Category Archives: Reviews

Frugal & Fun: A Review

I actually begged to review this ebook from Cass Bailey, Jen Walshaw and Becky Goddard-Hill, with an 11 week summer holiday stretching before me I was desperate to keep my 10 year old entertained while retaining a grasp on my sanity. Two weeks in to those holidays I’m pleased to say that so far my daughter has been kept entertained (and not threatened with remaining in her room for the duration of the holidays) and we’ve planned a whole host of other things to keeps her occupied, both when she’s with me and while she’s staying with her nan for a few weeks with the help of the ebook.

The ebook covers a whole host of planning ideas and activities to ensure that the summer holidays will go with a bang and not break the bank. It starts with a planning section with a suggested activity a day to make sure that you know exactly what is available in your area throughout the holidays and to ensure you have everything you need to hand to keep the kids entertained. Although I try to plan ahead I never quite seem to manage it so having it laid out before me in such an easy to follow way really helped me to get organised and research what was going on in the local area, as well as getting the house ready for the holidays – well as much as you can when you have a 6 month old flying about in a walker and destroying everything you do!

One of the first things we did was create a boredom jar, I won’t ruin what it is by telling you, but it is an absolutely brilliant idea. One I’d never have thought of and has proved invaluable in keeping my daughter occupied. We also did a wish book early on too and are gradually ticking things off our list that we have done – there’s even a separate one for when my daughter is staying with her nan!

Having an older daughter I let her read the ebook and pick out activities she wanted to do herself. So far she fancies making a patriotic cake, building a den (it seems no matter how old kids are they still want to build a den!), and trying out the rest of the recipes in the ebook. We’ve had a BBQ and made Smores for the 4th of July, have a Mexican themed meal she’s making tonight, tapas at the weekend and she helped make a Greek themed meal (her favourite period of history at school is the Greeks apparently) last week too. She also made a photo collage of herself, her friends and our family, which living so far away from them was a really nice thing for her to do and she’s even used her pocket money to turn them into proper posters using an online photo company. That is just the tip of the iceberg, we have so much more planned and certainly no reason to be bored over the coming weeks and if she is, that’s when the boredom jar will come in handy (did I tell you how much I LOVE that idea?).

There are so many ideas to keep children of all ages occupied within the Six sections of the ebook, which are:

The Olympics

The Great Outdoors

Around the World

Heroes and Heroines

Home Sweet Home

Colours

The ebook is currently selling on Amazon for £2.99 and it’s worth every penny! I’ve saved money by creating fun activities at home using things we already have, finding out about local free events, I’ve not killed my ten year old (yet) or resorted to cracking open the wine by 4pm (again, there’s still time for this of course – I’m only human after all!)  and above all we’ve been having loads of fun. You can also find more ideas on the website Frugal & Fun which will be added to throughout the summer.

Please note I was provided with a copy of this ebook for the purpose of the review. For further information regarding my disclosure policy please click on the Disclosure tab above.

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One Perfect Summer

Ever wondered about your first love? The one that got away? I did, and to cut a long story short, it took ten years but we found each other again, met up, fell in love all over again and we now have a 5 month old baby. Another blogger once told me it was like my own personal fairy tale, I’m not sure fairy tales include the use of facebook to find eachother, but I guess you could call it that.

This book is pretty much in the same vein, Alice is 18 and about to start Uni when she goes on a 6 week holiday with her mum to Dorset. Convinced she’ll be bored out of her mind, she isn’t really looking forward to it until she claps eyes on Joe. Tall, slim, gorgeous Joe, who just so happens to work behind the bar in the local pub. It’s love at first sight and the two fall hard and fast, their happiness only shattered by an unimaginable family secret which sees them being ripped apart.

A distraught Alice finally manages to move on with her life, enjoying Uni, making new friends and even marrying what should be the man of her dreams, yet she can’t forget about the man who first captured her heart. Joe’s life has changed unimaginably over the last nine or ten years, does he still remember that summer all those years ago or has he moved on?

Well I’m not going to tell you! You’ll have to find out for yourself! This is a great book that I managed to read within a week (very impressive with a baby!), although this was due to being on holiday and travelling to see friends and family quite a bit so I managed to read in the car, on the plane and I finished it off in the early hours of this morning while feeling rather sorry for myself after coming down with the flu.

Although based at first around young adults it doesn’t seem too young for a slightly *ahem* older adult to read, which I was initially worried about incase it turned out to be a book aimed at late teens. It flows easily throughout the years that pass since you first meet Alice and follow the twists and turns in her relationships, some of which you would never imagine for a second. It’s a great book, with a lovely story and the ending leaves you wanting more – I was desperate to know what happened to the characters after the ending if that makes any sense!

Please note I was sent a copy of this book for review purposes. For further information on my disclosure policy, please click on the Disclosure tab above. 

Bad Sisters

Three sisters, one deadly secret which one of them is determined to keep – at any cost. This book is a brilliant book, featuring a Nigella-esque cookery show hostess married to the hottest property the world of Rugby has to offer, the fake wife of a gay Hollywood star who finds herself out on her ear once her “contract” is up and she’s surplus to requirements and fiercely ambitious politicians wife Maxie. The story follows their lives, which are interesting enough until you realise there’s a rather sinister secret that is bubbling just under the surface and just how far one of them is prepared to go to keep that information quiet. With lots of unexpected twists and turns along the way,  love, intrigue and a real insight into a seriously dysfunctional family, it really is a must read for the beach this summer and I’ll definitely be reading more books by Rebecca Chance in future!

Please note I was sent a copy of this book for review purposes. Should you wish to view my disclosure policy, please click on the Disclosure tab above.

An Autumn Crush

By the time you read this I’ll be on my way to the airport, so instead of leaving my blog for a week I thought I’d try to finally get round to putting reviews up of some books I received when pregnant and since having the little one.

First up is An Autumn Crush by Milly Johnson. I actually started reading this book while I was in labour on Christmas Eve and had finished it by the time I left hospital on the 27th. The midwives found it hysterical that I was so into my book that when I arrived at the hospital in the early hours of Christmas Morning at 8cm dialated I was still keen to keep reading my book to pass the time in the delivery room. After my gorgeous baby was born I carried on reading the book to kill time while my partner was back at home looking after our daughter and I was without any other visitors to keep me entertained what with living so far away from them.

The book focuses on Juliet, a headstrong divorcee who advertises for a flat mate, after a few unsuitable candidates Floz comes along who herself has been through the mill relationship wise. They get on like a house on fire and when Juliet’s twin brother Guy meets Floz he develops a crush on her that turns him into a gibbering wreck. Every time he so much as opens his mouth around her he manages to put his foot straight into it and leads Floz to believe that not only is he rude but that he can’t stand her. It couldn’t be further than the truth of course and he sets about trying to win her heart. Guy of course has a best mate in the form of Steve, a wrestling fanatic who has adored Juliet from afar for as long as he can remember, not that Juliet has ever thought of him in that way, infact she can’t stand him. They do however end up becoming “friends with benefits” until Juliet makes a series of discoveries that turn all their lives upside down. Can their friendships survive and do Guy & Steve get the girl? You’ll have to read it to find out!

I loved this book, if I couldn’t put it down while contracting away without any pain relief it must have been a bloody good read to say the least! It was easy to read, had a great story line and I couldn’t resist reading more. The book made you care about each of the characters and really want to know how things turned out for them. I would definitely recommend it to anyone – contracting or otherwise!

Please note I was provided with a copy of this book for the purpose of this review. For further information on my disclosure policy, please click on the Disclosure tab above.

Photo Books from Pixum

Having recently had a baby the chance to compile an album of photos of him and his big sister was something I couldn’t wait to do. As with all new mums I’d gotten rather snap happy with my camera since the little ones birth, yet due to the age of the digital photo (which wasn’t around when I had my daughter 10 years ago unless you could afford the astronomical prices for a digital camera back then!) they were all on my netbook, rather than in an album or in frames.

I’ve since rectified that by creating a beautiful photo book of my gorgeous boy, incorporating photos of him from birth until he was 14 weeks old and it is something I will always treasure.

The book itself is a large 26 page hardcover book, in powder blue with 4 photos of my baby boy running down the length of the cover, along with his name and date of birth in the centre. Inside the pages are a mixture of powder blue pages and patterns in the same colour, with groups of photos arranged exactly how I wanted them. I really am pleased with it and the quality of the photos and the finish of the book are fantastic, it looks like it should cost a fortune, yet it was just £24.99. I could have just bought a normal photo album and ordered prints of the photos, but it would have cost the same and wouldn’t have the same professional look. A photo album would be at least £10 – £15 for a proper baby one, plus £9.36 for the amount of photos I had to be printed and that’s not even factoring in p&p so I think the price is pretty good when I compare the two options.

As readers of my blog will know I don’t feature images of my children here where they can be identified. This photo has therefore been taken from the Pixum website.

The photo books from Pixum would make an excellent addition to any family album collection. Whether, like mine they are to capture the first few months or year of your new baby’s life, your favourite family photos, holidays, your wedding or even just an amazing day out, they’re perfect to capture those all important memories within and so they aren’t just confined to your computers files and folders. They’re also easy to put together, with a step by step guide to help you arrange your photo book exactly how you want it and if you’re worried about photo quality there is even a widget that will tell you if the photo quality of a certain sized photo will be too low, which is handy. There are plenty of editing tools available too, along with themed pages, not to mention different sizes and styles of photo book. Plus they start from just £5.99 so suit pretty much any budget!

Another image from the Pixum website – makes me fancy a trip to Ibiza actually!

Please note I was given a voucher to the value of £25 with which I purchased the above mentioned photo book for review purposes. For further information regarding my disclosure policy, please click on the Disclosure tab above.

Monkey Bars

So I bet you’re wondering what an earth a monkey bar is? Think a huge (bigger than your iPad) 500g slab of chocolate with interesting flavour combinations and you’d be pretty close!

Designed to celebrate all that is great about the UK and London in 2012, what else could these bars be called but names derived from cockney rhyming slang, the name monkey bars is itself slang referring to it’s weight – monkey = 500 in cockney rhyming slang. There are five bars in the collection – Adam & Eve (Believe), Shake & Shiver (River), Daisy Roots (Boots) , Nanny Goat (Boat) and Airs & Graces (Races), all of which come in bright packaging featuring the London skyline and numerous landmarks and items and emblems  associated with the UK.

I was sent both Adam & Eve and Nanny Goat to try and luckily as they both contain nuts the daughter wasn’t interested, although she did kindly offer to suck the chocolate off the nuts and spit them out for me, needless to say I declined that delightful offer!

First up I got my teeth into the Adam & Eve bar, a creamy Venezuelan milk chocolate with a lovely orange flavour, which was subtle rather than overpowering, punctuated with whole hazelnuts, which really worked. I love chocolate and orange but I wouldn’t ordinarily pick up a bar with nuts in it as I’m not really that much of a fan, but it was delicious and the hazelnuts gave the bar an extra bite to it.

Nanny Goat was somewhat of a revelation, having not been one to enter into the salty and sweet combination of so many desserts and sweets that are available these days, so I was a bit wary of it. I needn’t have worried, it reminded me of the peanut brittle I used to make for my grandad with my nan years ago, but with the added bonus of creamy milk chocolate. It was quite simply delicious!

Both bars are large, perfect for sharing so I’m told, and they do break into handy 33g blocks incase you are feeling generous with your chocolate. Each of the bars was studded with nuts and packed full of flavour and you could tell the chocolate itself was something special and of great quality. I’ve always been a fan of Montezuma’s since I first read about the couple who founded the company back in 2000 with just bags of enthusiasm and a dream that has taken them from lawyers to chocolatiers. My favourite truffle being the Colombian Cappuccino, I never tire of seeing what amazing flavour combinations they come up with next – lime, chilli & tequila blended with dark chocolate anyone? I’m definitely a fan of the Monkey Bars and plan to grab some of the Great British Pudding range bars soon too.

If like me you fancy getting your hands on some delicious chocolate from Montezuma’s you can visit them online or in one of their 5 shops (Brighton, Chichester, Winchester, Kingston-upon-Thames & Spitalfields).

Please note the above mentioned chocolate bars were provided for review. For information regarding my disclosure policy, please click on the Disclosure tab above.

Rocky Road to Caramel Easter Egg

When asked to review an egg from the Easter range by Hotel Chocolat my daughter couldn’t contain her excitement, especially when I told her she could choose the egg she would like to review. It took a good hour or so of browsing the website but she finally settled upon the Rocky Road to Caramel Extra Thick Easter Egg. She almost combusted when it arrived and set about devouring it at a rate of knots.

The egg arrives in a gorgeous box tied with ribbon and is wrapped in gold foil. It’s accompanied by a menu card, for not only are you about to sample the most unbelievable egg you are also in for a few bite sized treats too in the form of 12 delicious chocolates, all of which tie in with the Rocky Road to Caramel theme and include pralines with cookies, caramels and solid chocolate chicks and bunnies.

The egg itself is definitely extra thick, it’s maybe four or five times thicker than normal Easter eggs and each half is flavoured differently. One half is packed full of puffed rice, cookies and chocolate chunks with a white chocolate drizzle and the other is milk chocolate with a layer of caramel chocolate. Neither my daughter or I could decide which was our favourite part of the egg, they were both simply amazing.

As for our favourite chocolates my daughter went for the chick and the bunny, I on the other hand love the orange praline and the praline cup – I do love a good praline! They were however all amazing and I’d quite happy demolish the lot all over again!

The egg is priced at £26 and although it is more expensive than any egg I’ve ever bought my daughter, or indeed anyone else for that matter, we both agreed that it was certainly worth the money. The amount and quality of the chocolate used in the egg far exceeds that used in a normal egg that you can pick up in a supermarket or corner shop. I’ve now been informed that I will be making several purchases from the Easter range this year including the Classic Egg & Soldiers, Eggsplosion Slab and the Easter Chicken Coup! (not that I would complain if I wasn’t now on a diet – well maybe just a little bit won’t hurt!)