Friday, 27 February 2015

Mother's Day Gifts from Artistry - Indigo Skies Colour Collection Make-Up

If you are looking for a gift for your mum this Mother's Day, cosmetics can be a good choice.  I'd definitely enjoy receiving some lovely new make-up, especially as some of the things in my make-up bag are older than my children!  The huge range of beauty brands available means there are lots of choices to suit every taste and budget.  

For great quality products,  Artistry, which is one of the world's top five skincare brands, offers beauty products created to push the boundaries, using beneficial ingredients and advanced technologies. New from Artistry comes the Indigo Skies Colour Collection of cosmetics, designed by makeup artist Rick DiCecca. The limited edition Indigo Skies Colour Collection is inspired by the springtime, in a soft colour palette ranging from pale blues to rich indigos to shimmering beiges.

Artistry Indigo Skies Colour Collection

Featuring seven products including the Indigo Skies Eye Crayon Trio (£43.05), Signature Eyes Volume Mascara (£23.80) and Signature Colour lipsticks or Sheer Finish lipsticks (£19.95) the Indigo Skies Colour Collection will give women the freedom to create a bespoke seasonal look.  I was sent the eye crayons and a lipstick to review.

The Eye Crayons can be used as both eyeshadows and liners to shade, define and highlight the eyes. The crayons are sleek and black with a twist up function. They have a long-lasting, lightweight formula and glide on smoothly, drying to a smooth, powdery finish. The three shades are Indigo, Sky Blue and Desert Sand.  The brighter crayons can be used as accent colours for a bold look, whereas the Desert Sand crayon is very natural, perfect for an everyday look.

Artistry Indigo Skies Colour Collection

The Signature Colour Lipstick and Sheer Lipsticks are formulated with plush pigments and contain hydrating ingredients to coat and condition lips. Available in Sandstone, Rose Quartz and Coral Sunrise, the Signature Colour lipsticks colour lips with high-pigment hues, whilst the Sheer range gives  a high-gloss hint of colour.

I love the Sandstone coloured Sheer Lipstick, which is a nude shade with an orangey undertone and a shimmery finish. Lovely for everyday wear, it can also be dressed up, making it a very versatile lipstick.  It feels very moisturising on the lips and the subtle colour lasted well.

Artistry Indigo Skies Colour Collection

Also available is the Signature Eyes Volume Mascara™ in indigo blue is a revolutionary, colour-intense FullFx formula mascara, which claims to increase volume by up to 600%.  It contains conditioners to smooth, gloss and enrich lashes.

The Artistry range includes make-up, skincare products and accessories.

Find out more from the Artistry product portfolio.

Thursday, 26 February 2015

Pink Parcel - Celebrating Womanhood on International Women’s Day

International Women's Day 2015 takes place on March 8th. All around the world, International Women's Day represents an opportunity to celebrate the achievements of women while calling for greater equality.  #MakeItHappen is the 2015 theme encouraging effective action for advancing and recognising women globally.

As a female brand with a mission to care for and bring joy to women every month when their period strikes, Pink Parcel is naturally proud and passionate about International Women’s Day. 

To celebrate, Pink Parcel is offering one free parcel to anyone that signs up to the subscription service on Sunday 8th March. (Usual full price is £9.99).

Pink Parcel is the latest monthly beauty subscription service for women for periods. Each month, Pink Parcel works with your cycle dates to bring you a luxurious box of full size beauty, grooming and lifestyle products, as well as a supply of feminine hygiene essentials. Brand partners include St Tropez, Elizabeth Arden, OPI, ROC, Maybelline, Rimmel and Bio Oil.

OPI, Maybelline, Witch

I was sent a box and am so impressed with the contents.   It includes full size OPI Nail Lacquer, Witch redness relief moisturiser and Maybelline The Smoother anti-age primer, plus a bar of Doisy and Dam goji and orange organic chocolate, a Pukka Love tea bag and a sample of Yardley body lotion.  There are also twenty five regular Tampax tampons and a drawstring bag, all neatly boxed and packaged in a Pink Parcel box.  Receiving it through the post, definitely helps brighten your mood, at what can be a pretty miserable time of the month.

periods, tampons

Pink Parcel also recently launched a teen-only version, TeenParcel, designed especially for girls between the ages of 11 and 17 featuring brands such as Teapigs, Flamingo candles, Yardley and Binky London.

It's easy to subscribe to Pink Parcel:

1: Visit and select ‘subscribe’ to get started
2: Choose your favoured sanitary brand (Tampax, Lil-lets, U by Kotex or Always)
3: Choose the level of absorbency required – Individual (Lite, Regular, Super or Super Plus) or Multi (a selection of different absorbencies)
4: Choose your delivery dates based on your cycle

The subscription service is £9.99, including delivery, monthly. You can cancel at any time.

Remember, subscribe on March 8th and get your first box for free!

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Everybody Learns - Freddy's Progress

Freddy has been trialing the Lexia Reading Core 5 home reading course.  Doing a minimum of twenty minutes three times a week, is proving just about right for him. He remains a bit reluctant, until he actually starts a session, and then he really enjoys the word games.  He has powered through levels 3 and 4 and  is currently half way through the fifth level.  Every time he completes a level he gets a certificate, which he proudly takes to school to show his teacher! 


In addition to the certificates, I get a fortnightly progress update, giving the time spent on the program, his present position against chronological age expectations, his catch up rate and the time expected to complete the course.  I am delighted to see the rate that he is now catching up to his peers. The support team are there to also offer advice and give ideas on how to further encourage the child to maximize the impact of the reading course.

phonics, learning to read

Each level has a different fun theme from the rainforest to the Scottish cliffs, and has characters that help make the games fun. The content of the levels gets more advanced as the child progresses and the format of each section changes to make it more of a challenge. If a mistake is made, the child is taken back to consolidate their knowledge before moving on. At the end of each game, the child is rewarded by a fun animation.

Children learn to recognise and spell high frequency sight words; recognise, blend and segment phonics in words; learn sequencing of stories and learn vocabulary.  The progress of the games in the levels is clearly displayed, giving the child the incentive to keep going.

Freddy is definitely getting to grips with recognising the beginning, medial and end sounds of words. This has improved his ability to read lots of different words.  He is still a reluctant reader when faced with a physical book, but I'm sure he will make the connection between what he is doing online and actually being able to read independently.  I think a lot of his reluctance is down to confidence after his difficult first year at school because of his eyesight. The home reading course is definitely making him more interested in reading words, so it'll just be a matter of time before that translates into reading stories for his own entertainment.

I am delighted that Freddy has been moved up a group in the phonics lessons he does at school and his teacher has reported an improvement. Fingers crossed, all this extra work will help him make the leap and he will soon be a confident and fluent reader.

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Netflix on TalkTalk TV

TalkTalk TV customers with a Netflix subscription have instant, easy access to a wide variety of programming from Netflix through their YouView box. Netflix features some great shows including critically acclaimed original series such as House of Cards, Orange is the New Black, Better Call Saul and  Marco Polo alongside documentaries, comedy specials, feature films and kids' entertainment. There are lots of seasons of favourite series to rediscover, such as Gossip Girl and Dexter. All this from just £5.99 a month, with your first month free!  There is no long term contract to sign up to, so with Netflix you can enjoy top TV shows with no commitment.

For me, "binge watching" episodes of a top TV show alongside Ian, is my idea of weekend entertainment heaven!  I hate having to wait a whole week for the next installment of my favourite programmes.  Wondering what might happen next to my favourite characters, worrying about tense cliffhangers or simply wanting to know who did what to whom is like torture.  I want to watch the next episode straight away, not wait for the next scheduled weekly installment.  Netflix lets me do this instantly with its extensive library of TV series. Plus the episodes are ad free.  Other brand new shows are shown weekly, but available to watch anytime after the new episode is aired.

My current favourite Netflix show is the brilliant House of Cards starring Kevin Spacey as Frank Underwood. It's a brilliant political thriller, which follows Underwood's ruthless quest to elevate himself to a position of power and influence in Washington DC.  His manipulation of the media and his way of playing his opposition is simply brilliant.  Kevin Spacey is perfectly cast using his dashing charm to bring Frank to life.  Although you know just how ruthless, cunning and vicious he is, you can't help but root for him.  Even with blood on his hands, I am Team Frank all the way.  House of Cards is now in its third season on Netflix.

Kevin Spacey

Netflix is another way to watch and enjoy TV your way.  It fits in with your schedule giving you freedom to watch anytime on demand.  There are some exclusive shows that you won't find anywhere else, making Netflix a top choice for TV fans.


Proud TalkTalk Family Blogger

Monday, 23 February 2015

Not the half-term I had planned

I had been so looking forward to this half-term.  We'd had a difficult week beforehand with our boiler breaking down leaving us with no central heating and hot water, and we were looking forward to getting away from our chilly house and taking advantage of other places' warmth!  Ian had booked the week off work and we had a four night family holiday booked. Freddy had been invited to two birthday parties, which he was excited about and I'd also planned a lovely meal and activities for Valentine's Day on the Saturday to kick off a week of family fun.

Sadly, fate had other ideas.  Freddy woke up on Saturday morning unable to swallow and with a temperature.  We thought a syringe of Calpol might knock it on its head but as soon as the medicine went into his mouth, Freddy promptly threw up all over my bed.  Once we had stripped the bed we gave Freddy a sip of drink and again, as soon as it hit his tonsils he was sick again, this time over our cream bedroom carpet.  Cleaning up pink stained, Calpolly sick using a bucket of cold water (because of the broken boiler) was a low point of my day.  We had two extra loads of washing to do, with no central heating to dry any of it! Thankfully, we had lots of kind offers of help from friends and family and so with my sister's offer to tumble dry my bed sheets and a fan heater pointing at my clothes rack, we got by!

Freddy's poor tonsils were big and bright red and all he wanted to do was sleep albeit fitfully.  He missed birthday party number one and Ian and I put all our romantic candlelit dinner plans aside to look after our poorly boy. Freddy was up and down all night, waking every hour or so because he couldn't swallow his own spit. It's heartbreaking when they are so poorly.

By Sunday, Freddy had also come out in a rash, which I assumed was some sort of viral thing...although in hindsight could have been Scarlet Fever, which I've since read is doing the rounds. There is no way we could take him away on holiday when all he wanted to do was lie on the sofa under a duvet, sleeping or watching the occasional Nick Jr and eating nothing but ice lollies. So we made the decision to stay at home losing the money we had paid out. (Although initially a bit upset about this, I think we may have actually had a lucky break as we were going to spend four nights at Pontins in Southport.  Looking at their Tripadvisor reviews, which basically said things such as "cheap but not at all cheerful" and "stay at home"and "don't waste your money", I'm not sure it would have been the break we had in mind!)

Freddy did perk up a bit midweek, which meant we got to visit his sisters in Manchester, but as he still had no appetite, his energy reserves ran low pretty quickly and we wanted to be back home on his sofa, cutting short our visit. The same thing happened on Friday when we went to visit big brother Joe, who is sporting a triple toe dislocation, chipped bone and torn ligament injury from slipping down the stairs (but that's another story)! Again, when his energy run out, Freddy just wanted to be back in the comfort of his home. Unfortunately, this visit set Freddy back and he relapsed with tonsils swelling up and his temperature spiking again.

So, this weekend we have again been nursing a poorly boy with tonsilitis who just wants to sleep.  He tried to go to the second birthday party, but lasted five minutes before welling up and wanting to go back home.  Definitely not like him to ask to leave a party.  He returned to his spot on the sofa feeling very sorry for himself, but the party bag he was given by the party host's mum did soften the blow a little.

So today, Freddy has missed the first day back at school. He didn't sleep well last night because he couldn't warm himself up. I'm working on trying to get him eating again so he has some energy, but he is in better spirits and his temperature seems to be stable.  Fingers crossed for him being well enough for school tomorrow.  And our boiler is getting replaced maybe things will finally look up after a pretty rubbish week!!

boy, son

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Beauty Products on Review - TanOrganic Original Self Tan and Jooma 2 in 1 Cleanser and Moisturiser

TanOrganic Original Self Tan

I've always used to associate fake tans with the cast of TOWIE, who sport their orange hued skin like a designer fashion accessory. Or I think of Ross from Friends and his unfortunate experience in the spray tan booth where he counted 'Mississipily' and ended up with a shade 8 instead of a 2!

However, in real life, fake tans are definitely not as extreme as those examples.  My daughter, who has a very pale complexion, swears by using a little fake tan to give her a healthy glow, and it looks great. So when I was offered the chance to try out some, I looked forward to giving myself a sunless bronzing, as an antidote to the winter blues. 

Fake tans are so much safer than using sunbeds or indeed sunbathing, but it is very important to me that faking it gives a subtle, natural looking tan, rather than an artificial orange coating!

TanOrganic is the first Eco certified, all natural, organic self tanning oil that nourishes and hydrates the skin.  It is marketed to those who care about what they put on their skin but who still want a professional looking finish.  As it is ethically made and approved by PETA it is also a brand for conscientious consumers.  For me, all these things are very important, and TanOrganic's outstanding credentials make it very appealing.

natural beauty

In addition to its ethical appeal, TanOrganic also gives:

– Buildable colour that allows you the versatility to go from a subtle glow to a deep tan
– 84% Aloe Vera for a streak free application that moisturises your skin and fades perfectly
– No perfume or fragrance, so no more “fake tan” smell
– Develops quickly and lasts for days

But what about the results?  

The TanOrganic oil applies really well to the skin.  When first squeezed out I detected a slight orange smell which was very pleasant, but this faded very quickly to give a fragrance free application.  It feels really smooth and moisturising on the skin, with no stickiness or residue.  I must confess that I was a little nervous and worried about streaking but it went on easily with a streak free and even finish.  I didn't have to faff about at all. Simple!

My skin glowed and looked naturally bronzed, but maybe more importantly, it felt lovely and soft and hydrated.  The formula feels very moisturising. It's amazing what a boost it gives you, having a healthy looking glow.  I love that it is an all natural and organic product, and is definitely something that I will enjoy using.

A 100ml bottle of TanOrganic costs £19.99 and is available from Superdrug or from TanOrganic online (with free delivery on orders over £7).  Aplication mitts and erasers are also available.

Joomo 2 in 1 Cleanser and Moisturiser

Joomo is a 100% natural face wash, made with out using any junk such as parabens, preservatives, soaps or foamers. There is nothing synthetic, nothing harsh and nothing dangerous in the ingredients list. Everything is 100% natural with no physical or chemical changes, harnessing the power of their active ingredients to cleanse and repair the skin.  Raw honey, cinnamon, orange and sea salt are among the ingredients used to create the gentle and effective face wash, which helps prevent acne, spots, blackheads, eczema, psoriasis, rosacea and dermatitis.

Joomo Face wash contains SaponinJTM, which is a unique proprietary skin repair system that enables the skin to return to its natural state and helps prevent ailments. It consists of a specially balanced all natural formula of Saponins, essential oils, sea salt, natural sugars, natural pH modifiers, natural anti-oxidants, natural softeners & emollients.  It  treats existing skin ailments and rebuilds and repairs the damage done through the use of synthetic products. Joomo is anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, anti-viral and hypoallergenic, making it totally safe to use with therapeutic properties.

face wash, natural beauty

Although designed for young, spot prone skin, Joomo is suitable for everyone, especially if you have sensitive or problem skin.  Both Kezia and I love using Joomo face wash and were excited to try out the new 2 in 1 Cleanser and Moisturiser.

The Honey and Orange fragrance is gorgeous.  It smells so natural with a warming hint of cinnamon spice.  Using the face wash can at first seem a little strange as it doesn't foam up like other synthetic cleansers that many of us have previously been used to. But it does make the skin feel silky smooth and soft after using it.  You simply smooth it on then rinse well. There is no tightness or dryness and your face feels hydrated and moisturised without any greasiness. Knowing that it is 'junk' free and natural is so reassuring.

natural face wash

The Joomo Face Wash 2 in 1 Cleanser and Moisturiser comes in two packaging designs for both boys and girls, to appeal to the youngsters that the product is marketed for.  I think this is a great idea as so many beauty products are targeted primarily at women.  Having the boy friendly packaging makes this product great for lads too, giving them ownership of their skincare regime.

The 100ml tube costs £9.95 and is available to buy from the Joomo website (delivery rates apply).


Both of these products tick all of the boxes when it comes to choosing ethical, natural beauty products.  I was impressed by the performance of both and love knowing that they are made from ingredients that are completely safe and not synthetic.  Both TanOrganic and Joomo are leading the way, creating natural, top quality, effective products for conscientious consumers who care about what they put on their skin and what goes into the beauty products they buy.

We were sent a sample of each product to test out for the purpose of this review, but retain all editorial control.

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Mother's Day Gift Ideas - plus get a FREE Truprint photo card #millionmumssmile

This year, Mother's Day is on Sunday March 15th.  It's a great excuse for celebrating motherhood and saying thank you to our mums (not that we should ever need an excuse for doing that!) 

Truprint have challenged me to make some personalised Mother's Day gifts for my mum and my mother-in-law.  I decided that it would be lovely to use some old photographs from our family albums to create some nostalgic gifts for the mums in my life. 

I love old photographs.  Each one is rich with memories, evoking emotions from days gone by. Although the quality may not be as good as photographs nowadays, the images themselves are simply wonderful.  Losing a little bit of clarity when they are used in photo gifts adds a retro charm, reminding us of fond moments from the past when things seemed so much simpler.

Truprint, Mother's Day

Mother's Day for me, is a time to celebrate the relationship that I have with my mum.  I loved looking through old pictures from my own childhood, finding photos of my mum as a young woman with myself and my sisters.  Snaps from holidays, days out, family parties and even pictures from photo booths depicted moments from our shared past, which I knew would make an incredible photo gift, charged with love and emotion and steeped with happy memories.

My mum is a proud silver surfer, using the computer that we gave her to stay in touch with the grandchildren and to surf the net.  So the ideal gift for her was a new mouse mat.  Creating a collage design on the mouse mat allowed me to use eight photographs dated from the early 70's through to the mid 80's in both black and white and colour.

I added a caption onto the mouse mat "Always my Mum...Forever my friend" which sums up our relationship perfectly.  I was able to play with colours and fonts, but decided to keep the colour scheme simple, so as not to distract from the wonderful old photos I had chosen to use.

A matching notebook, featuring some of the same photographs used in the mousemat, completes her gift.  The note book can be filled with plain or lined paper and is ring bound. I love how a practical gift can still be so personal and hold so many wonderful family memories.  I hope she is going to love both of her photo gifts.

Truprint, Mother's day

For a more up to date gift, I also created a collage mug featuring 15 recent photographs of the grandchildren.  I picked photos of my kids that showed their personalities and the relationships between them to give a fun rather than a formal effect.  It's bright, busy and makes you smile...just like our family life!

Truprint, photo gifts

For my mother-in-law, I made some gifts using a set of photo booth photos of her and my father-in-law taken at the beginning of their fifty year relationship back in the 60's!  They are just such brilliant photographs that tell a story of young love. My MIL's shy and wistful smile and my FIL's sudden attack of the giggles is beautifully captured.  So my gift to my other mum this year is to immortalise this moment from her romance that lead to her marriage and becoming a mum to my own wonderful husband and his sister.

I chose to make an 8 x 10 collage photo panel and an 11oz mug.  I am so delighted with the results. Using the black surrounds on both gifts fits with the black and white photo booth effect.  The photo panel is made of high gloss acrylic and has an integral stand in the back for easy display.  It looks classy and is a great way to preserve photographic images as pieces of art for the home.

Truprint, old family photos

Notebook  £6.99, Collage mug £7.99, Collage 10 x 8 photo panel  £17.99, Collage Mouse mat  £6.99.

Claim a FREE Mother's Day card in Truprint's Mum in a Million campaign

Truprint would like to make a million mums smile by giving away 1 million personalised Mother's Day cards. Visit, create a card for your mum and simply use the code MUMINAMILLION at the checkout to claim your free card.


Awards one free 7x5 folded card
Standard P&P charges apply (99p)
Ship to recipient not available
Complete with envelope
Code is One time use only
Strictly one code use per household

I have worked in collaboration with Truprint on this post but have retained all editorial control.


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