple endings.

I gave it to my son, who, despite not being able to read yet is excellent at every game he has yet played.  He got stuck at one of the first hurdles though, with a task to get a load of toads across a road without getting squashed by racing cyclists.  Two adults and one child could not work out how to get the darned amphibians to safety and so we gave up.  There was also a game within the story that he played where he had to stop the toads from being eaten by a heron!  I know these are all valid issues for toads but I was actually a bit surprised at the levels of harsh reality in the game.  Combined with no way that I could see to skip the  introduction each time, the game soon got left to one side.  The voices are really horrible and squeaky and high-pitched American and the characters talk to each other really rudely.  If I could have skipped the godawful squeaky-voiced introduction then at least I could have had a play myself and worked out a solution but I couldn’t bear poor Charly’s voice a moment longer.

The next day when my son went to play with my tablet, he said “I don’t think I’d better play that one had I Mummy?” and that was the end of Charly the Vet.