Review: Personalised Christmas Cards!

**This is a Product Review Post**



Product Name: Personalised child photo cards from Baby Cards Now
Buy Online Here: http://babycardsnow.co.uk
Price: From £45 for 25 cards
Star Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

The blurb: Jane O'Neill is a mum who founded Baby Cards after the birth of her first child. Baby gifts started arriving as soon as they announced their birth news to family and friends, and Jane felt overwhelmed by the number of gifts received for her baby girl - even from people she barely knew! Wanting to make an extra special effort to thank everyone, she decided to send personalised baby photo cards featuring a picture of her baby and was astounded by the response. Upon researching online, there were no companies at the time who allowed parents to create cards with the child's photo and greeting, so she set up Baby Cards. BabyCardsNow.co.uk makes it easy and fun for new parents to order personalised baby cards and invitations online with a 100% quality guarantee.
Initial Thoughts: I have often wanted to send out Christmas cards featuring a photo of my children, so this year I decided to do it! I took the kids, my camera and a Santa hat and Rudolph ears from the dressing up box and headed for the park after school one day to get a suitable shot, then uploaded it to my computer and created my own family Christmas Cards for 2010 on the Baby Cards website! It only took me about 10 minutes to create the cards, and I really took my time - deciding which design I liked and double checking my spellings! The ready boxed cards arrived just a couple of days later - super quick, and I was very impressed!
I Liked: The quality of the cards was good, and I LOVED how I'd already been able to write a greeting from us all into the cards which was printed in. This means all I have to do before sending these out this year is to hand write the recipient's name on and address the envelope! Super time saving and as you know, I love to save time on the necessary but hardly enthralling activities!
I wasn't Keen: My only minor negative was that the picture on the front of the cards was a little dark, and could have been better with a touch of 'Brightness' applied. However this was my doing as they just print what you send them, so I should have brightened the picture myself before uploading it to their website. I suppose this is 'live and learn' as next time I will make sure that my picture is perfect before sending it!!
Overall: For complete ease of being on top of things in the run up to Christmas this scores highly! Us mums have to juggle everything at Christmas time and writing out cards takes a whole evening and is a bit laborious. Having them printed like this takes the hassle out of it and I think my family and friends will really love these cards as they are so personal! They make a great keepsake for your child's 'memory box' for when they are older!!

BTW - Baby Cards have developed a FREE GALLERY so their customers can personalise and print themselves. My cards were a paid item but there are freebies here:
http://babycardsnow.co.uk/free

I hope you like my blog. I feel like a party host and you are my guests so it's important to me that you feel welcome! Do follow this blog so I know who my guests are! Your support really makes a difference. x

From Gym Bunnies to Gym Slobbies!

Eew! Some people at my gym are rank! It really gives you an insight to human behaviour when other people think no-one will ever know what they are up to!!

Today I was swimming when I saw this man exit the steam room with a razor in his hand! What was he doing in there? Shaving his chest?! Whilst I can see the logic of doing your personal grooming whilst in a state of 'opened pore' and blissful relaxation, this wasn't his own private steam room - it was a public one that everyone else has to use too! I know I don't want to go accidentally sit on his offcuts - I like to keep my own excess hair to a minimum!!

And last week when I went in the showers, someone had thrown a tampon wrapper on the floor! I mean, at least it wasn't a used tampon, but why let us all know that you have put a tampon in whilst in the shower?! Why not take your litter with you so other users of the shower can be blissfully unaware?! Gross!

The irony is, everyone working out at the gym has on the latest sports gear - designer names, no holes in their sweatshirts like Rocky Balboa in the first movie when he was broke! So why be so appearance conscious in the main gym then treat the changing areas like your personal bathroom?!

It is one of my bugbears - when people don't take their litter with them. I don't just mean at the gym with their stray hairs, empty shampoo bottles and tampon wrappers. It also bugs me when I see people throwing litter out of their open car windows. I have beeped at cars in front before now for doing this, and I've also pulled up teenage boys to put their thrown debris in the bin when I've seen them chuck it down the street before. It is really that much effort to put your 'in car' litter onto the passenger's footwell on the floor until you get home? It's not like you have to carry it round in your hands when you are in a car.

Maybe I'm just a grumpy thirty-something woman but it bugged me when I was 18 too! I'll be going back to the gym next week - I just hope that no-one pees in the showers!!

I hope you like my blog. I feel like a party host and you are my guests so it's important to me that you feel welcome! Do follow this blog so I know who my guests are! Your support really makes a difference. x

Shopping for Teachers this Christmas!

Today I got way ahead in my Christmas shopping stakes and also discovered a fab website where I can get unusual gifts and earn loyalty points to spend on other products from the site! Now my youngest is at nursery, I have TWO school teachers to buy a Christmas gift for, and I found this....


Check out my soap!! I got two of these- they were £5.60 each, and I think they look more expensive, so my children's teachers will get one each this Christmas! All I need is a smart little gift-bag and some straw-like shredded tissue paper and I think they will be really pleased!

I got the soap from a site called LOVE LULA. (www.LoveLula.com) This is an organic apothecary, which sounds really sweet too, and apparently all their stuff is free from parabens and petrochemicals. There are no synthetic fragrances, so basically you know what you are getting! The best bit for me, was that as I was going to the checkout to pay for my two soaps, thinking that I'm just getting stuff for other people, Love Lula asked me if I wanted up to 3 free samples of some of their other products to try! This was a really nice touch and made me feel better about spending my money with them! They have certain freebies to choose from, so I went for an exfoliating face scrub and a body wash. When pictured on the site they show you the full size bottle but freebies come in a sachet. It's still a good way for them to get people trying other stuff that they will go back for and I really liked being able to choose some free gifts with my soap!

I feel really organised having bought the teachers gifts now as these are the ones I usually leave till the last minute - never sure if I'm going to get them something at all but always bowing to peer pressure at the time when the rest of the class turns up with something! If it was MY teacher I wouldn't be really that bothered about getting them a gift, but when it is your kids, you don't want them to feel like the only one who hasn't brought something and they always feel proud when they hand the gift over to 'Mrs Whoever'!

I actually found Love Lula through a site called ICE - this is the site that let's you earn rewards whilst you shop. ICE specialises in bringing together retail partners who offer sustainable choices, so it is an 'environmental' focused site. The way it works is that you get an ICE account, do your shopping and then as you spend (the exact same retail prices as if you went direct to the company), you earn ICE points. These points can then be used to pay for other goods from the site - either in whole or part payment with cash. It's like a Boots Advantage Card, but for online!

The kinds of companies involved are like Eurostar, Green & Blacks Direct, Green Tomato Cars, Eat Sleep Live, and all kinds of farm shops across Britain. Plus of course my favourite - the organic apothecary! All the retail partners have been chosen for their environmental and ethical credentials.

So now I've got the teachers sorted, I just need to tackle my Father in Law! He's impossible to buy for as he has everything and since he stopped smoking I can no longer fall back on a tin of cigars!! Anyone any ideas??

I hope you like my blog. I feel like a party host and you are my guests so it's important to me that you feel welcome! Do follow this blog so I know who my guests are! Your support really makes a difference. x

There was a hex on Hex!



As a mum, I know all about creating an atmosphere. If you have kids, you will know where I'm coming from. Every big occasion in life, birthdays, Christmas, holidays, are all planned by us. We are responsible for making sure that our children have the best damn birthdays that existed! We get the cake, invite the friends, sort the food, trim up the house, wrap the presents, blow up the balloons - basically, make the 'day' special, and it's not always obvious to the casual observer - exactly what has been done, but ultimately people feel certain things because of our input. Guests feel welcome, kids feel excited. But it's not just 'occasions' that get the 'mum' treatment! Something as everyday as 'bedtime' runs smoothly because of the effort mums put in. In my house, after the evening meal and a little play, then I start to wind the kids down, speaking in a soft voice, dimming lights, running a warm bath and using a calming lavender bath oil, all to create the right atmosphere, in order to get the result I want - calm, sleepy kids!

So I wonder how the event planners or project managers at Alton Towers would feel to know that all their hard work in creating a certain atmosphere was ruined by the 'Fast Pass' ticket holders!!

We went to Alton Towers during the summer and one of the rides we all wanted to go on was Hex. If you've ever been there, you'll know that Hex is a kind of spooky castle where you queue up in a dark, very dimly lit chamber before getting on the actual ride which is a kind of 'illusion' roller coaster. Even though the queue is separate to the 'ride', it is all part of the experience. The fact that you queue in a dark room is part of creating the right atmosphere - Hex is a spooky ride and they want you to feel the history of the ride, so they play videos showing eery horse drawn carriages going through the woods, showing the modern day archaeologist digs where items were found to support the theory that a Hex is on the 'castle'.

Alton Towers had spent time to think about guest experience on this ride and as we waited in line, an atmosphere was created. It was spooky; dim lighting, smell was a factor, sound and even temperature. As you got nearer to the front of the queue, you started to feel apprehension on what was to come. Your hairs were almost standing on end- the area you were in was far away from the front door where we'd entered, and it got darker and darker as we got nearer to the front.

Then, all of a sudden, as my children clung to my legs, feeling a bit on edge, and as our anticipation peaked, the 'Fast Pass' door opened and the Fast Pass ticket holders joined the queue using their short cut! The sudden door opening flooded the queuing area with sunlight and completely broke the suspense atmosphere! The students in the queue behind us cried "Hex is ruined!" We all laughed and relaxed, but ultimately, I don't think that the people who designed the ride in the first place wanted us to feel relaxed after they'd spent so much time and effort in getting us to feel suspense!

What do you think - have you ever tried to create atmosphere and had it ruined?!

I hope you like my blog. I feel like a party host and you are my guests so it's important to me that you feel welcome! Do follow this blog so I know who my guests are! Your support really makes a difference. x

I'm 'At Home' at At Home!


My rather confusing blog post title is my way of sharing some great news!

At Home Magazine is a premier UK celebrity and lifestyle magazine, and I have just become one of their regular columnists! The front cover pictured is the September 2010 issue and was a business special which is why it is titled 'Careers', and this edition was Guest Edited by James Caan - businessman and TV Star on Dragon's Den.

My columns will be around the subject of being a working mum, juggling daily life and business / work, packed with tips and observations for women to get the most out of their precious time, and I will be published fortnightly.

If you are a 'Jugglista', a woman who juggles like it's going out of fashion, then you will love the columns, so please do check them out at At Home and leave a comment on the site. The magazine would love to hear what readers think and I'd like to know what you want more of so I can deliver!

I will post links to my content for At Home, from my website www.Jugglista.com, which will become a portfolio of my work! But for your regular 'Juggle Mum' content, check back here every Tuesday and Thursday!

I hope you like my blog. I feel like a party host and you are my guests so it's important to me that you feel welcome! Do follow this blog so I know who my guests are! Your support really makes a difference. x

Review: Vertbaudet Children's Clothing

**This is a Product Review Post**


Product Name: Children's Clothing by Vertbaudet
Buy Online Here: http://www.vertbaudet.co.uk/
Price: From £17
Star Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

The blurb: When I saw the TV advert which promised 'clothes designed with children in mind', I wasn't really sure what that meant. I thought it was just a marketing strap line, but when I actually read through the latest catalogue, I could see that the clothes were indeed designed and made with children in mind, due to the little things that only a mother would notice, if two pairs of trousers - one from Vertbaudet and one from say Primark, were hanging next to each other in a store! I have a 3YO son and when I got a few pieces from the Autumn/ Winter 2010-11 range, I firstly noticed the knees! All the boys trousers have reinforced knees, it just looks like part of the design visually - like a 'combat' trouser style, but it serves a practical purpose too. If your boy is into rough and tumble, with these trousers, they are less likely to come crying with a grazed kneecap!!
Initial Thoughts: I did think that the clothing felt 'thick' - like good quality thick. It was substantial, and the kind of clothing you could pass onto a smaller child once yours has grown out of them. If you are anything like me, you will love getting a bag of clothes from a friend with an older child, and you could pass on Vertbaudet stuff and be proud of it!
I Liked: Being a fan of practicality, I loved the little features of the clothes that made them easy for kids. The elastic ribbing on the waistband of trousers that enabled easy slipping on and off for a child who is toilet training. Reversible tops which are great if you are going out and they spill down one side - you can get them 'changed' quickly without having to carry a change bag! Also rubber zip pulls that make it easier for little fingers to keep grip whilst dressing themselves. ... oh, and everything is machine washable, because I think that children's clothes need to be, and designers who don't make them machine washable obviously don't have kids!
I wasn't Keen: If I was nit picking, I'd love to see a few more 'occasion' clothes in the catalogue. Something for a night out or for holidays. This catalogue is great for 'everyday' wear - loads of choice, but not really anything for an evening.
Overall: Great boys clothes from a function and practicality standpoint at a 'medium to high end' High Street price point, but for quality this range cannot be beat!

BTW- Vertbaudet are about to launch 'Budding Designers’ competition for children, where kids create a design for a winter warmer accessory. The competitions will be ongoing for more than 2 years and are international, so there will be a winner in each country that Vertbaudet are active in, and the winning designs will be produced and sold in their catalogues (the winning children will also win a Nintendo DSI!)
The latest competition is on now and runs until 15th October. See Vertbaudet's website for details.
**This contest is now closed**

I hope you like my blog. I feel like a party host and you are my guests so it's important to me that you feel welcome! Do follow this blog so I know who my guests are! Your support really makes a difference. x

The Rules Are... There Are No Rules!



The rules are... there are no rules!
...Or at least this is the way life should be sometimes. I'm referring in particular, to our country's ridiculous 'Health & Safety' rules.

Since when was it not okay to allow a child to play on an indoor play-frame because they were 1 inch 'too tall'! (And whilst we are on it - who made up the height rules in the first place?!) But this is what happened to us today.

My cousin and I took our kids (6 between us) to a local family oriented pub restaurant, which had an indoor play-frame and soft play area for the kids. Between us, the two mums had placed a lunchtime food and drink order of £50 - a decent amount for one table on a quiet weekday lunchtime, and this doesn't account for any 'second drinks', but food order placed, we unleashed the kids to the soft play room. Five of the kids ran off - one was stopped by the room supervisor for being 'too tall'! Apparently she couldn't play because she would be in breach of the 'Health & Safety' rules! What crap! It wasn't like there were any toddlers to consider - we were the ONLY people within the play area!

It drives me bonkers how these days because of a small pocket of society - the money grabbing chancers with a 'no blame, no claim' mentality who think that the world owes them a living, because of the threat of these people, companies veer onto the side of extreme caution and make up stupid rules so that not only does no-one get as much as a scratch, they don't have any fun either!

Because companies are so worried about being sued, you can't do anything these days. I purchased some shoes for my daughter from a High Street store recently and I asked the cashier for some scissors so I could remove the plastic tag without ruining my teeth as my daughter wanted to wear the shoes right away. But apparently, no stores have scissors behind the tills now - due to HEALTH & SAFETY!

In another shop I was chatting to the cashier who was telling me about her aching feet and how she had taken her shoes off to relieve them, so I suggested she might wear some flip flops as she was on her feet all day - at least they'd be comfier than whole leather shoes. She told me they weren't allowed due to HEALTH & SAFETY! What - in case a grown woman runs a clothes rail over her foot? For Heaven's sake! Can't grown up people actually BE grown ups and think before they do things? Do we all have to be wrapped up in cotton wool - whether we want to be or not?

By the time I'm grinding my gums, going grey haired and losing my marbles, and today's young kids and the ones who aren't even born yet are in adulthood and running the country, the nursing homes and everything else, how will they cope if shock- horror! They accidentally fall over in a soft play area and get a graze? How will our young generation learn how to take life's knocks if they aren't ever allowed to get any? Isn't part of growing up and being responsible learning to steer yourself through life? How can you 'man up' (whether you are a man or a woman) if you have every possible eventuality pre anticipated and legislated for under the guise of a 'Health & Safety' policy?!

Come on mums - tell me I'm not alone in my views? I can't be the only person in blog land who thinks that whoever sits in their little dusty office and makes up all these 'Health & Safety' rules needs to get out more and live a bit?!

I hope you like my blog. I feel like a party host and you are my guests so it's important to me that you feel welcome! Do follow this blog so I know who my guests are! Your support really makes a difference. x

When Disney Makes a Movie...

When Disney makes a movie about blogging, you know that it has entered the mainstream!

My 7YO daughter and I cuddled up a few weeks ago to watch the new Disney Channel Original Movie - Harriet and the Spy: Blog Wars.



The show was about a High School girl who writes the class blog and finds it being very popular amongst her classmates. I remember when I started this blog and I asked my friends if they read blogs and what they liked - very few did. But now blogs are becoming more widespread. The new fashion event, Fashion Press Week is launching this autumn and wants to invite bloggers alongside mainstream press to report, just showing how 'mainstream' us bloggers are becoming!

Most major companies have blogs now, and I recently read in one of my women's glossy mags that the major High Street fashion labels aimed at young women have bloggers on staff! I loved that - it is probably part of the role for someone in PR & marketing, and if I was still in the fashion PR industry, I bet I'd be blogging about the clothes too! It is an exciting time to be a blogger and be in a communications type role. I can't wait to see how blogging develops over the next few years.

I hope you like my blog. I feel like a party host and you are my guests so it's important to me that you feel welcome! Do follow this blog so I know who my guests are! Your support really makes a difference. x

With 'Nip & Fab' I can BE Fab!



**This is a Product Review Post**

Product Name: Multi Fix Oil and Lip + Nip Fix by Nip + Fab
Buy Online Here: From Harvey Nichols
Price: £11.95 for the oil and £7.95 for the Lip Balm
Star Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

The blurb: Fans of niche and cutting edge brands that offer real results are in for a treat this month with the launch of an affordable, super effective skincare range. This new collection is from beauty expert Maria Hatzistefanis, who also created the global best-selling brand, Rodial.
Initial Thoughts: The Lip + Nip Fix was in a lovely 'pocket sized' tube and was really thick and lush when I squeezed it out! I'm no longer breastfeeding my children, but when I was, I'd have much rather pulled this out of my bag to soothe cracked nipples than the Kamillosan I used to have to carry! Plus the product multi-tasks, it works on lips and nips, which saves carrying round multiple products!
I Liked: I was pleasantly surprised by how easily the oil was absorbed and how it wasn't greasy which was something I'd dreaded! After only one application, I could already see a fade in the intensity of a couple of red blotches that I had on my leg.
I wasn't Keen: There really wasn't anything I disliked hence the 5 out of 5 stars!
Overall: This is a 'high end' range that is priced at an affordable level. I loved the 'clean' packaging and the products themselves felt like good quality. I'd recommend this range to a friend!

I hope you like my blog. I feel like a party host and you are my guests so it's important to me that you feel welcome! Do follow this blog so I know who my guests are! Your support really makes a difference. x