Review: Love Sales

Who doesn’t love a sale? Quite apart from the satisfaction that comes form saving a good amount of money on a new purchase, many of us are having to watch our spending out of necessity these days.  I always shop around for the best deal, and receive Martin Lewis’s emails so that I am aware of current bargains and sales.
Love sales is a sale guide website that you customise to show you only the sales that you are interested in. Your account is really easy to set up, with a quick Facebook login, and then you get to choose which sales you want to be displayed on your home screen.
lovesalesscreen shotNext time you visit, you’ll be presented with a clearly laid out guide to all the stores that you have selected, if they have sales on.  You’ll also get email alerts of new sales that you can easily unsubscribe to if the temptation gets too much.
sales homepageYou can select either cheap (£), medium (££), or higher priced (£££) sales, or all three, select male or female, or even search specific stores.  If a sale takes your fancy just click on it to visit a page with a little more information and the link to the online shop itself.
boohoo saleI love how the store page opens in a new window/tab, so that I don’t have to click back to Love Sales to view another sale, and I can keep a few shops open at the same time.
love sales buttonBut that is not all!  You’re not simply restricted to the sales that you have chosen on the main Love Sales site, they have a button too.  All you do is drag it to your bookmarks toolbar and make Love Sales do the work of watching for a price drop for you.  I am currently lusting after some off-road Inov-8 running shoes, so I found them on SportsShoes.com, clicked the Love Sales button and I will get a notification when the price drops.
running shoes listI can view my sales boards from the Love Sales site and easily remove any items I’m not interested in any more.
In the past I’ve used Martin Lewis’s site to keep on top of my sales but this is easier on so many different levels, not least that it is so personalised and customisable.
I’ll be using it to look out for bargains in the run up to Christmas and beyond, it’s an incredible new and innovative way to make sure that you are always getting the best bargains.  It’s as easy to use on my mobile as on my laptop, though I don’t have a bookmarks toolbar on my mobile browser.  I’d love to see a Love Sales android app to complement it.  Maybe a Love Sales Firefox mobile add-on?
Don’t take my word for it though, go and test it out for yourself, I would love to hear how you got on.

 

Autumn’s best bit

The absolute best bit about Autumn is the leaves.  Not only are they a chance to discuss nature and science with my favourite person, they are a beauty to behold.  The smells, the colours, the opportunities for art, exercise and fun all come along with the changing of the season.  The day that I took this picture we were at the park and had been kicking about under the trees, throwing handfuls of leaves at each other and trying to catch them as the wind blew through the branches.  We had collected leaves of different shapes and colours so that we could make a leaf decoration for the sitting room.  It started  to rain but we didn’t care, and only headed home when it began to get dark.  I made the heart for the Cub and he loved it so much that he sat in the middle of it, meditating.  Not for long enough for me to get a picture, unfortunately.

leaf circleThis is a competition entry for tinyurl.com/autumnsbestbit

Aldi Swap and Save

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My very first home made infographic shows the amazing savings that you could get by switching to Aldi beauty products.  All of the have been tried and tested by yours truly and confirmed as a really great swap. I tried the body moisturiser (the dark blue one for dry skin) on my very dry and sensitivity-prone body skin. I usually use a prescribed emollient for my body and have never found a shop-bought brand that lasts all day but Aldi Body Moisturiser does.

I don’t like Elnett hairspray, the smell doesn’t agree with me, so I gave this one to my Mum, who currently uses Elnett.  She was astounded at the price difference because the effects are exactly the same.

The Kick Start Raspberry and Original Source raspberry shower gels smell identical to my nose, and the clarifying Hair Culture shampoo removes any residues that might make my blonde hair dull.

I’ve been using the Carino herbals shine shampoo and it does indeed increase my hair shine.

It’s a no-brainer really – head to Aldi!

#MorningWin

I’ve been putting off writing this post because I am so positive that one day soon we will make a breakthrough and get a #MorningWin.   But it hasn’t happened.  Cub started school this year and mornings have become a battle ground. He gets up fine, all his school things are ready, all he has to do is get dressed and eat breakfast.  You’d think that would be easy right?  He’s a bright kid and knows the score, he has to get up and into school, and I’ve even got the school involved in encouraging him to get there on time.

I’ve tried the a-z of motherly tips and tricks: Asking, Bribery, Cajoling, Discussion, Encouragement, Fun, Gritting teeth, Helping, Involvement, Joking, Kindness, Love, Moaning, Nagging, Organisation, Patience, Quietly getting ready and leaving him to his own devices, Rewards, Shouting, Trust, Understanding, but I have still to achieve Victory, a Win and a Zealous Yayyy.  Maybe I should replace the negative words with positive ones but when he is still in his pyjamas at 8.45 and that is the time he is supposed to be there I am feeling a bit frustrated.  At this time I am  standing outside the front door and have been for five minutes, bike ready, and he is still messing about avoiding the inevitable.

I even tweeted @1xtra yesterday and THEY asked him to get to school on time, on the radio, and STILL we were there by the skin of our teeth.

Me, dejected

Me, dejected

Belvita kindly sent me some breakfast biscuits to try and ease the pain of mornings (maybe they should have sent  me some Irish coffee instead).

New belVita Breakfast Crunchy offers a fruity, extra nutty or chocolaty option as part of your breakfast experience, adding yet more variety on those busy mornings when there are a million things to juggle, and breakfast is bottom of the pile! They are generously packed with delicious ingredients to make a bigger and crunchier belVita Breakfast biscuit, for when you want a bit of extra oomph from your breakfast! They are the only breakfast biscuits proven to slowly release carbohydrates over four hours as part of a balanced breakfast**.

I wasn’t that keen on them, I prefer the softer milk and cereal versions of the biscuits, but the cub liked the chocolate and the hazelnut varieties.  He doesn’t really like to eat until later in the day (another issue, obviously, on school mornings)so being able to shove a biscuit in his hand as I frantically peddle to school is kind of handy.   You do kind of assume that the biscuits themselves will be an adequate breakfast though but the ** bit states that you also need to add a fruit, some dairy and a drink.  So I suppose it’s a bit like eating dry cereal (which strangely the cub does like).

This post is an entry for #MorningWin Linky Challenge sponsored by belVita Breakfast. Learn more at http://bit.ly/belVitaUK

I am now heading over to the linky to see if I can pick up some tips and tricks for getting to school on time.  PLEASE let me know if you have any!  I love my son to bits and I hate starting the day in this way.

Competition: Win a bundle of books with Bewilderwood

Last summer I spent the most amazing day out at Bewilderwood.  It is a place designed for young people and their grown-ups to explore the forest and immerse themselves in a magical woodland adventure.  Four months later, the Cub STILL asks to go back to Bewilderwood.  With half-term approaching, and the weather still fine, it’d be a great way to burn off some energy and bond with the family over the short break.

book bundleHowever, Norfolk is a bit far for a day out from where I live, and, likely from where you live too, so the Twiggle Team want to share the magic, in book form, to one of you lucky people out there.

If you do happen to pass by the Curious Treehouse Adventure at half term, this is what they have to offer:

The Glorious Glowing Lantern Parade Thursday 23rd October – Sunday 2nd November

October half term is one of the most exciting times of the year at BeWILDerwood, a truly visual and sensory celebration of the beauty and mystery of the BeWILDerwood story. A full day experience the whole family can enjoy, The Glorious Glowing Lantern Parade is even bigger and even better this year. Enjoy daily performances of the BeWILDerbats story, stay snug and warm by the fires and spend quality time creating luminous lanterns in the ‘Big Hat’. As dusk settles over the wood prepare to experience the park in a spectacular new light. Join together at the bonfire and begin the Glorious Glowing Lantern Parade, weaving majestically through the light and laser-lit woodland, dropping in to sneak a peek at familiar BeWILDerwood characters in their storybook setting.

Don’t forget to visit the fantastic new Sky Maze set high in the treetop canopy. Stretching nearly half a kilometre and reaching over 8 metres in height, the newest addition to the park takes adventure and playtime to magnificent new heights. Visit us for October half term and spend endless hours with family and friends, climbing and sliding, exploring and building, in a world with more than a little sprinkling of magic.

My soul is doing a happy-tickly dance at the thought of that, but I will have to wait until the summer before I can visit again.

The competition will run for two weeks, until the 16th October,and entry is via the rafflecopter form below.  I rely on your integrity to not have to ask you to enter dishonestly.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Review: Loom Twister Loom Kit

Loom bands seem to be everywhere at the moment and I recently bought a few packs just out of curiosity.  The Cub showed an interest, easily making a fishtail ring for me using only his fingers and the bands.  He is only four and a half though and his concentration soon waned.  I was a little more curious though, and made a few bracelets for him, it is nice to have something to fiddle about with sometimes, and rewarding when you can create a gift for somebody. It reminded me of when I was in the Girl Guides and there was a craze for making knotted bracelets for each other.  My sister told me there had been safety issues with the bands but I could not find anything of particular concern when I Googled it.  No more dangerous than playing with sellotape or normal rubber bands anyway, and the Cub is a sensible and careful soul.

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Loom Twister Kit

Loom charms

Loom charms

I had looked on eBay for an actual loom but hadn’t made a decision about that yet, when coincidentally I heard that Hobbycraft were seeking testers for their Loom Twister Loom Kit. It comes in a handy carry case with segments for the different coloured bands and some very cute charms for your bracelets.  Unfortunately the segments are removable, and I have a four year old so they are all mixed up now but that doesn’t bother me, I still manage to find the bands.

The girl and the boy across the road from me are very “into” the loom band craze and brought their kits over to show us, one day that we were playing out on the lawn.  They were very impressed with our setup, and the girl showed me her wonderful collection of loom charms.  Her nicely compartmentalised case had also got mixed up bands in it, so they get a bit messy anyway if you use them.

She did say that the loom was a little weak and would break eventually and enthusiastic me ordered a loom with moveable hooks on it from eBay, which they agree is top notch now. She made the creation of charms look so easy but all I’ve managed so far is a few bracelets.

My attempt at a Minion ended almost in tears (the kids make it look so EASY!!), but I think I just need some practice.  That is me all over that is, start complex, realise I am not [insert project here] God and then go back and start from scratch.  The young people recommended that I buy a book (I had been educating myself via YouTube), and Hobbycraft sell loom books too.

My minion :(

My minion :(

I am enjoying learning new things though and the process reminds me a bit of a crochet loom I had as a child. But way cooler, obviously.

The Loom Twister Loom Band Friendship Bracelet Kit would be a great gift for Christmas or a birthday.  It is officially awesome as endorsed by the Kids Across The Road, and certainly has enough bands to keep the recipient busy for a long long time.  Team this with a “how to” book or some YouTube channels and you’re good to go.

What do you think of my latest creation? Cute?  This craze will keep the Cub me busy for ages :)

The eBay loom

The eBay loom

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Press release: Benji Davies

Simon & Schuster sign two book deal with prize-winning author, illustrator Benji Davies

benji davies29 September 2014 —Simon and Schuster Children’s Books today announced a new two book deal with rising star in picture books, Benji Davies.  Davies is the author and illustrator of The Storm Whale, winner of the Evening Standard Oscar’s First Book Prize and a shortlisted title for The Booktrust Best Book Awards in 2014.

Lara Hancock acquired World Rights from Vicki Willden-Lebrecht at The Bright Agency, for a further two books to be written and illustrated by Davies, a deal which builds on agreements already in place and cements a long-term publishing programme for Davies with Simon & Schuster. The first new title, Grandad’s Island, written and illustrated by Davies, is a moving and poignant story about the special bond between a young child and grandparent that explores themes of love and loss.  UK publication is scheduled for summer 2015.

Lara Hancock, Editorial Director, Picture Books said: “We are absolutely thrilled to have signed a further deal with Benji. He is a huge talent and we are extremely excited about what the future holds for him.”

Benji Davies said: “I’m over the moon to be continuing my self-authored picture book work with the fantastic team at S&S. They’ve been a huge support and I can’t wait to put pen to paper on the next titles.”

The Storm Whale was published to critical acclaim in the UK in August 2013 and has sold 20,000 copies on Bookscan in 12 months. Foreign Rights have been sold in 13 territories including the US, where it has garnered two starred reviews from Kirkus and Publishers Weekly.

I only went and did it!!

Yesterday, the 28th September 2014, I did and amazing and spectacular thing:  I ran my first Half Marathon.  I did it!  I was expecting it to take over three hours and I did it in 2 hours 44 and 32 seconds so I am overjoyed that my legs took me that far and that fast.

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Runners at the starting line up

Bearing in mind I run off road, alone, with my dog, the tens of thousands or runners and their supporters was a world away from any of my training runs. I was glad that I had an experienced runner with me aka Crazy Running Sister, who knew what to do and where to go, otherwise I think I would have just wandered around, fretting a bit, because by the beginning of the race the nerves had well and truly kicked in.

Us, all raring to go

Us, all raring to go

I set off slowly, or at least as slowly as I could, because I tended to get swept away with all the other runners, with loads overtaking me straight away.  There were a handful of runners at a similar pace and I paced myself with them at the beginning, though I am not sure what happened to them by the end, maybe they over took me, maybe it was the other way around, because after the halfway mark I was just concentrating on not quitting, and my brain turned to mush.  At mile six I took some of the water they were handing out.  It comes in little plastic pouches that you squeeze to release the water and I breathed in a whole lungful and spent ages choking by the side of the road, and then coughing and spluttering for the next mile or so.

At the halfway point I had two caffeine tablets and some chocolate, that was nice, I was by a lake at the time and had just sped down a hill.  It felt good to be on the way back, and I knew that the Cub would be waiting to cheer me on at around mile 9.  When I saw his gorgeous smiley face, it really boosted me.  I took a minute out for a big massive cuddle and his words of encouragement “you can do it Mummy”, made my heart fly.

After that I was just telling myself that I was nearly there and when I passed the 11 mile marker I was feeling exhausted but happy.  My training had taken me to 11 miles, so I was then running further than I had ever run before.  I wanted to stop and walk but my legs wouldn’t let me – after all those miles it just felt easier to run than walk, though I still got a couple of walk breaks in.  Shortly after mile 11 I could see the 13 mile marker, because the course ran on and then came back on itself and boy did I want to take a shortcut over that wall!  The run up to mile 13 was just pure pain, I felt as though I wasn’t even running properly, just sort of hobbling along quite quickly in a vague running fashion.  People were falling by the wayside and being carted off in ambulances, a worrying sight, but I kept on keeping on.  There were some awesome ladies running alongside me and encouraging me, I really struggled up to the 13 mile marker and then the final 0.1 miles seemed the hardest of all.

Me, straight after the race

Me, straight after the race

But I did it!! And I raised over £400 for Elizabeth Finn Care.  The sponsorship page stays live until December, if you could spare some change, all you have to do is either:

Text: MUMC73 £1 (£5/£10) to 70070
Or visit: justgiving.com/mummylion
Today, I am walking about like baby Bambi on new legs, my poor pins are so sore that I feel as though I am learning to walk all over again.  Undeterred, I have just signed up for a 10k in October.  I think that makes me Crazy Running Sister Number Two.

Bedtime Story: Hello! School

Cuddle up close, and let’s begin:

A great book with lots of interactivity and plenty of opportunity for discussion.

How to keep wedding guests entertained

When it comes to getting married, there are a million and one things the bride will be worrying about on the day of her wedding and anything that can be done to relieve this pressure ensuring she fully enjoys the big day is a welcome sight. Wedding planners for starters will take all the stress away, but this doesn’t mean spending more of that tight wedding budget. There are some extremely helpful online wedding planners available, often free too. Wedding Site has an extensive wedding directory as well as a seating planner, guest manager and budget tracker, which help make the planning of the wedding go as smoothly as possible.

One easy way to help the wedding run its course without so much as a mishap is entertainment, for you (the couple!) as well as the guests. By placing an importance on thinking of a few ways to ensure everyone stays entertained throughout the entirety of the ceremony, you can be safe in the knowledge that everyone will enjoy the day as much as you do!

Photo booths and throw away cameras

Placing a photo booth at the reception is a great way to ensure your guests have an amazing time and will remember your day for a long time to come. You can either rent a photo booth or make your own to save on costs and you can add a number of props to the booth which guests can use when taking photos to make them even more wacky and silly. Even the bride and groom can have a go!

Alternatively, adding one or two disposable cameras to each table at the reception is also a good idea as it allows guests to take pictures of moments during the receptions and interactions the wedding photographers might miss, and you might miss too. The guests will love finding the best pictures to take on the cameras and by the end of the night, they are sure to all be full of photos.

The best part about it has to be the surprise element. With digital camera, we can see everything before they’re even printed. Here, you will find some real gems.

wedding photo

Personal touches

A lot of couples like to get the guests involved in helping them remember their special day and there are a number of ways you can do this. You could get guests to all write a little note in a book or around a photo of you and your husband/wife that you could later frame to hang up.

Another idea is to include questions on name cards such as “What should we name our first child?” or “What is your favourite memory of us?” for the guests to think and fill out, to be handed in at the end of the day so the bride and groom can read out all of the answers. There’s bound to be some hidden jokes in there!

Dance-offs

Weddings are famous for two types of dancing, the romantic first dance of the newlyweds, and the hilariously bad dancing done by many of the drunken guests. Focusing on the latter can provide yourself and guests with multiple hours of enjoyment and amusement. You can organise a dance-off between the maid of honour and best man, or the father of the bride and the father of the groom and decide you wins with your husband/wife in the style of the roman emperors and the notorious thumb up or down during gladiator matches.

Alternatively, provide your guests with dancing shoes like flip flops, making it easier for them to dance in more comfortable, suitable shoes and leaving nobody an excuse not to dance! If you really do need it, there is a lot of handy dancing advice around to ensure you are one of the best movers on the dance floor.

dancing man

Scavenger hunts and I-spy

Create a list of moments that are likely to happen throughout the reception and challenge guests to be the first to capture them all on their own camera or one of the disposable cameras. Award some prizes for the first person to take a picture of everything on the list, creating something enjoyable for the guests to do whilst also getting a large number of great photos. Like a wedding bingo! Write down the moments you really want captured forever on the list so that a number of people take photos of them and you get at least a few really good photos. Some will still include blurs and fingers over the lenses but that all adds to the feel.

Some examples of moments to think about are things like the groom watching the bride from a distance, the groom playing with his ring and the bride and her mother dancing.