Friday, 28 April 2017

'Movie Based On Your Life' Tag

Photo credit: Alex Random Project, Youtube

I've been tagged by Amy from Amy and Tots blog to do this new(ish) tag called 'Movie Based On Your Life'. It's a fun way of getting to know and introduce new bloggers, like myself. If you're a blogger that's come across this blog post and you've not been tagged in it, why not try it yourself and carry on the tag.
So, if you've been tagged, here's what to do:
1. Say thanks to the person who tagged you and link back to their blog.
2. Answer the 5 questions.
3. Tag some people to have a go.
4. Send your script to the appropriate film studio and they'll offer you millions to make a movie based on your life.
5. Ignore number 4.
6. Cry into another glass of wine (because us parents need that wine - or in my case, a cup of tea as I don't drink. I can't...allergy and all that!).

Question 1: Who would play you in the movie and why?
Gemma Chan, the model-turned-actress who plays 'Mia' in the Channel 4 series 'Humans'. She's amazingly talented and portrays her characters to say like myself, but that's so not me! She's oriental like myself and it would be a bit weird if someone else portrayed me that didn't look like me (not that I look like a supermodel, but you get my drift). 

Question 2: Who would play your significant other?
Hmm, tricky one. I'm not sure but based on my celeb crushes and Ginge's sporting would have to be Ryan Gosling. He's our age (bit older but who's counting?!), keeps fit, has a sexy accent and is easy on the eyes - what's not to like?   

Question 3: What genre of movie would it be?
The genre would be drama...because there's always some sort of drama going on in our life. Whether it be with our toddler, friends, work or health. There's never a dull moment and every day is a new challenge.

Question4: What would the movie be called?
Ginge said, 'Eastenders at Holby City' no. In all seriousness, it would be called 'Her Tainted Life' because there is a lot of ups and downs that have happened, a few mentioned in my first blog post. My life is and has been a complex one, in particular, our family once being linked to the Russian mafia. I actually can't confirm if this is true or not, as the rumour has filtered down from the older generation (most of whom have passed away now). But still, if this is true - WOW - what a movie that would make! (Goodfellas: Part 2?) 

Question5: What would be the opening song at the start of the movie?
Ginge says Marilyn Manson's 'Tainted Love'...I was thinking more stoic like Adele...anything by her would be flipping amazing and emotional, but in a good way. Her singing seems to bring out the emotion in everyone *sheds a tear just thinking about 'Someone Like You'*.

Right, that's my little bit done for the tag. The next round up of bloggers that I tag for 'Movie Based On Your Life' are: Becky from Mommy and Rory, Chloe from Chloe Louise Gibbons, Cheryl from Mummy of 5 Miracles and Emma from Mummy Em Blog.

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Wednesday, 26 April 2017

April Favourites 2017

This month I have been using some luxurious beauty brands from lip primer to foot cream. Here are my favourite products for April:
  • Garnier Micellar Cleansing Water makeup remover.
  • The Body Shop Japanese Cherry Blossom body lotion.
  • Zoella Beauty Wonder Hand moisturising hand cream.
  • Essie nail lacquer in Aruba.
  • MAC Cosmetics Velvet Teddy matte lipstick.
  • NYX Cosmetics lip primer.
  • L'Occitane Shea Butter foot cream.

I've been using the Garnier Micellar Cleansing Water to remove my makeup for a year now. I always used No.7 makeup wipes (and still do to an extent), but switched to this product as it was a cheaper option. Although a 400ml bottle costs £4.99 it actually lasts months so you will make your money back easily enough. You don't need to use a lot on a cotton pad, and it has a multi-purpose use - it can remove makeup from your eyes, face AND lips. I am already onto my second bottle, and plan on purchasing it again once that runs out.

The Body Shop Japanese Cherry Blossom body lotion was an indulgent buy. The 250ml bottle cost £8.00 and has lasted me all month and probably will continue to do so into next month and possibly June. I moisturise daily and the body lotion is lightweight providing plenty of coverage when massaged into the skin. It has a subtle fragrance smelling of sweet magnolia and cherry blossom. If you like floral scents or just want to try something new then get this product as it's hydrating for the skin and also being scented means no need to worry about wearing perfume.

Dry hands are my biggest skincare issue. They constantly crack and bleed, especially in the Winter and early Spring months. Applying Zoella Beauty Wonder Hand hand cream every night before going to bed has managed to lock in any moisturise and left my hands feeling silky smooth by the morning. For a 90ml tube, it costs £6.00 and comes in gorgeous packaging. The texture is delicate and a thin layer will go a long way. 

Blue nail polish can be worn any time of the year because it's versatile in that it goes with any outfit (smart/casual) and can be used as a glam accessory to a key look or season (sultry for cold weather, cool for warm). Essie's Aruba nail lacquer only needs to be applied using one layer (two at a stretch) as it covers the nail with a quick and easy application. It dries to the touch within seconds and thoroughly in minutes so you can carry on doing daily tasks. The 13.5ml bottle costs £7.99 from Boots. 

I will be wearing the MAC Velvet Teddy lipstick in Autumn at a friend's wedding (secretly been wearing it this month as love it so much). It is a truly flattering colour and seems to suit most skin tones. It pretty much matches the natural lip colour (dark beige shade) and goes on matte. When used on top of a lip liner, it will stay on for a long time (mine lasted more than 12 hours after eating and drinking). It costs £16.50 and is extremely popular for any beauty addict, plus it comes highly recommended by other bloggers including myself.

I'm not sure if this is a new product or I just haven't looked very hard for it, but either way, it was a lovely addition to my ever growing lipstick collection. NYX lip primer preps the lips ready for lip liner or lipstick. It makes your lip colour last longer and has a creamy texture, however, it went on a bit clumpy and felt quite heavy. Having said that, it did actually help stop my lipstick from bleeding out and made it stay in place all day. Not bad for £6.00!

The L'Occitane foot cream is like a thick emollient. It is very hydrating and nourishing for the feet as it contains Shea butter (15% which is high for a beauty product), lavender oil and arnica extract (an anti-inflammatory). The 30ml tube costs £8.00 and is perfect for travelling. I apply mine to my feet after showering so they feel soothed and to keep them smelling fresh. This foot cream has won several beauty awards just to prove how amazing it is.

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Sunday, 23 April 2017

NYX Ultimate Shadow Palette Review

The NYX Ultimate Shadow Palette is a new product available in four colour combinations:
1) Smokey and Highlight (as above)
2) Cool Neutrals
3) Warm Neutrals and
4) Brights

Each palette costs £16.00 and contains 16 eyeshadows so that's £1 per eyeshadow! Cheap as chips (actually, cheaper than a bag of chips) and so gorgeous. Every colour in the palette I bought is highly pigmented and the beauty product closely matches MAC Cosmetic eyeshadows, but at a fraction of the cost! What more could a girl ask for?

In my photos, I am wearing the darker shades in the palette (I've coded them below so you can see which colours I'm referring to) - C1 on my brow bone to highlight under my eyebrow, B3 all over my eyelid and blended up and out of the socket as well as on my bottom lash line, and C2 in the crease of my eyelid and outer corner of my eyes. Again, this was also used on my bottom lash line.

The texture of the eyeshadows are velvety and rich. They don't feel drying on the eye either. The palette provides matte, satin, shimmer and metallic options so subtle or luxurious looks can be achieved. All of the colours complement one another too.

NYX makeup can be bought from Boots as well as online, and is affordable for anyone wanting high-end cosmetics but at cheaper prices. Their lipstick range is vast and varied. I recommend you try some testers next time you come across their beauty counter.

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Friday, 21 April 2017

What Mums Don't Want to Hear!

"It doesn't get easier as they get older, it gets worse...wait til their teenage years!"

I'm not sure how this helps any Mum feel better about the prospect of parenting and motherhood in general. This is a sure way of terrifying a Mum, especially a new one at that. Right now, my toddler is at her worst with the terrible twos and all that bad behaviour we desperately pray won't be unleashed onto the public. We don't need to be told it will get worse as the years roll by. In the moment, we just want to be told it will get easier and be blissfully unaware of what lies ahead in the distant future. Sheesh, I can't be thinking about puberty yet!

"Are you happy you've got a boy/girl?"

Are you expecting us to say, "no, I wished for conjoined twins"? How do you answer this quite insulting and intrusive question? The answer should simply be, "I'm happy that my child is healthy and happy". Why should gender matter? If you love your child, that should be enough. All this business of some people wanting a girl and then having a boy or vice versa is terrible. Imagine openly airing your real thoughts on this and it not being a good one, or one that everyone didn't agree with, and later down the line your child is grown up and made aware of horrible would it be for that child to know their parent had a preferred sex in mind? I think questions dallying in gender preference shouldn't be asked - EVER! Infact, Mums shouldn't have to answer if they are happy with what they have.

"When are you having another?"

Seriously? I got asked this question weeks, if not months, after giving birth. The birth itself went smoothly but post-birth is where we had complications and the last thing on my mind was conception. The question itself is awkward as it comes across as rude and there isn't a particularly 'right' time to ask. Most people who ask this are not trying to be rude, but they don't consider that some couples simply can't have another child, or they just don't want another and are fine with the one they already have. It seems the norm to want to have more than one child, but nowadays, it's not feasible when you take into account the cost of raising a child (clothes, shoes, nappies, wet wipes, food, childcare fees, school books, equipment, driving lessons, college/university and so forth), fertility issues and it is bloody tiring! 

"He/she doesn't look like you"

As you know, newborn babies don't tend to look like anyone specific, instead, they resemble little aliens with scrunched up faces (at least mine did).  This is treading into dangerous territory when you tell a Mum her child doesn't look like her because a) no one wants to know their mini me isn't going to be an exact copy of them, and b) it's at bit of an offensive insinuation that Mum could've had the child with someone else *cue awkward wide-eyed face* (this happened to me once, luckily Ginge saw the funny side and made a joke - I wasn't so amused though). It is safe for all parties if you just tell Mums that their children look like them, even if they don't.

"Breast is best"

Shoot me now. The amount of times I've heard this expression, I could have charged a pound and been mega rich by now! Every single Mum that I know has had this said to them, me included. Why? Even before I had decided I wanted to exclusively breastfeed (this didn't happen due to some problems), I had this drilled into me by my Mother, aunties, uncles (?!), friends, colleagues, health visitors (grr!), GPs...I could go on. There was never the option of formula feeding or combination feeding, just the ruddy breast, which was useless for me and I know it's been a pain in the bum for other Mums too. We all know breastfeeding is best for baby and child but it isn't always possible for all Mums to do this. The NHS breastfeeding adverts go on about it and it annoys me deeply. There seems to be a lack of support for Mums that choose or have no other option but to switch to formula. Mums don't need to be given a hard time on their feeding choices, we're all stressed and overworked as it is so any breastfeeding warriors reading this can shush!

"Does he/she sleep through the night yet?"

They always ALWAYS ask this before they turn one and usually at around three months old, why is that? Are we supposed to have a solid routine in place? I've never known anyone to say, "yes, our baby sleeps soundly for 12 hours every night and wakes up at 7am every morning without stirring or crying". I still don't sleep through the night and I'm in my thirties!

"Why isn't he/she walking yet?"

I don't know, why don't you ask the child yourself?! This has been my personal bugbear for the last 11 months (read about it here). Every child is different. They all develop and grow at different rates, and so this is the same for walking. There are many myths around getting your child to walk as soon as possible. People tend to nag you about this subject and it's irritating when you don't have the answer they want or expect from you. They'll walk when they're ready which could be at 9 months or 17 months. Sometimes later than that.

"I bet you've had a fun time on maternity leave since you've not returned to work early"

Really?! "Fun time", yes, there are some amazing moments but there are also some shit ones too. I wouldn't ever describe my maternity leave as "fun" and just because some Mums return to work early doesn't mean their maternity leave wasn't as fun as others. They may have had to go back because their employer wouldn't let them have more time off, or they couldn't afford to have a whole year off. There are lots of reasons behind a Mum's decision to return to work early, none of which are anyone's business and shouldn't be speculated on. Not working can be a difficult adjustment for anyone who is a workaholic, and it can also be detrimental for a Mother's sanity - sometimes having a job to go to is a welcome break. We shouldn't be judged either way.

"You should have started him/her on a routine soon after the birth"

Erm, no. Often it's not possible to instil a rigid routine. You just have to go with the flow. We didn't have a bedtime routine until our toddler turned one. Up until then, it just didn't feel right and wasn't necessary despite the frowned looks from family and some friends. You just have to do what's best for you and your child, never mind what someone else thinks. Mums don't want to know your opinion so unless they ask for it, shut up.

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Twin Mummy and Daddy

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Nicola Davis Crafts Silk Scarf Review

Photo Credit: Nicola Davis Crafts
A few weeks ago I mentioned on Instagram that I would be doing a review of this beautiful silk scarf by Nicola Davis Crafts. I didn't want to reveal too much at the time as this was a birthday present for my Mum so had to wait until after I had given it to her to write this product review (she loved it by the way).

I absolutely fell in love with this silk scarf because it is:
1) made from 100% pure silk
2) hand-painted
3) only £23 (bargain for a silk garment!) and
4) a joyful, vibrant colour - perfect for wearing now we're in Spring...or Autumn.

The scarf is of a decent length (measuring 40cm x 150cm) so it can be worn as a scarf, headband, shawl, belt or other accessory. I bought this in the colour option 'Tangerine Orange' on Nicola's Etsy shop (linked above and on my Homepage Linky list).

As it is silk, it is extremely delicate and light, and is hand wash only using a mild detergent. I wouldn't advise machine washing or tumble drying due to the risk of ruining the material. The colours do not run because the paint is iron fixed so there's no worry of colour transferring to other garments.

If you like this product then please check out Nicola's stock for other items. She also sells silk paintings and wall decor as you can see from the photos below which I took when I visited Nicola at her arts and crafts market.

To Nicola - Thank you for your handwritten note of appreciation, you are one amazingly talented entrepreneur!

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Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Surviving Aldi with a Toddler

If anyone has shopped at Aldi, you'll be aware that having a list is essential as sometimes you need to compensate for the lack of cottage pie on a Tuesday in favour of something else. Lasagne is a good's not cottage pie but beggars can't be choosers, and these are hard times. I mean, it can be weeks until cottage pie becomes available again and even then they might downsize the range - my worst nightmare (we love cottage pie). Side note: Aldi, please PLEASE never discontinue your cottage pie. I spent 10 minutes writing our shopping list that I stupidly forgot to bring (I left it on the dining room table in plain sight so that I would remember it - busy Mum fail!) I'm not one of those shoppers that risks it all and wings it without a shopping list. I have to have what I need written down or I end up with a shopping trolley full of items I already have at home. For example, yesterday I bought a bag of frozen peas when there was a sufficient amount left in the freezer. Had I remembered the friggin' list, this wouldn't have happened. Needless to say, we won't be running out of peas anytime soon!

Then there's the Aldi shopping trolley itself. Make sure you get a large one with a child seat - obvious to most parents but we were dazzled by the dwindling supply of fruit and veg in the very first aisle so rushed. We missed the opportunity to nab a child-friendly trolley (we were also pressed for time), and so, our toddler ended up in the trolley...with the food...playing...unwrapping...and causing havoc.

Why is it that all the tempting items are always at the right height for child hands to grab at them? In this instance, raspberries, the most juiciest and easily staining fruit is always at the same level as our toddler. It's as if Aldi staff want to encourage and prolong a more stressful shopping experience for us (perhaps reverse psychology by getting us to buy more food and spend more money to keep our children quiet?) I feel it's important to mention here that a toy of some sort would have been a helpful distraction so that's another tip for anyone who hasn't been shopping with their child(ren) yet. Usually, we try to avoid doing food shopping with our toddler for this reason and because Ginge tends to give in and let her keep whatever's in her hands (last time it was a unicorn blanket which resulted in a temper tantrum so bad he caved immediately - I am definitely the stricter parent because I never give in *wink wink*...I wish).

Despite the lack of electronic or wooden entertainment (no pun intended, you filthy-minded animals), we always manage to divert our toddler's attention by giving her a substitute toy, like teabags. A BIG mistake as she's like a strong woman and seems to find a way into the toughest of packaging (granted teabags are easy to open but meat packaging isn't and she can rip that plastic muscle apart like her life depends on it!) Toddlers are strong, physically and mentally. We thought giving her something from the trolley to play with would be safe and secure - nope. Once she's finished with one item, she's on to the next like she believes it is being helpful to us by getting everything out and tasting it. I wish she wouldn't.

I find you need to be methodical with your food shop too. I am not this kind of shopper - I'm random and erratic, and end up zigzagging down the aisles. It drives Ginge mad. You really need to memorise the layout of an Aldi store or you'll be forever retracing your steps going around in circles looking for the tinned tomatoes that you already passed three times whilst searching for the bread, cereal bars, passatta or world food aisle. I'm not sure what the thought process was behind putting household miscellaneous in the middle of the food because to me, that should be at the back and everything brought forward. It's a bit weird walking through the herb aisle and then, BOOM! You're hit by the new gleaming barbecue gas cooker of the 21st century. Am I really going to associate that with smoking my herbs? No.

Stranger still is when you're shopping the socks on offer and then, BOOM! (Again) dog biscuits (for a limited time only) specifically brought in for Easter treats. Any half asleep parent could easily mistake this being for children and not dogs. I certainly would at a glance. It's just bonkers. One could argue that this random layout would suit my way of thinking and shopping, but it doesn't. It annoys me...immensely.

Another annoyance is the lack of space between aisles and being cornered. Somehow, I manage to get squished between the breaded ham and pepperoni. That bastard corner of the store always seems to  gather the most customers. I don't know why. I don't want to know why either, because again, it makes no sense. The meat and dairy are all muddled up: chorizo, Parma ham, cheese, yoghurt, chicken slices, margarine, jelly trifle. Why not just add garlic bread into the mix?! I'm not saying all Aldi stores will be like this but I can't imagine it being that dissimilar. Am I right?

Once you've got the layout imprinted on your brain, you're pretty much set for life. New products will filter into the miscellaneous aisle and behind old stock so make sure you check the back of shelves and underneath boxes. I found fresh (yes, fresh not rotten) strawberries by having a little gander underneath. Not all perishables in Aldi are, well, perishable. You just have to literally dig deep to find that grocery gold. 

On another note, passing the dairy/meat squishy corner leads onto the frozen aisle. I counted about four chest freezers full of umpteen varieties of chips and potato based junk food: waffles, hash browns, fries, oven baked chips, triple cooked chips, jacket potatoes, roast potatoes, (normal) mash, cheese and chive mash...the list is endless. Are we so lazy that we can't be bothered to peel our potatoes and make our own mash? Clearly we are! (I must admit, I am guilty of buying Aunt Bessie's roast potatoes in goose fat, I bow my head in idle shame).

You can whizz your toddler through the latter food aisles quite quickly because the middle of the store is aways full of big, brightly coloured child-orientated products. (Thank you Aldi, I really wanted to purchase another bribe toy for my toddler, just to add to the already humungous pile at home). I just have to say though that the cleaning and pet aisles (which follow on from the toy tat) are conveniently spaced apart that you could fit a jumbo jet in the centre. What's the point when these are the least shopped aisles requiring little trolley space?

At the end of the alcohol/crisp/toilet roll/chocolate finger aisles, are the glorious till points. Just when you think you're nearly there and the stress levels come down...BAM! You've got 2 minutes to unload your trolley onto the conveyor belt of hell, pay and reload your trolley so you basically f*** off as quick as you can. No time for a leisurely reorganisation of food whilst it makes its chipper way to the checkout girl. Nooo, it's a flipping race of speedy reaction time and getting a repetitive packing routine into full swing.

As I write and think about the till points in Aldi, I can feel my artery pulsating at the side of my head. When I was an Aldi virgin, I never knew what those packing stations were for. I didn't/couldn't understand why people didn't pack as they loaded their shopping back into the trolley like they do in Sainsbury's. How naive I was! Those poor checkout assistants get timed and apparently disciplined for not meeting a target number of items to scan/customers to serve. Doing this job would age me 40 years! In a way, it's probably good that it's a quick checkout process as it's better for your sanity and that of your toddler's. Honestly, surviving Aldi with a toddler is stressful and not always 'surviving'...Remember to take plenty of bags...if you forget, just quit and go home. The stress of the checkout is enough for me!

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Friday, 7 April 2017

Hazel and Blue Candles Review

Last Saturday I attended my friend's arts and crafts market situated in Corsham just outside of Bath, Somerset. As I wandered around, I came across a lovely lady and her small stall selling scented candles that she makes in her kitchen - Hazel & Blue Candles - which are all made from soy and mineral wax, and luxurious fragrance oils.

The candles burn for around 3-4 hours and fill a room with the scent within minutes. A plus point for these candles is that they're not overpowering yet still maintain a strong aroma (even when they're not  lit!) I bought the smaller version of candles costing £4.95 each, but as you can see from the photo above, it is of quality and value.

The candles I bought were 'Black Pomegranate' and 'English Pear and Vanilla'. A strange combination but it surprisingly works well. I chose these scented candles because I loved the simple,classic packaging, the aroma of both was exquisite, and they were long-lasting for their size and fresh in smell.

The candles are perfect for burning whilst in the bath tub during a relaxing soak or in the bedroom at night to create a cosy atmosphere with a good book to read, or burn them in the living room which is my favourite way of enjoying scented candles like Hazel and Blue. Cuppa in one hand, tv remote in the other and a chilled session on the sofa - perfect!

Side note: Becky, the lovely lady who owns Hazel and Blue Candles, gave me a note with my purchases that explained her story as to why she set up the business. If you want to find out more, go visit her Facebook page (linked above).

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