Tuesday, 24 May 2016

My Favourite Summer Dresses From Quiz Clothing

Summer is nearly upon on, and here are my favourite Summer dresses from Quiz Clothing.  With Quiz you can always rely on high fashion, competitively priced clothing, aimed at forward thinking, fashion loving ladies. Quality is excellent too and staff are customer focused and friendly.

Going Out

Here are some of my favourite going out dresses. From body con dresses to skater and maxi dresses, Quiz has a great range of going out dresses for everyone. The dresses I have picked above are cute and sexy at the same time. The cream lacy dress is truly gorgeous whilst the simple two part dress with white cami and black skirt on the right is classic and chic. My favourite of these is the middle dress with the black flower waist detail. Although it is a body con dress it is demure too yet still hugs your curves.

Occasion Dresses

If you have a prom or wedding to attend, or want a dress for a day at the races, these dresses will 'knock em dead'. The variety of occasion dresses from Quiz clothing is large, from flowery designs to floaty chiffon numbers these occasion dresses are pretty and perfect for that big event. The blue flower print skater dress is so much fun and the pale blue chiffon number is simply beautiful.

Maxi Dresses

If you want to feel glamorous, or pretty as a princess, a maxi dress is a perfect choice. Whether sipping cocktails in a beach side location or attending a day at the races, you really can't go wrong with a maxi dress. The maxi dresses I have picked above are all similar in subtle blush colours, with exquisite bodice detailing, and a loose fitting skirt that skims your curves. 

Tell me which of these dresses do you like? What is your favourite style of dress for an occasion? 

* PR collaboration 

Monday, 23 May 2016

Cheerz Photo Site Review

Cheerz is a photo website and app that allows you to print your photos and personalise your gifts. You can even have your photos printed as if they are Polaroids.

The company got in touch with me recently to see if I wanted to review one of their new products - a photo album that you can personalise.

Now it's no secret that I love to travel and I also love to take photographs. In days gone by (now I sound old!) I used to keep all my photos as prints and spend ages putting them in an album. In the last couple of years I have become a convert to the personalised photo album like the type Cheerz sells.

Firstly you upload your photos to the website or app. Depending on how many photos you have and the size of them this can take some time, but it's a straight forward process. As you are waiting for the photos to upload comments come up on the screen such as,  'Whoa! Your photos are really lovely', which is a nice touch. 

Now the software will allow you to alter the effect of each photo and move the positioning slightly but it will not allow you to do heavy editing of your photos. I would suggest you edit your photos before the upload in software such as Picmonkey or Photoshop.

Photos can be uploaded from your computer, from Facebook, Instagram and Google Plus. Once you have uploaded your photo you can set the occasion, the colour, assign it a number, and give it a name. 

When you set the occasion it has pre set designs to add to the cover and you have a choice of 6 colours. Picking a name and number prints it on the spine of the book. Some of the pages allowed you to add captions to the page - this may depend on the size of photo you select.

You then have a choice of selecting the photos yourself and putting the photos on each page or allowing the software to do it for you. Initially I tried allowing the software to do it for me, but for more flexibility and if you have time I would suggest you pick the photos yourself. This allowed me to collect groups of photos in sections, for example I put all my photos of the museums together.

If you change your mind you don't have to place all the photos you have picked, and you can choose extra pages for an additional cost. In the standard photo book you get to place up to 150 of your favourite photos depending on the size of photo in the book. 

The software recognises if the photos are a poor resolution and if this happens it shows as an exclamation mark in the top right hard corner. If you have placed a photograph across a double page and it is showing this I would suggest placing the photo somewhere else where it is smaller and then the resolution would be higher.

I think the website and photo album creation software is easy to use. It would be useful to have more editing facilities for the photo once uploaded, such as being able to crop the image and adjust the brightness. There are lots of free editing software out there though.

The photo book is a hardcover and a lay flat format, priced at £35. 

Cheerz also sells photo magnets, posters, invitations as well as lots more. The app is very useful when you are out on your travels as you can upload your photos there and then, Wi-Fi and 4G allowing.

When the book arrived I was very impressed! The photos were excellent quality and the book looked very professional. The pages were thick card which was great. Other photo books I have created before with a different company had paper pages. 

I really think this photo book is a quality product, and you do get what you pay for. I would certainly order again.


Friday, 20 May 2016

Meet The Bloggers - Rachel from umeandthekids

Today in my Meet The Bloggers series I am talking to Rachel from the blog umeandthekids. The idea behind Meet The Bloggers is to find out about bloggers you love or discover new blogs you haven't heard of before. 

Can you tell my readers about yourself and your blog.

My name is Rachel and I blog at umeandthekids, a Parenting and Lifestyle blog. I love to feature party ideas for kids and teen advice posts.

What inspired you to start blogging?

I had to stop working due to getting M.E and still wanted to communicate with the world. I started reading other blogs and thought why not and I started my own blog and haven't looked back.

Tell me your proudest blogging achievement.

When I have been approached by big brands who want to work with me and my blog, the comments I have received from my lovely readers and how my competition linky has gone from 10 people joining to over 150 every week!

What brands have you enjoyed working with?

I loved working with Coca Cola, Lush, Yankee Candles and more recently L'Oreal. 

What brands would you like to work with in the future?

I would love to work with more beauty brands like Benefit and MAC as I am a massive fan of their products.

Do you have any tips for new bloggers?

Don't compare yourself to other blogs and be proud of the small steps you will take at first.

What is your most popular blog post to date?

My fear on having my second baby and would I ever love them the same as my first child http://umeandthekids.com/second-baby-can-love/ I got some great feedback and didn't realise just how many people felt the same.

What is your favourite blog post of 2015 and why?

In 2015 I started doing party posts and love coming up with themed party posts, It makes me want to be a kid again!

Do you have any specific goals for 2016?

To be more organised and attend more blogging events like Brit Mums again.

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Win With English Provender Co. Ends 31/05

English Provender Co. make a range of chutneys, pickles. curds and condiments that are packed full of excellent ingredients and are really flavourful and tasty.

They believe in passion, quality and simplicity. In making their products they use traditional open pan preserving methods. like you would do at home, with all natural ingredients.

I was lucky enough to be sent some products recently by the English Provender Co. to try. I've tried some of the pickle before, which was very good and had an authentic homemade taste, so was looking forward to trying some more of their products.

The plum and bramley apple chutney is a lovely mild yet fruity chutney perfect to add an extra taste to sandwiches, and I think would appeal to children. We liked the sweet tomato and chilli chutney and the hot chilli and red pepper chutney with crackers and cheese. Both were spicy without being too hot.

The Moroccan spiced chutney has ginger, cumin and coriander and would be excellent served with samosas or to pep up a middle eastern salad. 

I am thinking of trying the caramelised red onion chutney in a gravy to serve with sausages as it would give an excellent depth of flavour.

The Proper Pickle range is crunchy zingy grown up pickle. The chunky and finely chopped pickle were excellent in a cheese sandwich and would be the best accompaniment for a hearty Ploughman's lunch with ham, crusty bread and salad. The beetroot pickle has rich and fruity flavours whilst the pickled onion pickle has a deep strong flavour with the yellow mustard seeds.

English Provender Co. also make the 'Very Lazy' range of items such as Very Lazy Garlic and Very Lazy Chopped Red Chillis, all which are preserved in a jar. I love this idea as it is so easy to have this in your cupboard to add flavour to any dish.

We really enjoyed the pickle and chutneys in our household. My favourite was the hot chilli and red pepper chutney, It was simply delicious and spicy and fabulous with cheese, crackers and a few grapes.

Today on my blog I am given you a chance to win a selection of English Provender products, which could include pickles, chutney and other such delicious goodies. The selection may differ to those shown.

Entry is simple through the Gleam application below and winner is picked at random. Good Luck!

Win A Selection Of English Provender Chutneys

SuperLucky Blog Giveaway Linky

More competitions at ThePrizeFinder 

As seen on www.loquax.co.uk

Tengi Review - Chat And Win Prizes

Recently I was asked to be part of the Tengi bloggers review team. Tengi is the free chat app where you can win prizes. 

To get started download it on the App store or Google Play. For each day you use Tengi you get 1 ticket, for each hour you chat you get 6 extra tickets, each time one of your phone contacts joins Tengi you get 16 tickets. Then every Friday there is a draw and you have a chance of winning a number of prizes from £5 to £10,000. How amazing would that be, to win £10,000! What would you buy with that?

Tengi gets it's funding from advertising so it is totally free to the user. The advertising isn't in your face either which is great.

If you want to read more about how to set up Tengi read my post here.

What I liked about Tengi is that it was simple to use. Your phone contacts are synced so you click on the person's name and then TELL THIS PERSON ABOUT TENGI which will send them a message to join. When they join you get 16 tickets to enter you into the weekly cash draw.

So our group of Tengi bloggers had some challenges to do. Firstly we had to share an inspirational quote, then share a wake up selfie and lastly tell a cheesy joke.

Ok, my joke is definitely cheesy and very old but it made me laugh! As you can see it's easy to share images. as well as share your location, record audio and share video too - pretty much everything you can do on a chat app. You can also set push notifications when you receive a message so your phone will alert you. 

So there are plenty of positive points with this app, and you maybe wondering if there are any negative points. As Tengi is a free app, it does rely on advertising. I didn't find these too intrusive though as they come up on the opening page of the app and not in the conversation box.  Some people also reported that the battery drained quicker when they used the app.

If you want to read more reviews by the Tengi Bloggers crew check out www.icklepickleslife.co.uk, www.zenas-suitcase.co.uk,  www.youbabymemummy.com http://myfamilyfever.co.uk/, and http://hellobeautifulbear.com.

To sum up a free chat app, where you can win prizes. Simple to use, and with the ability to send photos, videos, audio and even share your location, I would recommend downloading it to give it a try. What have you got to lose, and you never know, you may even win £10,000? Now that would be something!

* PR collaboration

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Technology And Wi-Fi Access

In this technological age, access to computers and wi-fi is almost a basic human right. In fact many people feel the right to Internet access is important in order to exercise freedom of expression. 

Several countries like Costa Rica have adopted laws that require the state to work to ensure that Internet access is broadly available and/or preventing the state from unreasonably restricting an individual's access to information and the Internet. 

Being able to access the Internet is important for communication, education, business, and even healthcare and tourism, that is why being able to access Wi-Fi is important for developing nations. 

On another level, have you ever thought how people at sea or even space are able to access Wi-Fi? I'm going to Kennedy Space Centre in the summer and looking at this infographic below, it appears astronauts now have better Wi-Fi than people on board ship. So that trip into space looks more inviting than ever now! Tim Peake, move on over...

Would you be able to manage without Wi-Fi?

* PR collaboration. Infographic courtesy of http://www.globalnavigationsolutions.com/

Monday, 16 May 2016

How To Fund A Holiday

Sometimes you just need a break, we all do from time to time. Perhaps things have got on top of us, work has become very busy, family life has become increasingly hectic and it feels like ages since you've been on holiday. Maybe you have had a health scare, or a death in the family and you think, 'What is it all for?'

Lots of research has been carried out on how experiences like holidays give you more satisfaction than material objects like new clothes or the latest gadget. Yes you do get that initial buzz but you adapt over time and the excitement soon wears off. A holiday shared with people, with loved ones, connects us to them. Reminiscing about the holiday in years to come, brings smiles and laughter.

What are your favourite holiday memories? When I was a child I remember going camping with my family every Summer to Tenby in West Wales. The weather wasn't always the best as Wales is notorious for the rain. 

One time it rained and rained so hard, but it didn't let us stop having fun. We all piled into the car and went into Tenby to have lunch and do some shopping and exploring. When we returned the tarpaulin on the tents in our field had become uprooted. We were lucky, we just managed to get to our tent before it had the same fate, the tent flapping in the wind and some of our possessions were wet. We laugh about it now, the British are good at laughing in the face of adversity but those type of memories are the things we remember. 

We remember silly things from our holiday memories that bond us as a family. My dad cooking bacon on a camping stove every morning in Tenby for our breakfast, a monkey stealing my ice cream at Penyscynor Wildlife park, visiting Barry Island pleasure park once a year, going on the same rides and having sausage and chips in a little cafe, every time.

Experiences like going to the top of the world's tallest building, the Burj Khalifa will last with you forever.

Now I have a family of my own we have made our own holiday memories.  My son remembers his first trip to Orlando to celebrate going up to secondary school, as if it was yesterday. The size of the donut he had in Universal Studios that was bigger than his hand, getting soaked through on the rides but drying off in a hour as it was so hot and humid and getting stuck on the Dudley Do Right ride, - at the top! 

The time we went to Dubai and ventured to the top of the world's tallest building, the Burj Khalifa was incredibly memorable too, the people didn't look as small as ants - the buildings did! Then later watching the sunset go down over the World's only 7 star hotel, the Burj Al Arab. 

As we love to travel, we mark special occasions with big holidays and these holidays do cost money though. When my son finished his GCSES we went to California to celebrate, when we had our 10th wedding anniversary recently we went on a road trip to New Orleans, Memphis and Nashville.

There are many ways in which you can save for your holidays including putting your spare change in a tin every week, using cash back sites like Quidco and Top Cashback, doing surveys and mystery shopping, and using comparison sites like Trivago and Tripadvisor to get the best deal on accommodation.

Even if you have done all this, you may not have quite enough money for that perfect break. I try and save for my holidays, as I live for my holidays,  but on times it can be hard. Every spare penny goes on funding them and on occasions things do happen which can eat into your savings. A couple of years ago we had problems with our car and every penny went on getting a new one. At times like this I considered a holiday loan.

Holiday loans are especially useful for a honeymoon, a trip around the world, or going on a road trip. Experiences of a lifetime that can be expensive. A low interest personal loan can be a very convenient way of paying for this type of trip. 

If you are considering funding a holiday with a personal loan always check the Annual Percentage Rate (A.P.R), the lower the better, and avoid high interest loans and payday loans. Some companies let you pay the loan off early, without any penalties so you save on interest. It's always a good idea to check for any hidden costs in the legal jargon and read through the terms and conditions carefully. Spreading the cost of that holiday of a lifetime can really help you budget for it.

How do you fund a big holiday? 

*PR collaboration

Saturday, 14 May 2016

48 hours in Nashville

On our recent road trip to the American 'deep South', we took in New Orleans, Memphis and the last stop was Nashville. 

Nashville, is the capital of Tennessee and primarily known for its music, especially country music. It's a place with a happening vibe (whatever that is!), and has live music bars everywhere, playing mainly country, but also blues, and rock and roll. This is our 48 hours in Nashville.

Day 1

We arrived at the Loews Vanderbilt hotel in the morning and as our room was ready we settled in and unpacked. Then we decided to walk to Broadway.  This is where all the live music 'honky tonk' bars are. Big mistake, it was just that bit too far, so we came back and took a taxi down. After exploring some of the souvenir shops we decided to visit the Johnny Cash museum.

The Johnny Cash museum is a great tribute to 'The Man In Black'. Packed full of memorabilia, it tells the story of Johnny's life and really is an excellent but compact museum. From classics like 'I Walk The Line' to 'Ring of Fire', his deep voice and rebellious nature appealed to many and some say he became a bigger star now after his death.  

My father loved Johnny Cash and my husband does too, so recently I have been listening to his music more and more. Walking through the museum, listening to his music and watching his videos, I felt quite emotional. He really was an amazing song writer and watching his videos in the museum, especially his cover of the 9 Inch Nails song Hurt, had me on the verge of tears. 

He had a strong relationship with his wife June Carter Cash, and seeing the poem he wrote for her at her funeral and the heart he laid at her grave was another emotional point. Highly recommended.

After the Johnny Cash museum we stopped at one of the bars on Broadway for lunch. There are lots of well known bars here like Tootsies, Legends Corner and the Tin Roof. All the bars play excellent music day and night and the singers really are of a high standard. Working for tips you can imagine how good they are. We ate at The Tin Roof. Food was simple but perfect - a great burger, and fabulous hot chicken - moist chicken in a really spicy hot chicken coating for which Nashville is known. 

After lunch we thought about visiting the Country Music Hall of Fame or The Ryman Auditorium. We decided on the Ryman Auditorium as we couldn't pack both in, in the time we had. 

The Ryman Auditorium is a historic live music venue in the centre of Nashville. Formally a tabernacle church, it was made famous as being the venue for the Grand Ole Opry, a live country music show that has become a Nashville institution. The show is still held her on selected nights in the Winter, whilst the rest of the time is held at a purpose built theatre at Opryland. The history of the building is incredibly interesting and if you pay for the tour you are shown a presentation of how it became an iconic building, the lady that managed it for years, the stars that have played there and how it became the official birthplace of bluegrass music.

After the tour we returned to the hotel for a rest. 

That evening we decided to stay in one of the restaurants close to the hotel as there was a big basketball tournament on. As we were staying slightly out of the centre in the Vanderbilt area, we decided on eating at Maggiano's. This great Italian chain restaurant is always super value and we can never fault the food, as we have also ate at their Orlando branch. What I like is that it is always full of families enjoying the food, giving it an excellent vibe, and they also do smaller portions of the mains and desserts so you never feel stuffed.

Day 2

On day two we woke up refreshed and excited about our second day. After a lovely breakfast in the club lounge we decided to visit the Parthenon.  Yes, you heard correctly, Nashville has a replica of the Parthenon from Athens in their Centennial Park, 10 minute walk from our hotel.

The building was originally built for Tennessee's 1897 Centennial Exposition, and serves as a monument to what is considered the pinnacle of classical architecture. The Parthenon has a small entry charge and also serves as Nashville's art museum which is interesting to walk around. 

The highlight of the Parthenon for me was the huge statue of Athena at its centre. This was finished as recently at 1990 but stood plain white until 2002 when it was beautifully gilded to be much closer to the ancient Athena Parthenos. It's a massive surprise to see this statue and in Nashville of all places.

Live music at The Tin Roof

After the Parthenon we went down to Broadway to listen to some music in the bars again. Tin Roof was fast becoming a favourite of ours now but there are so many music bars you are spoilt for choice. I would have like to have gone to Roberts Western World as they has line dancing classes but as there was a huge college basketball tournament on we couldn't get in. It's easy to spend a good few hours having food, a drink and listening to music, so we did!

After returning to our hotel late afternoon we got ready for the highlight of our trip as we had tickets to The Grand Ole Opry. Unfortunately our taxi drive took three times the normal length we were stuck in traffic for what seemed like forever. The taxi driver said it was normally bad at rush hour but it was exceptionally so that night. So fair warning here, allow yourself plenty of time if you are travelling to the Opryland area for food before a show.

We ate in a restaurant close to the show which I admit wasn't the best so I will gloss over that, and then managed to get to the show with minutes to spare.

Chris Janson at The Grand Ole Opry

The Grand Ole Opry is the longest running live radio show in the world, and runs twice a week. The show features all country music artists and there is usually 6-8 on the bill. That night we saw The Gatlin Brothers, The Oakridge Boys and Chris Janson amongst others. 

Before we went we researched the artists online, and I would highly recommend you doing that if you are going to the show as we recognised some of the songs that played instantly. I had heard of the Gatlin brothers before but none of the other artists. 

There were 8 singers and bands so you have a lot of choice if you don't like one but they were all excellent. As it's a live music  show they have adverts in between and that was funny to see the host talk through the sponsors and adverts as the show was on stage. We really enjoyed the Grand Ole Opry, it was excellent and a real taste of country style America. My husband laughed at me when I heard the Gatlin brothers song "An American with a Remington", as I thought they meant a Remington shaver not a gun! One of the main sponsors was an American homestyle restaurant chain and after listening to their advert, I must admit I really want to go to Cracker Barrel now.

That was the end of our Nashville trip, and our tour of the deep South of the USA. The next day we would be visiting the Jack Daniel's Distillery at Lynchburg on our way back to the airport to take our flight home.

Taking a trip to Nashville has really made me into a fan of country music. If you like music at all especially county, you really have to visit one day. A brilliant weekend, just brilliant.

Wander Mum

Friday, 13 May 2016

The Cultural Value Of Jewellery

People have worn jewellery throughout the ages for many reasons. Personal adornment, for decorative effect is the main reason, so you look and feel good. However there are many other reasons including wearing jewellery as a marker of social status (as in a wedding ring), as a symbol that means something personal such as love, luck or friendship (as in a friendship bracelet), and as an affiliation with a social circle or organisation. There were also functional uses of jewellery such as brooches and buckles. 

The ritual of giving jewellery and the way it is worn is different in many cultures. If you are a Christian it is traditional to give a gift of silver when a child is christened. This tradition started in the Tudor times as silver was believed to a a valuable investment and symbolised independence when they were older. Whilst many cultures give a wedding ring as a sign of betrothal, the tradition is thought to be started by the Egyptians. The circle of a wedding band is a symbol of eternity with no beginning or end.

In some cultures amulets are worn to ward off evil spirits and bring good luck. A popular contemporary Muslim amulet contains a square-inch miniature of the Koran enclosed in metal and worn around the neck. Early Christians inscribed the word ichthys (Greek for "fish") on their amulets because the word contained in Greek the initials for Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior. The fish symbol has been important to Christians ever since.

If you find the cultural value of jewellery interesting check out the infographic below.

*PR Collaboration


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