Friday, 31 August 2012

Sponsored Video - Esure

There is nothing that annoys me more than seeing other drivers talking on their mobile phone. To me, it's the ultimate form of selfishness, fine risk your own life, but please don't put me or my children at risk as well. There is a very narrow country lane near my house, and when I was pregnant with Son 1, a driver talking on his phone ploughed into me and took off my wing mirror (and then drove off). Luckily I wasn't hurt, but I was very shaken up and had to pull over while I calmed down, not the safest thing to do on a narrow lane but I felt it was the best course of action at the time. I had to get out of the car and am sorry to report that not one driver stopped to help a heavily pregnant woman who had just been crashed into!

Anyway, it's not just talking on a phone that's distracting and dangerous, but also the phone ringing when you are driving. Although I normally turn mine off before I get in the car, I must admit there are times that I forget and people can be very persistent, ringing over and over again, it's not good - it's stressful and distracting.

Never fear, help is at hand in the form of a new app from Esure. Their application blocks all beeps, sounds and flashes once you drive over 10mph and just takes all the temptation away. Since most car accidents are caused by driver inattention, it just means that this element is taken away leaving you to drive in safety without annoying distractions. I think it's a great idea, click here for more info

This post is sponsored by Esure but all thoughts are my own.

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

EARLY Thrifty Thursday 20% off Clarks and another Baukjen buy!

I must admit I haven't been very thrifty recently. I've actually discovered this thing you can do that saves you lots of money: don't leave the house and whatever you do, do NOT browse internet stores it is very dangerous and damaging for the bank account. That aside, there has to be some pleasure in life, and for me, shopping is one of them, any anyway it's my birthday soon(ish).

My first desire for the Autumn are these lovely Mummy boots from Clarks. I call them Mummy boots because they are the kind of things I see other Mums wear to baby groups: stylish, easy to wear, warm and comfy. I meant to get some last year but foolishly plumped for some hideous walking style boots that don't actually go with anything I own. Clarks also have a 20% off code until 30th Sept 2012 which is BEYOURS12. I like them because I could wear them over skinny jeans and leggings as well as with tights and dresses, they are called Norley Cedar.
Norley Cedar Boots £89
Regular readers of this blog will know I am a fan of the recently rebranded Baukjen (was Isabella Oliver), who also have 15% off at the moment with the code INSTYLE12. Autumn is actually the best time to get your winter clothes, not the Christmas sales which have been pretty woeful in recent years.There are always loads of discount codes around in September so that is when I buy most of my clothes for winter. Anyway, I love this poncho/knit from Baukjen, it is called Zoe Square Scarf
Zoe Square Scarf £89
and I think will go really nicely with my recently acquired Baukjen wrap belt and the aforementioned boots.

Another store with a fab 25% off at the mo is Warehouse who have some lovely Peplum tops at the moment, I bought one the other day to go with my Baukjen jeggings,  the code is VC25AW and I think it expires quite soon. Anyway, here is the top which is £25 before discount.
Warehouse Peplum Top
It doesn't look that special in this pic but is really flattering on and much more fitted (well it is on me anyway!). I had to size up though as the shoulders were a bit tight.

So that's all for today, not very thrifty, but some lovely things anyway.

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

My new nails!

I can't remember when I first started biting my nails, I seem to think it's something I've just always done. It's not a particularly nice habit, in fact it's downright dirty. One of the most horrifying moments in my life was going for a job interview in a trendy shop only to have to undergo a "hand inspection". Needless to say I didn't get the job and my nails were more bitten down than ever. I don't really know why I do it, but I do know that after a stressful day my nails always look savaged.

So after many years of having bitten-to-the-quick nails, I've finally invested in some acrylics in the hope of actually breaking the habit as I can't access my nails, and also making my nails look nice for a few weeks. I've even hd a few diamontes stuck on for added bling.

The only slight problem is that actually nails are a bit of a pain. I can no longer type properly, do up buttons, switch on lights, the list goes on. How do people manage with nails like this on a long term basis!?

They do look lovely for now, but part of me is looking forward to going back to normal, maybe biting my nails is just part of "me".

Monday, 27 August 2012

Last minute tips - Keeping Children Fit and Active Over the Summer...

We all know what the summer is like! As the novelty of the holidays start to wane, children can begin to grow a bit restless, sometimes complaining of boredom and lets not forget the copious amounts of tasty holiday treats which can leave them feeling a little sluggish. Here are some great suggestions for how to keep children fit and active, as well as entertained:
Take up a sport as a family
Taking up a sport with the rest of the family can be an enjoyable and bonding experience for your children. Try out sports with a competitive edge such as football, rounders, volleyball, badminton, or basketball to really get them motivated. Make sure to pick an activity that everyone involved is going to enjoy.
Walk or Cycle
Going somewhere? Get into the habit of walking or cycling instead of going in the car. This is an easy way for you and your child to get some exercise and stretch your legs. It is also a great opportunity to properly experience the outdoors and can be a nice change of scenery after all those videogames! If you get really enthusiastic you could even book a cycling holiday for next year.
Join a Gym
Joining a gym with your family can be ideal as you will all help to motivate each other. There are plenty of gym memberships to choose from and many have something to offer even the smallest member of your family. Make sure to take convenience and cost into account if you decide to go ahead with this plan, get a feel for what is on offer at different gyms before making your choice.
A dip in the pool is very popular with children and is a great way to cool down, especially when on holiday. So get swimming those lengths!
Beware of Injuries
Injuries can occur in the summer due to our tendency to push ourselves much further than we’re used to. Take care not to overdo each activity. Make sure to take frequent breaks and relax with a cool drink.
Happy Holidays!
Bio - This article was written by TalarMade who have a comprehensive range of full-body braces and supports, cold therapy wraps and foot insoles, designed to help prevent injury and promote healing.

Sunday, 26 August 2012

Sponsored Video - Aptamil

When I gave birth to my second son, I was determined to "succeed" where I felt I had "failed" with Son 1, and feed him myself for at least a year. Although Son 1 had grown up into a fine strong boy, I had convinced myself that my topping up breast milk with formula to satisfy his insatiable hunger, I had somehow missed something, and failed in my duty as a mother. So when Son 2 was born, there were no issues and I fed him exclusively for many months. However, as I had to return to work when he was 9 months old, I realised that realistically, he was going to have to be introduced to formula milk at some point. I also felt quite drained from feeding him all the time, and was ready to move on myself. Unfortunately, he just would not take a bottle. I tried every bottle on the market, and nothing worked.  It wasn't until Christmas day, when he was ten months, that I finally thought "I want a drink today!" and he did actually take a bottle!

Anyway, the formula of choice for most breastfeeding mums seems to be Aptamil. It was always my first port of call as after doing some research of my own I discovered that it contained the "most breast milk like" ingredients (in my opinion).

Obviously breast is best, but if you do feel ready to move on from breastfeeding, sign up the  Aptamil Club to get loads of info and also a very cute free bear!

This post has been sponsored by Aptamil but all thoughts are my own.

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Healthy Me...

I few weeks ago I wrote a post about my struggles with chronic heartburn and the terrible impact it has on my life. I really hate calling it heartburn as that implies it's a bit of a niggle after having a spicy meal  whereas in fact, this is a terrible debilitating condition that I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy (and believe me I hold a grudge).  Recently I discovered that there is a word for this that makes it sound a bit more like I want it to - gastro-intestinal disease. It's really hard to describe to someone who has never had it, but the feeling is something like nausea and hunger and a terrible burning sensation all the way from my stomach to my throat.  I find that if I have a stressful few days for whatever reason, it brings it back with a vengeance and although it does eventually settle down, for a week or so, I feel and look like death. One of the more pleasant side effects of gastro-intestinal disease is that when I have an episide, I cannot eat anything as I have been conditioned to associate food with pain. I usually end up losing about 2lbs per day during these periods, which is great in a way, but not really a healthy sign.

I know I need to go back to the doctor to sort this out, but aside from writing this blog which I sometimes think makes me out to be a bit of an attention seeker, I really hate attention! I know the doctor will refer me for an endoscopy which I really really don't want to have. Therefore I've been resorting to the tactic of old, searching the internet for answers and ideas for how I can treat it myself. One of the first things that came up on a search was some of the alternative remedies there are rather than taking Rinitidine which no longer works for me now. I had a look at the Holland and Barrett website which has a load of herbs etc that I was willing to try. I asked my husband to get me some stuff on his way home from work yesterday and he managed to pick me up some peppermint capsules and some aloe vera juice. I haven't tried the aloe vera yet but I took the peppermint before bed and I can honestly say it was the best I have slept in ages (I seem to suffer more at night). I am going to try the aloe vera today and am really really hoping it has an impact as I'm pretty desperate.

When I was still feeding my son I also tried Holland and Barrett's fenugreek capsules as a way to increase my milk supply. I found it worked really well and my son can attest to that as I fed him myself until he was nearly one.

Anyway, I'll keep you posted on how things go, I know I need to book a doctors appointment, I'm just scared of what they will say.

This content is the absolute truth but the link to Holland and Barrett is sponsored.

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

How I met your father...

I've never seen the TV series, "How I met your mother", and can only guess at the premise, but I sometimes feel that this blog comes across like I am a single parent coping on my own, the truth is anything but.

I met my husband eight years ago. I had just come out of a not-going-anywhere relationship and was not looking for anything serious. I had been living in Madrid for a while and had loved every minute, but I needed to come home as I was about to start what they call, a "proper" job. While I waited for that to start, I decided to go back to temping, not even for the money, but just to meet people and fill in the time before starting my "new life".

At the temping agency, I was offered two positions, a short term contract working as a PA at Harvey Nichols in Leeds, or as a PA at a large retail bank. I chose the former (of course!) but the recruitment consultant persuaded me to go for the longer term contract - the one at the bank.

I can honestly say that, to my surprise, I loved that job. I was working for a lovely girl called Emma who, eight years on, I now count as one of my best friends. I was working for a great team who really welcomed me and not once did they make me feel like "just a temp". I think they were mainly pleased that I could read and write and stuff but anyway, I really enjoyed it and toyed many times with the idea of staying on there long term. Sometimes I wish I had.

After the first few days of working there, a young man came over to introduce himself as he had been working away for a few days and hadn't been there when I started. We immediately "clicked" and that's all there was to it. I do not care if someone is "gorgeous" or whatever, it's childish and immature not to mention shallow, but in this instance I was struck by how gentle this man was and how he seemed genuinely interested in what I had to say; and he was handsome. I somehow knew he would never let me down.

Within a few weeks our friendship deepened and after a works night out, we kissed, and that was that. Six months later we were engaged and I have never ever once regretted that. We married nearly two years to the day after we first met. I suppose some people thought it was too soon, but six years on we are still going strong and I can honestly say I still trust him implicitly and can attest to his gentle spirit and nature. He is a fantastic role model for our sons and will always be my soul mate.

Anyway, enough already, but there you go. And here we are., the man I

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

WIN WIN WIN! Very Cool Limited Edition Camera!!

A few weeks ago, on a pretty boring (in that we were at home) Friday night in front of the TV, I suddenly had a brainwave that we should try and get last minute tickets for the Olympics. It looked so exciting and vibrant, an opportunity of a lifetime.  I clicked on the tickets section of the website and all seemed well, there were still tickets available for Saturday the 4th at only £50! Cue lots of frantic phonecalls to our in laws to see if they were available to look after the children. Then we naively started the process of actually trying to get tickets; let's just say the website said I had a 15 minute wait about two weeks ago! With that in mind, we are now trying to get some tickets for the Paralympics (well, we have talked about it once!) so I am hoping we are successful and maybe this time if we plan ahead we can even take our children. 

Anyway, that aside, I am happy to tell you that you can still take part in the Olympics in some small way, enter my giveaway to win a Lumix digital camera - a special edition that had been designed just for the Olympics! (If you win the giveaway as a UK resident you will get the camera, for residents of other countries an Amazon voucher of the same value; so everyone can take part!).

Lumix Camera
To enter, all you have to do is have a look and use this very very cool Facebook app specially designed for the Olympics and Paralympics to engage people and get them involved, even at this late stage. 

The app allows people to take a picture of themselves and add a flag (or several flags) on their faces to show their support to their country/favourite country! The picture will then appear on their Facebook profile but also on a giant screen next to the Olympic park!

For an entry to be valid, please  leave a comment with the link to your flag tag picture (the long one in the toolbar when your flag/photo combo appears) in the comment section below. No need to like me, follow me on twitter or any of that rubbish, let's keep it simple! It might be easier to leave your contact details with your comment, twitter id is fine, I'm sleep deprived, make it easy for me! I will manually enter the entrants into rafflecoptor which will then choose a random winner. The reason I have not put the rafflecoptor widget on here is because I believe it will put people off. If you have any questions please email me at bargainmummy (at) gmail (dot) com.

Competition ends at midnight GMT on the 9th September. 
For terms and conditions click here.

In return for running this competition, VisibilityIQ gave me the equivalent value of the camera in Amazon vouchers.

Sunday, 19 August 2012

How do others see you?

It can be difficult when writing a blog, to strike a balance between revealing enough of yourself to make things interesting, but not revealing so much that you compromise your privacy. Sometimes there are things I want to write, but I am aware that people I know will be reading this, and I worry that I may write something that either offends them, or that I don't want them to know. But today I'm just going to write, and not worry about any of that.

I'm feeling a bit fed up at the moment, fed up of being treated like "just a mother" and saying, "I only work part time". I am fed up of being "seen" as being "just" these things. It seems that people think that because some women "only" do these things, then they have nothing important to say, or there is no point in speaking to them, or asking them anything about themselves because they are "just" a this or a that. Why should we have to apologise for wanting to spend time with our children and bring them up? Or conversely why should we have to justify wanting to work and advance? It seems we can't win, we can't alter how people "see" us.  I have lost count of the times recently that I have had conversations with people that centre solely on what THEY are doing, where is the reciprocation? Is it a self centredness that has continued from childhood? What's it about? If there was an Olympic event in listening, I would win, I am well practiced.

Rant over.

Friday, 10 August 2012

Thrifty Thursday! Half price Baukjen Belt and Laura Ashley ex Display Bargain!

As my regular readers will know, I'm a bit of an Isabella Oliver addict. However, it has been a bit confusing trying to differentiate the Isabella Oliver maternity collection from the Isabella Oliver "Womanswear" collection, after all, pregnant women are women too! Anyway, to make things easier, IO have changed their non maternity range name to Baukjen from now on. I love the new collection, easy to wear stuff, and for my birthday (coming up soon, 34 ah!) I'm going to go for something I thought I would never wear - a poncho!

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Do your children show you up?

When I was a child, there was a saying people used to use when you didn't behave yourself, "you showed yourself up there", "you made a right show of yourself" or worse, "you showed me up"!

Showing either yourself, or showing someone else up was the height of rudeness, bad manners and embarrassment. Offences could range from; hysterical crying for no reason, going into a sulk for several hours in a public place, walking around all day with no shoes on because you stood in dog poo

Sunday, 5 August 2012

Why are weekends so stressful?

Since I'm off work for the summer holidays I've been experiencing what it's like to be a stay at home mum to my two boys. For the most part I've enjoyed spending time with them, although I have to say it's more stressful than being at work, it's infinitely more meaningful and feels like time well spent. I've also noticed an improvement (for the most part) in their behaviour as they've so obviously thrived in a situation where they know where they are going to be from one day to the next. I've experienced a few "brain freeze" days but I've tried to keep us all busy by taking them for lots of days out, play dates and activities such as painting and gardening at home. The TV has hardly been on at all, tempting as it has been.

Friday, 3 August 2012

Fruit Hypocrisy

In most schools in the UK, children are offered fruit at break times in the morning in a drive to improve the health of the nation and get kids eating at least one of their five a day.

I know from experience that some children do not like fruit. You can dress it up however you like but they still sniff it out in disgust. It's a shame because most babies I know love fruit, but somewhere along the way they've decided it's actually not very nice. Thing is, unless you buy fruit from M&S, it usually tastes pretty, well, fruitless. Strawberries just taste of icey water with a hint of something or other, raspberries last about three seconds in your house before they turn to mush, and bananas are green for two weeks then ripe for two minutes before turning to brown. Something isn't right, and I suspect it's to do with the fact that a lot of fruit is picked before it is ripe and then left to ripen in transit. Not exactly a natural state of affairs is it, it's not surprising they all taste faintly of, well, nothing.

Anyway, back to the fruit in schools initiative. It backfires in oh so many ways. Firstly, let's take the carrots. I don't know about you but I like my raw carrots to be both peeled and washed - the ones offered to children in school are neither, and are usually pretty manky. Next let's look at the pears, they are rock rock rock hard. As an adult you would struggle to break through them, how are 5 year olds meant to do it? Then we have the green bananas, impossible to peel and so unripe that they must lead to stomach aches in the children. How can we expect our children to eat fruits if this is what they are presented with? We've gone wrong somewhere along the line with this one?  I can see the logic of the fruit thing, but someone forgot to take care with it, look after it, nurture it. They expected it to look after itself, but it didn't, it really didn't.
Does your child eat fruit in school? What do they say about it? Is it edible?

Sponsored Video - TA

I've been thinking recently that now my boys are getting a little older, and we can move on into the next stage of our lives, that now might be a good time to find myself a hobby (aside from blogging that is!) or actually get fit. A few things have crossed my mind, like taking a Spanish class, joining the local gym, or taking up something even more strenuous like joining the TA!

Thursday, 2 August 2012

Thrifty Thursday! £5 Oasis skirt, Isabella Oliver Treggings!

This week in the shops, lots of brands are starting to make a big push to sell off their sale stock, resorting to offering 20% off and the like.

I've been having a good browse today, too see if there are any absolute bargains for next year, though it might pay to hold on another week or two until prices really reach rock bottom.

Review - Dollshouses fabbo Pirate Ship!

My son is obsessed with pirates at the moment. He loves "Jake and the Neverland Pirates" on the Disney channel, and has even taken to saying "ay ay Mummy" when I ask him to do something! He calls money "gold dablooms" and calls his friends "mi hearties". He's really entered into the spirit of it!

Therefore we were all pretty thrilled to be sent an exquisite pirate ship from super duper website Dolls Houses this week, which is called Le Toy Van Barbarossa. This is the box, and was a good sign of things to come!
Barbarossa Pirate Ship Box
When we opened the box, I discovered that quite a lot of the ship actually had to be built, but all the parts were included and actually my son and I enjoyed putting it together as a team. The ship is much better quality than you normally get for kids toys, it's made from painted wood and it's excellent quality. The designer of the toy obviously knows how little boys' minds work as there are loads of nooks and crannies for them to hide things in, trap doors, and even a plank to walk!
Fully made pirate ship!
He loves the fact there is an anchor as he likes winches and winding things. He also likes the ladders that lead to the birds nest (is that what it's called?). The sails are actually made from genuine material which is unusual for toys these days where everything seems to be plastic.

All in all, we're over the moon with our new toy. It's something we will keep forever and is the kind of thing you might keep and pass onto the grandchildren as it's made from such good quality wood. The only thing I wasn't expecting was the fact that no pirates come with it but you can buy these from the Dolls Houses website.

Thanks Dollshouses, we love our new pirate ship!

This item was given to us in return for a review, however it is my unbiased opinion and is really cool!

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

My heartburn hell...

When I was 16 and studying for my GCSEs, I was rather worried as you can imagine, and also pretty keen to do well. I would sit at my desk for hours each day, teaching myself the syllabus for each subject, dissecting past questions, and generally doing all the right things. At the time, I was drinking quite a lot of coffee to keep myself alert, and after a while I gradually noticed an annoying pain in my lower chest, right in the middle of my diaphragm. I couldn't quite place where the pain was, as it went up and down, but it was something between hunger and nausea. At the time I went to the doctor about it, but he just told me it was down to worry and sent me away. After my exams finished, the pain mysteriously went away and I didn't think about it again.

Until about seven years later, I had signed up to spend a year teaching English in Japan. I had no idea where I was going to be sent, did not know a soul in Japan and felt generally rather uneasy about the whole thing. Many times I thought about pulling out, but  my life was pretty much going nowhere and I knew I had to do it. Again, gradually I felt the familiar pain in my diaphragm, worse at night, better in the mornings, worse after fruit, tea, coffee and anything with tomatoes in. Again, I had no idea what it was and after a while, it went away again.

Roll on another seven years! I was pregnant with my second child and it was snowing, badly. Where we live, on the hills, the snow affects us really badly, so much so that we've had to buy a 4 x 4. I was seven months pregnant when the snow began and it didn't melt until I was nine months gone. I was really worried about getting to work, buying food, and most of all, going into labour and not being able to get to hospital. The pain started again, only this time because I knew that many women get heartburn in pregnancy, this time I knew what it was. The pain is searing, running up and down your gullet, into your mouth and back down into your stomach. I couldn't sleep because of the pain and worst of all sitting and lying made it more painful, whereas being up and about lessened it slightly, even though I was completely exhausted. This time I couldn't pin point any foods that made it worse, it was everything, in fact water seemed to be a major cause, so there was nothing I could eat that helped. I was at my wits end, in tears because of the acidic hell I was experiencing. The only time I felt any relief was bizarrely at work because I was on my feet all day, and that seemed to help.

The doctor prescribed me some heartburn relief tablets and gave me gaviscon, but it made no difference. The only time I felt ok was first thing in the morning before I ate. Then, it all began again.

Since giving birth it hasn't really let up. At times of stress it comes on again, or if I'm really tired, or I eat certain foods. It looks like it's going to be one of those things I'm going to have to learn to live with.

Does anyone have any miracle cures for heartburn, please share!


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