Wednesday, 30 March 2016

10 Tips for Spring Cleaning

I love this time of year, the sun is making more of an appearance, the days are getting longer and warmer, the birds and flowers are arriving and so are the leaves on the trees. It's a wonderful time of the year. It's also the time when we start packing away the extra bedding and things that make us feel warmer in the winter. Then we get the house all spick and span and ready for the summer months, yes it's time for the Spring Clean up.

The bedrooms are my main focus this year. The kids rooms are a bit of a mess. First up we are going to have The Big Toy Clear Out!! Honestly, since Christmas their rooms just seem to be toys piled on top of toys. In fact that's what we plan to do this afternoon, so if I'm quiet online it's because I'm buried under a pile of unwanted toys!

I'm dreading to think what the bedroom carpets look like under that mess. They are getting a bit old and I was thinking of replacing them this year, but what a pain and an expense! Instead I'm going to give them a good clean with a carpet cleaner and hopefully prolong their life a little longer. I'll let you know how I get on.

In the meantime here are a few great spring cleaning tips from Bissell the carpet cleaning specialists.

Treat your home to the ultimate Spring Clean

With ten top tips from the carpet cleaning specialists at BISSELL

     1.       Shape up and ship out the clutter. Doing one big sweep of toys, magazines and everyday bits and pieces to clear your carpets and surfaces will be a lot easier than trying to clean around the daily detritus of the family.

     2.       Vacuum, pre-treat badly stained areas and then deep clean your carpets and rugs.

    A carpet washing machine injects a mixture of cleaning solution and warm water deep into carpet fibres. The brushes agitate, scrub and loosen the dirt or stain and then the powerful vacuum suction lifts it all away, leaving your home feeling and smelling fresh.

3.       It’s the job we all dread… cleaning the oven. So get cracking with that while you’re feeling motivated and get it out of the way.

4.       You’ve done the washing, but have you washed the washing machine? They can tend to build mould over time, so to make sure yours is spotless run an empty load, one cycle filled with 4 cups of bleach, the other with 4 cups of distilled white vinegar.

5.       Strip covers off cushions and sofas where possible, then load them into the washing machine, checking care labels to ensure you use the right settings.
Of course, if you have a carpet cleaner which works on upholstery, such as a BISSELL CleanView® Proheat®, you can save yourself some time by using it to clean sofa upholstery, curtains and the mattress too.  Your living room will have a new lease of life! 

6.       Don’t forget the bed sheets: you’ll probably be washing these already, but use it as an opportunity to vacuum your mattress too. It’s a haven for dust mites which can wreak havoc for people who suffer from allergies. 

7.       Let in more light: cleaning blinds can seem like a daunting task but it doesn’t have to be. Mix equal parts of warm water and distilled white vinegar in a bowl. Slip a sock on your hand and dip the sock into the water and vinegar mixture before wiping each slat individually.

8.       Bust the dust mites by giving the house a thorough dusting from high to low. Start with the ceilings, corners of walls and light fixtures. Use a lint roller to easily clean dust off lampshades and other soft furnishings.

9.       Your Spring Clean is the perfect time to to check batteries in smoke and fire alarms around the house. To be super safe you could even inspect light fixtures for damaged wires and faulty connections. Safety first!

10.   Impression marks left on carpets by furniture can be easily remedied. Simply rub an ice cube over the affected area and your carpet will be back to normal in no time. 
For more information about BISSELL visit or join us on Facebook and Twitter

I'm already one down on the list as my other half cleaned the oven just the other day. I'm definitely going to use tips number 4 and 7 to clean my washing machine and my blinds. I'll also get the other half to vacuum the beds next time I strip them for washing.

I  can't believe I'm actually looking forward to getting started. (And with my mobility being poor I know I will have lots of help too, instead of doing it all by myself like I usually do.)

Happy Spring Everyone!

Disclosure: Tips provided by Bissell, there are links to other sites in this post. I have not been paid to publish this post.

Tuesday, 29 March 2016

What's in Your Box This Week?

Welcome to this weeks What's in the Box, the linky where you can add your box posts. Everyone likes to know what's in the box and there are so many of them around. So if you've opened a subscription box or similar and blogged about it then please join in.

This week I finally received my Degustabox. I was really excited, I love to try new food stuff. I was also a little worried that there may be stuff in there that no-one would eat or drink. I do think I got lucky with my first box though as I loved everything!
So, what did I get?

Here's my first view.

Not bad, I spotted some delicious chocolate rice cakes, I love rice cakes, and some lovely Pain au chocolate, popcorn and chewits (blast from the past, not had any of those for years.

So along with the Pain au Chocolate there were some cheese biscuits, chocolate chip cookies, crackers with a dip and a stuffing mix.

 Then we had 4 packets of Chewits and a lovely Lindt Easter Bunny (which I hid immediately.)

 Satisfying my love for rice cakes, 1 packet o f chocolate and 1 packet of quinoa and seeds.

 For film night, skinny popcorn and crisps. the crisps were delicious, I'd definitely buy them again. The girls took the popcorn to the cinema when they went to see Zootropolis.

Drinks - Weetabix on the Go which is one of my eldest daughter's favourites and Good Hemp milk, which I didn't like but my other half did and there's already another carton in the shopping this week.

I can't wait for my next box now!

I've decided to set up this linky so that subscription box lovers can link up and find out what everyone else is getting.

It might give you some ideas of the best ones to sign up too!

In the future I hope to feature some of the best posts that have linked up, so please do join in. I'll also tweet your posts and share them on my Facebook page. I'll also comment on all submissions.

The rules are simple.

  • link up your subscription box post or video, it can be any kind of box
  • take a look and comment on a couple of other posts in the linky, it's only fair and you may find something exciting to subscribe to.
  • include my badge so that others may find the linky and join in.
There you have it, simple!

I'll put the linky up every Tuesday and you can add to it until Friday. Do tell your friends, this is a new linky and we need everyone to join in.

I really can't wait to see what you've had in your boxes!

Here's my badge, the copy code is underneath.

blogbadge photo badge_zpsf0b88074.jpg

(hint...add the name of your subscription box in the linky box that says 'name')

Monday, 28 March 2016

Randomise, the Fun Family Game - Review.

This morning we started the day with a game. A fun new game that we had been sent to review and one that my girls just can't seem to get enough of.

Quite simple, it's a pack of cards with random suggestions, but the fun it creates is endless.

First you pick your teams. Then the first player chooses three cards from the piles, A, B and C.
Each card has two sections, easy or hard, and at the beginning of your turn you tell which you are going to do. When scoring, the hard ones earn you more points than the easy. Then the opposing team give you three numbers from 1 to 3 and those will give you your identity.
Taking the following cards as example, Choosing hard, then the numbers 2, 1, 3 your identity would be  an elegant chameleon building a house.
A will always describe you, B will tell you what you are and C will tell you what you are doing.

Then depending on whether you choose to describe, act or draw you can earn points by how many your team gets right. We soon found out that we each had our favourite ways to play. I liked to describe, my daughters liked to act and my son liked to draw. We all had a go at everything and we had loads of laughs.

Here's one that was drawn, can you guess what it is?

Mmmm I found the drawing task the most difficult, can you tell? 

I might put you out of your misery at the end of this post.

We found Randomise a fun game that we could all join in with, we even included the Little Man who is a little too young, but with an adults help he was able to have fun too. It's better when you have more players so you can split into groups, but if there are not enough of you it can be played like charades, when one person guesses they get the next turn. In fact we found this easier with the little ones than keeping score. The adults get quite competitive to win those points.

It's such a simple concept that gives you the pleasure of playing Pictionary, Charades and Articulate all in one game. It's great if you're not particularly good at one method because you get to choose. You also get the option to choose the level of difficulty which is handy when you have different age groups playing, just make sure the teams are evenly matched. 

The game itself is simple but there are over a million different combinations of identity, so every game is different. Some of the identities are quite simply hilarious so be prepared for lots of laughs.
It's for 4- 50 players at age 8+

Randomise comes as a box of cards with an instruction sheet and the instructions are also printed on some cards. You also get some blank cards to invent your own identities. The box is attractive and the cards durable. You will need to provide pens and paper, a score sheet and pen and a stop watch if you want to take the timing seriously. We omitted the timing for the little ones sake.

I can see us reaching for this pack time and time again, everyone loves it. 

You can find out more about Randomise on their website and find them on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

Randomise costs £9.99 and can be purchased on Amazon.

oh yes, the picture...well, it was a baby camel fishing. Easy, yes!

Disclosure: We were given a copy of Randomise for the purpose of this review, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Sunday, 27 March 2016

My Sunday Photo 26th March 2016

Happy Easter

The Little Man made this wonderful daffodil for me at school. The girls also made cards and hats and a little nest with a chick and eggs.

Easter is my favourite holiday. Two weeks off school and without all the expense of Christmas. You don't need to break the bank for a few Easter Eggs. The weather is nicer, well, it's not so cold and the signs of Spring are all around us.

And there is chocolate....what more could you want?

Happy Easter Everyone xx


Thanks for visiting from #MySundayPhoto, I'll be sure to take a look at your photo if I haven't been along already xx

Friday, 25 March 2016

Disabled - But Still Me

I am disabled!
There, I've said it. I still don't really believe it though, it's a hard label to accept. I have two disabled children and it was hard to accept that, but how can I accept that it applies to me?

When I was paralysed by a spinal inflammation, Transverse Myelitis, at the beginning of the year I had no idea when I would get well again. What I found out was that recovery comes in three categories. The first is a full recovery, the second, partial recovery with some remaining disability, the third, no recovery, permanently paralysed. I have been talking to other sufferers of the condition and have learnt a few things.

Those that make a full recovery can walk, return to their normal lives and never have another attack. The truth is that even these people can have relapses and normal illnesses like colds, flu and UTI's can have an enormous effect on them. The middle group, to which I belong, can keep trying for a full recovery. Although, they say you won't recover any more after two years there have been some that have proved this wrong and gone on to recover after this time scale. Again, they are prone to relapses.
The third group can still work on some sort of recovery and hope that there are new treatments available. There has been a lot of work done lately on auto-immune diseases which could work for TM sufferers, particularly as the symptoms are very similar to Multiple Sclerosis.

So, what can I do that I couldn't do three months ago when I was first paralysed?

I can walk unaided for about 2 metres. It's painful to walk and I truly believe it's the pain that stops me from being able to walk further. So, maybe if I can get the pain under control I might able to walk for longer. My walking is slow and not normal, but it's still walking.

Because of the damage to my nerves my brain is not sending messages correctly to my limbs to make them work properly. Sometimes, the messages get through though so I'm forever hopeful for improvement. I cannot help the way I walk, I can't seem to change it and walk normally or faster, but I know that it could be worse.

The pain never leaves me. I take a cocktail of pills to relieve it and some days I could tell you that they don't work.....but if I miss a dose I realise just how much they are helping me!

I'm also taking homeopathic remedies, and since I started a new batch last week I have noticed a difference. More of my numbness as subsided in my legs, I can feel a lot better. Now I can feel itching, which was absent before. I can also feel sore.

I am disabled. I cannot walk outside my home and I am in constant pain. If I go anywhere it has to be in a wheelchair and trust me, it's not easy getting used to that.

When I was first in hospital three months looked like along time away. Now, I feel it's passed quickly and I feel it's not the time scale I should be focusing on but how much further I can push myself into recovery.

I am disabled. I don't like the term but it's now how I'm defined.

I am disabled, but I won't stop trying to get well again.

I am disabled, but I'm still me.

The Reading Residence

Wednesday, 23 March 2016

The A Word - My Thoughts on the new BBC Drama

I was excited to hear about the new BBC drama The A Word which focuses on autism. These are my views after watching the first episode.

First, you have to remember this is not a documentary about autism, it is a drama, and although autism has featured in dramas before it's never actually been the main focus of the program. With a title like The A Word, and A obviously meaning Autism, you expect the dramas main focus on autism and how the family involved deal with it.

It's always good to raise awareness of Autism in whatever way but it is even possible to make people aware of all the features that the autism spectrum has and how it affects everyone in different ways. Creating awareness through a drama has it's setbacks, many will say that the child with autism is nothing like their child, and many with children with similar behaviours will start thinking, does my child have autism.

The A Word focuses on a family living in the Lake District so we given some wonderful back scenery to the drama. Alison and Paul are the parents of a five year old boy Joe, who receives his autism diagnosis in the first episode. Also featured are Alison's older daughter, Rebecca (from a different partner), her Dad, Maurice, her brother, Eddie and his wife, Nicola. The family member's all have their own dramas going on. Maurice has an unwanted admirer and Eddie and Nicola have marriage problems after Nicola's affair with a colleague at work.

The drama starts with Joe's fifth birthday party and it's obvious that he's not really taking part in it like the other children, he doesn't join in the games and goes into sensory overload when all eyes are on him for the birthday song and candle blowing. How does he cope with the sensory overload? Well, he lies face down to block it all out.

My son would lie face down when faced with sensory overload, and not just on the carpet, he'd do it in the street, in the shops and even on public transport. When he was small we could just pick him up and remove him, this became harder as he got older, quite simply, he didn't want to be moved.

Autistic children react differently to sensory overload, some will lash out, some will run away, there are lots of way to get away, or distract yourself.

We see as the drama evolves that little Joe misses out on birthday parties.Invites are handed out to all his classmates but not him. He doesn't seem to have any school friends and is very much secluded.

 It's not always the case, my son was very popular at his friends parties, but my daughter, now 10, has only ever been invited to one school friend's birthday party, and no-one turned up for her sixth birthday party. We fool ourselves by saying it's because her birthday is in the school holidays. 

Joe has a love of music and is seen often with his headphones on. It's the perfect distraction, we all know how you can put on your headphones and the world goes away. A lot of autistic children do not want to be part of the world around them, they don't join in with other children, take much notice at school, listen to what you are saying to them. They live in their own little world and this can be displayed in many ways.

My daughter has developed a little imaginary world with imaginary friends and creatures, it used to feature much more when she was younger, and sometimes the only way to get through to her was to join in with her world. It's less of a feature now that she is older, but she still remembers it.

After the parents, Alison and Paul, are given the diagnosis of autism for their son they are obviously distressed. They know that their lives are changed forever and are fearful of the future for their son. Even when you are already convinced that your child has autism, when the diagnosis comes it is always distressing. It's something that's very difficult to get your head around. I think this part of the drama was handled well.

Overall, I'd say it was quite an under powered episode. Autism is a powerful subject and needs careful handling, you can't sweep it under the carpet. I do think the drama will grow and improve though. There seems a gentle build up to a lot of more powerful drama to come. Well, I hope so anyway.

Alison (Morven Christie) and Paul (Lee Ingleby) with their son Joe (Max Vento) in The A Word. Photograph: BBC/Fifty Fathoms

Gecko Clothing are Looking for a New Brand Representative

Could your child be the new brand representative for Gecko clothing?

Gecko Clothing bring you unique, ethical, hard wearing and eco-friendly clothing for kids up to 8 years...and some t-shirts for the adults too! They are unisex, bright and have adorable designs.

I asked Emma from Gecko to tell me a little about the company and her campaign for a new brand representative.

q1: I love Gecko's because they eat spiders (it's the circle of life) but why did you choose the name Gecko for your company?

Geckos are awesome, they can also lick their own eyeballs, a fact my 6 year old son loves!
We sat down and brain stormed ideas and what sort of brand we were going to build and how we would go about it. We knew from early on that the big, BIG plan was to be a family brand that covered kids, adults and a gift range. Although that’s still a long way in the future. We decided to start with some adults t-shirts and just get a feel for things, dip our toe in so to speak!
We knew from the start that we wanted a strong adventuring spirit for the brand and my husband and co-founder threw a lot of great ideas out, but the Gecko logo even in early quick sketch ideas really struck a cord. The gecko is an extraordinary lizard, a triumph of both adaptation and diversity and in many cultures they are also seen as a sign of good luck. It was a perfect fit for us!

q2: Please tell me more about your tags, I get the plantable wild seed paper...but sheep poo, really?

So firstly it’s not at all as gross as it may sound. Sheep only digests 50% of the cellulose fibers it eats and the very first process in making the paper is to sterilise and boil it at 120 degrees! It will then be washed repeatedly over a period of days till its halved in quantity. We chose SheepPooPaperTM as we loved how quirky and attention grabbing it was. We wanted to get kids attention to tell them the journey of their clothes, get them asking lots of pesky questions. When the transparency of manufacture is the norm businesses will be forced to take more ethical responsibility.
We are really proud of the plantable seed paper, or the bug buffet bomb! This links back to more information on our humble bumble bee for kids and other little activities they can easily do to invite and investigate bugs in their garden, or even window box. Kids are amazing and we hope to help encourage them to look at the things that matter as they grow. Never under estimate kids, they will rule the world some day!

q3: I love that your campaign for brand representatives is inclusive but can you explain a little more to my readers what you are looking for and why?

Our campaign is open to ALL children. It’s that simple. It’s sad that we really have to make that clear, and work at getting it out there that we encourage, and are looking for a mix of representatives.
Everyone deserves to be seen, to be included, to be represented. Beauty isnt one thing, it isnt singular  it is all around us in everyones smile.
Today we are only a small brand, but big businesses are watching us as consumers, and the more they see that people care, that people want change they will respond. As ever, I urge people to vote with their wallet. Shop with companies trying to make an impact, trying to make a difference.

So if you think your kid has what it takes to be a new brand representative this is what you have to do.

Gecko are specifically looking for Instagram representatives so although you can share your photos on Facebook and Twitter, to enter you will need an Instagram account.

To enter just follow these four steps:

Follow Gecko on Instagram at @Gecko_Clothing
Submit no more than 2 photos of your little person between the ages of 6 months and 8 years
To submit tag your photos #bygecko #geckobrandrep #brandrepsearch
Share your favourite @gecko_clothing image

SEARCH ENDS March 31st

NB: children do not need to be wearing gecko clothing to enter.

Monday, 21 March 2016

What's in Your Box This Week?

I'm still waiting for my Degustabox, although delivery has been promised for this week.
I'm also on the hunt for a box of little trinkets and things that cheer you up, I know they are out there, I've just not found the right one yet. So if you have reviewed something like this please do link it up.

Another thing I'm on the lookout for is a nice stationary box. I do love stationary and would love to subscribe to one.

So what boxes have you been opening this week. It's ok if it's not a subscription that your part of, just  a review would be good. Please share this post if you know someone who may have something to contribute.

I've decided to set up this linky so that subscription box lovers can link up and find out what everyone else is getting.

It might give you some ideas of the best ones to sign up too!

In the future I hope to feature some of the best posts that have linked up, so please do join in. I'll also tweet your posts and share them on my Facebook page. I'll also comment on all submissions.

The rules are simple.

  • link up your subscription box post or video, it can be any kind of box
  • take a look and comment on a couple of other posts in the linky, it's only fair and you may find something exciting to subscribe to.
  • include my badge so that others may find the linky and join in.
There you have it, simple!

I'll put the linky up every Tuesday and you can add to it until Friday. Do tell your friends, this is a new linky and we need everyone to join in.

I really can't wait to see what you've had in your boxes!

Here's my badge, the copy code is underneath.

blogbadge photo badge_zpsf0b88074.jpg

(hint...add the name of your subscription box in the linky box that says 'name')

Sunday, 20 March 2016

My Sunday Photo 20th March 2016

This is Salem.
He is my cat, I adopted him as a kitten nearly seven years ago.
Every evening this week he's brought me a lovely big mouse or rat for a treat.
I've packed his bag!

I guess that's one of the perils of living next to a canal.


Tots 100 Awards

Secondary School - Hopes and Fears

On 1st March most parents of 10 to 11 year olds where waiting with anticipation for notification of their secondary school choices. I wasn't. I'd only put down one school and as they are struggling to fill their classrooms I had little doubt that Star would get a place.

The thought of Secondary School fills me with dread. I've two older children and for very different reasons the transition did not work. Both ended up being home schooled, one of them then went to another specialised school (not special school, but for children with problems) the other was home tutored by a special team of teachers right through to her exams. The whole time was stressful and difficult for all of us. I was a single mum at the time and had to give up a job I loved because I needed to be home all the time.

Star has similar problems to my eldest as they are both on the autistic spectrum. The difference is, Star also has physical disabilities. Choosing a secondary school for her was difficult. I checked out all of the schools in the area and none of them seemed suitable. Then I found one that seemed perfect, not only do they have excellent SEN facilities, they cater for disabled children too. The problem was, we were out of their catchment area and would have to put forward a very strong case to get a place as the school was already oversubscribed. I was willing to put the effort in to do this, despite the school being so far away. I would have to figure out a way of getting her to the school with her siblings at another school. I couldn't rely on school transport because of the cutbacks.

 I also had to take her thoughts into consideration, and she did not want to go to this school, she wanted to go to the same school as her friends.

This stopped me in my tracks, I rarely hear Star mention friends, she claims she doesn't have any at school. Yet, she wants to go to the same secondary school as these friends. I had a flash back to my other older child who blamed her lack of being able to settle into school because I'd chosen a different one to the one her friends went to. I knew this wasn't the real reason, but she still blamed me and no mother likes to be pinpointed in any of their child's failures.

So, I picked the other school, the one closer to her siblings school, in walking distance from our home. With hindsight, I probably made a good decision simply because I can no longer drive or have a car.

I have visited the new school on several occasions. I've attended two open days and made an appointment to speak to the head teacher. I've explained in detail all of Star's problems and asked repeatedly if they would be able to accommodate her needs. They have assured me they can and will. I can only hope that they do.

Star is looking forward to going there, she has been visiting the school every Monday morning with her current classmates. She will be attending a two week summer school there over the holidays. She told me excitedly that E. was going to the same school and that he had autism like her. I asked her if E. was her friend and she replied 'no.'

I have to stay positive that this will work for her and try to put the past in the past. Well, apart from learning from my mistakes.

Here is a photo of my little Star on her very first day at school. Time really flies. We knew at the time about the autism and had already been for x-rays on her painful knees but had no idea what that was. So many things have happened since that day.

I always believe that if you don't ask you don't get, so I'm asking to be considered in the SchoolDays category of the MAD blog awards, please click button to vote. Thank you.

Tots 100 Awards

Sons, Sand & Sauvignon

Saturday, 19 March 2016

Amazing Magazine Review and Competition

I've always loved magazines, right from the early days when my Dad used to bring home the Beano comic for me when I was a child to when I had Jackie as a teen, my childhood was a time when I really looked forward to my next magazine.
My kids love magazines too, they spend an age browsing the magazine stand and can't wait for the next issue of their favourites.
I was really pleased to be able to review the Amazing Magazine with my kids.
The first thing I noticed was the quality of the magazines, nice thick pages that will withstand several reads, which  is handy when you have 3 kids scrambling for a look.
The magazines are fun and educational, they are based on the primary national curriculum and my kids noticed this straight away. Boo, who is 8, had just learned about the Romans and the Little Man is learning all about the human body. The two magazines we were sent were focused around these topics. They are aimed at 7 years and over, but the Little Man who is just 5 years is a very good reader so he enjoyed them too. He most enjoyed the word searches in each magazines.

With the ex editor of Horrible Histories magazine, and writers from Simpsons and Beano comics it's no wonder the Amazing Magazine is full of clever and humorous ways to engage children. It really is different.

Each of the magazines we received had a fun and relevant to the theme recipe. The Body one had Bogie Bites!! Don't worry they were only made from popcorn and marshmallow. The Roman recipe had something that looked a little tastier and we are definitely going to try and make, Really Ancient Cheesecakes.

We all agreed that these magazines where loads of fun, and we all learnt loads...did you know that the Roman, Claudius Galen, was the first surgeon to remove cataracts from a patient's eyes. He also believed that he could cure most patients by bloodletting, but it didn't cure them it killed them!

We decided to take the magazines when we went for appointments at the surgery. It can get very boring waiting..

If you would like to know more about Amazing Magazine you can visit their Facebook page, or find them on twitter @amazingkidsmag

An annual subscription of the magazine costs £49 for 12 issues and you can also get digital subscriptions from iTunes, GooglePlay and Kindle stores for £23.99. 
There are amazing discounts for teachers and schools!

Amazing Magazine have put together a special offer of 10% discount when using the code WOW10 at checkout.

If you would like to check out Amazing Magazine I can give away a copy to 10 readers. All you have to do is comment on this blog what your favourite magazine is, or was. This competition will also be held on my Facebook Page. 

Closing date for entries is 2nd April.
Winning copies will be mailed out by 10th May.
Uk only please.

Good Luck!

Disclosure: We were sent the magazines for the purpose of this review, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

3 reasons for Women's Hair Loss

Hair loss can be distressing. I remember after her operation my little girl, Star, suffered from a form of Alopecia, Telogen Effluvium. She lost a lot of hair and still has bald patches now. It's not nice for a young girl to go through. In fact it's not a nice thing for anyone to go through. I still remember now the handfuls of hair I lost after having my babies. I thought it would never stop. It did though, and I was no worse off for it.

Why is my hair falling out?

The average woman loses between 60 and 100 strands of hair per day. However, if great clumps are coming out every time you brush or shampoo, or thinning patches are starting to appear on your scalp, it can be very worrying, especially if you don’t know what’s causing the problem. To help you get to grips with your hair loss, here are three common causes.

 Female pattern hair loss

What is it?

The most common reason for hair shedding in women is known as female pattern hair loss or androgenetic alopecia. Its symptoms are thinning hair on the top and crown of the scalp and it can be caused by ageing, hormonal changes associated with the menopause and hereditary factors. If your mother, grandmothers and aunts experienced this kind of loss, you may be more likely to go through it as well.

What can you do about it?

Over the counter treatments like Regaine for Women may be effective if you have this type of thinning. According to, when used correctly, this solution can prevent hair from falling out and regrow hair in women with hereditary hair loss.

Traction alopecia

Some hairstyles, such as tight ponytails, buns or braids, cause excessive tension or pulling of hair shafts. If hair is put under pressure over a prolonged period of time, new hair follicles may stop developing and permanent hair loss may occur. You may also experience traction alopecia if you brush or wash your hair too vigorously.

What can you do about it?

Get into the habit of wearing your hair down or in a loose ponytail. You should also be very gentle when brushing or washing your hair. If you have already experienced significant loss as a result of styling, consider visiting a dermatologist for advice.

     Postnatal hair loss

If you’ve just given birth and are scratching your head in wonder at what might be causing you to lose your hair, wonder no more. After childbirth, around 50% of women experience greater hair loss than normal. Hormonal changes mean that many new mothers experience a sudden shedding between three and six months after they have their babies.

What can you do about it? 

Luckily, this kind of hair loss won’t go on forever. In the meantime however, you should eat healthily, be very gentle when brushing and shampooing, and try to forgo treatments that use heat (blowdrying, curling, etc.) and chemicals (highlights, straightening, etc.) until the shedding stops. If you feel like an excessive amount of hair is being lost, don’t be afraid to speak to your doctor, midwife or health visitor as it could be a sign of a postnatal thyroid disorder.

These are three common reasons a woman might experience hair shedding. However, you may be losing your locks as a result of other factors, such as illness or medication. To get to the root of your hair loss, you should consult professionals, including your doctor, dermatologist, pharmacist and hairstylist.

image: creative commons

This is a collaborative post

Thursday, 17 March 2016

Mad Blog Awards 2016

Last year I was extremely lucky to make it the Mad Blog Awards Ceremony as a finalist.  I didn't care that I didn't win, there are so many blogs out there just being chosen as a finalist is a wonderful experience.

The Blog Award nominations are open for this year and of course I'd love to be nominated again. I think my blog fits nicely into the School Days category with my having three school aged kids.

I will be thinking long and hard before making my nominations, but I already have a few favourite bloggers that have me reading all the time so I do hope they are taking part. Conditions of taking part can be found on the Tots100 blog, so do make sure that if you want to take part you have added a badge or e-mailed Sally at Tots100. Good luck everyone!

Let me tell you a bit about my blog and what I've got up to over the last year.

Well, I turned 50!! Yes, I know, I'm officially half a century old. I was in a panic about it all year, but when my birthday arrived in November, I had a wonderful day and was spoiled tremendously by family and friends near and far. I even had two new pets for my birthday, Doc and Marty my dwarf hamsters. I don't feel 50, in my head I'm still stuck around my early 30s, but that's ok, with 3 young kids to keep me busy I don't want to feel too old just yet.

We spent last summer owl hunting! The Birmingham Big Hoot had us on an adventure trail that took us several journeys to spot all the owls. Then in September we went to a big exhibition of all the owls to say goodbye to them. We didn't find them all, but we did have lots of fun.

In June I took part in the Race For Life and raised money for Cancer Research. The race was started by my Little Man's friend who is now two years in remission. It was a brilliant day, the atmosphere was amazing. I'm just really sad that I can't do it again this year.

In August I took Boo to London for a special cookery class with the lovely Bee Berrie. We had a fantastic day despite me having a migraine hangover. Boo really is in her element when cooking and has ambitions to be a top chef when she grows up. She wants to own her own hotel with bedrooms on the top floor, a restaurant in the middle and a car park underneath, she has it all worked out!

Then in September it was time to go back to school as usual. It was the first time that I was saying goodbye to all three of my children at the same time. The year before Star had not been well enough to return to school and the year before the Little Man was too young. So now we are child free all day. This year Star goes to Secondary School and this has been a huge worry for me. I had already decided which school I wanted her to go to, and I'm pleased to say she did actually get a place there. I will be writing again soon about how we are going to handle this transition.

We had a nice but quiet Christmas but shortly afterwards our lives were about to change drastically forever. First the kids Grandad passed away quite suddenly while I was taking him to hospital for a routine x-ray. This had a massive impact on us all and it was a very sad start to the year.

My start to the year was also very dramatic when I became paralysed within a few hours on New Years Day. I am still unable to walk properly and have to deal with pain on a daily basis. I am recording my journey here and you can find posts on the above tab, Transverse Myelitis.

Last year I promised to write more personally, and I've made an effort to do this. You can find all my thoughts, opinions and basically more personal posts but clicking the  My Musings tab above.

I love my little space on the internet which is my blog. I hope you love it too, or at least like it a little. I know I'm not the greatest of writers, or the best in photography, I don't have the wit to make you laugh out loud when you visit, the greatest of recipes for you to try or the best crafts. What I do have is a record of my life, my family and hopefully something you can relate too when you join me on my journey.

To Vote in the Mad Blog Award please click the following badge and first vote for your blog of the year before being directed to vote for your favourite blogs. You only have one chance to fill in the form as multiples can not be accepted, so be sure you know who you are voting for before you go.

Tots 100 Awards

Wednesday, 16 March 2016

Breakfast in our House

In our home, probably like many, breakfast time can be mayhem. That's why I love the weekend when there is no rush and you can take time to enjoy your favourite breakfast.

What is your favourite breakfast?

There are seven of us in our house and the answer to that question varies.
The littlies like different things for breakfast. Boo likes Shreddies, The Little Man likes toast and Star, well if she was to choose her favourite she'd say cookies!

I like a bowl of cereal myself, I generally go for something that leaves me feeling satisfied like Weetabix or porridge. I love it when I have time to add some fruit or honey to my cereal.

Dad likes a fry-up, he loves his bacon, sausage, egg and mushroom breakfast, often with beans too. Eldest Daughter likes her omelettes and No1 son likes cereal.

When we are all in a rush though, cereal is quick and satisfying. We are all big fans of Weetabix and I was interested to try out the new Weetabix Protein.

Weetabix protein is made with high quality wheat protein for a more tasty and nutritious high protein breakfast. It claims to help keep the whole family going for longer without feeling hungry. It's a great way of getting more protein for breakfast.

It does taste slightly different, it has a little more 'bite' to it. It definitely makes me feel fuller for longer, and it feels nice knowing I have something good to eat first thing in the morning. So if you are looking for a little bit more on your breakfast table then Weetabix Protein may be just the thing.

You can buy Weetabix Protein from most supermarkets at a price of £2.99 for 24. I will be picking it up instead of my usual Weetabix in the future.

  • New Weetabix Protein is targeted at health-conscious and active consumers who are looking for a tasty and nutritious high protein breakfast.
  • Made with high quality wheat and high protein crispy pieces
  • High in fibre, low in sugar, salt and fat and fortified with iron and vitamins
  • High in protein, a serving of Weetabix Protein with semi-skimmed milk contains 12g of protein compared to 6g from a medium egg.
  • Protein contributes to the maintenance of muscle mass and normal bones as part of a healthy diet and lifestyle to help you power your body all morning.

I was sent a box of Weetabix Protein to review for the purpose of this post, all thoughts and opinions are my own. 

Tuesday, 15 March 2016

What's in Your Box This Week?

I'm a little excited, I've just signed up for a Degustabox, just £5.99 for the first box and £2.62 cashback from Top Cashback. That means I've paid only £3.37, what a bargain.
I've also been enquiring about stationary subscription boxes, I'd love some special stationary sent each week.

Last week, Lorraine from 'Lorraine A Life Less Ordinary' linked up her Not Shabby Very Chic box with its adorable motivational quote cards and wax melts. Thanks for sharing Lorraine.

What boxes do you get or are thinking of getting? If you have a blog post or vlog about your subscription box then please link up.

I've decided to set up this linky so that subscription box lovers can link up and find out what everyone else is getting.

It might give you some ideas of the best ones to sign up too!

In the future I hope to feature some of the best posts that have linked up, so please do join in. I'll also tweet your posts and share them on my Facebook page. I'll also comment on all submissions.

The rules are simple.

  • link up your subscription box post or video, it can be any kind of box
  • take a look and comment on a couple of other posts in the linky, it's only fair and you may find something exciting to subscribe to.
  • include my badge so that others may find the linky and join in.
There you have it, simple!

I'll put the linky up every Tuesday and you can add to it until Friday. Do tell your friends, this is a new linky and we need everyone to join in.

I really can't wait to see what you've had in your boxes!

Here's my badge, the copy code is underneath.

blogbadge photo badge_zpsf0b88074.jpg

(hint...add the name of your subscription box in the linky box that says 'name')

Monday, 14 March 2016

What Makes a Blogger Great?

I don't consider myself an expert on blogging but I have been around for a while now and I'd like to share some of the things I've learned.

When you come into the world of blogging you start to find like minded bloggers in groups and at conventions. New bloggers always ask how they can make their blog big, get loads of visitors and make lots of money. The answers they are given are generally the same, but I've been giving this some thought and although I don't actually disagree with the answers, I would like to expand them a little.

If You Build It They Will Come.

I think everyone knows that just by starting to blog doesn't mean you are going to get visitors, you have to share it, let people know you are blogging, get yourself 'out there' 
Have you ever read a blog and thought that it was ok but not brilliant but then you look at their statistics and think, wow! They are so popular. This is because they network very hard, they work to get noticed but not in a spammy way. They don't just drop their blog link and every opportunity and sit back and wait for people to come. You will probably find that they are kind, helpful and genuinely nice people. They get others to follow them because they like them as  a person, not because their blog is fantastic, different or special, although it very may well be.

If you use Social Media you should definitely have a look at Tim's post which tells you the 7 Dont's of Social Media Etiquette for Bloggers. Don't get it wrong, you want it to work for you not against you.

Write in Your Own Style, Find Your Voice.

Some bloggers are charismatic and will get people stumbling over themselves to follow and read every post written. Not everyone can be like this, however, and trying too hard when you just don't have 'it' can be off putting and people won't stick around.
Not everyone will get 'your voice', you might think you are funny or charismatic, others may not. 'Your voice' could be a big turn off.
So be prepared to work on a voice that suits the kind of audience you want to attract. Write about things you love in a natural way and people will find it more interesting. Keep in check your spelling and grammar and write from your heart. Don't work on finding 'your voice,' it's already there.

Find a Niche or Unique Selling Point for your Blog.

This is one I've always had problems with.
A niche is a focused, targetable part of the market. (Not a shallow recess in a wall, although this might be somewhere you may want to go and hide on a bad blog day.)
Some people do really well in their niches. In blogging you will find very popular bloggers in cooking, crafting or technology niches for example, but you have to be very good at writing in your niche to claim that part of the market. 
What if you want to claim a wider audience? Mixing up niches or making them undefined defeats the object of being a niche.
Many bloggers will prefer to be in a wider circle of subjects for their blogs A crossover can be fun and interesting. Mummy bloggers may like writing recipe posts for example. I think people waste too much time in finding their niche and should find a circle of wider interests instead.
The unique selling point could be a different matter, what makes your blog different from all the other ones out there. You may not think you have anything unique, but we all do somewhere, maybe in the layout of your blog, the way you add your photos, the way you are as person. Don't sweat too much over it, I bet others will notice it before you do.

What Kind of Bloggers Become Great?

Here are a few examples of great bloggers that I've seen during my time in the blogging world.

Doing Something Different.

There is a big blogger that started a trend of writing their blog in someone else's voice, in this example, the voice of their child. When this blogger started doing this it was a fresh new idea and that's how she became big. Lots of other bloggers have followed her example but few have grown so big. The thing with doing something different, is that it's only different for the first to do it!


This of course can be a niche and very good one for those with a talent for the art of photography. There are, however, a few more generic blogs that have grown big because of their fabulous photographs. People cannot resist a photo or two. 
These day though, more and more people are producing great photographs on their blog. In fact, it's almost expected now. With cameras more accessible and even mobile phones capturing some great shots, it's practically a sin not to scatter your posts with some lovely photos. If you can't get the hang of photography you can grab your pics elsewhere, so long as you abide by the rules of copyright. Do not believe you can just grab a photo from anywhere you please.


Some of the best and biggest bloggers, and in particular, those who are always at the front when awards are given, have brilliant humour in their blogs. We all like a good laugh, particularly when it's something we can relate to. There is no 'but' with this one, I think humour will always be a hit providing the writer has a real talent for it. The blogging world may get saturated with humour but people will always enjoy it. 

So, what if you are not incredibly talent in a niche, fantastically humorous, a superb photographer or can't come up with something totally original

My advice would be:

STOP - Think about why you are writing your blog and what do you want from it. A clear focus will help you achieve more.

GET READY - Prepare everything, take care with every post. Don't write rubbish just to get a post out. People will appreciate well thought out posts with spelling and grammar checked.

GO- Get yourself 'out there.' Use social media, not just for dropping your post links and spamming, but talk to people, make friends, give lots of blog love back to the community. Go to events and meet ups if you can. Let people know who you really are.

Final Note: Some people get big by being nasty or opinionated. You'll get everyone swarming for a say if you write something relevant but controversial. Do a post about something you hate about bloggers and you'll get tons of page hits and people either agreeing or disagreeing with you. You'll get shares and retweets as bloggers debate your cheek or your brilliance. But beware, as this type of popularity comes with pitfalls. I'll let you work out what they might be.

 what makes a great blogger

Let's Talk Mommy

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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