Blooming Delicious by Sophie Wright - Book Review

Blooming deliciousDelicious, Beautifully Photographed Recipes for Glowing Health, From Pre-Conception to Post-Baby

When professional chef and highly successful catering business owner Sophie Wright discovered she was pregnant, like many-mums-to-be, she decided to take a closer look at her diet. However, instead of keeping all her wonderful recipes to herself, she made the decision to publish them to help others also improve their diets from pre-pregnancy right up until post-baby.

Blooming Delicious is just that - a beautiful book bursting full of tasty, nutritionally balanced recipes, which, with the help of top nutritional therapist Henrietta Norton, ensure that both mother and baby will be carefully nourished. Alongside each section of the book Sophie has included lots of interesting information about what is happening developmentally to both mother and baby, before introducing many relevant recipes for the stage at which the mother to be has reached.

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HardWall Takker - Every Home Needs One

Hardwall Takker
Hardwall Takker
Hardwall Takker Kit
Hardwall Takker Kit

I brandish my Hardwall Takker like I'm on a true mission. Pencil in one hand I mark my target, HardWall Takker in the other, I approach with confidence. Placing the HardWall Takker on my pencil mark I carefully turn the handle and just moments later the hole is drilled. Lifting the concealed flap on the handle I slip a little Takk from it, place it into the hole and affix it with the aid of the matching slot on the HardWall Takker. That's it. The tack is in place, I slip a picture hook onto it and I'm free to hang whatever I like, indoors or out. Easy to operate, silent in operation and holding up to 12kg it's a brilliant addition to any home or workplace.

Until a few days ago I hadn't heard of the HardWall Takker - a surprise in itself as I'm usually on the lookout for anything handy that will make my life a little easier. However, now that I have one, I'm wandering around my house lamenting the fact I haven't got enough things to hang up! Yesterday evening I hung a candelabra I bought 20 years ago and never got around to hanging up - it looks like it was made for my bathroom. I also hung up a little soft bird decoration on my kitchen door, a tiled picture on my hall wall and today I drilled into my son's wardrobe door so he has a hook on which to display his sporting medals!

Hardwall takker candelabra
Newly Hung Candelabra

I am truly loving it and even my children are fascinated as they watch me tackle jobs that until yesterday I'd never have attempted. Meanwhile, my husband looks on in awe as the realisation dawns I don't need to rely on him for putting holes in the walls anymore!

Soft Decoration
New Hung Soft Decoration

The HardWall Takker comes from the same people who developed the original Takker, a simple stapler style device that inserted a tiny but remarkably strong Takk into plasterboard, plaster, wooden surfaces and aerated concrete. However, HardWall Takker allows you to drill into many more, much harder surfaces such as brick, concrete, mortar and even ceramic tiles. As a result, it enables you to hang all mannner of things from mirrors to picture frames, plant pots, kitchen equipment, bathroom accessories and so on. No longer is there a need for various tools like hammers and drills, this versatile little device does everything you want it to when it comes to holes in walls!

The Hardwall takker is receiving many positive reviews from celebrity stylists, interior designers, DIY gurus and if you check out Amazon you'll see many more ordinary people also gushing about this wonderful invention.

Tiled Art
Newly Hung Tiled Art

Costing just £24.99 (inc p&p in the UK and Ireland) the Hardwall Takker kit includes:

1 x Hardwall Takker

1 x Multipurpose drill bit

24 x Hardwall takks

4 x picture hooks

4 x Canvas Hangers

2 x Medium Multipurpose Hooks

The Hardwall Takker is available from Decco Stores, Amazon and also directly from www.Takker.com.

I honestly am astonished by how effective this tool is and believe every house should come with one! Buy one now for yourself, a friend or just someone who deserves a little gift. I guarantee you won't be disappointed. I know I wasn't!


Alpaca Children's Socks by Perilla - Making Cold Feet a Thing of the Past!

Perilla- Alpaca-Kids-Boot-SocksUK company Perilla's Alpaca short ribbed socks are "the most comfortable, cosy warm socks in the world" - so says my daughter, Tara, who, believe me, loves her new socks! She's the sort of child who feels the cold much more than the rest of our family and when I asked her if she'd like to try these for me, her grin said it all.

Made from 75% baby alpaca and 25% nylon, these alpaca socks for older children are incredibly soft and with a cushioned sole and hand linked toes, they are very nice to walk on - I know because I tried them out before passing them on to Tara! They keep feet toasty warm outdoors and when wearing them indoors, although they are not slip resistant, I felt like I was walking on air and really couldn't feel any cold floor beneath my feet. 

Some people, me included, find natural wool too prickly for comfort, but with alpaca wool this is not a problem as alpaca wool has a naturally low prickle quality! The wool also has hollow fibres making it more insulating, and therefore warmer, than wool.

I'm size 5 in socks and although the children's socks are available in shoe size UK 12½ - 3½, they actually fit me very well. However, being made for children, they're perhaps a little on the short side for adults. Thankfully, Perilla also cater for both adults and younger children too and have the most gorgeous little alpaca baby booties and alpaca bed socks for mums. In fact, the baby booties and bed socks would make a fantastic and much appreciated gift for any new mum or mum to be.

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The Slightly Annoying Elephant - A Fun Interactive Ebook for Toddlers by David Walliams

Recently I had the good fortune to review a fun new ebook by David Walliams. With two of my older children aged 8 and 10 already huge David Walliams fans, I was interested to see how Sophia, my 2 year old, would take to the author's latest story, his first picture book.

Illustrated by the amazingly talented Tony Ross, this special edition ebook includes lots of fun animation, videos features and even an introductory video by the author himself!

The-slightly-annoying-elephant-ebook
The Slightly Annoying Elephant eBook

The Slightly Annoying Elephant (Special Edition) is a story about a young boy who goes to the zoo and ends up adopting an elephant. The elephant visits the boy's home and turns out to be a rather unwelcome house guest!

I'll not spoil the story, but needless to say, as with all of David Walliams' books, it's a wonderful tale, full of the quirky humour we associate with the author and my daughter absolutely loved it. In fact, it wasn't only Sophia who enjoyed the story, but her sister Sarah and her brother Jack also got almost as much enjoyment from it.

Unlike paperback books, this ebook is extremely interactive. In fact, it is crammed full of so many brilliant activities that it's hard for me to do them justice!

At the beginning you are presented with a choice of having David Walliams read the story to the child or your child can either read it themselves or have it read to them in the traditional way! But, in our house, every single time the choice was for the author to read the story. He has a great way of making even the most ordinary of sentences sound funny and this resulted in my children giggling together as they listened.

Each page of the story also offers children the ability to touch items or characters on the page to see silly things happen and this was perhaps my favourite aspect of the book. It quite literally brings the story to life and I can't even begin to imagine how much enjoyment this particular feature of the book would have brought to me when I was a child!

Aside from the story, the activity sections include:

Arty Elephant - a colouring in section which allows children to colour pictures of the elephant and to incorporate the finished piece into the story if they want to. My older children loved this as they could then see their own artwork hanging on the walls or appearing on the television in the story.

Jumbo Workout - a musical fun game which gets children to tap on coloured lights to make the rather funky elephant boogie. Sophia really loved this and nodded her head and danced along to the music. It's also a fun way of introducing or reinforcing the names of colours.

The Elephant in the Room - a jigsaw section with an easy, medium and hard jigsaw. I must admit to being slightly amazed at how quickly Sophia understood how to drag and drop the pieces into the right places! This is actually her favourite section and it would be lovely to see more jigsaws added to the ebook.

An Elephant Never Forgets -  a card matching game featuring characters and scenes from the story.

Trumpet Chorus - tapping on numerous elephants hats and trunks the reader creates their own own tune.

Sophia easily worked out how to navigate and use each of these features and found her way around the ebook with ease.

Overall, The Slightly Annoying Elephant has become a firm favourite in our house. In fact, Sophia enjoyed it so much that on the first day we got it she refused to allow any one else in the family to use the iPad. Since then she has worked out where it is stored (inside iBooks) and at every opportunity runs off with my tablet and starts the book up. On our first day of reviewing the book I managed to video her in action (see above!) refusing to let her sister Sarah have a go. You might even notice her kissing the elephant a few times throughout!

The Slightly Annoying Elephant ebook is published by Harper Collins and is available from iTunes, priced at a very reasonable £3.99.

 


Fretting over Baby Names? Never Fear, Best Baby Names for 2014 is Here!

Best baby names 2014Choosing a baby name, you'd think it would be pretty easy really. Go through a few lists, check out family names, find one that you like and bingo, your baby has a name, right? Wrong. For many prospective parents there's a lot more thought and consideration goes into choosing a name for their precious newborn and in some cases it takes a lot longer than most would imagine.

Take me, for example. As a mother to four children, three girls and one boy, I spent a long time choosing each and every name, with my husband of course allowed an input too! In fact, so long did I spend deciding upon our first baby's name that my husband ended up making the final decision. It was more or less the same story with each of our children, but the worst of all was picking our last daughter's name just a couple of years ago. It took me a full two weeks to finally settle on Sophia and even after deciding on it, I almost went through with officially changing it as I just couldn't settle myself as to whether or not it suited her. Thankfully, it grew on her and she is a perfect little Sophia now, but I must admit, knowing we were not intending on adding to our family probably made it harder for me to choose as I knew this was my very last chance.

Recently I received a copy of Best Baby Names for 2014 by Siobhan Thomas and it would have been very welcome in 2011 when our daughter arrived. Containing A to Z directories of 8000 traditional and modern names and their meanings, the first section deals with choosing the right name for your baby and has lots of useful tips about considerations such as matching first names to surnames, personal associations with names, pronunciation and spelling variations, choosing middle names, how to deal with hurdles such as your family, friends or partner disliking your choice, nicknames, common associations with names and even checking initials to ensure there are no unintended bloopers.

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Goo.ey Skins for Tablets and Smartphones - Free Your Hands with Suction Power!

 

Goo.ey skin for iPad
Goo.ey Skin for iPad
Like most parents of young children, I rely fairly heavily on the internet and since I work from home, quick and easy online access is a must. From researching material for an article I'm writing, to helping the children source information for homework, our iPad is used a lot. However, I'm forever leaving it down whilst I get on with housework or seeing to my toddler and, as anyone who has a tablet computer knows, you leave it down momentarily, someone in the family swipes it on you! 

 

For instance, if I sit my iPad on the coffee table whist I go to fill the kettle, I'll come back moments later to find one of my children has sneaked off with it. Worse still, I take my eyes off it to take a phone call and someone will walk off with it right in front of my eyes!

However, help is now at hand in the form of Goo.ey, an innovative material that affixes to the back of compatible tablets and smartphones and which allows you to stick your device securely to a suitable surface, be it in the home, office or even car!

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Tesco to Sell Own Brand £99 Tablet - I Want One!

Woohoo, big news today that Tesco is rumoured to be about to release its own brand 7 inch tablet in the very near future.

Like many parents, with Christmas just around the corner, my family are currently in the market for a cheap tablet ourselves. Although we already have a couple of iPads, we also have four children, aged 13, 10, 8 and almost 2, who are constantly sneaking off with my husband's iPad. I keep mine all to myself so they know better than to ask for it but hubby is really fed up with getting in from work to find he has 3% power left! That's why this year we decided it might be time to buy one or maybe two cheaper tablets for the kids to share. We're not wanting to go too expensive but do want something reliable and so far have considered the Kindle Fire and Google's Nexus 7, the latter of which we've seen on special offer and which gets great reviews.

I'll be keen to find out what Tesco's tablet looks and feels like (although if it does have a 7 inch screen that will be perfect for smaller hands!) and to see how it operates compared to the iPad which I know is in a league of its own but all the same, it'll be interesting.

The children aren't looking for anything too high spec - as long as they can play Sims and similar games and do a little research for homework purposes they'll be more than happy, but for us as parents the more reputable tablets on the table the better for all of us. Particularly for my poor fed up husband!


Sound Medicine by Anime: Using Ancient Solfeggio Frequencies to Destress and Transform Your Daily Life

In recent and even not so recent years I've often found it difficult to relax. Most likely, the sole reason for this is simply that I lead a busy life, caring for our four children and my husband. It doesn't leave a lot of time for me to focus just on me and that means I often end up feeling stressed. It's not like I want or even need a lot of time to myself, but like most mothers, just a half hour here or there is all I desire!

I've often found that in those occasional half hours that I do manage to grab for myself that deep relaxation recordings help me cope with the daily stress in my life and I suppose I first started reaching for them when I was a student. Studying for what seemd to be never-ending exams in the hope of achieving my dream of becoming an English teacher, it was often difficult to wind down at the end of the day.

As the years have gone by, many things have changed. I achieved my dream but found that full-time motherhood became more important to me and that's why I made the almost overwhelmingly difficult choice to stay at home full-time. Not that I made that choice deliberately I might add. When I went on maternity leave just before my second daughter was born, I fully intended on returning to the workplace. However, it just never happened. I briefly thought about how childcare would work out and couldn't bring myself to leave the children with strangers. My parents and my husband's parents had been more than eager to look after their first grandchild but with a second it was more difficult for them and I didn't even ask as I knew it would be too much.

It wasn't an easy decision to stay at home as I had always loved my work and got a great feeling of excitement from helping young people to learn, but it had physically pained me when I had initially left my first baby behind with one set of grandparents whilst I left to educate other children. Somehow, the decision to become a fulltime mother was made for me without me even realising it - it was only as the weeks at home became years at home that at some point I actually thought to myself how did that happen?

These days, with four children who demand my almost every moment, I often look back on what could have been had I managed to secure a permanent job in teaching as soon as I'd qualified. I probably wouldn't have found it just so easy to walk away, and in fact probably wouldn't have done so, but since my early teaching positions were always temporary I just never went back after the birth of my second daughter.

Looking back into my own past always causes me mixed feelings. I know in my heart I've often made what were difficult but ultimately the best choices I could have made at the time, yet I still wonder incessantly about how I could be more productive in society. My husband tells me what I do is enormously important - as a full-time mother, I'm the one who takes the children on medical appointments, nurses them if they're ill and I do most of the school work, all the school runs and house-keeping. But my mind often refuses to quieten, questioning many of the decisions I have made and continue to make. 

Every day I look at working mothers and wonder how they manage and how I would have managed had that been the path I had ended up taking. I have many regrets but also many moments of clarity and when it all starts to become overwhelming help is never far away in the form of one of the many mp3 relaxation cds I have on my ipod. At the moment I'm enjoying some of my many Glenn Harrold recordings, in particular his solfeggio meditations series of which I have three. The recordings are based on an ancient sound system using certain frequencies which correspond to specific worries, stresses, hopes and dreams and I have found them remarkably effective and rather inspirational. Like many similar hypnotherapy/relaxation recordings, they start off helping you focus on breathing techniques which help you drift into a lovely deeply relaxed state before suggestions which help focus on problems or desires in your life. I usuallly fall into a deep sleep fairly quickly and usually awaken with a loud snore just as the recording ends!

What I really love about these recordings though is the background sounds and music, so much so that I actually bought myself a copy of just the background music which is composed and arranged by spiritual musician and healer Ali Calderwood, the man behind Anima.

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The Big Family School Year Diary - Helping Busy Families to Remember the Important Things Each Year!

The-big-family-school-year-diaryEvery year, around the end of December, I treat myself to a nice new diary. The kids all head back to school and at some point in June they all come home with a year's worth of special dates for me to remember. I start to write them all into my diary and of course, because it only reaches until December, I run out of pages. I usually stuff the important pages with all the dates into the back of my traditional diary and then typically forget all about them until I realise I've forgotten to note in my next diary something or other that I should have written down!

That's where The Big Family School Year Diary comes into its own. Unlike traditional diaries, it covers the school year, ie August to August and allows parents to mark all those important dates as soon as they arrive. Not only that, but rather than having to squash up everyone's dates together, the diary has individual space for every child via the MUM's Office signature GRID format. This is a great feature as it allows everyone in the family to know at a glance who is doing what on any given week. Genius! 

The diary doesn't stop there though. It also contains lots of useful sections allowing parents to note the following:

Essential Family Contact Details and Information
Pocket Money Records
Important Dates to Remember
Need to Know Information
Our Plans from July to the following August
Travel Plans,
Our Week
General Notes

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Blue Microphones Mikey Digital - A Must Have Plug and Play Microphone for Your iPhone and iPad

 

Mikey Digital
Mikey Digital

Like most parents, my husband and I enjoy keeping a record of special moments and fun times in the lives of our children, and as such, we are always on the lookout for gadgets that will make recording these moments a little easier.

In fact, that was one of the reasons I bought an iPad 3 last year - I knew it would make it so much less hassle to capture treasured moments without having to go the bother of setting up my digital camcorder and then transferring the videos onto my computer for viewing. An iPad meant I could just get on with recording instantly and then watch my footage back as and when I wanted to!

However, pleased as I am with my iPad, I've always been a little disappointed with the sound quality of my recordings. The sound is slightly tinny and, dare I say, cheap sounding, and compared with my old digital video recorder, well, there is no comparison really!

As well as wanting to record my children, I also make relaxation voice recordings and occasional Youtube videos and for these, in particular for the relaxation recordings, I require professional quality equipment. An iPad simply isn't good enough, or at least it wasn't until now...

I've been using Blue Microphones Mikey Digital this past week and from what I have seen so far it is no exaggeration to say I've been astounded at the recording quality. Seriously, from the moment I made my first test recording and compared it with the same poem spoken through my iPad's microphone, the difference was incredible. The Mikey Digital, which attaches to the power outlet of your iPad/iPhone, delivers crisp, clear, stereo cd quality recordings with a lovely soft tone that is very similar to what I refer to as BBC radio quality. You'd actually think you had made the recording in a proper studio setting.

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