Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Be My Valentine Hotel Chocolat

This time of year, I start dreaming about the mouth watering goodies I will get from my husband on Valentine's Day. Those of you who read my blog regularly may know that I am a massive fan of Hotel Chocolat, so I'm always leaving hints for my husband, with their web page open on special occasions.

What I like about Hotel Chocolat is the detail. If you order from the website for home delivery, everything is packaged beautifully. Your order is delivered in a Hotel Chocolat bag and lovingly wrapped in tissue paper with a card. It's the finishing touches that make you realise what a quality brand they have.

It's all in the detail

Then when you open the tissue, you get chocolate of an outstanding quality and creaminess, and with each chocolate you can tell great thought has gone into the flavours and the ingredients. The company are hot on ethics too, and pay farmers a fair deal for the cocoa they produce. 

Gorgeous packaging

I have been browsing the Hotel Chocolate website and I have so many favourites this Valentine's Day, I thought I would share them with my readers below.

The Valentines Goody Bag

The Valentines Goody Bag £18

This goody bag is full of yummy treats for your loved one. How could they not adore the White Chocolate and Passion Fruit Truffles or the sweet deliciousness that is the caramel sweethearts, called Nudge-Nudge, say no more? Or what about the Champagne Truffles, smooth and creamy with a hint of champagne, or the Mellow Heart slab of milk chocolate with a heart centre. The last tempting delight in the goody bag is the Valentines truffle duo, featuring a Caramel Gianduja and a Strawberry Cheesecake. 

Myself and one of blogger friends Chris, from Mummy Of 3 Diaries were gifted this goody bag and we were both impressed with the choice and variety of the chocolate inside. My favourite was the Strawberry Cheesecake, which has a white chocolate base, a layer of strawberry essence and a strawberry topping with white chocolate pieces. A really delicious chocolate. Another favourite of us both was the Champagne Truffles which were light, smooth and dreamy inside a crisp chocolate shell and a hint of champagne. Indulgence at its best. My son adored the Nudge-Nudge, caramel sweetheart chocolates, a sweet little treat. My husband enjoyed the Mellow Heart, a double slab with a heart centre as the quality of the milk chocolate was outstanding. The fruitiness of the Passion Fruit Truffles were enjoyed by all.

The Little Cheesecakes Bag

Little Cheesecakes £5

I am a big fan of chocolates that are based on desserts - they seem so decadent. These cheesecake inspired chocolates would make a lovely gift - for me! Flavours include Rhubarb & Ginger, Strawberry, Lemon and Caramel, all mixed with the luxurious flavours of mascarpone and cream. These chocolates would be perfect with coffee after a fabulous meal.

Straight From The Heart Gift Box

Straight From The Heart £39

This luxury box of chocolates would be a chocoholics dream. Containing 35 delectable nibbles, it's a gift straight from the heart. With luxury flavours such as passion fruit and champagne, this box is meant for sharing with the person you love. Or if you can't bare to share, eat them all yourself. I won't tell, honest.

The Pink Collection Gift Set

The Pink Collection £26

Most ladies I know like some bubbly now and again, and the style icon Marilyn Monroe was reputed to have taken a bath in 350 bottles of Champagne. If your partner can't afford 350 bottle of Champagne, what about The Pink Collection gift set of sparkling pink rose, champagne truffles, and a strawberries and cream Eton Mess slab. Pink is the new black darling....

So if you like the chocolates you see on my blog, and you haven't got a Valentine, maybe Hotel Chocolat can be your Valentine this Valentine's Day?

The Valentines Goody Bag

Tell me, which chocolates would you like your Valentine to buy you from Hotel Chocolat?

Friday, 23 January 2015

Valentines Day Gifts From Toxic Fox

What do you get the man or woman that has everything for Valentines Day? Something sentimental, something lovely and romantic, or something jokey and even a touch risque? Toxic Fox has it all. 

The company started in 2011 when a group of enthusiastic friends got together to start a personalised and unique gift company. With the average age of 25, but with experience beyond their years, they struck a chord with the UK public as within 6 months they were recognised as one of the fastest growing retailers in the UK.

If you have a look at the Valentines Day Gifts you will see they they have some unique presents. This is my pick of the best ideas.
For Her

This gift bag in the shape of a handbag holds 1.5 litres of wine. With a pourer on the side it's a great idea to keep the wine fresh and it's a stylish gift too. They sent me this to try and I have to say I was impressed. The wine was pleasant, flowery, like a good Chardonnay should be and I think it would make a lovely present. I loved the shape of it too, for those fashionistas everywhere. Also available in red wine and rose, I think any female wine lover would enjoy receiving this as a gift.

A really gorgeous jewellery box that can be personalised with your name and adorned with a butterfly design. I love the beaded effect along the edge of the jewellery box and the pretty design. With three compartments to store your jewellery this trinket box would look perfect on your bedside table.

This mug is a great gift for those couples that are still in the first throws of romance, or old softies like me! Personalised with any name or message it makes a super present and at a great price too.

For Him

If you are a sweet lover you would be delighted to be receive this. A generous amount of sweets, a cute cuddly monkey toy and everything beautifully presented in a hamper. One for the boys or girls.
The Fifty Days Of Play game

A bit of a saucy gift, and who doesn't like a bit of sauce? This game would add a bit of sexy spice into most couples bedroom antics.  With 5 levels of play and 10 secret envelopes you can guarantee your inhibitions will be left at the bedroom door. 

The Grow Me Hot Stuff Gift

If you have a foodie in the house, this chilli growing gift would be very appreciated. A gift that is perfect for your the budding chef who's a 'hot stuff' in the kitchen.

If you like any of these gifts or want to see what else Toxic Fox have to offer, pop over to their website and use the code TFLove for 10% off all Valentines Gifts.

Tell me, what do you think of these Valentines gifts? What was the most romantic gift you ever received?

*Code can be used on all Valentines Day categories except for 3 for 2 offers

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Choosing A New Cordless Home Phone

Choosing one of the many home phones out there can be a complicated business. I know when I first thought about looking for a new home phone I didn't know where to start.

Essentially you have two choices, corded and cordless. The benefits of a cordless phone over a corded phone is the easy of use and mobility without the constraints of the cord. 

With a cordless telephone you have a base unit that connects directly to the power source. A plus point is that you could have numerous handsets but only one phone line. This can be extremely useful, for example having a phone set upstairs in the bedroom as well as one in the living room and kitchen. 

This cordless telephone has many benefits and features of a mobile phone

Features I look for in a cordless phone include ease of set up and use, having a clear caller display panel, can it be used with caller ID and the number of handsets you can get. Other features that are useful are the handsfree function, the use of an in-built answer machine, and a quick charging time. I also look at the design as it is important to me for it to be aesthetically pleasing. 


Ease Of Set Up And Use

With the many features some cordless phones have, I feel it is important that the instructions are clear and written in plain English. The ease of set up and use is an important consideration. If you are a technophobe you may want a simple phone without an array of state of the art features, if you love technology you may go for the most advanced phone you can afford to buy.

Caller Display Panel

Is the display panel large enough to see who is calling? Can it by used with Nuisance Call Block and Caller ID to prevent unwanted and nuisance phone calls. * requires subscription service.  Does the background contrast so that the numbers are displayed clearly? 

Handsfree Use

Does it have an in-built speaker system so it can it be used handsfree?  This can be extremely important for those who have difficulty using their hands or a disability like arthritis. 

Answer Machine

A cordless phone with an answer machine is considered almost essential today

If you do not have an answer machine already, an in-built answer machine can be incredibly useful. How does the answer machine alert the user that a message has been left?


How long does the phone take to charge and how long does the charge last? This is particularly important if you are a heavy phone user.

Number Of Handsets

This phone is packed full of useful features, with a number of handsets and a slimline design

If you have a big family or big house, more than one handset can be particularly useful. Can you buy additional handsets at a later date if you want to?


Something that is often overlooked is the design. Does it look pleasing to the eye and fit in with your sense of style?  Do you prefer a solid well built look or a more streamline design. 

Other Features

There are many other features that can be useful to the consumer. Some phones have a setting that completely eliminates radiation when the phone is on stand by mode. Other phones have an 'eco mode' that can let you lower the power consumption whilst on stand by, or a night time mode that flashes when a call is incoming.  Some cordless phones have many features of a mobile phone, such as being able to surf the net or read your emails. This can be useful if you do not want to tie yourself into a mobile contract or buy another phone, however you would need wi-fi to use the features.

As you can see there are many points to consider when buying a home cordless phone. Which features do you consider useful or essential?

* a collaborative post in conjunction with Panasonic, all words and opinions are my own

Monday, 19 January 2015

Clarins Instant Light Lip Balms Perfector Review

Clarins have a selection of makeup out for Spring / Summer called Garden Escape. 

Clarins Instant Light Lip Balm Perfector

Garden Escape is full of gorgeous colours like flowers blossoming in the Spring woods - pretty pink and soft corals in the lip colours and blushers mix with earthy browns and dark greens in the eye shadows and eye liners.

I was sent a selection of the lip balms to try. The new range of Instant Light Lip Balm Perfectors are full of moisturising and nourishing ingredients such as mango and shea butter as well as Vitamin E. The Winter weather has left my lips dry and needing some TLC, so I could't wait to try them out.

What I noticed first on applying the lip balm is the sweet smell, which reminded me of being in a candy store. The lip balm tasted slightly sweet as well. On application my lips felt drenched in moisturising ingredients and completely nourished. The look was one of shine and understated glamour. Perfect for ladies who want a light colour look, a sheer veil almost, but a definite shine.

They have one shade called 'My Pink' which when applied reacts to the PH levels in your skin, giving you a bespoke pink lip balm, your very own shade. How fantastic is that!

Clarins Instant Light Lip Balm is a sheer moisturising lip balm with a hint of colour 

Another feature of this lip balm is the natural peptide it contains. Now for the science bit....what this does is encourage the synthesis of hyaluronic acid, which in turn gives lips a fuller appearance and heightens hydration.

They also sent me some Jolie Rouge Brilliant Sheer Shine Lipsticks as well.

These lipsticks look bright before applying but don't be afraid as they are transparent. They do however give more coverage than the lip balms, and I would say they are a cross between a lipstick and a gloss. They have a sweet smell similar to the lip balms above and give a hint of sweetness on your lips. The rose petal colour would be beautiful on those that have fair skin with blue eyes and blonde hair. I have dark hair and eyes and I think the colour was a little light on me. The Coral Dahlia is more the colour for me, a peachy pink delight, it suited my skin tone perfectly.  These lipsticks although not ultra long lasting left some colour on my lips for at least 4 hours. You would need to reapply throughout the day.

Bottom photo top Shade 23 Rose Petal, bottom Shade 22 Coral Dahlia 

You can find Clarins online or at any good beauty counters such as those at House of Fraser or Debenhams. 
The Instant Light Lip Balm Perfector is on sale for £18, and the Jolie Rouge Brilliant Sheer Shine Lipstick £19.

Tell me what do you think of these lip balms and lipsticks? Do you use Clarins products?
Family Fever

Thursday, 15 January 2015

Smart Home Technology

In this day and age there are technological solutions to any problem. Technology can be integrated into your home seamlessly without you even knowing it. With state of the art technology, software and apps, your heating can be adjusted from an app, your windows can be closed from a control panel, and even your front door can be opened from your computer from the other side of the world. 

This has benefits not just to jet setting business people but as technology comes downs in price, it is becoming affordable and within reach of people like you and me as well.

Assistive and home technology can also be a life changer for those with some form of disability. You are in charge, having greater control over things around you like turning on and off your lights, or opening doors and windows. This can be extremely reassuring for family and carers as making a phone call and turning appliances on and off can be done easily, without any hassle.

Examples Of Smart Home Technology

British Gas Hive heating allow you to control your heating at any time from anywhere. Users can do this via a mobile device, laptop and even tablet. With this great little system you can set your timer so that your house is warm as you wake up, you have plenty of hot water when you come home from work, and the temperature in your house can be controlled easily and efficiently. If you don't have a smart phone you can even use text messages to adjust the heating.

Remote control blinds such as the VELUX Integra blinds system, allow you to open and close windows, shutters and blinds with one touch of a button. Adjusted using a control pad, it has predefined programmes such as Wake Up, Airing and On Holiday. Also available in solar powered version as well as mains, with no need for wiring, technology can be eco-friendly too. It even comes with a rain sensor that closes your windows when it starts raining. How nifty is that?

The SmarterKey lock system allows you to open your front door from anywhere in the world, with the electronic door lock. You communicate with the hub from a mobile phone, the Hub then uses encrypted radio signals to open your electronic door lock.You can also make a phone call or send a text message of you do not have a smart phone to open the lock. How easy is that! 

So as you can see there are lots of interesting ways to use technology to your advantage in your home. 

What do you think of these home technological solutions? Would you consider using these in your home?

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Helping Your Child Pick The Right University And Win A £10 Amazon Voucher - Ends 31/01/15

I have a little confession to make. This week I will be mum to an eighteen year old for the first time. Yes, I know I don't look old enough!

He is an incredibly talented artist, and I am so proud of him. Last year he won the only award for art in the whole school for his GCSE coursework. Did I say I am proud of him?

He wants to work in film but on the creative side, and when I sat down with him to go through his options, studying for a degree in film making and visual effects was what he wished to do. He has just applied for degrees in this area through UCAS and before he did there were a number of things he had to consider. 

Closing date for applying this year is the 15th of January, so if you or your child or someone you know are considering going to university, this post may help you pick your right choices.

Important Factors to consider

University Of Greenwich 

The Course - Every course is different even those that sound exactly the same. There are a host of things to consider. Look at the modules, can you personalise the course? What is the calibre of the teaching staff, do they have relevant experience?  Is it a sandwich course with a year working or are there any shorter work placements? What are the job prospects at the end of the course and where are past students now working?

The University - Is it big or small? Does it have great facilities and modern state of the art equipment? What is the student life like on campus and what facilities/activities does it have or run? Is it local or further away and do you want to stay local or move away? You need to consider how would you get there, and would you live in close by or travel. You need to consider the reputation of the university and would this benefit you in finding a job at the end of the course.  You really have to find out as much as possible about the unis you could be attending

The City - Is it a big bustling city or a smaller town, and what would you prefer? Does it have easy transport links and is it accessible? Is the cost of living reasonable or more expensive? Is student accommodation easy to get, reasonable in cost and close to the university? 

The Funding - You need to consider how you are going to fund the tuition fees and living expenses. Are you going to apply for a loan from the Student Finance Centre? Can you apply for a grant that doesn't have to be paid back or a scholarship? Do you have savings you can use and are you going to supplement living expenses with a part-time job? You could consider getting a rail/bus card for a reduced fare on public transport.

These are just some of the points you need to consider and there are many more. Thorough research is essential so the course and university is the right fit for you.

The University of Greenwich 

Kiss FM presenter AJ went to the University of Greenwich to show potential students how to get under the skin of the university and what you can get up to in their faculties. Open Days and initiatives like these are brilliant to get a real feel for what a uni is like. 

Faculty Of Education & Health

Faculty Of Engineering & Science

If you are considering applying to the University of Greenwich you can find out all about it here. With world class faculties, award winning teaching and a focus on jobs, this cosmopolitan campus is a great choice for budding students. You can also register for an open day if you would like to find out more about the university.

Today in conjunction with the University Of Greenwich I am giving away a £10 Amazon voucher to my readers. If you are applying to University maybe you can put it towards a book you need, and, as they say - every little helps. They also have competitions running to win amazing start of term prizes, including an iPad mini, so if you are interested it's worth checking out this link here.

On a final note, if you are applying for Uni this year you had better hurry up if you haven't completed your form yet as don't forget the closing date is the 15th of January, and good luck in your studies and in my competition. 

Win a £10 Amazon Voucher

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Monday, 12 January 2015

Yu Healthy Snacks Review And Competition - Ends 31/01/15

Yu! are a range of healthy snacks that are perfect for this time of year and they now have some new tasty additions to the range. 

Perfect for everyone big or small, the revamped range of guilt-free treats include mini, star and heart-shaped 100% Just Fruit Chews.  These tasty snacks of dried fruit make up one of your five a day and are high in fibre with no added sugar. To me they even taste just like little sweets - and all without the guilt.

Another item in the range is the Fruit Pieces With a Light Yogurt Coating. The apple pieces are particularly tasty, with a subtly sweet and moorish creamy taste, and these little snacks are high in fibre too.

The Yu Bars are another revelation, packed full of yummy juicy fruits and cereal in a gorgeous yogurt-coating, these bars will stave off the hungers pangs until dinner time.

Nutritious and delicious, Yu!’s mini, heart and star-shaped Just Fruit Chews are now available in mango, raspberry and strawberry flavours, while Yu!’s Fruit Pieces with a Light Yogurt Coating are available in taste bud-tingling apple, mango, strawberry and raisin. The Yu Bars are available in strawberry, cherry and wild berry.

You can find these snacks in the home baking section of  Tesco and Sainsbury’s, and in the healthy snacking aisle in Waitrose. So if you are looking for a better snack than chocolate for yourself, or for a nutritious addition, to your kids lunch box, consider these Yu! snacks.

For more information, visit
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Today I am giving my readers a chance to win a great selection of snacks. To enter my competition go through the Gleam application below. If you like this competition bookmark this page to enter daily.

Good Luck!

Win a Selection Of Yu Snacks

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Thursday, 8 January 2015

Win A £50 Voucher With Bras Galore - Ends 31/01/15

Bras Galore is a lingerie company that stock super quality underwear and swimwear from leading brands such as Freya, Fantasie, Elomi and Fauve amongst others.

The online shop is a fashion lovers delight. From pretty balconette bras to silky chemises, padded plunge bras to super soft thongs, you can guarantee there is something for everyone.

Elomi Rita Multi-way bra £40 and brief £20

One of my favourite underwear brands is Freya. This brand is always fashion led, stylish and fun. Freya use the best quality fabrics too, sourcing most from Europe and every part of each bra is thought about in detail, straps are tested, different underwires are used for each bra depending on style, and fit is never compromised. Real women test each design for fit, and each design is adjusted painstakingly until it is perfect. Freya also make a fun and flattering range of swimwear too, which is definitely worth checking out.

Freya Fifi half cup bra £31 and short £14

Elomi is another brand that caught my eye. Elomi makes underwear for ladies specifically with the fuller figure. Always supportive, and always pretty, the devil is in the detail, as they say, with embroidery, and lace popular finishing touches. How flattering is this Elomi Imogen waspie below? It holds you in, supports you, gives you a great waist and is sexy too.

Elomi Imogen Waspie £30

Are you stepping up your fitness in 2015? Well Bras Galore have a range of sportswear and activewear as well. From crop tops with wide straps for extra support, active racer style sports bras that keep sweat away from the body, full shorts, sports things and even capri pants - it is all here. 

Swimwear is covered with bikinis, swimsuits and cover alls. I love the swimskirts that they sell as they are so flattering and skim over any problem areas.

Freya Cobalt Underwired Bikini top £35 and beach skirt £29

If you are pregnant, they also have some gorgeous nursing and maternity underwear, practical as well as pretty.

So as you can see there is something for everyone on Bras Galore, and with free delivery too, and a 28 days refund or exchange service it's definitely a store that is worth checking out.

Today, on my blog, for my lovely readers, I have a competition where you could win a £50 voucher for Bras Galore. Just follow the instructions below and if you love the competition, you can always bookmark the page to come back for a daily tweet/bonus entry.

Good Luck!

Win a £50 voucher for Bras Galore

Competition ends 11:59PM 31st January 2015 

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Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Flanders Fields Poppy Necklace By The Royal British Legion

Jewellery doesn’t come much more unique than this elegant and stylish poppy necklace from the Royal British Legion.

This pretty necklace which has been commissioned to help commemorate the Centenary of the First World War (1914-1918).

The design of the unique and exclusive Centenary Flanders Fields Poppy Necklace is based on a 100 year old dried and flattened real poppy from Private Len Smith’s diary. Private Smith, a veteran who lived until 1974, plucked the poppy from No Man’s Land in 1915 and preserved it in his illustrated diary. Artist Stephen Allen then created a sculpture of the poppy for TMB Art Metal of London to use as the model for the necklace. 

The necklaces have been created from the solid brass artillery shell fuses found on First World War battlefields. The shells have been melted down and cast, using the traditional ‘lost wax’ method in which each and every poppy requires a wax version, into the hand sculpted poppy designs. 

Each necklace features a contrasting sterling silver backing plate on which the brass poppy is mounted upon an 18” diamond cut Belcher style silver chain. Each is engraved on their reverse with ‘1914-1918 Flanders Fields’ and is accompanied by a certificate of provenance and presented in a high quality case. 

All profits raised from the sale of the necklaces goes directly to The Royal British Legion. The Royal British Legion do incredibly valuable work in supporting the members of the British Armed Forces and their families. 

The necklace is available exclusively from The Poppy Shop and is priced at £79.99. 

As you can see the design is very pretty and I think this is a lovely way to support a charity, and perhaps wear in memory of a relative. They also do this design as a set of cufflinks which is also priced at £79.99.