Miffy

“The classic children’s character, Miffy, was created by the Dutch graphic designer, Dick Bruna, in 1955. Whilst on a rainy seaside holiday, Dick Bruna drew pictures of a little bunny hopping around the garden of his holiday home, and at night he made up stories about the bunny to entertain his one year old son. That bunny was called Miffy.

Nearly 60 years later, there are 32 storybooks about Miffy, which have sold over 85 million copies and are published in more than 50 languages.

There is Miffy merchandise sold across 5 continents, a TV series and recently a movie”

I was thrilled to receive a selection of new Miffy books in the post, and even more thrilled that my son seems to love them as much as I did.  He was given a Miffy soft toy when he was born and she has to also be present when we are reading the books now.  I have very fond memories of Miffy and the bold, simple, truly timeless pictures, still give me a warm feeling.  I was going to record Miffy at the zoo for a bedtime story video, but when I discovered that it had already been done, I felt that I should post that, instead (and it’s read by famous folk).

We also spent some very cuddly time sticking stickers onto the Miffy’s play date and the Miffy’s day activity book, and then headed to the library to see if we could find any more Miffy stories.  Miffy even has a website now but I would really love her to have some on-line games to play or a nice android app, and then she would be totally 2014.  She has got a YouTube channel though, here, which I’ve subscribed to, but I cannot for the life of me find a copy of Miffy the movie, apart from on ebay all the way from Australia.

Brilliant.  Comfort in a book :)

 

Dreaming of the Samsung Galaxy S5

I was invited to blog about why I deserve to win a Samsung Galaxy S5.

Me, thinking

Me, thinking

 

Today I woke up wondering what to do,

What the weather was like and where to go with my two,

And how we would get there and who we would see

And how to share moments with those overseas

How to check pictures under bright shiny skies

Then as if as by magic, inspiration arrived

A Samsung S5 is just what is needed

With apps to help mothering, this I conceded

The dust and the sand cannot harm this sweet tech

Neither the water, deep as my neck

Its fast auto focus will not miss a thing

And power saving mode means my phone will still ring

Its heart rate sensor and enhanced s health will help me stay fit

And help me keep up with my son, just a bit

I could store all my moments and share them with ease

It would even make mobile shopping a breeze

I could track all my runs with my dear doggy pal

And make lists of to dos, that’d help me, as well

I could find all my journeys all over the county

And instagram pictures of natures great bounty

But why should I win? Because I’m Mum and I’m greatvirgin media samsung s5 competition

And I think that this phone will help me lose loads of weight

And be organised and always have an reply

To that age old and frequently asked question “why?”

And soothe my dog with canine calming tunes

And find games for my son when hes having the loons

It really would help me and make my life easy

So now I will end with a picture (how cheesy!)

we love the samsung galalxy s5

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

d how to share

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Doodle Girl – press release

Simon and Schuster acquires distinctive picture book series ‘Doodle Girl’

doodle girlSimon and Schuster Children’s Books, on the 26th March 2014, announced the acquisition of four books for 2 to 5 year olds from writing duo Suzanne Smith and Lindsay Taylor. Working alongside illustrator, Marnie Maurri, the talented trio has created an upbeat and eye-catching series of books featuring Doodle Girl.

Lara Hancock, Editorial Director, Picture Books bought world rights to the series from Mandy Suhr of the Miles Stott Literary Agency. She said: “We’re absolutely thrilled to have acquired this innovative, stylish and captivating project from a super-creative team. Doodle Girl immediately inspired us and we can’t wait to see her come to life.”

Doodle Girl is exactly that – a doodle. She lives inside a red sketchbook but this isn’t just any sketchbook, or any doodle – it’s magic! Doodle Girl has a magic pencil, and she uses it to create adventures by transforming doodles into fantastical lands full of amazing animal characters.

Doodle Girl is a fresh and original character sending positive messages about the power of imagination and creative thinking. Anything is possible if you put your mind to it!

Simon and Schuster will be showing the first picture book at Bologna, and they plan to publish the book in 2015.

Gardening is the new clubbing

It’s true! It’s official! It ISSSSSS!

Anyway, this year, as well as the veggies I am growing herbs, for herbal use, and plants to repel mozzies, as the Cub and I keep getting bitten, a LOT, in the garden.

I have planted loads of seeds for deter biting insects, plus two eucalyptus bushes.  I’ve been itching to get growing so I started a few things off in my plastic greenhouses a few weeks ago and this weekend I’ve gone wild and crazy planting out my potatoes and various other seeds.  It wasn’t until afterwards that I realised that I’d planted chard seeds in the same place as my sugar snap peas, so I chalked out a garden plan and annotated it in Evernote.

IMG_20140413_164947The aim is for a fragrant (to keep mozzies away from us) and edible garden.  Last year I lost a lot to cabbage whites and slugs so this year I am trying to naturally deter them from the veg by way of nasturtiums and a nice long fleece cloche over my chard and cauliflowers, plus some old wool I found, for the slugs.

There’s a meadow growing nicely along my front lawn that will feed the bees and attract insects too, so all we need now is a few good doses of sunshine and rain.

I feel quite excited now!

tmp_IMG_20140414_1022381329472176

 

 

Rosacea

I was honoured to be amongst a group of esteemed bloggers who attended a roundtable event today at the offices of Ruder Finn about the widely misunderstood skin condition rosacea. A recent website launch My Rosacea gives a more comprehensive overview, but I will tell you about my on experiences.

Many of us shared similar experiences with how the condition developed and the treatment or lack thereof by our GP’s.  My own skin is fair and has always had a rosy glow under certain conditions such as heat, alcohol consumption and cold.  When I was pregnant I noticed that this rosy glow became not only permanent but also dotted with broken veins, and much to my dismay, was so bad that people commented on it (please, PLEASE never tell someone they are red, or “glow”).  This as also a time that I was experiencing a huge amount of stress which, as I learned today, is another trigger.  My GP offered me some antibiotic cream, which not only did not work but flaked off, making the whole condition look worse and impairing my use of foundation.  I requested a dermatologist referral but was refused, and advised to avoid the triggers.  Sadly, the triggers include much of what makes life – I was going to say enjoyable,but – just life, things like hot and cold, stress and exercise, things that are just inevitably human occurrences.

Even if I was to never exercise again, confine myself to a temperature-controlled and stress-free bubble, I would still have my broken veins blink-blinking at me in the mirror every day.  In fact, the only time it seems to fade is when I am really poorly and weak, which is not a state that I would choose to be in. So, I learned to cover it up.  Estee Lauder Maximum coverage is my favourite but they have discontinued my paler than pale winter shade.  I use MAC at the moment but it is certainly not an all day coverage like Estee Lauder.  I tried faux-tanning to the next shade of Estee Lauder but that brought my psoriasis up (I’ve got a whole other post on that one to come, not to mention hand eczema!)

For me, though I hate to see it in the mirror, it is uncomfortable as well.  I can feel my facial skin and am aware of it for most of the day.  It itches and burns and sometimes feels as though my tiny veins are pulsating, or tiny worms are crawling beneath my skin.  It takes a lot of bravery for me to go make-up free, and the sight of myself with no make-up on makes me want too cry.  I showed somebody a picture once, and they didn’t recognise me,in fact, thought it must have been a picture of an older relative.  I know that the only way to get rid of this is laser treatment, and I will never be able to afford to have that done.  This makes me even more depressed, because I know that it will never get better and in fact only get worse.  When I am in make-up I feel more like me again, but I am aware, all day, that I have it on my face.  I am constantly aware that I cannot touch my face or my make up will come off.  That means no itching, no nose blowing, no little boy grabbing Mummy’s face.

The spots, well I have learned to deal with them more effectively, and my most recent amazing discovery is the Lacura Clear Skin range plus a smudge of Sudocrem over the spot and under the foundation.  I am still desperate for an all day long full coverage foundation in my shade of pale cream.

As I type this I have tears in my eyes.  I am condemned to a lifetime of buying expensive make-up that is way beyond my budget and that I have to sacrifice essentials for.  I am condemned to wearing make-up forever, and for it to get worse as I age.  I will never again have comfortable skin.

So, what did I learn today? I learned that I was not alone, in fact, 1 in 10 people suffer from it, possibly more, because of the numbers of undiagnosed and misdiagnosed rosacea.  I learned that there are things I can ask my doctor for to help reduce the redness, even if they won’t offer the laser treatment that I dream of.  I have listed them in my personal order of preference though you will note I have only tried the topical treatments to date.

  • Mirvazo cream – a new release for rosacea treatment.  The website says use with care in patients with depression, so I will try to find out why.
  • Beta blockers work by lowering your heart rate and thus reducing the flow of blood to your cheeks (please note this is my interpretation, I am not a doctor).  They may not be suitable for everyone, but may be good for occasional use.
  • Tetracyclines – a type of antibiotic to treat rosacea
  • Erythromycin and doxycycline are antibiotics that you can take that may stop the redness (not take together).  I would prefer to try other options before I try these but I am quite willing to give them a go as well.
  • Topical treatments are metronidazole and azelic acid.

I plan a video blog about covering it all up, but that will wait until a very brave day.

 

Aldi special buys this week

Quick! Aldi are coming thick and fast with their top quality Lacura special buys at the moment.  There are still some of the Clear Effect products on the middle aisles of my local shop, and this week they have added two amazing face masks and their very own CC Cream.

lacura masksThese are cream face masks.  They come in a tube with a soft brush attached, and you gently paint your face with them, relax for five minutes and then clean off the excess with a tissue.  I am used to using wash off or peel off masks, so this was a new way of doing things for me but I was very happy with them.  I used them before bed and in the morning my skin looked a lot more balanced in colour, with less shine and much reduced pores.

I found the red one, which is a “Nutri Build-up” mask to sting ever so slightly, but I have also found my skin to be less sensitive generally since using it.  It is supposed to build up the skin’s protective barrier, and I am certainly feeling the benefits.

The yellow packet contains an “anti-fatigue” mask.  Applied with a brush in a similar way to the other one, I felt that this had a significant effect on my pores and redness, and I felt quite fresh and young the next day.

lacura cc cream

Alongside the masks they are selling Lacura CC cream.  Considering I am a) not 18 and b) have many skin flaws, this cream was amazing.  I was expecting a tinted moisturiser effect but it covered my skin with a smooth silky flawless finish. The only downside was that although it says that it is for all skin tones, it is actually too dark for me.  I usually go for the very palest shade available, and a lot of brands don’t even do a foundation as pale as I am.  However, spring is round the corner so hopefully I will be picking up some colour and so will save this for use as my spring/summer toned foundation.

And as if that wasn’t enough in the way of beauty bargains, and just in time for Mother’s Day, check out the Coconut Body Butter, not dissimilar to a certain £13 one from a popular allegedly ethical beauty shop.  IN fact, having not very long ago finished one of the vastly more expensive body butters I can say that Lacura is a very credible substitute.lacura coconut cream

So, quick! Before I buy them all, grab ten or fifteen quid and get down to your local Aldi, you won’t regret it.  I am lucky to have been sent samples of these but I’ve already been down and stocked up.

Direct Line Icy Roads’ Skid Pan Training

northants skid control centreIt was a chilly and atmospheric winter morning when I and several other esteemed bloggers turned up at Northants Skid Control Centre, full of excitement and nerves.  I have, for many years, been afraid of driving in icy and snowy conditions, and despite my over cautiousness I still managed to hit a hedge, a few years back.  Living rurally, the ability to drive in such conditions is essential and unless you have a nice big four by four, it’s likely that a skid on the un-gritted roads will happen at some point.  Direct Line Car Insurance kindly arranged for us to experience this day to find out whether it would make us more confident drivers.

The idea behind skid pan training is to learn about the mechanisms of the skid and be trained – by hands on experience and observing your fellow trainees – how to control the skid and avoid a collision.  We studied the art of the skid in both front and rear wheel drive cars and I think we could all agree which was the most fun.  When left alone to practice, nobody could resist taking the rear wheel vehicle for a few doughnut spins on the wet and oily track that we had been practising on.

I began the day as quite a nervous driver, especially in non perfect road conditions, and left with my driving mojo rediscovered.  I drove home full of the confidence of a new young driver, but armed with knowledge that could save my life or somebody else’s. I really do think that learning how to control a skid in a car is an essential skill for all drivers, and I’m keen to advance my driving skills still further, to amplify and refine my experience and to make me a safer all round driver.

It’s almost a shame that we have ended the winter with no snow and ice, so keen was I to test out my new found confidence.  My son keeps urging me to “do a skid Mummy” but I have had to explain that a tree-lined lane is maybe not the best skid-pan, not to mention the legality of it on a public road.

An amazing day out has given me renewed ability behind the wheel of my car, and I am ready now for a calmer wet/muddy/icy driving experience.

My Garden – learning as I grow

Well, the first year I moved in I planted potatoes, garlic and sweet peas.  It was so rewarding, eating what I had grown, that each year I’ve grown a little bit more.  Last year I made a raised bed out of my old bed and planted broccoli, pak choi, coriander and lettuce in it, but it was a bad year for cabbage whites and I covered them with netting a little too late to stop them being eaten by creatures other than myself.  I planted carrots, and they tasted delicious, and have kept coming – smaller but still edible – over the winter period after I covered them with straw.  Mostly though, last year, the cabbage white caterpillars and the slugs got most of what I planted.

Another hindrance to successful produce is my Dear Darling Dog.  I made a bamboo and wire fence but he just leaps over it, and, flattens it when he is crazily playing with his football.  Love the dog, but I love growing things too, so this year I am planning strategies to hopefully reduce “pests” and make the area a little more dog proof.  I decided to erect a taller and sturdier fence and I found some bits of wood that would do for fence posts and even an old gate and have ordered some chicken wire off ebay.  I’ve dug up a portion of the lawn to give me extra growing space and a sunny corner for herbs, which hopefully will tie in with another project on the horizon.

I read nasturtiums are great for distracting cabbage whites from my leafy greens so I will go and get some seeds today.  I’ve also seen wool pellets which I will try against the slugs.  I did try to attract a hedgehog but I’m not sure if that has been a success.

And here we are now, my mud patch of a garden, which will hopefully soon be a flowering haven of bountiful goodness (I had to mend the cloche with an old shower curtain after the wind ripped it to bits).

my garden

Contouring for beginners

“The best thing is to look natural, but it takes make-up to look natural.” -Calvin Klein

I recently visited  MAC Birmingham counter and had a foundation match by Shelley.  She made my skin look so flawless that I’ve been Pinning like crazy to see if I can make my face look even better.  Let’s face it, I’m in my 40′s now and am trying to well, not look it. My skin has taken a bashing over the years with spots and eczema and developed a permanent rosacea while I was pregnant.  It sounds a bit vain, but on the inside I feel 20 but the mirror image doesn’t match.  OK it sounds very vain and somewhat not in keeping with my feminist principles but make-up is my “me thing” and well, I am going to stop trying to justify myself before I get myself in a tangle!!

Pinning contouring led me to have a little go myself so I got together some bits & pieces that I had at home and had a go.  I’d like to add some dark foundation and highlighter to my kit, and a blending brush. I’d also like to find a good diffusing powder/pore & wrinkle minimiser.

Anyway, what do you think? Not bad for a beginner?

contouring before and after

Review: Lacura Skincare – Clear Effect

I recently received an email letting me know that Aldi were bringing out some new Lacura products for adult spotty-people.  I’m a big fan of Aldi, and have blogged about my favourite products here.   I a particularly impressed with the effects of their skincare range, so I was looking forward to testing out this range on my adult, blemish-prone skin.

My spots have troubled me since my teenage years, and show no signs of giving up any time soon.  Each monthly cycle brings out a fresh crop and over the years I have concluded that nothing makes them stop coming, I just have to try to reduce their size and the amount of time that they are resident on my face.  Exercise and a healthy diet help, and when I was a gym member using the steam room several times a week, my skin was the best it had ever been, but steaming my face is not something I have time for any more.  I’ve tried just about every product going, and the only one that seems to diminish their size and longevity was Murad, but Murad, at around thirty quid for one bottle, is too expensive to buy on a regular basis.  Until today.

lacura clear effect I was sent a day cream, a night cream, an exfoliating wash that I used in the morning) and a gel wash (that I used in the evening) and a tinted moisturiser (that I gave to a friend to try, because I need a full-coverage foundation).  I have now given it a good months trial, and I am extremely pleased with the results.

I mentioned Murad because that has been the most effective solution for my skin to date.  I have normal skin on the cheeks and an oily middle zone, with large pores on my cheeks that always seem to have a spot or two, at least.  I think that the Lacura range has given me the same effect that Murad did.  My skin feels clean after a wash and over the period that I have used it for, my skin feels fresher and clearer than it has been in a long time, with less spots and blackheads.  The day moisturiser I use over my usual Lacura multi-intensive serum and it soaks in without leaving any greasy residue, so I can confidently apply my foundation over the top of it, knowing it will not slide off in a few hours.

Best of all, they are only £2.99 each, available as a special buy from the 23rd February (though my Aldi hasn’t had them yet).  Stock up, spotty people, I will be.  I hope that they continue onto the shelves at Aldi as a regular feature, because I do not want to live without them now.

I have copied the “technical details” below, fyi, and in case I have missed anything.  For me, the question “do they work” has been answered with a big “yes”, from myself and also from the friend testing the tinted moisturiser.

ALDI LAUNCHES ITS FIRST SKINCARE RANGE FOR PROBLEMATIC SKIN

Aldi is helping women to wash their way to clearer skin with its new Lacura Clear Effect Face Care collection, created especially for blemish-prone skin.

On sale 23rd February as a Specialbuy, the range includes facial washes and cleansers that are gentle on skin and prevent impurities for a refined and even complexion.

Magnolia extract and BioEcolia are the new ingredients within the products which help to calm skin, while the moisturisers restore the skin’s PH balance and counteract the first fine lines often caused by dryness.

Clear Effect Face Care 3 in 1 Cleanser (£2.99)

The new 3 in 1 cleanser contains pore-refining microparticles that gently remove dead skin cells, cleanse the skin and counteract spots and blackheads.

The patented active ingredient BioEcolia helps protect and strengthen the natural and biological defence system of the skin, helping to create a more even and radiant complexion. Magnolia extract has antibacterial properties to cleanse skin deep down and prevent the formation of new impurities. If used as a 3-minute face mask the deep cleanser can also effectively reduce shine.

Clear Effect Face Care Daily Facial Gel Wash (£2.99)

This new facial wash gently and thoroughly removes impurities and make-up to reduce shine and greasiness. Including magnolia extract and BioEcolia this gentle wash is formulated for daily use to help protect and strengthen the natural and biological defence system of the skin, leaving a clear fresh complexion.

Clear Effect Face Care Mattifying Moisturiser (£2.99)

To help protect the skin, this mattifying moisturiser contains the patented active ingredient BioEcolia to ensure skin is protected from impurities and reduce shine. The magnolia extract contained within sooths to create an immediate mattifying effect with 24 hour moisture to give skin an even and refined complexion

Clear Effect Face Care Tinted Day Cream (£2.99)

This tinted day cream contains the active ingredients complex of magnolia and iris extract which, with their antibacterial and soothing properties, help reduce skin impurities and shine. The day cream contains a touch of natural colour to mattify the complexion, balancing out minor imperfections and unevenness for a beautiful Spring glow.

The Clear Effect Face Care Soothing Night Cream (£2.99

The Clear Effect Face Care Soothing Night Cream contains the active ingredients complex of balloon plant echium and sunflower oil to sooth stressed skin and promote suppleness overnight.

Along with magnolia extract and BioEcolia, this will help soothe and reduce redness and prevent skin impurities when used regularly.