Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Christmas Gifts For Men with House of Fraser

It's that time of year again and we're all out buying Christmas gifts.  I absolutely love Christmas shopping. I know a lot of people find it stressful, but I'm not one of them! I love picking gifts for family and friends and I'd like to think I have good taste and instincts when it comes to gifting.

However, there is one person I find it extremely difficult to choose gifts for. My partner. The problem is that he never asks for anything specifically and since none of his hobbies need special equipment or accessories he neither needs nor wants ANYTHING. Needless to say it's immensely frustrating and every Christmas I'm left scratching my head at what to give him!

So when I was challenged by House of Fraser to find a wonderful gift for the man in my life I was thrilled! House of Fraser offer a wide range of gifts to suit all tastes, and I decided to take a look at some of the male grooming sets they have available. What better gift for the man who has everything than a nice grooming kit to pamper himself with?

After a good bit of browsing, and oohing and ahhhing over all the lovely products available I finally opted for the Clinique Great Skin For Him Gift Set.

This beautifully presented little set is just perfect for my partner David. It covers everything from cleansing to shaving & moisturising too. There's a lovely exfoliator which is perfect for smoothing out that rough, dry winter weather-beaten skin and even better, an Aloe shave gel to reduce the risk of razor burn. Add to that a cooling post shave soother and a wonderful anti age moisturiser and you have the perfect winter gift. Everything a man could need to keep his skin in top condition. Definitely a must have considering the recent weather here in Scotland!

All the products are beautifully scented and are of the usual quality you'd expect from a brand like Clinique. I wasn't sure what to expect from their men's skincare if I'm honest, but I'd say it's just as luxurious as their ladies products. I definitely think David will be repurchasing these products when he finally runs out!

So if you're like me, and having a tough time finding a great present for your partner, your brother or even your dad I strongly recommend a peek at House of Fraser's gift selection. I even have a few other ideas to get you started. Check out these fantastic gifts...

Calvin Klein Eternity for Men EDT Gift Set (Was £33 now £26.40)

Kiehls Ultimate Man Kit (Was £29.50 now £25.07)

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Potty Training - Take Two!

A while ago I posted about potty training Holly. I said I was going to persevere and try going cold turkey from nappies. Well. It didn't work. Holly simply didn't get it yet. Try as I might to explain it to her, show her (yes I showed her), bribe her and 101 other methods to get her peeing in the potty and nappy free they all failed. I had to accept she wasn't ready. So we gave up. What else could we do but wait and try again? It simply wasn't worth the stress, for Holly or for us as parents.

So we've given it some time and tried again, and guess what? She's ready! This time we did the same thing. No more nappies. However, since Holly wasn't exactly thrilled by the potty last time but always seemed interested in the toilet we decided to try using a toilet step instead of the potty. So here's what happened...


Holly got her Peppa Pig pants on in the morning. She held in her pee from 8am until 2pm then had an accident in her pants. I wasn't feeling very hopeful at this point but we got cleaned up and I explained that it was perfectly ok to have accidents and sometimes they just happen. She was quite happy and went on about her day. She asked for the toilet later that day, but was too late and was already peeing by the time we got to the bathroom. We got cleaned up again and I praised her for asking to use the toilet which made her very happy. Then it was bedtime.


Half a pee on the toilet. She asked to go, but again was dribbling by the time she got on. So half a pee on the floor half in toilet. Again I praised Holly and she was very happy about being "a big girl" and using the toilet. Another couple of accidents /half pees. Then finally a full pee on the toilet. Lots of praise and excited jumping up and down from us both.


All pee now in the toilet. We no longer need to ask Holly if she needs the toilet as she tells us! Still poo accidents but definitely think we've made great progress in just a few days.


Still no pee accidents, and Holly even managed a nap without a nappy on. Went out shopping nappy free but she didn't need a pee when out and stayed dry too. A good day. One poo in pants accident.


Holly asks too poo in the toilet. Does her poo! Success!

It's been over a week now and Holly seems to have gotten the hang of it really well. Hopefully things continue this way and we can attempt no nappy at night too! If you had asked me a few weeks ago if I thought Holly would have been toilet trained so easily I would have said absolutely not! Clearly she was just ready this time. I really think swapping from the potty to using a toilet step helped too. The one we have is the Keter Toilet Trainer from Argos. It fits on all of our toilets at home and is lightweight and very portable. I'd definitely recommend it if you want to toilet train using the toilet instead of a potty. So what have your toilet training experiences been like?

Thursday, 12 June 2014

Pay As You Go from Three - Nokia Lumia 520 Review

It's a long time since I've used as Pay As You Go mobile phone. I think I must have been a teenager at the time, so well over 13 years ago (gosh I'm getting old)! So when I was offered the opportunity to review the Nokia Lumia 520, one of the many available Pay As You Go phones on Three I was intrigued to find out how much had changed since my days as a Pay As You Go user.

The Phone - Nokia Lumia 520 

To be perfectly honest, my expectations weren't very high. In the past I've found that the quality of Pay As You Go mobiles isn't usually the greatest unless you can afford to spend a lot upfront buying one of the better models. I had expected that would still be the case, but the Nokia 520 easily exceeded those expectations.

The Nokia Lumia is a very attractive handset. I received it in black and it looks very sleek, but the phone is also available in an impressive range of vibrant colours from pillar box red to cyan blue. It feels sturdy in hand, not flimsy or cheap despite how slim the phone is, and I was impressed by the screen size (4 inch - 400 x 800). I found the screen resolution to be better than I expected, all images on the phone are very clear for the screen size.

The touch screen is beautifully responsive and I haven't had any issues using it so far. I also found out through a little bit of online research  that the touch screen on the Nokia Lumia 520 works even if you're wearing gloves! I did actually try this, and I can confirm it's true! Certainly good to know for the winter months. I think this is an impressive feature considering the affordable price point of this handset. The only part of the handset I was slightly disappointed in was the lack of a flash for the rear facing camera. There isn't a front facing camera either, so this might be a bit of a dealbreaker for those who love taking selfies. However, if you do still snap a few too many pics the phone can easily store them, since the phone can accommodate an impressive 64GB microSD card.

So what's my overall impression of the handset? Easy to use and well designed. A big thumbs up!

As someone who is used to using android and apple devices (I have both),  using a Windows phone was a bit of an eye opener for me. Initially I was a bit daunted by the set up, but it took just a few hours until I was familiar with the apps and the phone. It really doesn't take long to get to grips with this phone, even if you aren't very tech savvy, as the menus are pretty easy to navigate.

Features of the phone I was particularly impressed by were the inclusion of Microsoft Office and OneNote. The microsoft Office app lets you create, view and edit documents, presentations and even spreadsheets on your mobile.

I also liked the way social media is set up on this phone.  It's quite straightforward and easy to navigate.  Simply access the People app, this gives you an alphabetical list of all your contacts (including thumbnails).
Tapping on someone brings up all their information – from email and phone number right through to birthday or address (if you have it stored of course).

Swipe right from the contacts page and you'll access the 'history' screen, this shows all communications between you as well as their recent posts and updates on social networks.
Swiping to the left will take you to a 'what's new' screen, which combines accounts like Twitter and Facebook into a single feed, displaying recent activity without having to use a separate app. As someone who spends a lot of time using social media, this set up is really great for me. It saves me time going between different apps to keep up with everyone!

I could go on and tell you more about  the phones features but I don't want to bore you! So I'll just wrap it up and say that this Windows phone really has some great apps and features, the bonus being that they are all easy to use! All round, this is a great phone for the price.

Pay As You Go

Along with the Nokia Lumia 520 handset, I was given a Pay As You Go SIM card to try out. I'm really impressed by the prices on Three's Pay As You Go service. With calls charged at only 3p per minute, 2p per text and 1p per MB of data it's a very affordable option if you're looking for an alternative to a contract. I seem to remember Pay As You Go prices being much higher and maybe they still are on other networks, but not on Three!

Topping up your mobile is easy too. You can:

  • Buy a top of voucher at the Supermarket, petrol station or any other shops where you see the Top Up sign displayed.
  •  Top Up using the Three App (available free on iTunes or Google Play)
  •  Top Up at the ATM (Top Ups available at 1000's of ATM's across the UK)

 I really did enjoy using the Nokia Lumia 520, it's a good affordable mobile with lots of fantastic features and would be ideal for anyone looking for a great Pay As You Go deal with Three. I don't think I'm quite ready to switch from my Three contract yet, but it is something I might be more willing to consider in the future given how affordable and flexible the options are.

*I received this product for the purpose of review.  All views and opinions expressed are entirely my own.

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Father's Day Gifts - Dove Men + Care & Radox

As you know, Father's Day is fast approaching and I've been scratching my head wondering what gifts Holly and I could give to her Daddy. He really isn't one for showy or expensive gifts and always gives us a telling off if he thinks we've gone overboard! So the search was on to find something he would enjoy using that didn't break the bank either! 

Whether he's pottering about in the garden (it's his pride and joy) or at his weekly kick about at the 5-a-side football pitch, Holly's Daddy really enjoys coming home to a warm bath or nice refreshing shower.

That's why I think Radox and Dove Men + Care products would make really affordable gifts for any Dad this Father's Day. 

Radox Muscle Therapy Bath Soak (RRP £2.31) is great for soothing those tired muscles after a day of sports or outdoor activity. There's also Radox Stress Relief Bath Soak (RRP £2.31), ideal for relaxing after a busy day at work.  Is dad more of a shower man? Then for an invigorating shower why not treat dad to some Radox For Men (RRP £2.15)?  

TOP TIP - If like me you love Radox, you can always steal borrow some when he isn't looking! Shhh! I won't tell if you don't!

If a relaxing soak in the bathtub isn't quite what you're looking for,  the Dove Men + Care duo gift pack would be make an ideal alternative. The Daily Care Duo includes a Clean Comfort anti-perspirant deodorant which 48 hr protection against odour and sweat, and a Clean Comfort shower gel with MICROMOISTURE technology to protect the skin from drying out. This is the perfect set if you like your partner to smell clean and fresh - I know I do!

I definitely think any of these products would make fabulous Father's Day gifts and even better for me and Holly they won't leave our purses or piggy banks empty! 

Thursday, 5 June 2014

Review - Little Big Songs by Jerry & Co

We all know toddlers love music, well mine does anyway! My 2 year old Holly loves listening to new songs and learning to sing and dance along to music.

 That's why I was thoroughly delighted to review Little Big Songs, an album of music made specifically with preschoolers in mind.

The album consists of 11 delightful songs on a variety of themes. The CD comes with an accompanying lyrics booklet complete with some lovely illustrations which makes it almost look like a little story book! The first time we listened to the songs we did it with the booklet in hand so we could read the lyrics and look at the pictures as we sang. Holly thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

We've been listening to the CD for a few weeks now and on numerous occasions Holly has asked that I put the CD on for her. So as far as she is concerned it's clearly passed the toddler test!

As for me, I really enjoy this CD too. I often find music aimed at toddlers can be rather annoying and a tad repetitive, often with silly or nonsensical lyrics. However, I don't feel this is the case with Little Big Songs at all. Each song tells a story and the tunes and melodies are lovely.

Our particular favourites on the CD are the opening song "Scrub-a-Dub" which is a fun little song which we've made our own actions to. We also really enjoyed "In the Family", "What's the Time Mr. Wolf" and "Pipes and Taps".

We tended to favour the more up tempo songs (like the ones I've listed above) but there is a good mix of styles on the CD. There are some slower songs that would be perfect for quiet time with your toddler or even to play before bedtime. In particular the songs "Ladybird, Ladybird" and the delightful "Goodnight, Mr Moon".

Overall this is a great CD for anyone with children of preschool age. I'd definitely recommend it if you are looking for some music for your child, but it would also make a great gift too. I certainly think Holly and I will be enjoying these songs for a long time to come!

* I received this CD for the purpose of review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Monday, 26 May 2014

Adventures in Potty Training

We've had the potty since Holly was 1 and for the longest time we've talked about potty training. Yet one thing or another keeps getting in the way.  Colds, and teething and the horrific accompanying acid teething poo of terror. I certainly didn't want to start potty training when there was a risk that my home would be pebble-dashed with that hideousness. Then there were holidays and days out and life. All getting in the way. There's always an excuse not to start.

Well, the teeth are all here now (thank God) and the big girl pants have been purchased and we're going cold turkey on the nappies. RIGHT NOW. Holly is currently strutting her stuff in a pair of rather fetching Peppa Pig pants and eyeing the potty suspiciously wondering why I've suddenly moved it from the bathroom.

Of course we've talked about it to her, we've had many dry runs at sitting on the potty, but there still hasn't been a piddle in the potty. She's sneaky like that. Happily sitting astride the potty, proudly pretending to pee then waiting until we put her nappy is back on to do a real one.  Well, no more. I will not be outwitted by a toddler. Today there will be a potty full of pee. I'm determined and we will be holed up in the house until further notice. Thankfully it's chucking it down outside (just another beautiful Scottish Summer day) so we aren't missing much.

I predict over the next few days there will be tears, bribery, more tears, carpet shampooing and excessive consumption of chocolate based foods. Do you have any words of encouragement for me? Please tell me I'll make it out of this alive, with my sanity still intact?
Wednesday, 7 May 2014

What I Ate Wednesday - The Slimming World Edition!

Welcome to What I Ate Wednesday!

I've had to cheat a bit this week, as I knew I was going to be super busy this Wednesday and wouldn't have time to photograph and edit. So these are actually my meals from Tuesday! Hope you don't mind!


 Today I chose 3 ingredient pancakes for breakfast. A lot of SW people swear by the yogurt pancakes (muller light, egg and oats) and while I do like those, I prefer to make mine slightly differently. I feel it's a bit of a waste of yogurt as I don't think it really enhances the taste of the pancakes. Instead I prefer using oats (27g), mashed banana and eggs (x2). As I've mentioned before some people like to syn mashed banana but in this recipe I don't. Mainly because I only use one banana and if I hadn't mashed it I would have probably had a whole banana later in the day (without syns) anyway! Anyway, these pancakes are hugely filling and this recipe makes three huge pancakes. I topped my pancakes with a drizzle of Agave Syrup (0.5 syns per level teaspoon). I only managed to eat one and a half pancakes because they were so big. Maybe next time I'll make a half the amount of pancake batter!


 One of my favourite lunches! I'm a bit obsessed with Warburtons Sandwich Thins. Unfortunately they can't be counted as a Healthy Extra. Luckily they are only 5 syns each though and in my opinion they are well worth it! Today I have ham, 30% less fat cheddar and tomato. 


 I was looking forward to this all day long! Pulled pork served with homemade savoury rice and roasted vegetables*. I made my pork yesterday in the slow cooker and the delicious smell has been driving me mad. Pulled Pork is another one of my obsessions at the moment and I could probably eat it every single day if I let myself. If you fancy making this, the recipe is available on the SW website.

*Apologies that I didn't take a pic of the roasted veg - it was in a side dish and I forgot!


Only carrot crudités today. I've been so full thanks to my huge breakfast and dinner I haven't been feeling too peckish at all. 


Warburtons Sandwich Thin - 5 SYNS 

1 tsp Agave Syrup - 0.5 SYNS

So that's my What I Ate Wednesday. What did you eat today?


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