Sunday 8 December 2013

The Croods DVD Review

With these dark, and cold nights I like nothing better to do than getting our comfy pj's on, gathering some tasty snacks and settling down on the sofa to watch a good family friendly DVD. With this in mind it was lovely to cosy up with the children to watch DreamWorks Animations The Croods. The film was a blockbuster hit at the cinema and is written and directed by Chris Sanders (Lilo & Stitch) and Kirk DeMicco (Space Chimps) and has been promoted as one of the must-see animated films of the year. We never got to see this at the cinema so there was much excitement from the children as we sat down, ready to press play!
The Croods, Ugga (mum), Grug (dad), Eep, Thunk and Sandy (children) and the mother law, Gran, are a cave family, who, when their cave is destroyed, set out to discover and explore a wonderful new landscape. This new land brings with it exciting adventures, amazing creatures and even strange surprises! Eep was a character we all fell in love with a little bit as the courageous, feisty teenager, looking for excitement and certainly reminded me of a certain someone I know ;)

We really enjoyed this pre-historic tale, which mimics many modern-day family issues, and it kept both my 7 and 12 year old entertained throughout. One of their favourite scenes was when Grug and Guy, the heroic, clever and inventive cave boy get stuck in the sticky tar, and with the help of Belt the three toed sloth, they get set free. The animated scenery, especially of the new world is stunning and definitely keeps you attracted to the colourful film.

The Croods is ultimately a story of 'change' and how to learn to adapt to new and different surroundings - we really liked the way the relationship between the (over protective) father and (wanting to be independent) daughter blossomed over time, it was really quite touching. The Croods would make a great family film to watch over Christams and is released on DVD and Blu-Ray tomorrow, 9th December, so a perfect treat just in time for Christmas. There are some great extra special features too, including 'Belts Cave Journal', 'Croods Cuts: Lost scenes' and more!

We'll definitely be getting the Christams chocolates out again for this one - the sign of a good watch, that the DVD doesn't just stay on the shelf gathering dust, but gets watched again, and again...

Disclosure: we were sent a DVD copy of The Croods (via Mumsnet) for the purposes of this blog post. All words and opinions my own. 

Friday 29 November 2013

Ferrero Rocher Time!

With Christmas fast approaching, it must be time to get the chocolates out! With myself and my family being rather partial to a chocolate or two, we were more than happy to try out some Ferrero Rocher chocolate delights! For me, Christmas isn't Christmas without a Ferrero Rocher chocolate in hand, and a pack or two often goes in the trolley whilst I'm doing the Christmas shopping. We all gathered round to open this lovely hamper that turned up.

To be honest we weren't quite sure what may be hidden within the sparkly golden straw, and it felt like a lucky dip delving in to see what chocolate treat we could find. 

I don't think anything could have prepared us for the delicious Ferrero Rocher surprises that we did indeed find in there!

Oh my! In the hamper was a pretty tin of Raffaello by Ferrero Rocher, a Ferrero Rocher Christmas Tree, Ferrero Rocher Gold Tin, Ferrero Rocher Cone, a Ferrero Collection box, two mini gift boxes and even some pretty Christmas tree decorations. A chocoholics dream!

We really didn't know where to start. As it was, I was very keen to try out one of the Raffaello chocolates, 'light and tempting layers of wafer, a delicately creamy centre and a toasted almond, all finished with a sprinkling of coconut'. These were delicious, the creamy centre being my most favourite bit. The children couldn't wait to get stuck into one of the original Ferrero Rocher chocolates, it felt such a posh treat to them unwrapping the sparkling gold paper, and they may have helped themselves to one more whilst I wasn't looking ;) Being a fan of dark chocolate, Mr. Poppins was eager to taste one of the Rondnoir chocolates from the Ferrero collection box, the Rondnoir, 'which has a new hazelnut centre encased in a dark chocolate pearl - giving a rich and rounded flavour - perfect for a cold winter's night' sounds delicious. Having never tried one before, he just loved it, and went straight in for another. I think its fair to say that we may now have our chocolates covered for Christmas, and I can't resist having some dotted around the home in vintage dishes for guests to help themselves to also. At this rate I doubt they'll be any left for the Christmas table ;)   
As for the two mini gift boxes, well they have put aside ready to be popped in a couple of special peoples stockings, we all love a tangerine in our Christmas stockings, but who can say no to a little Ferrero Rocher in there too :)
Disclosure: We were sent a hamper with various Ferrero Rocher chocolates to try out for the purposes of this blog post. All words and opinions my own.

Thursday 21 November 2013

Giveaway Winner!

Thank you so much for wanting to go in the giveaway hat :) A winner has now been chosen, so I shall commence with the obligatory drum roll...

The winner is...

As the photograph shows, and with my seven year old having picked the winning name from the hat, it's the lovely Louise from Sew Scrumptious !!!! Well done to Louise, who,  amongst many wonderful things, is the U.K. co-ordinator for Dress A Girl Around The World  The charity involves getting people to make and send pillowcase dresses and shorts to girls and boys living in poverty in developing countries. Infact I made a little dress in 2011 from a pillowcase for the charity and felt honored to be part of such a worthwhile campaign, especially as it involved my love of sewing. I really enjoyed making the little dress.

I think making another one is long over due... I shall have to make some shorts this time! Back to the giveaway, well done Louise your pretties shall be on their way to you asap, enjoy :)


Tuesday 12 November 2013

Scotch-Brite™ Review & Reader Offer

Somebody somewhere must have known I needed a little help when it came to how I conduct my housework duties. I have been known to take an old run of the mill cloth to do all the chores and then just throw it away afterwards. Hmmm not very good practise I'm sure you'll agree. I was therefore rather relieved when the team at Scotch-Brite™ offered to send some cleaning products along with some Scotchguard™ protector products to help make those chores fast and easy! 

Never have I felt so cheery and excited about getting the 'housework' gloves on, and I couldn't wait to try some of the products out!

First up I thought I'd concentrate on the sink area, with us being a family who *shock horror* don't own a dishwasher, our sink gets a lot of traffic going through it on a daily basis. I thought I'd try out the Scotch-Brite ™ Kitchen Duo, with it's silver side that gently cleans whilst the coloured side scours through grease quickly and effectively.   

I found this a great product, it was really easy to use and reassuringly soft to hold and manage. You can see the difference here when I used it to clean one of the metal sink plugs - next to the one I hadn't cleaned, it certainly looks a lot more sparkly!

In fact it did a great job of all the double sink - I'm a lot more proud to pop my dishes in there now than I was before ;) 

And only my prettiest tea towels shall do for the drying up! 

Talking of pretty, for such mundane things as sponge scourers, these really are a cute pair and certainly bring a little prettiness to the kitchen.

I popped just a little water onto the sponge side - oh look at the pretty pink!!

I decided to give our enamel bread bin a good scrub - I've had it for donkey's years but am ashamed to say it has never once had a clean. It was shouting out for a spruce up as was covered in all sorts of greasy marks. It came up beautifully!

The Microfibre Kitchen Cloths worked a treat on the kitchen cupboards - its only when I came to clean them that I realised how dirty they were with many a food splash on them. The microfibre clothes were perfect for getting right into the edges.

Now they look all white, like they should be, rather than a dirty white!

Next it was time to head to the bathroom to give it a little autumnal clean! The bath was desperate for a clean and the Tub Scrubber came into its own.

With a little handle to hold, this cleaning product really was a breeze to use and I quickly got into giving the bath a good scrub.

I'm not one for harsh chemicals - so literally a little cleaning soap and scrub and it was done! 

I think the sink must have been feeling a little left out so I tackled her next using the Microfibre Bathroom cloth.

I was left with a very shiny and new looking sink after it's little clean using the cloth :)

I thought I'd finish off by going over the grout in the tiles too using the Grout Scrubber - a product I didn't even know existed. It was certainly addictive scrubbing all the dirty grime from the grout line I can tell you.

I was very pleased with how simple and effective the Scotch-Brite ™ cleaning products were, and have been delighted with the difference using them has made.
I tried out some Scotchguard ™ too, and with the wet days we are having I thought it perfect to protect some trusty boots of mine.

The suede boots are very vell worn, I wear them in all weathers, and I should probably have used a protecter from new. They are so comfy and I wanted to see if I could indeed give them a new lease of life and make them hopefully last a little longer if they were protected. I gave them a little spray following the instructions on the can.
Now, not only does the rain seem to just fall off them, but they look newer too - so a great result!

 Scotch-Brite™ are offering you the opportunity to recieve a 20% discount and free postage and packaging on all Scotch-Brite™ or Scotchguard™ protector products. The offer can be redeemed on the 3mdirect  website using the code: mums and the offer is valid until 5th January 2014.    
Disclosure: We were sent various Scotch-Brite ™ cleaning products and Scotchguard protectors for the purposes of this review post. All words and opinions are my own.  

Wednesday 23 October 2013

Back to Basics

A challenge of mine at the moment when thinking of my own home d├ęcor, is to re-focus and make it as simple as it can be, and kind of get it right back to basics. With the amount of 'clutter' I collect, and my love of hoarding I'm finding the simple look is actually becoming more appealing. Too much clutter around me is beginning to unnerve me a bit and I'm definitely going to strive for a calmer look. One book I am reading that I borrowed from the library and am getting much inspiration from, is 'Pure Style Home & Garden', it offers stylish and practical ideas for furnishing, and living in your space. The book is ultimately about pairing down, trying to live with less clutter, recycling and with the idea being, the less 'things' we have to fuss about, the more we can get on with living.  

There is still so much to do here, at Home Sweet home, the '6 month project' never happened and I still have many a bare plaster wall! At least the 'bare plaster' vintage-y, unfinished look is becoming quite fashionable. Well, that's my excuse ;) In a way I am lucky that my ever evolving home isn't show homey looking, and definitely has a 'lived in' look - so I guess I'm practically half way there to bringing it back to its natural state which is a good thing. The book is certainly lighting up my desire to get back in touch with nature and introduce an uncluttered feel to my home. The photography also, is delightful.

 Oh, how I would love this beautiful forties cooker taking pride of place in my kitchen!

I adore the look of this kitchen and the blue and white striped cotton roller towel used for the chair covers and runner, is, in my opinion so effective.

 I am definitely going to have a go at painting old food tins to hold kitchen utensils and love this idea. Many a time I have searched in shops for pretty little storage pots, yet now realise I can get wonderful results from recycling the likes of my old baked bean, and tomato cans. You could even paint them to coordinate with the kitchen colours.

 The instructions for this little project, taken from the book are:

1. Remove the lids with the type of tin/can opener that takes off the entire lid, leaving a clean edge on the can and no lip.
2. Wash the empty cans in hot soapy water to remove the labels. If any glue remains, gently sand with a fine grade sandpaper. Sand the top rim to take off the sharp edge.
3. Apply 2 coats of eggshell paint, inside and out.   

Such a simple idea, and what better way to use up those old cans. You could also keep them unfinished and pop pretty little plants and flowers in them too!

When it comes to old furniture, I love to get my paintbrush out. Why buy brand new when you can give a quick lick of paint to a piece of vintage furniture for a unique, re loved look. I have often picked up chairs like these shown in the book for only a couple of pounds from various junk/charity shops.

Making a simple slip cover too can give a wonderful new look! Having this particular Cath Kidston fabric I can now see how super it would look and has certainly given me an idea or two.

It can just be a small item requiring a makeover, for example I was really pleased with how these wooden magazine racks came out after I gave them a quick lick of paint a while ago, and lined their bases with pretty wallpaper. They looked rather uninspiring before hand and may well have ended up in a tip. I paid around £1.50 each for them and now in my opinion look really pretty.

So, never underestimate the power of a paintbrush ;) 

When it comes to the dinning area, I can definitely be accused of making things a little too, errr, well frilly. This simple, uncluttered calm dinning space looks beautifully inviting. I can imagine loved ones, chattering away, eating simple home made food. (I'll try to shut out the reality of the food mess my 7 year old would make of the white linen table cloth)

As for my 'work in progress' bedroom - anything would be a calmer space than what I have already! I'm not going to go there -suffice to say my bedroom is currently working as a junk room - with no bed to talk of in it! Like I say I'm not going there ;) New doors are on order and to create light we've gone for panels of glass set in the door and I'm deffo going to use this idea - I have a pack or two of those lace-y curtains which are quite popular from Ikea. I bought them yonks ago - though have never been used. Now I know perfectly where they shall go. So pretty behind the door!

This bedroom also looks very inviting. Makes me want to just dive on in!

The book also touches on the garden and offers ideas for a simple, stylish outdoor space and how to make the very best of what outdoor area you have.

It also offers project instructions, eg how to make simple roman blinds, or to make a loose cover for a sofa, and many other project ideas. Its been my best friend book for many cosy nights curled up on the sofa. 

All there is to do now, is sort out this clutter of mine and get the bin bags out, see what hasn't been used or hasn't made me smile for a while and it can go! Perhaps it's because I'm getting older, but I'm just finding it more time consuming looking after clutter, I don't want to spend my time polishing the trinkets or moving around the ornaments. I don't think I could go all minimal living and it is all about getting a balance - but feel I'll have a sense of invigoration challenging myself to bring things back to basics. Hopefully I'll fall in love with my home all over again :)

I think I'll need lots of luck for the de cluttering that lays ahead - I feel I may be some time ;)


(Photographs courtesy of the book Pure Style Home & Garden)   

Monday 21 October 2013

Oral-B Triumph 5000 (with SmartGuide) Electric Toothbrush - Review

From experience, it's not that easy going off to the dentist when one has somewhat of a phobia of visiting such places. I have spoken before on here about my nervousness at taking myself off to see my dentist, however deep down, I know how important it is to keep on top of ones teeth and ensure those gums stay healthy. Unfortunately sometimes the nerves have got the better of me and I've put off (as in, I can't possibly do that day as I am washing my hair, kind of put off) going for regular check up's and have ended up paying for it (literally) in future dental work because I have left it so long. Its silly really, if I'd kept up the check up visits its very likely things could have been nipped in the bud before any treatment was required. Also being quite lazy with my manual tooth brush, not consistently brushing for the recommended 2 minutes, I doubt I was giving my teeth and gums the attention they deserved either.

 I am certainly better these days - I can logically understand my fear of going to the dentist was due to having quite a traumatic experience as a child where I needed four teeth out and have memories of being so scared of that gas mask nearing my face. I remember crying and screaming and didn't really know what was going on. I think things have much improved when dealing with young children these days and luckily my own children have no fear of the dentist, things are always explained clearly to them. Also, my aim is never to let my phobia rub off on them. I can happily say my last (on time) visit I was given a big happy gold star, and no treatment was required.

 I was offered the opportunity of reviewing the Oral-B Triumph 5000 (with SmartGuide) electric toothbrush, and with me being a manual toothbrush user, I really wanted to try it out and see for myself the difference an electric toothbrush like this could make to the look and feel of my teeth and gums. Also I knew all the family could benefit from trying it out. For complete oral care I was sent some Oral-B Pro-Expert premium gum protection toothpaste to use alongside the toothbrush and I found them the perfect partnership. The toothpaste helps prevent causes of gum disease, helps to slow bacterial growth, reduces plaque and fights tartar. It really is as it says on the box, a premium toothpaste!

I did wonder whether I could work out the instructions as having never used a smart guide system before it did all look very new age and modern to me. However after a thorough read it did all make sense and I couldn't wait for that first brush. SmartGuide is basically a wireless system that connects to the brush, monitors ones brushing and tells you how well you have cleaned your teeth. You then find out if you brushed too hard, eg if you put excessive pressure on your teeth, the pressure sensor light appears. It has a timer so you can monitor the length of brush too, and there are several brushing modes, including daily clean, deep clean, sensitive, whitening, and massage. This really is one smart brush!

I found the handy travel case very useful as I first tried the brush when I was away from home and it packed perfectly amongst my luggage. It also has a wall mount for home use, however I'm fine with having it on the shelf, though it normally finds itself just perched at the end of the sink ready for action!

 Optimum charge is recommended to take up to 24 hours, and this can enable up to 10 days of regular brushing (twice a day, 2 minutes). I have used an electric toothbrush a long time ago, however I did find it frustrating that it just used to stop mid brush when the battery was out - with this electric toothbrush, if the battery is low you get an indicator light to remind you. So no more frustration there then :) This particular toothbrush, which claims the handset pulsates 40,000 times and rotates 8,800 times per minute to remove twice as much plaque as an ordinary manual toothbrush, can tell you that for me, this certainly seems to be the case. After just one brush using the sensitive mode and sensitive head (it came with another 2 extra heads, 'Oral-B FlossAction' head and the 'Oral-B 3D White' head) my teeth felt like glass, and my gum area certainly looked improved, even using the gentler 'Sensitive' brush head. I was a naughty girl occasionally brushing too hard, but mostly I got cheery smiles from Mr./Mrs. SmartGuide.

I can imagine that using this toothbrush over time, the health and look of my teeth and gums would be greatly improved. Having as sweet a tooth as mine it is so very important to keep those gums and teeth looking and feeling the best they can - I appreciate genetics can sometimes come into play with regards to teeth and gum health, but with the right tools to aid you, like the Oral-B Triumph 5000, it really can help prevent tooth loss, especially as 1 in 2 of all adults suffer from gum problems, which is indeed the biggest cause of tooth loss.

After going from a manual toothbrush to using this for 10 days (with a weekly polish using the whitening brush head) - I personally can see a big improvement even in this small amount of time and am proud to wear my smile. You really notice the difference and am confident my dentist shall too on my next visit. The Oral-B Triumph 5000 with SmartGuide which is recommended by dentists, has somewhat of a power price - however I have searched online and found the model much cheaper than it's rrp, in fact for less than £80. So it's definitely available for what's in my opinion a very reasonable price for such a professional product. You really do feel like you've had a mini hygienist appointment every time you brush your teeth! Definitely a product I would recommend highly.


Disclosure: This post is an entry for Mumsnet Blogger Network Challenge sponsored by Oral-B, promoting healthy gums. Get tips and advice on

Friday 18 October 2013

Diamond Ring

Back in the Summer I was set a challenge by the UK's leading online retailer of wedding rings Wedding Rings Direct to come up with some unique and interesting wedding anniversary gift ideas. I had great fun thinking of some original and traditional ideas for the first five years of marriage. I was extremely delighted and surprised to hear from Wedding Rings Direct that my suggestions stood out as offering some very inspiring suggestions (I think it was possibly that sheperherd's hut idea for a fifth 'wood' anniversary, I mean, who couldn't fall in love with the idea of staying in one of those!) and I had been selected to receive a gift from them. Ohooo how exciting I thought!

When I found out that the gift was indeed going to be a custom made ring worth around £250, I was overwhelmed. I was sent out a ring sizer and I opted for a selection of sample rings to be posted by special delivery, there is normally a charge for this service and you can read about the service here Having the sample rings to try on, touch, determine their weight etc I found so helpful. From the six sample rings I was sent I knew straight away which one was the right one for me. A ring which is similar is shape/size to an eternity ring I wear on my wedding finger.

As soon as my size and style of ring was chosen by myself, it was then on to picking the metal and hopefully the inclusion of a little diamond. Being a lover of platinum and white gold and bearing in mind my budget, I decided on a 9ct white gold for the metal and double comfort medium, 4mm for the band. I was overjoyed to find out I could indeed have a pretty little 3 pt diamond included and set centrally to the ring. All I had to do then was wait for it to be professionally made in their workshop and in around 3 weeks the ring would arrive. It's perfect and so very me, although my daughter has her eyes on it, so I know it shall be gifted to her one day, luckily it fits beautifully on her too, handy that!

Here it is in it's blank form and kind of the start of the ring making process.

Next it was the filing and setting of the diamond in the workshop - its quite lovely to see images of my very own pretty ring being made.

Soon the final ring was ready.

It really is beautiful!

It came presented in a little jewellrey ring box to keep it safe when not worn.

The diamond has been set wonderfully and although it's not a whopper - it is simply understated yet very classy in my opinion. In fact, I've only been wearing it for special occasions as I don't want those inevitable first 'new ring' scratches to come just yet.

 So, thank you Wedding Rings Direct, what a lovely and special surprise - I love it!