Friday 30 August 2013

Pets, pets and more pets.....

I am massive animal lover and have been for many, many years. Prior to training as a Nurse I worked with animals and studied for various animal care qualifications. I spent many years working in the pet industry mainly in pet stores and I loved it.........I don't think my parents did as I ended up re-homing many a waif and stray. At one point we had 10 rabbits, 8 guinea pigs, fish, chinchillas, degus, cockatiels, hamsters and dogs! Quite a houseful, they were pretty relieved when I eventually moved out, the animals were re-homed (boohoo :-() and my parents had their house back!

I did however gain a cat and a lizard and more fish when I moved into my own place! I then moved again into our own house and acquired another cat! When I moved I sadly had to leave my 2 beautiful doggies with my Mum and Dad as I couldn't bear to part them so I turned into crazy cat lady instead! 

Let me introduce you to my kitty cats:

Below is Winston our 7 (I think!) year old tabby, he's quite a temperamental cat, everything tends to be on his terms and bless him it's taken him a while to adapt to having Alfie around the house. That being said he does like the odd cuddle and fuss here and there.

Next up we have Louie, our 2 year old black and white cat who has an amazing moustache! He is such a character and very affectionate and he pretty much just sleeps, eats and catches butterflies!

I love cats, I love how independent they are and that they are affectionate but can pretty much look after themselves. I can never decide though whether I'm now a 'cat person' or a 'dog person'. I always had myself down as a dog person but I'm thinking I might have been converted?!

Sadly earlier this year we had our beloved family dog Harvey put to sleep, it was a heart wrenching decision to make but he was a very poorly old boy, I'd hate to have to make the decision again any time soon. It's amazing the impact and animal can have on your life. Below are a couple of the last pictures of my last time with Harvey (sorry for the awful quality these were from my phone), it was so hard to say goodbye to a dog that had seen me through some really tough times when I was younger, literally broke my heart. 

My Mum & Dad still have another dog called Sacha but I don't have any pictures on my laptop at the moment, he's a Papillon which a small toy dog, he's very old bless him but he's still a yappy little thing! 

One thing that I'm really particular about with my animals is they get vet checked regularly, flea treated, wormed and vaccinated.  It's also really important to ensure that dogs and cats are both neutered (especially cats as it can prevent them roaming) and also micro-chipped. I also like to make sure that my cats get fed a high quality food and a wet pouch a day to prevent the development of struvite crystals which can build up in a cats urinary tract, this is a condition where the urine becomes more concentrated and it's predominately caused by lack of moisture in the cats diet. 

For more information on looking after pets, dealing with losing a pet and lots of other valuable advice visit this website: Pet Health Information , it's a great website and full of excellent advice. 

Are you a cat person or a dog person? How much do you love your pets?

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* Please note that this is a sponsored post but the thoughts and opinions are that of my own.

Tuesday 27 August 2013

Avon Supershock Vivid Liquid Eyeshadow - Review

It occurred to me that I haven't done a beauty review (other than nail of the days) for quite a while so today I'll be reviewing the Avon Supershock Vivid Liquid Eyeshadow (what a blooming mouthful that is!).

This is a liquid eyeshadow infused with Vitamin E. You simply shake the bottle to mix up the moisturisers and ultra fine pigment and it's supposed to give you a vibrant and pearlised result when applied. 

When I first received it I was pretty dubious as it's so liquidy it's almost water like, I couldn't really imagine that it would give a decent coverage. My doubts were confirmed when I applied it to my eye lids. It takes a good 2 - 3 coats to get a decent build up of colour and I wouldn't describe this particular shade (platinum) as vibrant, maybe the other colours are different but this one is like a wishy washy pale silver. Some people may like it if they only want a thin base of colour but it's not punchy enough for me. I have found it makes an excellent base for a smoky eye though and powdered eye shadow stays on well when worn over it. It also worth saying that it wears off very quickly (when worn alone) and creases easily. The shade I'm using is Platinum. 

Sadly I don't have any photos to show the wear on my eye as it's really difficult to take a picture of your own eye, you'll just have to take my word for it!! You can see in the pictures above the coverage it gives and although it's lovely and sparkly it's very sheer and not particularly vivid or pigmented.

It's one of the products that's left me thinking it's a flash in the pan type thing. It sounds good when you see it advertised but when actually used it's not that great.  I will however continue to use it as a base eyeshadow or if I'm in a rush and need a quick slick of colour.

If you're interested in trying any of the liquid eyeshadows you can click on the link and it'll take you straight to the page: Avon, they retail at £6.00 which in my opinion is actually quite steep considering what you can buy on the high street for that.

Has anyone had any experience with any of the other shades in this collection?

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Friday 23 August 2013

NOTD Sinful Colors - 24/7

I hope you've got your sunglasses handy because this Nail of the Day features an eye popping neon shade by Sinful Colors. 

You ready?

Are you sure? 

Ok here you go......

Annoyingly the pictures don't do it justice and show just how neon it is! What a great colour though, it's called 24/7, it's very in your face and one to wear if you love your brights. I featured a Sinful Color polish on here a little while a go, click on the link for more info: Sinful Colors - Unicorn

Although I think they are a great budget polish (a snip at only £1.99) I think the price reflects the quality. I only applied this earlier today and it's already showing signs of wear, quite disappointing. 

You can purchase Sinful Colors from Boots with a RRP of £1.99, although I don't think the quality is brilliant there is great choice of colours to choose from. 
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Walking Trails......

While I was pregnant I walked a lot......I literally tried to walk my baby out (it didn't work) but I walked for miles and miles pretty much everyday. When Alfie finally did decide to make an entrance (10 days in the overdue club) I wanted to carry on my walking with him, partly to get us out and about, but also to keep reasonably fit. 

When the weather is nice we love getting out and about but quite often I'm limited to where I can go as we have one car which Adi uses for work so we usually end up pounding the streets near to where I live. If I'm lucky to have the car one of my favourite walks is around the local lake, it's a really nice walk on a sunny day. It's so well maintained, there is a play area and often children's activities during holiday time. There are various walks you can do ranging from a quick loop around the lake to a longer walk over the fields by the river. I love the fact that as you do the walks there are lots of information posts about the local wildlife that has been spotted and any conservation work that is being done.

Alfie's favourite part is the ducks!

Alfie loves seeing the ducks and we always spend a few minutes watching and feeding them, he is literally fascinated by them!

How gorgeous is this tree covered tunnel!

When we're not walking around the lakes we'll head over to the coast and have a long walk along the sea front (UK weather permitting obviously!), we're pretty lucky to live near Felixstowe, Aldeburgh and Southwold so we have a great choice to choose from! I absolutely love walking beside the sea, it's so therapeutic.

Beach Huts at Southwold
View from Southwold Pier
I've never really considered joining any walking or rambling clubs but maybe if I had the time I might consider it and probably enjoy it, although if I did I'd definitely have to invest in a pair of decent walking boots as I generally walk everywhere in either UGG's (in the winter obviously!) or flip flops which aren't ideal! 

I've recently purchased this book and it's got loads of different walks to do so hopefully I'll be able to mix it up and bit and try some of these walks in the near future.

It's such a shame that today the weather is rubbish and Alfie and I are both getting cabin fever! Walking is great when the weather is nice, not so good in drizzly rain!

Any other Mums like to get out and about and have a nice walk?

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* Please note that this is a sponsored post but the thoughts and opinions are that of my own.

Thursday 22 August 2013

The Buddha in the Attic - A Book Review

I'm part of the BritMums/Penguin Book and was lucky enough to be sent the latest book to read and review. The July book is called 'The Buddha in the Attic' by Julie Otsuka and this is my first book review on the blog so I hope you enjoy!

Before I had Alfie I used to read a lot, I find it quite difficult to find the time now to read as much as I used to but I do make a conscious effort to read for at least 20 minutes each night before bed and to wind down. Joining the BritMums book club has almost forced me to have a little bit of 'me time' and I've thoroughly enjoyed being able to read the latest book and write a review about it.

So what's it about? 

The Buddha in the Attic tells the poignant story of 'mail order' Japanese brides sent to America during the 1900's. Scared, unsure, clutching pictures of their new husbands to be they make the long journey into the unknown, many unable to speak a word of English. They are strangers in a foreign land. We follow their story through marriage, birth and working. It's heartfelt and at times harrowing, the writing is compelling, poetic and captures the story in an almost melancholy way. 

Did I like it? 

In a nutshell, yes I did. It's beautifully written, yet understated and at only 129 pages long it's packs a punch in such a short space of time. It's not the sort of book I would ever choose and this is why I love book clubs, you read a genre that you would never normally consider. Otsuka writes in the first person plural which is so unusual, it's written like a collective voice but you get a real sense of the desperation and sadness these Japanese women felt. The chapters are short and I wanted to keep reading when they came to an end, it really didn't take me long to finish the book. There was nothing I particularly disliked, although at times I found I had to re-read sentences as they are so descriptive I needed to skim them again to fully digest the information.

Once read it occurred to me I really didn't know much about this era and the plights that Japanese immigrants experienced. I found myself thinking about the novel for several hours after I'd read it. 

If you like a powerful story which is thought provoking and poignant then this novel is for you.

About the author. 

Julie Otsuka is an American writer living in New York City. The Buddha in the Attic is her second novel (her first novel is When the Emperor was Divine). She has received various awards and this particular novel was nominated for the 2011 National Book Awards and is also a New York Times bestseller. 

You can purchase from Amazon using the link below!

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* Please note that as part of the Brit Mums book club I am sent the book free to review but the thoughts and opinions are that of my own.

Tuesday 20 August 2013

Innabox Greetings Cards - Review

I was kindly sent a couple of greetings cards from a company called Innabox. This is an online company that specialise in blank and customisable cards for any occasion. The company was founded in 2012 and is starting to find its feet in the world of greetings cards and gifts.

There is a lovely choice of cards to choose from and all are blank so they can be used for different occasions. I chose the penguin card with custom stickers and the cat card just because I love cats! Most of the designs that are available are cute, fun and 'cartoony' which may not appeal to all, however if you're wanting a card for a child or a quirky design then Innabox is for you. 

I love the idea of the custom stickers and being able to personalise the card with them, I can imagine that if Alfie was a bit older he'd love to have a go at sticking them on and giving the card to one his friends!

Retailing at £2.00 with free shipping within the UK  is an excellent price, especially for the quality of the cards (and it should be noted that the envelopes that they are supplied with are of excellent quality too, none of that flimsy, see through rubbish!) 

You can purchase the cards here: Innabox and you can also follow on Twitter by clicking here: Innabox Design
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* Please note: I was kindly sent the cards to review. My views are unbiased and opinions are  my own. 

Monday 19 August 2013

Holiday Postcards - Travel Supermarket Competition Entry: Beautiful Bali (picture heavy!)

Magical Memories of Beautiful Bali..........

I've been doing a lot of reminiscing this week so it seems fitting that I start this week with my competition entry for Travel Supermarket with a post about my most memorable holiday.

About an hour ago I sat and started to write about the Dordogne in the South of France but my mind kept wandering to my honeymoon and Bali.  I had such an amazing time while we were there, I didn't want to be cliched and write about my honeymoon but I just have to share what Bali has to offer.

It's been really difficult to pick one particular place as so many destinations have great memories, I've been fortunate enough to visit some incredible and beautiful places over the years, Bali being one of the most magnificent. This is why it is going to be my holiday postcard!

Honeymoon cocktails

So, why did we choose Bali? Initially when we were looking at honeymoon destinations we were looking at Maldives, Mauritius and Seychelles (so expensive!) and then Adi suggested I look at some of the hotels that are available in Bali (namely The Samaya), I was sold as soon as I looked at what it had to offer! We booked through Turquoise Holidays and I cannot recommend them highly enough, yes they aren't the cheapest but the service we received not only on booking but while we were in Bali when we had an issue with one of our trips. Their customer service is exceptional.  

We chose to do a 3 night stay in Ubud which is more tranquil and rural and then 7 nights in the popular beach resort of Seminyak. We flew on the Monday after the wedding (August 16th 2010) to Kuala Lumpar and then on to Bali, a total of 15 hours for the 2 flights (thank the lord for my Diazepam as I hate flying!). 

When we did finally arrive in Bali we were met by our very, very friendly Balinese guide (in traditional dress) who was ready to take us to our first stop.....before this though I remember we had to stop and get some cash (organised as always!), stupidly we forgot to inform the credit card company we were travelling to Indonesia so they immediately put a block on our card! Great start! Thankfully that was soon rectified and we were on our way to the Ubud Hanging Gardens. On arrival to the Hanging Gardens we were once again greeted by some lovely Balinese ladies who presented us with flower garlands and welcome drinks, we were then shown to our room via the funicular, which I loved riding in!! 

The funicular to take you to the different levels

You could take the steps but there were so many and the funicular was great fun!
We stayed in a panoramic pool villa suite which are nestled up on the hills within the jungle. Goodness they are tranquil and so lovely, they have such rustic charm too and featured an outdoor plunge pool which overlooked the jungle and across to the temple. 

The entrance to our suite
The temple we could see from our suite

The plunge pool overlooking the jungle
We often had regular visitors!
Our lovely and very comfy bed

I can't even begin to describe just how relaxing this place was and it was so silent other than the Monkey and Birds, we rarely heard any other guests and it was almost like we were in the hills on our own! The Beduur restaurant that was on site was fine dining and some of the best food I'd ever eaten, the only trouble was with being in such a remote location we had little choice but to eat here and it was a tad pricey!

We were able to visit Ubud via the free shuttle provided by the hotel which was great, Ubud market is truly brilliant, if not a little manic but we were able to barter for some lovely Balinese craft souvenirs.  The picture below was taken in one of the quieter parts of the market, you might recognise it from the Julia Roberts film 
Eat Pray Love in which Bali is featured as is the market. We also attended a Balinese cookery lesson which was loads of fun! 

After our three nights in Ubud we then made our way with our guide to our next stop of Seminyak which is a much more fast paced beach resort. We stayed at The Samaya which was stunning. The main hotel had it's own private beach and restaurant, we stayed just over the road which were accessed by being driven the 1 minute journey in golf buggies, brilliant! Our accommodation were the Royal Courtyard Villas and I've never been so blown away by a room (or should I say apartment!), it truly was stunning and this was the reason we barely left to visit anywhere while we stayed there! We had our own private pool and butler and the whole experience was one I'll never forget. 

We did venture out of the villa on a couple occasions, we did a trip to Mount Batur which is an active volcano (eek!!!), this was a trip more suited to Adi however as I came back sweaty, dirty, stinking and bored of looking at lava but that being said it was an experience, I mean when am I ever going to get so close to an active volcano again?!?! On this trip we also visited rice paddies, a coffee museum and a temple so I suppose it wasn't all bad.

We indulged in some massages at The Samaya and I snuck in a mani & pedi too, we drank ice cool cocktails on the private beach and had some incredible food at Breeze, the hotel restaurant. We relaxed, sunbathed, ate and drank far too much (but hey what are honeymoon's for?!). 

The practically empty private beach

To be honest, we splurged. It was our honeymoon, we wanted it to memorable! The memories aren't all about the materialistic things though, even though they were amazing , it was the hospitality and pure friendliness of the Balinese people that made this trip. They treat you like absolute royalty and nothing is ever too much.  It's very unlikely that a trip like this for us will ever happen again, maybe in 10 years time I might be lucky enough to renew our vows here or have a blessing and share it with our children. Until then I have my memories and these photos to remind me of just what an incredible time we had in beautiful Bali. 

Beautiful Frangipanis
Bugger, just writing and thinking back to all this makes me want to go back to Bali badly now! Oh well, will just have to look forward to France and New York this year :-) 

Hope you've enjoyed reading all about Bali and what it has to offer.
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