The Juggle Mum Tested by REAL Mums Panel- on bags

If there is something that a group of busy women know about - its handbags! Well, handbags and shoes in my case. So as every modern woman needs somewhere to stash her stuff, I got my 'mum friends' together to test four different organiser handbags!

Here are the results of our tried and tested....

Karen tested the VIP (Very Intelligent Pocket) available from Firebox
I (Nadine) tested the Knomo Rimini, available from
Vicki tested the Kipling bag from QVC
Carla tested the Mia Tui bag from

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Well That's Christmas Entertainment Sorted! (Plus a Reader Competition!)

This year we are having both my parents and my husbands family over for Christmas Day. As we have a system within the family, each household takes it in turns to host Christmas Day so I have to do 'the big event' once every three years.

I've been slowly stocking up on food that will keep and booze, but this week my thoughts turned to what kind of entertainment we'd need for the day. I want to be sure that there is something for everyone and I think I've got it cracked! After the big dinner, we'll have an XBox 360 Kinect set up in the conservatory and bingo in the main living room!

The XBox belongs to my brother in law so he'll have his own games for it, however I know he's into sport, so to save my mother from having to play golf (which she can't do!), I have got a game for it that I know will appeal to the whole family -whatever age. It is the new Grease Dance game!

I tried it out to check it would be easy enough for everyone to do and I have to say, we had a hilarious time testing it! Once we had set up profiles for all the players for the Kinect (which you have to do before playing) we went into the game. The Grease music belted out from the TV screen, and when it does you can't help but tap your toes. My husband and daughter played against each other first, and it was highly entertaining for me to watch!

Here they are doing some moves!

They went on the 'dance' option. There are a few ways to play the game including karaoke but the dance option unlocks the extra songs quicker, so we gravitated to that. Hubby chose the track 'Grease is the Word', and they stood side by side and followed the moves of the cartoon man and woman on the screen.

I think the funniest thing about doing games like these are doing them when you have company (not just alone) because the player has fun playing but it is also very entertaining to watch the players busting their moves on the dancefloor too! After the song ended, you have the option to check your photos, and this is where the Kinect device has taken pictures of you dancing and shows them back to you! For the Grease game, they put photos within a high school yearbook - you can see my hubby doing 'The Bomb' here!

Afterwards I danced against my daughter to "Look at me I'm Sandra Dee". She won of course! The Grease Dance game will be brilliant to have on Christmas Day as I know that I can get Grandparents up playing, my kids will definitely want to dance and we have loads of relatives in their 20's who can show us all how it's done! I have three copies of Grease Dance on the XBox 360 Kinect to give away. See the end of this post for details of how to enter. You can also learn more about this game here.

Another game I tried this week is the newly launched Zumba Fitness 2. It comes out today, you can see it on Amazon here. This time the game is for me as I didn't get much of a look in when we played Grease Dance! I'm reserving this game to play on Boxing Day so I can start to work off everything I ate and drank the day before!

I love zumba. I go to a class twice a week at my gym, but I've never done it solo at home before. I wasn't sure if I'd get the full effect of a class by myself at home, but you can actually do a class with this game! I did a couple of dances by following the on screen woman and the game knows how you are doing as you put the wii controller into your Zumba belt which you get with the game. After my dance, I could feel the muscles at the tops of my thighs so I knew it was working! Plus the game crowned me as a 'Zumba Legend!' I was quite pleased with that- especially as it meant I unlocked a new game to try later.

Here is the packshot of the new Zumba game, I have three of these to give away:

...and here is the Zumba trailer. I challenge you to watch this and NOT bop your head or tap your feet. I think it really captures what Zumba is about. I just feel so happy after doing Zumba!

I have three copies of each game to give away to Juggle Mum readers. That is
- 3x Grease Dance for XBox 360 Kinect
-3x Zumba Two for Nintendo Wii

To win one, all you have to do is leave a comment with your email address or a way of contacting you (so I can get your postal address), and say which game you would like. I will choose six winners by random number generation on the closing date of Friday 9th December 2011.

Terms and Conditions:

• This competition will run from the 25 November to 6am on the 9th December 2011
• The winners will be chosen at random and contacted via email or whatever contact method they left in the comments
• Competition is open to residents of the UK and NI only
• Prize is non-refundable and no cash alternative is available. I only have Grease for the XBox Kinect and Zumba for the Wii. They cannot be 'swopped around'.

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More Tips on MyFamilyClub!

I have been busy recently, writing articles for the new MyFamilyClub website.

Here is a piece I wrote about tips for shopping with toddlers, and soon, they will publish another article about how to organise your car when you are a busy parent! Here is the link to that article.

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Santa's Steam Train Had Me Steaming!

The Christmas countdown has started and families with young children will probably be visiting a Santa attraction this year. So when the National Railway Museum (NRM) asked me if I'd like to take my family to see their new Santa's Steam Adventure, I said "Try keeping me away!"

We have never visited Santa in November before. Like many parents, we decide sometime during December that we should find time to do a Santa visit and we go, but this attraction at the museum in York opened last weekend for the first ride and it runs every weekend from now until Christmas plus the train will be running every day from 17th - 23rd December as well. Having been invited, I saw this as a fab opportunity to fulfil one of our Christmas traditions - without all the crowds!

People who know me well know that I don't like crowds. I get a little claustrophobic and like to know where my exits are. I like space all around me and can't stand being 'hemmed in', so usually when we see Santa in December and there are loads of crowds and queues and people rushing, it makes for a more stressful day for me, although I just breathe deeply and get on with it. I was looking forward to a calmer, less crowded Santa experience this year as it is the start of the Santa experience at NRM.

We started our journey in the museum's Station Hall where we walked through a special 'magical depot' with large steam trains filled with wrapped gifts and the odd furry toy cat to make the place seem 'homely'. They had made the area look very Christmassy with trees, lights and even a display of the museum's old toy collection from years ago which was presented in a rather nice style. Each old toy was tagged with a child's name then you read the accompanying sign to see what the toy was and what year. So we saw Peter's train from 1960, William's book from 1946 or Grace's toy train set from the 1980's etc. It was really nice to show our children what kids in past years used to get for Christmas- and is a massive change from now where they get Xboxes or mobile phones!

At the end of the magical depot, we were greeted by a helper who chatted to us whilst the train was getting ready. We were the first in the queue and were let onto the train first. I was pleasantly surprised when I entered the train. I'd kind of expected your 'run of the mill' train with 'airline' style seats facing front and back, where we would sit and Santa would walk through the aisle. This was not the case! The carriage where we were ushered to was clear of all fixed seating and had a red carpet on the floor, pillows and blankets for the children to sit on in front of Santa's big wooden throne, and six high back chairs at the back of the carriage for the parents to sit on.

The effect, if everyone sat where they were supposed to, was that of Santa or a helper telling a story to all the children who sat on the floor whilst the parents sat at the back! I wish this had happened but unfortunately it didn't.

The staff who looked after the train were brilliant and the train looked really festive and pleasant, but there wasn't enough room for all the adults to sit down at the back, so after the first three families got on, sat their kids at the front then took a seat at the back, the remaining families kind of shuffled on and sat down in the middle, some parents blocking smaller children's views as they sat in front of them. I really wish that the train staff had organised everyone. Maybe announcing as people enter, "Can we have all the children to the front and parents can sit towards the back" but with an absence of direction, everyone did the only thing they could do and sat where there was space, but this meant that people were sat on the floor, some standing and some perched on the little ledge that ran around the wall of the carriage. So rather than being a kind of 'we're all in it together' style family outing, it became a bit of a free for all and a scramble for space.

After the train set off it stopped again, and this was to let on a latecomer and her two sons. This was nice of the driver to do that (you don't normally get trains stopping just because someone is late!) but it wasn't as nice for me as the lady's boys sat on top of my feet - there wasn't really the room to take them. Again, I wished for some instruction from the train staff to show the lady to a safe spot to sit, and encourage her boys towards the front with the other children, but they all came to the parents seating at the back.

Nonetheless the train set off and the two helpers at the front started telling a story about the train and Santa. They were quite theatrical and interactive - passing out toy tools to get the kids to help 'fix' the trains broken wheel by hammering on the floor! The kids loved this bit- being part of the story and it was entertaining for the adults too. The story continued and after the kids fixed the wheel, they had to help create some magic to get the train moving again by shaking the bells and singing Jingle Bells. The adults were asked to sing too! I really liked the storytelling and the acting done by the helpers, my experience at this point was only spoiled by the fact that I had no leg room where I was sat as there were too many people around me. So I just tried to ignore what was around my feet and focus on the kids and Santa.

Santa came out halfway through the ride. He sat in the wooden throne, and everything that happened after this I couldn't see, as the helpers had asked everyone to stand to welcome Santa. If the helper's had asked the CHILDREN ONLY to stand, we would all have been able to see what happened at the front of the train, but as everyone stood, I could only see this guys black wool coat and his backpack.

I heard Santa asking my daughter her name and what she wanted for Christmas, and I sent my husband to the front with his camera to get a photo of her with Santa, but due to the number of people in the carriage and the fact that they were adults, standing up, we couldn't get a proper shot.

My kids enjoyed it which is all that matters at the end of the day. They saw Santa and they had a nice ride on a train in a festive carriage, but I felt that I had missed out as I couldn't see my children's faces as they spoke to Santa. I couldn't get a nice photo of them to remember the day by as there were too many people, and with everyone standing up, it made the small carriage feel very claustrophobic. All I wanted to do when the train arrived back to base was get off.

As it is so early on in the season, I really hope that the NRM staff put some structure in place for the passage of people whilst on the train. If people are shown where to sit when they get into the carriage, or at least given some general instruction, then the whole experience would really be very pleasant. The train was lovely, the staff were friendly and very entertaining whilst doing the story time part, and the children got a gift from Santa which was nice. The only thing that went wrong for me was too many other people in my personal space which could have been avoided with some clear direction. If the NRM staff add more seating for the parents at the back this would help - or take the chairs out all together if some adults will get them and some not. Maybe it's fairer for no-one to have a seat. My train was crowded and there were about 8 or 9 families on there, and as we get nearer to Christmas, this attraction will get even more busy.

The prices for the Santa Steam Adventure are very reasonable at £7.50 per child (which includes a gift) and £5 per adult (which includes a mince pie and hot drink in the restaurant afterwards). Tickets can be booked on the website or by calling 0844 8153 139.

Thank you to the NRM who allowed my family of four a complimentary ride on the Santa train for this review.

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Juggle Mum 'Tested by REAL Mums' Review Panel... on diaries

The funniest coffee morning I've ever had! Four busy mums reviewed four 2012 diaries to see what they liked, what they didn't and how it helped to organise the details of their lives. Here is the video...

The diaries reviewed were
Vicki reviewed the Family Life Book from Organised Mum.
Karen reviewed the Dodo Pad (see below for a special discount*)
Carla reviewed the Dairy Diary
Nadine reviewed the Mum's Diary

* Juggle Mum readers can get a discount! Dodo Pad is offering 10% off on all purchases from until the end of November 2011 with the sales code 11PR.

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The Private Members Club, The PR Company, The Bloggers and Butlins!

Now I have a confession to make... I'm not cool.

I like Asti Spumante, my favourite outfit is my pyjamas and I am partial to a bit of soft rock from time to time. But I got the chance to be cool last week when the Butlins marketing ladies took me and a couple of other bloggers to a private members club in Central London!

Here we are at The Hospital Club!

From left to right is Katie from Butlins, Marianne from Mari's World, Rachel from Right From The Start, me in the awesome zebra chair, and Jae from Butlins.

This place has hosted private movie screenings, celebrity parties and events from some of the biggest brands in the world. There was a picture of Jo Whiley in the lift because I think she might have recorded her BBC Radio 1 show from there before, so like a tourist, I had my eagle eyes on alert - hoping to bump into a celeb who I could casually ask to pose for a photo with me!

This place was so hip that even the lift was cool. Check it out!

At the bar, the girls enjoyed champagne and olives whilst I had a 'watermelon smash' cocktail and crisps. (I told you I wasn't cool!) We had gone there after a day in London at the PR offices that looks after Butlins. The bloggers had been chosen to be 'Butlins Mum Ambassadors' for 2011 - 2012 and this was our first meeting to learn a bit more about Butlins and meet the other bloggers.

Here we are earlier in the day:

From left to right: Anne from Consolidated PR, Rachel (blogger), Me (blogger), Mari (blogger), Katie (Butlins) and Jae (Butlins).

So the deal is that as a 'Butlins Mum' I'm going to be visiting two of their resorts next year to have a family break and report back on how it was. It's like a review with bells on! But that is next year, for now I had a fab time in London. I always love re-visiting the big smoke, even if my feet always hurt by the end of the day (and I have run 10K y'know!)

Do you know what the first thing I did when I got home? (after kissing my kids) I got into my pyjamas!

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Building Bears!

My kids were invited to the local Build A Bear Workshop to give the experience a try so whilst we were in the area, I persuaded my hubby to come along too for some Christmas shopping.

We had a fab day, it's been ages since we went shopping together but I have to say, the Build A Bear experience just blew me away!

I've never been into that store before, my kids have done it once before when their uncle took them to get a bear, so I had no preconceptions other than I'd noticed when passing that the store always seems busy. I get easily put off by crowds, I prefer to shop when it is quieter with fewer queues, but having gone through the experience in store, I have to say the queues are worth it and if you are planning a trip there, don't expect to be quickly in and out. If you plan that it will take a little time to get round the store, you can relax and fully enjoy the whole visit.

The Build A Bear website describes the in store ambience as a retail-entertainment experience, and this is truly an accurate way to describe it. We were met at the door by a member of staff who guided us round and looked after us for the whole visit. Vicki who was our guide was fantastic. She took the time to ask and remember all of our names - not just the children, and she used them throughout the store, so she felt like a friend at the end of the visit - I even gave her a hug upon leaving, she genuinely seemed to care about how we found the whole experience and she patiently explained every part of the process, because your bear goes through a series of events that happen whilst you are making it!

Vicki and the store manager knew that I was a blogger and would be writing about the experience afterwards, so cynics may say that of course I would have a positive experience, but the other staff members were not aware and we got the smile, the attention and the service from them too, so I'm confident in saying that if you go to the Build A Bear Workshop, you will be greeted with a warm welcome and excellent service.

I asked about what it would be like for customers if the store was really busy, would a staff member take them round like we experienced, and I was told that when it is quieter, staff can be more hands on all the way around, but when it is really busy then customers will go from one 'station' to the next around the store on their own, but that there is a staff member at each key point to assist with any queries.

The layout of the store allows the foot traffic to flow naturally from the right hand side of the store, down the length of the store, hitting each station and back up the left hand side of the store to the till. There are overhead signs to show you the next step, but my 8 and 4 year old didn't even look at these and they instinctively knew where to go next.

At the start of the store you see all the bears on display and you choose your new bear. They have what I'd call basic teddy bears (brown, soft cuddly bears) and also bears with jazzy prints, bears that are camouflage, reindeer toys, other animals that are stuffed - these are called 'furry friends', and branded toys like the Hello Kitty range. When big name movies come out during the year, the Build A Bear Workshop often gets the soft toy versions, so this year they had the Smurfs in (which sold out across the country!) and they currently have the new penguins from the new Happy Feet movie that is about to be launched.

Here is a video I recorded in store when my children had chosen their new bears....

The day was a unique experience. If you have someone in your life who is having an occasion coming up, you can find a bear to suit. They had loads of types of bear- a graduation bear with cap and gown, a wedding bear, a corporate suit bear (maybe for someone's first job?), cheerleader bears, football bears- you name it! They even had bear accessories like a bear wheelchair, a bear stroller, bear roller skates, a bear sofa bed and you can even get your bear a wardrobe to put all these outfits in!

Vicki told me that their store is always really busy in the week between Christmas and New Year, as loads of children get gift vouchers to buy their own bear. I can see why- it is nice to be able to buy a bear for someone which is completely personalised but if your gift is for children, they will love to go round the store and experience making a bear for themselves.

Every year Children in Need partner with Build A Bear Workshop so families can give money to the charity by visiting the store and making a special limited edition bear. Here is a picture of Pudsey Bear:

The Pudsey bear is really cute, but my kids had already spotted the patterned bears they chose! Children in Need day is this Friday - the 18th November 2011. You can find more information at

You can learn more about the Build A Bear Workshop at

Thank you to the Build A Bear Workshop in Leeds who hosted our visit and for the personalised bear each that was given to my children.

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My X Factor Pizza Night!

This is a sponsored post.

Saturday nights in my house from August to Christmas are always about X Factor. Now I have kids and my Saturday nights round the town are a distant memory, I love to get the family together on the sofa and cuddle up and watch our favourite show on telly! In this series, my daughter likes Janet the best, I'm warming up to Kitty - she's a great performer whatever you think of her personality, my husband likes Marcus and Craig and my son is just happy to watch along with us holding his Lotso bear! So last night we did our usual Saturday night thing, watching 'Derm' and the judges with a cup of tea (rock n roll eh?!)

Except last night we added something new into the mix. Chicago Town have brought out a limited edition X Factor pizza, so we had one of those! We also bought a Chicago Town Takeaway Cheese pizza too as one pizza for all of us wouldn't fly- we like our food, so with our pizza, coleslaw, nachos, beers and my little cup of tea, we settled down with our feast to watch the show. This is me with the X Factor box!

Last night's show was good- in a dramatic twist Amelia Lily was voted back on. I don't think she should have gone in the first place- she is a litte rocker and reminds me a bit of Miley Cyrus, but it's good to see her back. I think she will do well now her fate is dependant on a public vote and not a judges preference.

We loved the taste of the new Chicago Town X Factor Pizza, but trust me - use the oven ready tray provided with the pizza to cook - we put the cheese pizza in the oven before our X Factor one, and the cheese pizza stuck to the oven shelf because we hadn't read the instructions before baking. When we cooked our X Factor pizza on the oven ready tray, it came out perfectly. Because Chicago Town have made these pizzas to be like takeaway pizzas, with a real dough base and light and fluffy in the middle, you need the oven ready tray to support the pizza's weight in the centre which is where we went wrong the first time. However we still ate the cheese pizza, we put the bits onto a plate, gave the kids a bowl each and told them we'd already cut it up for them! They didn't question it!

Here is my husband and I with our X Factor pizza:

The X Factor pizza has a BBQ sauce stuffed crust and is topped with pepperoni, red onion, spicy beef and mozzarella. Each limited edition pizza comes with a free music download on the pack - you get this by entering the code from the box into Chicago Town's website. However in a twist of their own, you can either take your free download or gamble it to try to win a bigger prize like tickets to an X Factor show, cash or maybe just another pizza! I was feeling lucky and gambled but when the computer screen went to the judging panel to see if I'd won, I got two 'yes's and two 'no's, so I didn't win:-(

If you are an X Factor and pizza fan like me, you might like to give this pizza a try. It tates really good, you could possibly win prizes and it is cheaper than one from a takeaway shop! The Chicago Town X Factor pizza was £3.78 in my local ASDA.

The only problem with having a feast on the Saturday night is that I need to go for a run on the Sunday to work it off! I usually love a run but in recent weeks' I've got out of the habit so it'll take extra effort from me to get going again. Wish me luck!

The X Factor official website is

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The Birthday Wish... Then The Real One!

Two of my friends came over for a coffee morning to celebrate Carla's birthday.

Vicki is the brunette, Carla is the blonde and I am operating the video camera.

Carla's birthday wish is priceless!

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Money Saving Tip if you Like Coupons!

Have you ever spent money in a store only to get home and find a coupon for that shop which you could have used?

If you forget to use coupons or they go out of date before you use them, you'll like this tip!

I recorded the video for MyFamilyClub, a new parenting website that I write for. Check them out- they have tips for saving time and money!

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I've Got A New Writing Job!

I've just started writing for MyFamilyClub, a new parenting website that promises to help parents to save time and money!

My first article for them is called 'How to Find the Pause Button in Your Everyday Life' and you can read it here.

If there is a particular subject you would enjoy reading about, let me know in the comments below, I'll see what I can do! My next article for them will be out in a few weeks and I'll keep you updated!

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Yorkshire Bloggers Descend on Littlewoods Christmas Event!

I say Yorkshire bloggers (plural) because my two children are certainly active in blogging. I write the copy, they get to play with the free toys we are sent, and bake with the free cereal! So when Littlewoods invited us to London during the last Half Term, we said "Ooh yes!" Here is what went down...

After this video was shot, we headed for the Offices where we were greeted with this scene:

This is heaven! A room full of clothes, shoes, toys for the kids, cake, other bloggers to chat to and a photography studio set up in the corner because we were going to have our pictures taken!

We were encouraged to try on some of the clothes hanging round the showroom, to find something to wear in the photo. I bumped into Jo from Slummy Single Mummy who just looked gorgeous in everything she tried! I can't wait to see her photo from this event. Here she is on the left:

I also had a natter with Kerry from 'And Then All I Thought About Was You' (here on the right)

and Nova from Cherished By Me who is on the left below...

Whilst I was busy getting photos taken with the other bloggers, my daughter was busy having sparkly make up applied...

Then we posed for our fashion shoot! (Pictures to follow in another blog post)

The team at Littlewoods and their PR Agency McCann were fantastic. They couldn't help out enough whether it was finding me a dress in my size to try on or getting my son a piece of cake! Here are some of the girls who helped make the day so special...

...and after all the fashion and photography fun, we got to keep the clothes! This is my children in the street after we left!

Thank you so much Littlewoods - your Christmas fashions are awesome!

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Review: Canvas by Photobox

**This is a Product Review Post**

Product Name: Canvas Print by Photobox
Buy Online Here:
Price: From £27.99 Mine was £34.99 plus P&P
Star Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

The blurb: Take a favourite photo and turn it into a stunning Canvas Print worthy of wall space in any gallery. Available in 14 sizes. Fantastic print quality. Choice of Classic or Premium. Option to wrap photo around edges. 2 working days production time

Initial Thoughts: I chose the Classic Rectangle which is a size of 40.6 x 30.5cm and costs £34.99. It was a nice size for my bedroom, and the quality of the canvas was good. Your photo is enlarged and printed onto a canvas sheet which is then stretched across a wooden frame and stapled at the back.

I Liked: The quick dispatch. It was sent from the warehouse within 2 days and I was kept informed of its progress with emails. Having a canvas for your wall is a modern way to display your family photos, and quality wise this one was great.

I wasn't Keen: The website didn't give me the option to checkout my basket with my preferred photo after warning me that the print quality would be low. I accept that they want to ensure that only high quality canvas's are sent out, but if they have warned customers that the quality will be low due to their photo choice, I think that it is up to the customer if they want to continue with the order regardless. In my case, I wanted the canvas as a reminder of the weight I was 'before' I started to shed weight. I've lost two stone so far and I only had one photo of me looking suitably heavy but also dressed up nicely! So I wanted to stick with my original print - even if the print quality would be low. As it was, I was unable to proceed with that photo and had to select another image that was better quality to have on the canvas- but my second choice was blurred too- this was down to my photo choice and not the printing, but I was saddened that I was allowed to print one blurred shot but not another (my original first choice).
It is also worth noting that if you wrap the image round the canvas that some of the picture may be effectively 'cut off' as it is shown on the sides of the frame. In order to get my whole portrait image onto the front of the canvas I had to opt for 'no wrap', so this is something to be aware of.

Overall: The canvas was a nice quality- and arrived quickly. It would make a great Christmas present for someone special as an alternative to toiletry gift sets!

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Happy Roasting on Bonfire Night!

BritMums posed the question... "Bonfire Night is around the corner, who would you like to roast?" This video is my reply!

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Secret Celebrity is Announced and YOU can Win in a Fab Competition!

Regis Salons are making an exciting celebrity announcement today – and Juggle Mum readers are amongst the first to find out exclusively online, who is the new Face of Regis Salons!

Here is a short video with the announcement, and at the end of the video you can enter a competition to win a year's supply of hair services and a Canon 550D camera - with 10 runners up each receiving a free cut & colour!

Here’s the video!

If it doesn’t display correctly, then you can watch via this link:

As you can see in the video, Regis is running a Facebook competition called LOCKS ROCK & LOAD. This is because you ‘Style your locks. Rock your look and upload your photos to Facebook.’ The competition aims to find the UK’s most covetable hairstyles, so to upload your picture, visit the Regis Salons UK Facebook page ( The overall winner will receive a whole year’s worth of hair services and a Canon 550D digital camera – with 10 runners up each receiving a cut and colour up to the value of £100! My entry this week will be a fab curly style which I’ll upload once I’ve perfected it!

Drumroll please!.............
So by now you will have watched the video and seen that the new face of Regis salons is Emma Willis! She will write a monthly blog for Regis, and you can read updates on her page here:
Regis has salons nationwide so my UK readers are sure to find one nearby. Good luck with the competition!

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