Silent Sunday 1st May 2011

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Silent Sunday

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Innocent Orange & Apple Juice Review

Innocent Juice Review

Sponsored post

I was recently sent 3 vouchers to try the new range of Innocent Fruit Juices, they are available in Apple, Orange with bits and Orange without bits.

My local Asda didn’t stock it, but that isn’t unusual for higher brand items (they don’t sell maple syrup!?!) but I was able to pick up all 3 varieties at Waitrose.

First this I noticed was the lovely shaped bottles, and yes I am a marketers dream for such things (see here) but they are pretty and the added bonus is that you can see what the juice looks like inside.  Another thing that I love is that you just unscrew the lid and drink, no plastic bit to fight with, no little plastic bit that never seems to find its way to the bin. The other bonus is it pours out without spills and drips.

The orange varieties 900 ml bottles contain 11 squeezed oranges, unlike so many juices that contain a vague trace of orange, like one was grown near the carton, 20 years ago type thing.

The orange juice is lovely, sweet and crisp.  It does have a bit of a bite to it but just because it is not full of sugar crap.

The apple juice 900ml bottle contains the juice from 8 apples, it is not concentrated or sweetened.  The apple juice also has a bite to it, and unlike so many apple juice it tastes of apples, that juicy fresh crisp taste, not the artificial sugar super sweet taste we have become used to.  It is also really smooth to drink.

All varieties in the 900ml bottles = 6 x 150ml servings = 6 daily portions of fruit.  A really easy, quick way to up your and your families daily intake.

The 900ml bottles were £1.99 where I purchased them, but I expect that price varies slightly with offers and from different stores.

They are available at

For those that worry about these things the bottles are made from 25% recycled plastic and can be recycled once you have finished the juice.

My favourite is the orange with bits, and I will be buying it again once I have finished this lot!

For a chance to win free juice, money off coupons and other prizes go here


Money Saving Tips

Sponsored post

I have written this post as I’m trying to win an iPad 2 in the iSave, iWrite, iPad competition from PlayPennies.com!

I like to buy things, it has been said in the past I am a marketers dream, and I won’t argue too much on that one. BUT I also love to save money and get a bargain, I hate paying the full price for anything and see shopping as a challenge.

I do often think I enjoy the hunt of an item more than the buying it – again I won’t argue with this too much!

There are various websites and tools I use on my quest to grab a bargain, so these are my top tips

One of the most important things is not to buy crap you don’t need/want/will use. And with all the money saving sites around it is so easy to think you want/need/will us when you won’t, it is just cheap.

Ebay

My best bargain was an immaculate gas cooker for £4.50, I was moving into a house and I needed a gas cooker and so started my 6 week long quest to get the cheapest gas cooker I could. So I did a search on ebay with the distance I was willing to travel and then save the search & get them to email you when new items are added. And then wait. Decide your max price and don’t go over it, my max price was higher than the £4.50 funnily enough!  I am currently trying to get a bargain treadmill and when I say bargain I mean a ridiculously low price!

Don’t be afraid to be a bit cheeky, I was watching 2 footstalls last month and they didn’t sell so I emailed the seller to ask would he sell them to be for £5 less than the starting price – he did as wanted rid of them.

Try and remember that nearly everything is sold on eBay – often new too. Before you buy elsewhere just do a quick search to check.

Quidco

What a wonderful way to get what I call free money that is money that you can earn doing the same thing you were going to do but in a different way.  I have been a member for 3 years and so far earned £856.19 in cash back. That is free money into my bank account.  How did I earn all that, by simply clicking here before I buy things, or change insurance mainly.

I have got a few big cash backs from new mobile phones, new virgin TV package, car insurance etc but there are lots of little ones too here and there. But the figure above proves it all adds up.

Bargain Hunting

When I have had to buy a new big purchase, TV, ghd hair straighters, laptop, camera etc I always decide a budget before I start looking around, as it is so tempting to see the pretty shiny new things you need and get carried away.  But I do tend to set my budget way below the usual price of the item. I am a geek and love features and functions on items. I don’t like the basic model on much, but I also don’t want to pay for it.  So how do you get these two things to merge? Well time and the internet are your friend.

Research using

Hot UK Deals

Money saving Expert I wanna buy it or do it

And then also google and search.  A word of warning though, once bargains hit these sites they sell out fast, so no dithering, click and buy.

Selling old stuff on

For a lot of things I buy I know before I pay for them what their resell value will be. 90% of my baby items were sold, I allowed myself to buy a ridiculously expensive nappy changing bag (remember marketers dream) knowing that I would get at least 75% of that price back when I sold it on eBay. I actually got 85%.

Same as childrens clothing, a lot of stuff doesn’t sell well anymore but some does, Boden for example sells very well.  I mix 3 boden items a season (I mean age size of course but trying to be posh) with high street and eBay knowing I will sell those 3 items on to purchase the next.

I also had a stall at a recent N.C.T. Nearly New Sale and made £100 from bits I would have given away, free cycled or eBayed. Most areas have these for selling maternity, baby & toddler items.

So in conclusion – yes it takes more time, and for so many of us time is precious, but once you start to think in the money saving, get a bargain way it really is like a new hobby!


A breakthrough? – Fussy Eaters Support Club

So after my post last month on should I ignore or do something about the very limit diet that Ben would eat I decided to do nothing.  But then after reading someone else whose child constantly asked for food I twigged that he wasn’t asking for food as he was hungry, it was boredom.

So I decided to take action, when I knew he wasn’t really hungry an hour after a large breakfast of cereal and toast I said “O.K. if you are hungry there are apples or grapes to eat”  He said he didn’t like those, but I just kept repeating back that these were the only options.  This led to a trip to the supermarket to look at fruits.

I ended up buying ingredients to make Bolognese with pasta, and asked Ben to help me at dinner time to do the cooking.  One thing Ben loves is to be involved in anything I am doing, so he pulled up a chair and helped me prepare the vegetables.  I got him to sniff the peppers and onion and help peel things and we talked about the peppers having seeds like the ones we are growing.

As I was stirring the onions I looked and he was peeling a large mushroom and eating the peeled bits *SHOCK*

I asked him to choose which type of pasta to eat (even as a weaned baby he would never eat pasta)  he choose tagliatelle and I set about cooking it.

I put 2 small bowls of cheese on the table, one cheddar and the other mozzarella, he sat down to wait and I looked again and he was eating cheese…EATING CHEESE AT HOME *tries not to faint with excitement*

I was doing my very best to be casual about all this eating, talking about it but not cartwheeling around the kitchen!  Yes I need to encourage but not let him realise the fuss it is causing.

The pasta was ready so I put some on his plate and some Bolognese next to it and sat down with mine too.  And he ate the pasta, and asked for more and I tried not to cry.

So of course being the laid back person I am I went to Asda the next day and bought 4 different types of pasta! He has eaten is again a few times, always on its own, no sauce.  The cheese eating has yet to be repeated but I live in hope.

But it isn’t all good news on the eating, he went a whole day at nursery yesterday without eating anything apart from his breakfast.  They were worried about him, he just refused it all. I collected him at 5 p.m. and chatted to his key worker and told then to try not to worry and that I would talk to him again later and reinforce the need to eat at nursery.  I fed him later at home on beans and bread sticks, nothing exciting but just food to fill him up at least.  And he slept for 13 hours last night. Odd little boy.

So the theory of they won’t starve themselves, they will eat what they are given…Ben might not have got that memo

Fussy Eaters Support Club

The Gallery…My Blog

The theme for Sticky Fingers Gallery this week is My Blog.

The image above is the photo I used for my Blog Header and is 2 Stars and a Swirl

I had the tattoo done in December 2009, my first and probably only one. I had done the usual I want a tattoo thing for years but never knew what I wanted. I randomly saw a similar image on Flickr one day and printed and drew and then went into a tattoo studio and asked could they do something that had 2 Stars and a Swirl.

So what does it mean?

A star each for Ben and I, and the swirls are the general chaos of our life together.

This blog is my 4th attempt at blogging, I started my first when Ben was a baby and the posts are all on here, a diary really of him growing up, that then went to a toddler diary and then I had a blog for me and my thoughts. But none of them really worked or were read.

In February this year I decided I wanted to do more writing and get involved with things like The Gallery and Silent Sunday so I signed up to a new Blog & Twitter account under this name and well 2 months later here I am and really enjoying it.

Time is my biggest enemy on expanding here, but that is the same for us all I think, but I hope to do more actual writing as time goes on.

So the big question…where is the tattoo?

Gro-Clock Review

The Gro-Company have come up with many fantastic ideas to make like easier for parents. I have been ‘blessed’ with a child who has always loved early mornings, I have seen more mornings around 5 a.m in the last 3 years than is good for your sanity.  Cbeebies doesn’t even start until 6 a.m. proving that anything before that should illegal!

I have seen so many parents buying these gro-clocks but I never really believed it would work for Ben so I just got on with pleading, hoping and hiding under the pillow.  None of these work btw!

This spring was our first with Ben not in a cot and also being more aware of light/dark/morning/night time, I had made the huge mistake of saying it is night-time as it was dark over the winter and that came back to bite me when spring sprung with the delights of it being light at 5.30 a.m.

After a run of pre 6 a.m. wakings and the pad pad pad across the hall way into my bedroom and the argument of “Ben it is still night-time” “No Mummy it is light” I knew that now was the time to try something new.

I asked around for reviews on the Gro-clock and it was a general yes it works…most of the time.  So I decided to take the plunge, knowing that the re-sale on eBay is really high anyway so not really a risk.

I ordered from Amazon as it was the cheapest I could find at that time and it arrived in a few days.

The new version which I received now has the option of also showing the time to allow older children to learn the time as well as see the visual sun and moon display.

The clock comes with a book to explain to children the theory – we have only read this once on the first night then never needed it again, but for younger children it might be needed more.

I decided to be realistic on choosing when the sun came up so set it for 6.10 a.m. and we read the book, turned it on and had a chat about Ben would only get out of bed when the sun came up.

The first night I heard him wake at 5 a.m. mutter a bit then nothing until 5.45 a.m. when he called out he needed a wee.  So I got up and he did one and then I said “Back to bed as the sun isn’t up”  and he went with no fuss.  Usually that would have been us up.  At 6.10 a.m. I heard great excitement that the sun had come up.

We have had the Gro-clock for a month now and it really has made a huge difference to us, it means I have a definite thing to say if he does wake up too early, asking if the sun is up yet.  On the occasional times he wakes around 5 a.m. for a wee he then goes back to bed afterwards.  It was really useful when the clocks changed too.

I do think the key is being realistic about what time you set for the sun to come up as setting it to 7 or 8 a.m. when your child wakes at 5 a.m. is not going to work!

Also I got caught out one morning as Ben came in at 1 a.m. to tell me the sun was up – after posting on Facebook to ask friends what had happened as yes the sun had been up at 1 a.m. it seems the default setting for the 2nd alarm to be used for naps is 12 a.m. and I had by mistake chosen that the night before.  So as advised I set the 2nd alarm for the same time as the 1st so it doesn’t matter which one is set now.

So in this house the clock has meant no more coming downstairs at 5 a.m. and arguing if it is morning or night-time, it won;t change the fact sometimes Ben needs to wee at 5 a.m. I get that (it is only a clock after all!) but it does mean your child can easily see what is night and what is morning time regardless of the season and actual lighting outside.

Silent Sunday 17th April 2011


Silent Sunday

Q&A MEME

I have been tagged by the wonderful & extremely supportive Kairen at Confessions of a Single Mum and the fabulous Katie at What Katie’s kids did next in this great nosey meme.

So here is goes..

Which living person do you most admire, and why?

My Mum, she does the Mother and Grandma role so well – has all the time in the world for Ben and her other Grandchildren and also for my sister and me.  Has infinite patience and kindness too.

When were you happiest?

In a selfish way, in around 2004 life was good, I had a job I was doing great in, an amazing social life, and not too many cares in the world.  That is how I felt then about it, older and wiser I have a slightly different perspective now.  Now my happiness is more or less in control of a 3 year old, he can make me ridiculously happy by a word, a look or a simple action (or on occasion by saying nothing and sitting quietly for 30 seconds).

What was your most embarrassing moment?

Camping many years ago and needing the loo in the middle of the night and deciding to pee in a Tesco carrier bag – I didn’t realise they have holes in them.  Here are worse ones but they are locked away in my mind.

Aside from property, what’s the most expensive thing you’ve bought?

Laptop I guess as car was from a small inheritance.  And that first laptop 7 days before Ben was born has been replaced 4 times since.  I am not very good with laptops (none of the breaking was my fault though!!)

What is your most treasured possession?

I don’t have any particular items that can’t be replaced (iPhone/laptop/camera) But the order for saving stuff in a fire would be Ben, Cats, External Hard Drive.  Honestly it would (the iPhone would be with me anyway ;o))

Where would you like to live?

After being away from it for 15 years I do love having the beach near by again, I love the sky over it and the snow on it.  I would most love to live in a detached house as I have spent many years suffering from noisy neighbours and I am never quite comfortable with someone else hearing our lives (read Ben screaming)

What’s your favourite smell?

Summer mornings before it gets too hot, Eternity perfume, fairy washing powder (reminds me of Ben being a baby)

Who would play you in the film of your life?

Bjork (she would need to eat some doughnuts first though)

What is your favourite book?

When Bridget Jones diary came out it was so fresh and new, I loved it and refused to see the film for a long time.  I can’t read it anymore as it reminds me of a life that has gone now.

What is your most unappealing habit?

Only half screwing lids onto things, I know I have done it – others don’t

Not listening – but I am so much better at this now and try to be aware of it and stop talking, I just get excited and want to reply.

Being shit at taking criticism – but again I have worked on this and now don’t get angry, but listen and try and learn from people

What would be your fancy dress costume of choice?

I don’t do fancy dress, it freaks me out and I avoid at all costs.

What is your earliest memory?

Writing my sisters name on the walls with a marker pen.

What is your guiltiest pleasure?

3 months ago it was writing stuff that appealed to an older age group (vague enough ;)) But that pleasure came to an end.

So now..ingrowing hairs

What do you owe your parents?

Everything, every penny I ever earn I probably owe them, my health, sanity and believing in myself that I can do things.

To whom would you most like to say sorry, and why?

Charger – for being cross with him for the last 3 years about peeing in the wrong places, it turns out he probably had a urine infection on and off. And for letting him get too fat. Sorry kitten x

What or who is the greatest love of your life?

Ben, Dodge & Charger, iPhone and hot deep baths.

What does love feel like?

I’ve never been in love so not sure of that level, but the love between ben and I makes my heart feel warm and it just swells

What was the best kiss of your life?

Oh…erm….that stuff is all locked away in my head too.

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?

Cool

What is the worst job you’ve done?

At 16 working in a localHalifax, so boring as it was really quiet and I was crap at it

If you could edit your past, what would you change?

The things I would change would stop me having the happiness I have today. So not changes.

What is the closest you’ve come to death?

Car crash in Mancherster breaking my collar bone just, could have been a lot worse.

Thought closest at the time was on a flight that had to do an emergency landing inDamascusas they thought there was a terrorist on board.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?

That Ben is happy, healthy and seems to rather like me

When did you last cry, and why?

Yesterday as I drove past a cat that had just been knocked down – the driver had stopped and I knew I shouldn’t have looked but I did and then cried and can’t quite get the image out of my head.

How do you relax?

Not very often, I don’t do relaxed state, even when going for a massage I have to concentrate on relaxing. I am never relaxed when Ben is awake and with me. When he is asleep I click down a few notches.

What single thing would improve the quality of your life?

Getting a new job that I love and I know my skills are being used.

What is the most important lesson life has taught you?

You do not need a +1 to be whole

So now I shove these questions onto their next owners…

Vickie at Never Found the Plot

Jax2000 at Mummy’s Little Monkey

Mostly Yummy Mummy at Mostly Yummy Mummy

The Gallery…Tomorrow

The theme for Sticky Fingers Gallery this week is Tomorrow

This was taken on the 12th April 2010 at 6:06 p.m.

It is as the ferry was coming into Holyhead Harbour, I was on the ferry coming from Dublin on the day I left Belfast forever.  I had lived in Belfast for 15 years and made the decision to leave and move back to Essex where I was born and my family all are in February 2010.  And then began the huge task of packing and organising 1 adult, 1 toddler and 2 cats.  Oh and a whole house of furniture, a car, leaving a job and all the friends I had made there.

The cats flew on one plane, Ben flew (with my Mum) on another and I drove back with my Dad to share the drive.  And the photo was the scene that greeted us as we landed on the mainland, it was just stunning.  I am a sucker for how the sky looks at the best of times, but with all the emotions in my head and heart it really did take my breath away.

We arrived back in Essex at 2 a.m. the next day and I crashed in bed at my dad’s house and then the next day, the tomorrow was the start of a whole new life and journey.  And here I am exactly a year later thinking of the people and places in Belfast I miss… So breaking a few rules possibly but as a celebration a few extra photos of the wonderful city.

23/12/2006 Shine – Sadly (very thankfully) all the photos before this were pre digital. So my life pre-Ben and the memories are just mainly in my head. But Shine…where my life began…

The graffiti at the end of the Newtownards Road done after John Peel died

Coming in to land at Belfast City Airport – Always terrifying as you go over the water and get lower and lower.  The runway is at the edge of the water and you always land with a bump.

11/5/08 Nearly at the end of the mile walk from the bottom of the hill up to Stormont buildings, when on maternity leave this was the only exercise I did apart from eating cake.  A stunning building that you can see from miles around.  *mumbles something regarding shame about the people inside it (mostly)*

14/6/2009 The Palm house at Botanic Gardens – I started taking Ben on Sunday mornings to botanic (after a sneaky fry up for me up the road) as it was like going to a different world. On a Sunday morning it is very quiet with only the older people who tut at the fact my boy had a toy buggy, the tourists who at that time all looked a bit nervous and the victims who were still falling about from a night quite probably in Shine.

25/7/09 Another park of the Stormont estate was the Mo Mowlam Children’s Park, we went in all weathers, and I was the mad one drying the climbing frames with tissues until I realised that there were not enough tissues in the world.

30/8/09 W5 was another much loved place, it is like a mini science museum I guess, but an amazing toddler area and then all the stuff for grown up kids (me) to pretend you are showing to the real children.

20/9/09 this isn’t Helens Bay – but it is close to it, hopefully someone will correct me on the actual bit this is! But a 20 minute drive from Belfast and another amazing sky.

27/9/09 Sunday morning, Botanic Gardens.

Boy and a stick

27/9/09 Queens Library at Botanic Gardens, this was newly opened and right next to the park entrance. we often ended up spending more time here that in the gardens.  Ben was never quite sure of the sculpture though!

4/10/09 Band Stand, Botanic Gardens – The best game was going up in the band stand and then terrifying me by running to the edge.

17/10/09 Belfast City Hall – This was the reopening ceremony after major works.

18/10/09 Baby Rave – City Hall

This was his third Baby Rave, amazing events that I really miss – yes he has a car in his hand and there one has stayed…

10/12/09 A cold morning in Botanic

The 6 different bouquets of flowers I received from different work people in the 3 weeks before I left! My house was filled with boxes and flowers, oh and lots of stress.

Belfast will always be a huge part of my life, it is where Ben was born and spent the first 2 years of his life.  He has family there who are part of his life still and we will be back some day to visit I am sure.

Silent Sunday 10th April 2011

Silent Sunday