Saturday, 28 June 2014

The Evolution of a Blogger!

We all love to take a trip down memory lane once in a while and that's what I am doing today. First up I was thinking about my blog and what I'm doing here, where I want to go, what I want? Naturally then I start to look back to my first blogging experiences. Way back in 2003 I started an online diary of my trying to conceive journey, not so much a blog, but I guess it was really. I had my own website, not a blog site and I had to write in the entries back to front so that they would appear chronologically! I still have the transcript somewhere. Here is a little snippet found on the Wayback Machine.

click to view

Then I had a Babycentre blog when my wish finally came true and I became pregnant with Star (I found out on Boxing Day 2004)

My first actual blog was started in August 2008 and to be quite honest it was really boring to start with, then my mum was diagnosed with cancer and suddenly my blog became my crutch where I could record my feelings and let it all out. It was very intense in the few weeks leading up to her passing, yes it was a total of four weeks from being admitted to hospital, diagnosis then death. Then straight afterwards I was hit with another tragedy. The following months my blog gave me an outlet for my grief and emotions, I was truly grateful for it.

click to view

Then I settled back into the more boring every day stuff. My blog was a diary, nothing more nothing less. Then I went to Blog Camp and found out that people were actually making money from their blogs and getting to review fabulous items. I went home and decided that's what I wanted to do. First step was to start a new blog. I already had a baby blog (baby number five was born 2010) a business blog (my shop was born in 2009) a cake blog and my original personal blog. However, in my mind, none of them seemed the right sort of blog for doing reviews and writing posts for payment.

So that sort of brings me back to where I am now. Why do I write my blog?

I love writing! I know I'm not a brilliant writer, I'm not witty or funny, or clever or opinionated, I'm not one for stirring up trouble or emotions. I just like to write things down, anything really. I really do actually enjoy writing reviews, in fact I've been writing reviews for far longer than I have been blogging. Many moons ago, way back on Windows 98, I joined a website where you could write a review and earn a couple of pence every time someone viewed it. (oh yes, those were the days!) You even had to pay for your own product to review!!

I've always kept journals, or diaries. I have a shelf in my wardrobe stacked with handwritten ones. Yep, I started before the internet was around.

So I guess it's natural that I blog, for me anyway. I blog because I write and because I like to write about the things I do and the things that I have in my life. I like to write about my precious family and what matters to us. So forgive me if I'm not unique, or full of fascinating information. Forgive me for not being funny and giving you a giggle every time you visit. Forgive me for not showing how to make fabulous craft items or tell you the very latest trends in make-up or fashion. Forgive me for not having the foggiest idea when it comes to interior design (eeek, and I have an entire house to decorate come September!!)

I'm just me and I write my blog because I like to write. I like to connect and tell you about me and my family. It's not exactly going to rock your world, but you may learn a thing or two along the way.

Thank you for reading, if you like my blog then please Subscribe to Raisie Bay

If you are interested in reading the story of my mum's cancer you can find the archive here.

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Friday, 27 June 2014

Getting to Grips with Beauty Products with My Own Personal Beauty Shopper

Now I will be the first to admit I'm a bit of a sticker with make-up and have been using the same brands for years. I was an Avon Representative for a long time before I moved house (I still miss my regular customers) so a lot of the products I use are from Avon. When it comes to trying something new, I just don't know where to start.

I had to the chance to meet Rose, a personal beauty shopper at Selfridges Birmingham. Selfridges is the iconic building which is part of the Birmingham Bull Ring Shopping Centre.

I'm a big fan of the food hall there, it's truly amazing, you can even buy jars of Fluff! My favourite place of all is Yo Sushi where I started my trip with lunch from there with my Eldest Daughter.

Then I went to meet Rose, and start finding about what beauty products were on offer. Rose is lovely, she instantly makes you feel comfortable and is so bubbly and friendly as well as beautiful. She asked me what I would like to try first and told her about how I never seem to be able to get my foundation right. I don't like to feel my foundation it has to be as light as moisturiser and the tone has to match my skin. She took me over to Giorgio Armani where I tried the maestro in 5.5. I was instantly impressed, it felt so light that it was barely noticable, but the cover was really nice and even. If there was just one thing I wanted to purchase it was this. Rose asked for a sample for me to take me home so I could make up my mind in my own time. I did not feel pressured at all throughout my entire time there to make a purchase which was really nice.

Next up was blusher and Rose showed me her favourite brand Clinique Cheek Pop. I chose the Plum Pot which looked quite dark to what I would usually use, but as Rose showed me, it was actually quite light and if you wish you could add a little more to make it darker.

Then we popped over to Estee Lauder for some lipstick. I chose Pure Colour lipstick in Dominant which again looked quite dark, but it was lovely once on. It also felt really rich and creamy and lasted well too. We also had a little try of some of the fragrances from Estee Lauder, my favourite has always been beautiful, but I also like Modern Muse and Bronze Goddess.

Next it was time for the eyes. As an older woman I do tend to suffer from baggy eyelids and dark undereye circles, but I also have very round eyes and have never really known how to make the most of them. At Bobbi Browns you can go in for free make-up lessons like Party Makeup, Classic or Smokey Eyes or even Bridal Beauty. The lovely Tharanseet gave me some lovely natural looking eyes and some great tips on how to make my eyes look more open. She did a great job of concealing my dark undereye circles, so much so that my daughter was really impressed (And believe me it takes a lot to impress her!)

At the end of the day I came away with a really nice make-over, done just the way I asked. A real natural look that didn't feel caked on. I was really pleased and would definitely recommend Rose to anyone.

You can contact her for an appointment at It costs £30 which is redeemable against any products you may wish to buy. You can also find Rose on Twitter at @MixedGemsBeauty

The advantages of having a personal shopper are that you have loads of advice about products you may of not used before, you have someone who knows exactly where everything is and knows who to speak to at each store,  you have the opportunity to try lots of different products to discover which is best for you and you are never under any pressure to buy.

I was given my Personal Shopper experience for free but I was not pressured into writing about it. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Child Safety Week

This week, 23rd to 29th June 2014 is Child Safety week. The Child Accident Prevention Trust are commited to reducing the number of children and young people killed, disabled or seriously injured in accidents. Child Safety week is the annual compaign to raise awareness of the risks of child accidents and how they can be prevented. This year they are focusing on the morning rush and why more accidents are likely to occur at this time.

Knowing the dangers can greatly reduce the risks of accidents in the home. I have seen two children fall from bedroom windows, not my own I hasten to add, but it just goes to show how often this happens. I know someone who was burnt badly by the kitchen cooker when they were a child just by standing too close on a cold morning and their pyjamas caught alight. I have heard of so many children who have drunk dangerous chemicals which have accidently been left in their reach. Even my current partner nearly drowned as a baby in the bath.

It's so easy to find out what dangers lie in your home and to protect your family against them. Betta Living are supporting the Child Safety week campaign and have a list of Top Tips for Child Safety in the home.
They also have a great interactive quiz for Kitchen Awareness which you may like to try. See how aware you are.

The home can be a dangerous place for children who are naturally inquisitive and often end up in some kind of accident this infographic shows the results of a survey by BettaLiving.

So be aware of the dangers and keep your children safe. Awareness is such a good way of preventing these accidents. 

This post was produced in association with Child Safety Week and Betta Living.

Monday, 23 June 2014

Kids In The Kitchen - Lemon Drizzle Cake

Woo hoo! we are back.
Now my Star is getting better and things have settled down at home it's time for us to start sharing our cooking fun again. Boo and the Little Man helped me make a Lemon Drizzle Cake which happens to be one of my very favourite cakes.

I'm thrilled that we were able to take part in the Bahlsen Family Bake Off and we have our fingers tightly crossed for the wonderful prize of a weekend in Legoland.
You can see our entry here:

I would also like to give a mention to Steph's Two Girls and The Brick Castle who are also taking part in the bake off and linked up their entries to the last Kids in the Kitchen (which seems such a long time ago now!)
You can see all the rest of the entries on the Bahlsen Family Bake off You Tube page.
A big good luck to everyone taking part x

Lemon Drizzle Cake

  • 175g unsalted butter
  • 175g caster sugar
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 225g self-raising flour
  • 2 tbs milk
  • finely grated zest of one lemon
  • 6 tbs lemon juice
  • 3 tbs golden syrup
Preheat the oven to 180C/gas 4
lightly grease a 2lb loaf pan

The Little man loves measuring so he measured the butter and sugar and then Boo mixed them together until they were creamy.

The Little Man beat the eggs with a fork and Boo added them to the mixture a little at a time.

The Little Man measured out the flour and Boo folded it into the batter.
Mummy grated the lemon and added it to the batter
The Little Man juiced the lemon and we added about a tablespoon to the cake batter saving the rest for the drizzle.
Boo mixed in the milk and then we put the batter in the loaf pan and I put it in the oven.

Just before the cake had finished cooking I heated up the remaining lemon juice with the golden syrup in a pan. When the cake was cooked I pricked it all over with a skewer and then poured the lemon drizzle all over while still in the pan. I then left the cake to cool before turning it out.

If you wish you can make an icing for this cake using 1 tbs of lemon juice with 50g icing sugar.

As you can see, the Little Man really enjoyed his slice of cake, as did the rest of the family who are not so happy to be photographed stuffng their faces with cake.

 Now it's your turn, please come and share your recipes that you have made with your kids help and link up to my linky. 

I'd also be mighty grateful if you included my badge in your post so others can see it and come along and join in.

Thank you for reading, if you like my blog then please Subscribe to Raisie Bay

My Kitchen Story

I love my kitchen, it's not perfect, yet, but I will get there. We moved into this house last September. I had lived in my old house for twenty four years and the most received comment I had about it was 'how do you cope with this kitchen?' It was tiny, I mean really tiny. I had 3 overhead cuboards and one under the sink cupboard. I had one small work top. I didn't even have a drawer. There were five doors in my kitchen so no wall space! I did cope for twenty four years but imagine my joy of now having a kitchen three times the size of my old kitchen, with only one door! I have so many drawers and cupboards I don't know what to put in them.

My new house is just that, brand new, and because of that we can't decorate until it has had it's one year old inspection for cracks and faults. This means every wall in the house is magnolia, even my kitchen walls.

I'm so looking forward to adding some colour, but as of yet, I've not decided on the colour of the kitchen. What is a good colour for a kitchen? You can get matching products in all colours these days, I've even seen purple microwaves. I'd like something a little more traditional though, maybe go for a foodie type wallpaper on one wall, or a nice fresh colour scheme like spring green? I really can't wait to start choosing.
Here is a snippet of how it looks now.

I can't wait to add some colour

So what do I do in my kitchen? When no-one is looking you can find me dancing around to Kasabian singing into my banana microphone...but don't tell anyone that will you?

My kitchen has many uses. I love to cook and try out new recipes, but even more fun is cooking with my little helpers. I love this so much I even have my own weekly linky Kids in the Kitchen.

The Kids in the Kitchen

Then there is my hobby, I love to bake and decorate cakes. I have two cupboards dedicated to my 'cake stuff' and you will often find me sat at the dining table making fondant models.

Some of my cakes

Another favourite pastime is crafting with the kids, we get out the plastic table cover and paint, glue and stick to our hearts content. None of us are really good at this, but we do have lots of fun.

A little bit of Crafty fun

Then to liven up the place we have one wall to display our lovely work.

wall of art and certificates

So we do all sorts in our kitchen, and it really is my favourite place to be.

This post is an entry for the 'My Kitchen Story' Linky challenge, sponsored by Fairy Platinum
Fairy Platinum is an excellent way of keeping your dishes looking their best. 

Friday, 13 June 2014

An Update on Star

We have just endured a week of hospital and operations with our little girl and I thought that seeing as I have five minutes to myself, and a laptop, I would give you an update on how she is doing.

The story began ten months ago when Star woke one morning with a twisted neck. We took her to hospital and she was eventually diagnosed with a rotary subluxation of the atlanto occipital joint. I remember having to write that down so that I would remember it, it rolls off my tongue now.

First line of treatment was muscle relaxants and a cervical collar. Then she was given physio therapy and a cervical collar. Nothing seemed to be working and fnally in December 2013 the consultant resorted to desperate measures and she was taken to theatre for a manipulation and a halo.

For thirteen weeks she endured that awful contraption until it was finally taken away on 3rd of March this year. What happened next almost broke my heart....her neck went straight back into it's bent position. It hadn't worked.

On 2nd April we found out that a part of the C1 bone in her neck had deteriorated and that she would need an operation to fix it.

We had a bit of a wait which was really distressing. We don't know what actually happened at the hospital but her consultant is no longer operating and she was passed on to a different team. I had to push to get her seen again, watching my little girl getting worse by the day and fearing that the longer they left her the worse it would be. Finally they contacted me to say the operation would go ahead this week.

She was admitted onto the ward on Sunday and on Monday morning went down to the theatre to have another manipulation and the halo returned. Then on Wednesday morning she was taken back to the theatre to endure a six hour operation where they fixed together her C1 and C2 bones with wires and a metal plate. Because the C1 was so damaged they also had to perform a bone graft using some bone from her skull. Because they had to do that she had to have to halo back on for at least six weeks while the bone graft 'takes'

Providing it all works then her neck should be stable, but she will lose up to fifty percent of her mobility of her neck. She won't be able to turn left or right very much. We do have something to be thankful for, the surgeon thought she may need a further fixation to her occipital joint which would have meant that she would not be able to look up and down either. Thankfully he did not have to do that.

It's been an incredibly stressful week but now Star is doing fine and we are just waiting for her to recover. Today she even managed to sit up in bed and is talking a little more. The physio therapists did try to get her to sit out of the bed but she lasted only five minutes. I believe that we will have her up and moving in the next few days. Sadly she has the advantage of knowing how to walk and move with the halo on, which is something that has to be learnt.

Now we are hoping that this has worked, I really don't think we could endure any more, especially my poor little girl who has developed a real fear of being in hospital and in particular needles. Sadly, she is still enduring blood tests after having a big transfusion during her operation.

A  big thank you to everyone who has sent us all good wishes. I'm going to add a photo, this is Star one day after the operation. She actually looks worse now as the swelling has begun, but she really is a little Star, even the nurses call her that.

Ethans Escapades

Monday, 9 June 2014

Kids in the kitchen - an apology!

I need to apolgise because I am suspending my Kids in the Kitchen Linky for a little while. My little Star is in hospital, she had one operation today and is due another on Wednesday.
Today has been very stressful and emotional and I need to take some time out and concentrate on my family for a little while.
Please stick with me, Kids in the Kitchen will be back soon. We did some lovely baking over the weekend we can't wait to share with you.

Thank you for reading xx

Saturday, 7 June 2014

Nottingham Castle

Half term was our last chance to get some days out in while we could. Next week, Star will be going in hospital for two operations and the halo traction vest will be returned. So, we won't be going anywhere for quite a while.

We pondered on where to go and the weather was not at it's best so we were limited. We decided on Nottingham Castle because the girls have been reading all about Robin Hood (we couldn't quite make it to Nottingham Forest) and we wanted a train journey and Nottingham is just about the right distance.

Nottingham Castle was first built in 1067 but has been demolished and rebuilt a few times since. Once a home to Royals it was finally restored as a museum in 1878 by the Prince of Wales, later to become King Edward VII

So we packed a picnic to have on the train journey and set off for Nottingham. When we arrived we took a short walk along the canal before reaching the road to the castle. The kids loved the big statue of Robin Hood.

There was also a Living Statue which gave the Little Man a bit of a scare

Then it was on to the Castle, or Castle museum, with it's alabaster carvings, watercolours, wedgewood (I really want to make a wedgewood inspired cake) Nottingham lace, costumes and stoneware, including bear jugs among just a few of the things to see.

I particularly enjoyed the costume section, they even have the orginal outfits worn by Torvil and Dean when they won their gold medal for skating to Bolero.

There were also sections for the kids where they could explore all the animals in Noah's Ark, dress up and enjoy playing in a gypsy caravan.

We loved the interactive parts of the museum like these drawers filled with objects from the natural world to discover.

We also spent some time admiring the views of Nottingham in the castle grounds.

Then it was time for the kids favourite part of the day, the playground. It wasn't the warmest of days, but at least the rain held off, and they spent ages playing in the sand pit...who needs a beach?

We had a lovely day and would certainly visit Nottingham Castle again. I'd love for it to be warm enough to picnic outside there, and maybe see a band playing on the bandstand. 

Linking up to Coombe Mill and Country Kids, do go along and see what everyone else has been up to. 

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Friday, 6 June 2014

Fathers Day - Gift Guide

Father's Day in the Uk is on June 15th Time to start thinking about what to buy. I've been mooching around and come up with some ideas for you.


I don't know about you but I like a man to look and smell nice so grooming products are a great idea. I love the products available from Dove. 
For the Active and Playful Dad there is the Daily Care Duo gift pack featuring the Clean Comfort Anti-Perspirant Deodorant and Clean Comfort Shower Gel
For the Sensitive Dad there is Sensitive+ Moisturiser, sensitive Dry Anti-Perspirant Deodorant and Sensitive Shower Gel.
And for the  Go The Extra Mile Dad ther is the Deep Clean=Face Scrub and Hydrate+ Moisturiser.

purchase here

Or a favourite of my kid's Daddy, something to help him relax after a hard day.

Purchase here:


How about some treats from Next?

Something Original

Or maybe you want to get crafty, or get the kids crafting? Over on my Father's Day Pinterest Board you will find a whole host of idea like this clever plate.

Something Geeky

I am the geeky one in our house but if you have a geeky fella to buy for how about these suggestions?

Best Dad in the Galaxy tee from Something Geeky £12.99
Nintendo Key Chain £4.99 from Something Geeky
Mr Potato Head Doctor Who £17.95 from Red5


All dad's love gardening, right? Ok, maybe not my kids dad, but I know my brother does. Here's my pick of gifts for the gardening dad.

Shed Tidy
Dads Garden
Garden Bits and Bobs Tin
Dig For Victory Mug

I hope that maybe I have inspired you with my post. I did receive a few goodies from Dove and Radox to include them in this round-up but all thoughts and opinions are my own. 

Thank you for reading, if you like my blog then please Subscribe to Raisie Bay

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

The Six Weeks Holidays and Childcare

Half term is over and before we know it the six week summer holiday will be upon us. Do you have plans? It's usually the time for holidays and fun, but with things being so much more expensive during the school holidays many parents choose to have their holidays at other times of the year and carry on working during the school holidays leaving their children with family or carers.
Cotton Traders have done a survey into what happens during the six weeks of summer.

The majority of respondents (44.10%) said their children would be spending the most of their summer holidays at home with non/part time working parents and 24% said they would be at home with full time working parents on annual leave. 

The main reason for children spending the summer holidays with working or non-working parents is due to convenience (23%) and money (21%) sadly, only 20% said this was due to gaining family quality time.

This is a sign of our times. We tend to think of things in terms of monetary cost first, even though we might love spending time with our children, our first thoughts always tend to be...can we afford it?

The majority of respondents (43%) said they wouldn't be budgeting for the summer holidays as they couldn't afford to.

Again, a sign of our times. Of course you can't take your children out of school to go on holiday when it's cheaper, but it's so expensive during the main holidays that many parents have no choice but not to holiday at all. Okay, holidays are not an essential part of life, but they are great for recharging the batteries, spending quality time with your family and creating lots of wonderful memories. (Most of my happy childhood memories are about our family camping trips!)

Of those parents taking annual leave to look after children, 28% said they were having to take separate holiday weeks to their partner.

This makes sense in terms of childcare costs, six weeks is a long time and many people cannot afford to take six weeks annual leave (I suppose this is where it comes in handy being a teacher?) so why not share the childcare with your partner with both having separate holidays and cutting the childcare costs?

According to the results, the average age that parents think a child that can be left unsupervised during the school holidays is 13 years old. (About year 9 at school)

I'd agree, but is it really advisable to leave  a 13 year old alone for many hours a day, several days a week. Some 13 year olds are more mature than others, but what about those that are not? 

more families will be taking holidays in the UK (35%) this year than abroad (34%) and of those 23% who said they wouldn't be or weren't sure whether they would be taking a family holiday this year, a whopping 66% said it was because it was too expensive.
Interestingly, 11% of respondents said they wouldn't be taking a family holiday this year as it is too expensive.

Holidays are expensive. We went on one last year that I'd won in a competition, but even though the holiday was free, we still had to pay travel and we spent loads while there. There are cheaper alternatives to taking a break if you wish, you could invest in a caravan or tent, it's a bit expense to start with but then your future holidays are cheaper. 
It's a shame that holidays are so much more expensive in the summer, maybe now that there is so much less money around to be spent on holidays and with all the new laws about taking children out of school, the holiday companies could re-think their costing?

A massive 18% of children will be spending this summer with grandparents; massively outweighing those spending it with other relatives (7%) or in paid (3.5%) or free childcare (1%). Of those who will not be spending the summer with grandparents, the main reason was simply due to them not living close enough (21%)
On average, respondents identified that 1.5 weeks will be spent with grandparents or other relatives throughout the six week holidays.

Good old grandparents! It's often a win win situation, the grandparents love having their kids around for a little while and it's cheaper for the parents. Kids often love staying with grandparents too. Of course it's handy having some willing aunts and uncles around too.

Interestingly, parents surveyed said the main benefit of children spending the summer with grandparents was to save money (21%) as opposed to the relationship (20%) or trust (15%) aspect.

Again, the main reason for everything has to be money!!

So what are your plans for the summer? Will you be going on holiday or sending the kids off to stay with the grandparents.

This year we will be doing neither as we wait for Star to recover from her operations. Maybe if she recovers soon enough we will be able to take a short break somewhere. 

If we are short of money we tend  to go for day trips instead of a main holiday, this means the kids get the chance to spend a day on the beach or somewhere else really nice and for a lot less cost. Of course you need to eliminate the relaxing part of a holiday if doing this, day trips are tiring!

If you want to tell the world about your amazing holiday and offer some useful tips, then send some of your best snaps to, and you'll receive a 10% on line discount code for all Cotton Traders clothing. 

Having fun on the beach!

Survey results supplied by Cotton Traders.

Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Kids in the Kitchen - Choco Leibniz Chocolate Shortbread

Welcome to this weeks Kids in the Kitchen, this week I'm trying something different, I've made a video of the Little Man cooking this weeks recipe. I had to make a video to take part in the Bahlsen Bake Off Challenge and we enjoyed it so much I've decided to do more! Of course we are still enjoying the Bahlsen recipes, they really are yummy and not too difficult to make.

First though, as always, I'd like to say thank you to last weeks contributors to my linky.
We have two delicious recipes from the children at the Brick Castle, Cheese and Marmite Helter- Skelters and Cat's Biscuits. 
Miss T from The Beesley Buzz has also made two yummy recipes, Tuna Pasta Bake and Spring Rolls

I love reading your recipes and how your children got on with making them. I also love to share them on Twitter, Pinterest and Google+ so please do join in. I will also keep mentioning those that do here on my blog.

Choco Leibniz Chocolate Shortbread


175g unsalted butter, softened
85g golden caster sugar
200g plain flour
2tbs cocoa powder
100g Choco Leibniz biscuits, crushed


mix butter and sugar together with wooden spoon
sift in flour and cocoa powder
add crushed Choco Leibniz biscuits
squash together into a dough, you can use your hands
wrap in cling film and leave in fridge for an hour or two
Slice the dough into rounds and put on a baking tray
cook in a pre-heated oven 180C/gas mark 4 for 10-12 minutes

Here is how my little man got on:

 Now it's your turn, please come and share your recipes that you have made with your kids help and link up to my linky. 

I'd also be mighty grateful if you included my badge in your post so others can see it and come along and join in.

Thank you for reading, if you like my blog then please Subscribe to Raisie Bay

A little Note About Positive Reviews on Raisie Bay

Some people only write reviews when things go wrong with products, which is good because it lets people know that there could be potential problems. I've also seen negative feedback with say things like, I had to return this item because the colour did not suit this useful?

I write reviews on most items I buy because I like to give genuine feedback. If I have a genuine problem with a product I will write my review in the appropriate place.

I write reviews on my blog too, but they are mostly positive. Why? Because I only write reviews for the things I've loved. If I don't love them I let the person who sent me them know with details why and then let them decided if they would rather me write a negative review or not write one at all. It's always the latter.

This is my blog, my place and I'll let you know about the things I love. If you want to find out what other people have hated about the product then you will need to look elsewhere.

My reviews may all be positive, but they are still genuine.
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