Autumn Fashion

I’ve said before that I’m not a fashionista of any kind, but recently I’ve found myself on the plus size website simplybe.co.uk and buying the odd dress here and there, I even found a lovely dress in Sainsburys a few weeks ago for a work do, that I have found can be dressed up or down and have worn often already, and luckily it goes really well with my Hotter shoes, which are a lovely autumn colour right?

So even though we are only in August and have hardly even had a summer yet, I’ve been thinking of ways I can incorporate my recent purchases when the weather inevitably turns, and quite simply I will be adding boots and a smart jacket into the equation. Of course my Oberwerth bag will be tagging along with me everywhere so I will be considering that.

I have also had a little think about the skirt and tights combo, which I’ve admired for a while but never got around to trying out.

As we approach the end of the summer, many are predicting the next autumn fashion trend, and if you take a look at the big magazines and high end fashion sites there are plenty of bizarre things that are popping up for the autumn season, including statement chokers and velvet, but I’m not that brave and I think I’ll stick to the more reserved ‘fashion’ thank you very much. However I have had my eye on Irregular Choice shoes for a while now!

So whilst this isn’t a fashion post as such, and I’m not brave enough to share a photo of myself in my lovely dresses as yet, do you think it would be interesting to hear my thoughts on fashion or shall I stick to what I know? Let me know in the comments below. I think it could be interesting to follow my discovery of some clothing and other ‘things’ from the fashion industry what do you think?

How To Get Freestuff For Anything

If you’re wondering how you can get free stuff for anything, you should know that you can get anything for free if you know how to get it.

If you’re into coffee, there are several coffee brands that offer a free cup of coffee. For Caribou Coffee, you only need to make a web-based account to get a cup of coffee totally free. For Starbucks, you only need to request an employee to get a Starbucks card in your next visit, then file it online. With Krispy Kreme coffee, register on the official Krispy Kreme website to get exclusive offers, including a free moderate drink (plus another in your birthday).

If you want free treats, you’re in for a treat. If you like Godiva chocolate, sign up with Godiva’s Rewards Club to get a piece of free chocolate once a moth at a participating store. For Pretzelmaker, join the eatery’s mailing list at pretzelmaker.com for a “buy one, get one free” coupon. If you like eating at the Cheesecake Factory, let the waiter know that it’s your birthday (even if it’s not). By the end of the meal, you will be treated to a birthday cake with serenade.

For ice cream, join Friendly’s Birthday Club to get a free three-scoop sundae when you buy any adult entrée. You will also receive birthday offers for your loved ones as well as you. Join the Birthday Club to get a free scoop coupon and discounts on your ice cream cake. If you join Cold Stone Creamery’s Birthday Club, you will get a free treat. You can get free ice cream anywhere by looking out for ice cream shops for free taste test to customers.

If you like free entertainment (who doesn’t?), you can rent a movie for free on your birthday when you sign up with Hollywood Video. If you like going around visiting local attractions, there are many amusement parks, zoos, museums and theatres that offer birthday specials. Be sure to call and verify for birthday specials.

If you enjoy your lunch or dinner at Outback Steakhouse, TGIF and QDOBA, you can actually get free appetizers. Just do some research on how you can get your free stuff.

If you would like to get your hands on some of free stuff like bars of chocolate, bottles of hand cream and so much more, your best bet is to go to a website that gathers all that information on free stuff and samples, rather go to individual companies and check out each of their offers, which would only take too much of your time. Just go to Google and search “just free stuff“.

You should sign up with these websites using a separate email account so you don’t get flooded with spam email. Once you have an account, get a hold of your free stuff. It may take some time before the free stuff arrives, but we promise you, it will be worth the wait.

Thank You Teacher

Dear teacher,

I know it’s usually at the end of the year that you receive gratitude from parents and guardians, lots of mugs, chocolate and cards, but this year teacher I wanted to say thank you, for all the things I know you will be doing for my children this year in advance.

Thank you for the cheerful way you will greet the children in the morning, no matter how exhausted you are, for nodding and smiling and taking time to reassure the worried new parents, and old, and for the kind words you always seem to find.

Thank you for the patience you show to the children as they settle back into their new routines, all at different speeds, you know you have deadlines and targets from ‘above’ but you care for the children too and take time to wipe their tears.

Thank you for seeing that little disagreement and stepping in, and for explaining to the children how to interact, encouraging friendships and preventing rows, skills that will last them a life to come.

Thank you for the hours and hours you give of your free time, planning and marking, thinking and worrying, the hours we don’t see, the strain we can’t understand.

Thank you for listening to the children telling you their important news, their excitement and concerns, and for giving them a voice, and confidence to use it.

Thank you for being there and caring about the children as if they were your own, investing your time and energy and going over and above the call of duty, as so many of you do.

Thank you for encouraging and helping to shape the future generation and giving them the opportunity to shine, ensuring they know their worth and all whilst having fun.

Thank you of course for teaching our children about the world, how fascinating it is, the way it works, the things that have passed and how to be a wonderful part of it.

I appreciate your efforts and I know so many others do, we see the good work you do, we see the positive effect you have on our children, and so thank you and have a great year.

A parent.

Window to the Womb Bristol

My sister in law is having a baby! I’ve known her since she was 4 years old and I feel very old right now. That aside we were kindly invited along to see my little nephew on the screen in 4D by Window to the Womb in Bristol, and here’s what happened.

Surprisingly we arrived on time, after a nice journey over the Severn Bridge, and we wondered what the rooms were going to be like, because the building looked quite small from the outside, inside however it was plenty big enough for a lovely bright reception, waiting rooms and the scan room. There was even a play area in the waiting room for any younger family members that were coming to a scan. 

Once we had booked in and had a little look around we waited in the spacious waiting room, which had music playing and plenty to read and look at. One of us had to visit the ladies room due to a little human sat on their bladder and even that was clean and tidy.

We had a bit of a wait because there were lots of uncooperative babies that day, but the staff kept us informed and nothing was too much trouble.

When we were called into the room for the scan I was instantly impressed with how relaxing it was, I’ve obviously been to a fair few scans during my own pregnancies but this room was not clinical in any way shape or form, and the lovely music playing was really relaxing. 

As the scan began the sonographer explained what was going to happen and that she’d try and get us some good images.

At this point the baby came into view and the big screens on the walls meant we could all see him really clearly, he was happily floating around and just relaxing, we already knew what the sex of the baby was so that wasn’t a surprise, but he wasn’t shy about showing us anyway! 

Once the 4D part of the scan kicked in the room fell silent, we were all in awe and even though he was a bit mischievous we saw his lovely little face for a while and his heart beat. The classical music paired with the tiny baby on the screen and two happy parents might have brought a tear to my eye as well, it really was a lovely moment.

We did have to go out and try to move the baby a bit by walking around, but this only served to help him get his foot right up in front of his face, and he seemed happy that way. So we left him be and took what we had.

I wasn’t sure what happens after a 4D scan but the parents get to sit down and choose the images they want to have printed out, and get a disc of the whole experience, depending on the package, even that was explained and actioned really quickly. Nothing is rushed and all the customers on site are able to sit and relax on sofas and chairs and chat without any pressure.

My sister in law and her partner have said it was one of the best days of their lives and are now proudly showing their beautiful little boy to the world and I could not be happier for them. Not long until we meet him in person and we can’t wait.

Thank you to Window to the Womb Bristol for letting us have this experience, it was emotional, outstanding and the facilities and staff were all excellent. It will be a time to cherish forever so it really is appreciated.

Dewstow Gardens and Grottoes Review

This weekend my Dad and I decided to take the girls to Dewstow Gardens and Grottoes in Caldicot. I have taken my eldest daughter there on one of our ‘Mummy and Daughter’ days and she absolutely loved it, so when our original plans fell through and we were trying to think of an alternative she came up with the suggestion.

Dewstow Gardens and Grottoes were created in 1893 by Mr Henry Roger Keane Oakley, one of his main interests included cultivation of ferns, tropical flowers and plants and he created the gardens (described by the older generation as a wondrous and magical place), with glass houses, ponds, ornaments, fountains, rock gardens and many trees from around the world. The gardens are described as ‘hidden’ as for many years the gardens and grottoes were hidden under tonnes of soil and it was only 15 years ago that they were rediscovered and excavated. I for one am very glad this happened and I will show you why.

We arrived late morning and it was quite quiet so we paid and picked up our animal trail quiz to follow around, my eldest loves things like that, and as we wandered through to the first garden area all I heard from my youngest girl was- “Woah, look at that! Stepping stones! Ooh a butterfly!”, I think it was safe to say she was impressed. This first area reminds me of something you might see on a period drama on TV, with ladies walking around in their extravagant dresses and parasols. It really is beautiful, with plenty of gorgeous flowers, evergreens, stream and bridge to explore.

We then made our way underground to the first grotto, the grottoes are carved from stone and are well planted, with ponds that house real live fish, more exotic plants and ferns plus plenty of little water features and some animal clues dotted around for the children to tick off their quiz.

Once we had found our way through the various underground tunnels we discovered one of the old glass house structures, which had a little family of swallows (or swifts, we couldn’t work out which one) and we really enjoyed watching the parents feeding the babies, theyworked so hard! I did try catching a picture but they are too quick for me.

After walking through the Alligator pit, and some more tunnels found ourselves in the beautiful grounds of the house, wandering through the walkways, around fountains and watching the many dragonflies and damselflies going about their business, it was lovely to see the wildlife thriving.

The one thing that put a bit of a dampener on the day for us though was the amount of wasps around the cafe, it put us off eating there and my Dad got stung as well, lucky they didn’t get me as I am a huge wimp and would have cried. But there’s not really a lot you can do about that when you are visiting such an open area with so many flowers and sweet treats. Plus it’s that time of year again.

Overall we really enjoyed our day out at Dewstow Gardens and Grottoes, the children found it magical, I really enjoyed taking photos and watching the dragonflies dancing around. As days out go this is really a hidden gem, I would recommend the gardens to anyone, however it would be tricky for anyone with wheels to navigate the underground areas I think. The other grassy areas would be fine though and there are still plenty of green areas to explore.

For more information visit the Dewstow Gardens and Grottoes website here- Dewstow

Real Wales Tours Summer Sundowner

I have been wanting to visit the Glamorgan Heritage Coast for a long time now, I had heard great things about Southern down and the many beautiful places to discover near there, so was delighted when I was asked along to the Real Wales Tours blogger event last month.

Before the day arrived the company owner and tour guide Nia kept in touch to make sure we knew the arrangements and gave us all the information we could possibly need. I had mentioned that my fitness levels are very low and Nia assured me we wouldn’t be doing anything too strenuous.

So myself Jamie, Hannahand Kaciemet Nia and were chauffeur driven to the beautiful Dunraven Bay, along the way we learnt a bit more about Nia and her vision for Real Wales Tours, Nia explained that she really wanted to share the real Wales that she knows and loves with as many people as possible, tourists and locals alike. We also had a lovely chat about the local area so our journey went really quickly.

As Nia set up on the beach for our sun set we stood in the waves taking photos and taking in our surroundings, we finished the evening sat on the beach toasting marshmallows and hot chocolate listening to ghost stories and hearing the haunting sounds of the waves moving the rocks along the shore.

We didn’t quite get the spectacular sunset we were hoping for but we did manage to discover a beautiful place, learn a little bit about our coastline and for me experience something new.

I will definitely be visiting Dunraven Bay in the future and I loved this Summer Sundowner experience. Thank you to Nia and Real Wales Tours. I will also be taking some more tours around South Wales as well, as even though I was born and raised here I am clearly missing out on some gems!

 

 

The Freddie Mercury Project

It has to be said the Freddie Mercury is a true legend, I grew up singing Queen songs rather than nursery rhymes and I know I am not alone, and now, without any real encouragement, my eldest daughter has become a huge fan also. So when we saw the Freddie Mercury Project advertised both of us were really excited to go and see what it was all about.

We were kindly asked to review The Freddie Mercury Project from Sinfonia Cymru (a young, talented and innovative orchestra in Wales) at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, and didn’t know what to expect from either the orchestra or the venue, but as soon as the musicians entered the room I realised this was to be something special, and I wasn’t disappointed.

From the very first notes the room filled with atmosphere and emotion, I was instantly impressed by the skill and the attention to detail that the orchestra had, the togetherness and how attentive they all were. There was an element of fun as well and some of the girls were rather enthusiastic on that section of Bohemian Rhapsody that has everyone head banging along, did I mention that Sinfonia Cymru is described as ‘progressive’? I guess they have to be to take on Mr Mercury’s incredible songs, from Bicycle Race, including bicycle bells, to Love of my Life which gave me chills, down to who Wants to Live Forever which was by far my favourite piece played, there wasn’t a thing that didn’t work in my opinion.

I was a little concerned about the fact that nobody would be singing at this show, it was purely music and I wondered how Freddie Mercury’s showmanship could ever be replicated. Well that was left to Vlad Maistorovici, who as composer, conductor and violin soloist had his work cut out for him, however I think he did an outstanding job, of not only pulling the whole orchestra together, in time, with enthusiasm, but he also played many of the solo parts of the songs that Freddie would have belted out, with his violin alone. I honestly don’t know how else to explain it other than he did it justice and I think Freddie would have been impressed!

This team of musicians also included the very talented pianist Robin Green and Harry Cameron-Penny on the clarinet who was mesmerising to watch, both incredible musicians and both adding something unique to the whole ensemble. The piano sections of Bohemian Rhapsody were spot on and my girl chatted excitedly about this at the end, she couldn’t believe how it sounded exactly as it does on the recordings, he even played the piano in an unusual way at one point. Harry gave an air of confidence that made me feel as though he didn’t have to put any effort into his solo performances, making it comfortable and entertaining to watch, it was almost as if he just made it up as he went and still sounded flawless, a real talent.

 

I won’t pretend to know if the notes were all spot on as I am not musical myself, but I do know that as someone who wasn’t sure what to expect from an orchestra playing Freddie Mercury’s songs, I was absolutely blown away by every single part of the show, Vlad was incredible and brought Freddie’s spirit to life momentarily for me, Robin and Harry were a pleasure to watch/listen to, and we enjoyed it so much that I bought tickets for the next night at The Riverfront theatre. This time taking my Dad (who is a big Queen fan) and my youngest daughter, and they both loved the show as well! I think this is a true testament to Sinfonia Cymru as all ages were clearly entertained.

 

I think we witnessed something special in the Freddie Mercury Project, and think that the effort and skill poured into this production did not fail to impress. The standing ovation at both shows we went to echoed this as well I think.

Thank you Sinfonia Cymru!

A Guide To Finding Your Ideal Foundation

The beauty industry in the UK is one of the most popular and profitable being worth approximately over £17 million and statistics indicate that this will increase as the year progresses.

While beauty may be great for the national economy, it is not beneficial for the consumer’s pocket. Records show that the average British female will spend an overwhelming £100,000 on beauty products in her lifetime. It is seen that facial beauty products occupy the largest proportion of this amount with the average annual spending amount being approximately £279.41. That calculates to be £18,000 or so across the woman’s overall life span.

One of the top attributes all women aspire towards is having a healthy complexion. Statistics show that approximately 24% of females cite dry and cracked skin as their largest concern, with oily complexions following closely at 22%. Contrary to popular belief, acne is not the most concerning attribute coming in at only 15%; however, it does still contribute to the disruption of a healthy of complexion. This explains why foundation is another big facial beauty product expense.

By using a high quality foundation from a designer brand, it is possible to gain a healthy complexion. Unfortunately, this designer brand setting can cost the average person up to £30 or more; therefore, it is essential that we find the best foundation first time around to avoid unnecessary expenditure. While colour-matching is often performed in-store, the artificial lighting and professional application can result in choosing the incorrect product.

Needless to say, it would be ideal if we could take home generous samples of brand foundations to try each for several days. You would not have to waste money on products that are not well-suited to your skin type or tone.

The positive news is that free beauty products are now available from MegaFreeStuff who offer Freebies UK they have helped with finding you a full month’s worth of foundation samples from designer brands. The products can be collected from store counters and tried at home. I tried the items myself to find the perfect foundation for my skin tone and here is what I discovered:

 

The Clinique Superblanced™ Silk Makeup SPF 15 10-Day Sample

As part of the free samples selection was this Clinique foundation product. A new, highly rated item that is ideal if you are searching for a foundation offering sheer to moderate coverage. It has an oil-free base with a natural, ‘naked’ matte finish making it perfect for combination or oily skin types.

The unique formula of Clinique’s Silk Makeup sample is beneficial because it adds moisture to the skin removing oil where required. This mixture not only improves the skin’s complexion, but also makes the wear comfortable throughout the day. The SPF protection is a bonus feature helping the skin appear vibrant and as attractive as it would without a foundation.

Even with the advantages of the product, a bottle of this foundation costs a mere £23 making it ideal for your skin and pocket.

The Clinique Superblanced™ Silk Makeup SPF 15 foundation was the first sample I tried and I was initially very impressed with its performance. The assistant at the beauty store matched my skin tone well applying blusher and lipstick in addition. I walked out of Boots pharmacy feeling like a model, convinced I had located my perfect product. Unfortunately, this was not the case.

As time passed, I attempted to replicate the initial look created by the assistant at Boots. Sadly, I found this procedure too difficult to perform and I found that the foundation was not blending correctly. It began appearing too rigid and heavy for my preference and I was no longer interested in the formula.

 

The Estee Lauder Double Wear Stay-in-Place Makeup SPF 10 10-Day Sample

Voted first in the United Kingdom, the Double Wear by Estee Lauder is an iconic foundation beauty product. Its promise to keep the wearer appearing fresh and natural-looking is the base of its cult following. Regardless of what you are doing, where you are, the climate or culture, Estee Lauder ensure that you will continue looking flawless.

The beauty product is available in 44 skin tone colours making it near impossible to not find a foundation to match your skin.

When collecting my sample from the House of Fraser, the Estee Lauder beauty counter assistant provided me with information regarding the product and its advantages. She used an eye match tool to find the ideal colour for me and tested a sample near my neck.

I will admit, I was not keen on the foundation in the beginning as I prefer lighter formulas. I was also put off by the product’s supposed 24-hour durability. I felt the foundation was not suitable to my face and as the product was not applied to my face in-store, I had yet to determine whether or not it was worth my time.

When I used the sample at home, I began to take an interest and it grew on me. While I do find the formula to be slightly heavy, the colour tone match was perfect and looked natural. I am also highly impressed with the buildability of the foundation.

 

The Smashbox Studio Skin 15-Hour Wear Hydrating Foundation 7-Day Sample

As noted in Glamour Magazine, the Smashbox Studio Skin foundation is one of the most beneficial beauty products and is definitely worth spending money on. Created without the use of chemicals, oils or dangerous fragrances, this product can hydrate the skin without unwanted shine.

The Smashbox Studio Skin Hydrating foundation is a highly practical option for daily use. It is perspiration-resistant and offers 15-hour coverage for the wearer, which is ideal for people who have busy lives or enjoy attending the gym after work.

The question remains: is this product ideal for your skin tone?

Disregarding the popular Studio Skin Primer, I had not used a Smashbox product before in my beauty regime. I was slightly dubious about the product; however, the counter assistant at Boots assured me that this foundation was fantastic. In fact, to convince me she even threw in a hydrating prima sample.

Similar to the Estee Lauder option mentioned above, this product was tested on a small portion of my face. It was only once I returned home that I was able to see the full effect on my entire face. The result: I like the product.

Smashbox has really smashed it out of the box with this foundation. It is beneficial in that it glides on easily during application and was not too matte in appearance. Lighter than the other samples, it met my colour preference and skin tone needs.

 

The Estee Lauder Double Wear Nude Cushion Stick Radiant Makeup 10-Day Sample

A second free sample from Estee Lauder was the Double Wear Nude Cushion Stick foundation product. This was an ideal option because it presented as a liquid makeup stick and a pro tool in one.

The formula was light in weight and hydrating giving the skin a healthy complexion. It is easily used for sheer to medium coverage and can last for approximately eight hours.

Bloggers Top Bedtime Stories

This year I was determined to be organised for World Book Day, I managed to determine the costumes my daughters wished to wear in time, dug out some bits and bobs and a few minutes later we had a Matilda and Miss Trunchbull, Miss Trunchbull won the runner up prize for her efforts (she even had the uni-brow) and we had two happy little girls.

It’s incredibly important to read to children from a young age I think, I can’t remember a time when I didn’t read a bedtime story to my children, they both adore reading now and it’s lovely to see.

I was asked to be part of the #bedtimestories ebook alongside other bloggers by Adjustable Beds and thought it was a lovely idea. Even though we have many favourite books, and my eldest daughter is devouring Roald Dahl books like there is no tomorrow right now, we settled on the Stick Man by Julia Donaldson as our favourite. Here is my page-

Bedtime Stories

You can download the full ebook here- Bedtime Stories ebook

What is your favourite bed time story?

Chalk About Review

I had seen some adverts for ‘Chalk About’ at the Riverfront Theatre Newport recently and when I was asked to review the show I of course was looking forward to it, there hasn’t been a show that I haven’t enjoyed with my girls so far. I had a look at the trailer and wasn’t sure my youngest would be able to understand the content very well, but decided to take both my girls along to the show and see what it was all about.

The show started before we’d actually taken our seats, Christine and Neil were already drawing all over the floor with chalk. We took our seats and we sat and watched the duo doodling on the floor.

Then next came some interaction with the children in the audience, my eldest girl was so keen to jump up and have her silhouette drawn on the floor that she nearly bounced out of her seat to be involved, she was very proud of her shape that stayed on the floor throughout the performance.

Christine and Neil started the dialogue with the audience about the things they were told by children about what they would like to see in a children’s show, this part really made me smile, because it included dinosaurs, Beyonce, No art and no romance! This really is a snap shot of a child’s wonderful mind I thought.

ChalkAbout1So began the ‘story’, and the dancing, the very expressive and intriguing dancing, the sort of child like conversation that kept the children in the audience interested and the words that took us all on an emotional roller-coaster. I really felt as though I got to know the performers in this show, even though one of their stories wasn’t even in English, the emotions and way in which the stories were told were captivating, and showed that spoken word isn’t always necessary for communicating a story.

Amongst the dancing, talking and music there were also some white balloons, with white felt people attached, the white chalk I mentioned, oh and the white clothing of the dancers, plus some white sheets and a pretty little cloud which was white, of course. This really is a contrast to the usual children’s shows that are usually full of colour and noise, which isn’t a bad thing in my opinion, just different.

As the performers took us through the scenes, keeping us all engaged along the way I really couldn’t help feeling the emotions with the act, because everything was just so simple, it was hard not to be drawn into the performance.

During the show there was a small segment that let us hear from other children via a recording, it was again a simple idea but it was heart wrenching listening to the young voices speak of things that bother them.ChalkAbout2

At the end I was feeling quite surprised at how quickly the time had flown and just how emotional I felt, my girls sat quietly throughout and they both enjoyed it even if one of them is a bit younger than the target audience. It was lovely to see them enjoying yet another great theatre experience and they have talked about it a lot since, I think it helped them explore their own emotions and open up conversations that they might otherwise have felt difficult to approach, and they have been copying Chalk About and dancing around the room whilst talking about moving topics, which is very sweet and so funny in equal measures. I think it’svery important that children feel able to talk about things that make them sad as well as happy.

Overall I really didn’t know what to expect from Chalk About, and even once it had finished I wasn’t sure what I had seen, however I do know that I thoroughly enjoyed Chalk About and so did my girls.

Thank you to the Chalk About team and the Riverfront for a lovely afternoon with my girls.

To find more from Unicorn Theatre click here- Unicorn Theatre