Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Degustabox For March

My food delivery of Degustabox is here again. The monthly food delivery box is perfect when you love trying new things as you get between 9-14 items every month, most new to the market and many utterly delicious.

So lets see what we have in the box this month.





A great selection this month!

Jordans Granola RRP: £3.69

I am a big fan of granola and this granola by Jordan's is a lighter granola, with 30% less fat than their normal version and high in fibre too. To be honest I wasn't looking forward to trying a healthier granola, but from the taste I couldn't tell it was lower in fat, so I would highly recommend it.

Kents Kitchen Posh Noodles RRP: £1.75

These noodles by Kents Kitchen are perfect for a tasty snack, or lunch on the go, being low in fat and calories. Made with all natural ingredients, just add hot water, stir and wait a few minutes for a hot and filling meal in no time.




Maynards Sour Patch Kids RRP: £1.00

All the family enjoyed these sweets and although they had a sour flavour they weren't eye watering, and were sweet under the coating. With six different flavours in the packet, they are a little treat when only something sweet (and sour) will do.

Lindt Lindor Assorted Mini Eggs RRP: £2.00 (each)

These mini eggs are a really delicious assortment of milk, white and dark chocolate. I adored the white chocolate the most, as it was really yummy and the centres were soft . They were inspired by a secret recipe, I wish I had access to the secret recipes Lindt! 

Bassetts Jelly Babies Berry Mix RRP: £1.48

Who doesn't like jelly babies? As well as being a favourite of Dr Who they are a favourite of my husband too, so I didn't get a chance to try these! These packets are a yummy mix of blackcurrant, raspberry and strawberry and contain real fruit juice and natural colours. They also say they are made for sharing....did you hear that Marcus?

Natvia RRP: £2.00

This 100 per cent naturally sourced alternative to artificial sweetener and sugar has zero calories per serving, is non genetically modified and has a low GI. I used it in my tea ( 1 teaspoon equals 1 teaspoon of sugar) and I thought it was an excellent substitute to sugar.

Brioche Pasquier Baked Bread Bites RRP: £0.50 (each)

Marketed as a new alternative to potato crisps, each packet, made from real French bread has under 90 calories and is low in saturated fat compared to crisps, free from artificial colours, flavours and preservatives.  We really enjoyed the bacon flavour snack in this household and the price is great too. It will be interesting to try other flavours so I will look out for these when I am in the shops next.



BBQUE RRP: £3.99

BBQUE is the original Bavarian barbecue sauce, made with cranberries, beer, honey and apples.  This sauce is not yet available in the UK so be one of the first to try it here. I am looking forward to using this with a recipe for Hunters Chicken, as it sounds authentic and a step up from the usual barbecue sauce. 

JuiceBurst RRP: £1.25 (each)

I already like the cranberry Juice Burst, so was delighted to have this in my box. Sharp, but not not too sharp the cranberry drink is refreshing and flavourful. I have yet to try the skinny Juice Burst but if it tastes like it sounds - "bursting to the brim with fruit goodness",  it will be as delicious as the normal JuiceBurst.

Crabbie's Alcoholic Fruits RRP: £1.50 (each)

Voted Product Of The Year, this alcoholic drink is packed with fruity flavours. Made with no artificial colours or flavourings I can't wait to try these drinks, and even the flavours sound enticing Black Cherry, Zesty Lemon, and Raspberry and Rhubarb. I think the price is good too.


If you would like to subscribe a Degustabox subscription costs £12.99 per month, inclusive of delivery. The value of the items is usually a lot higher. If you would like a discount of £3 enter code 9W6F8 into checkout when registering.


You can find Degustabox here:-








Tell me what do you think of the food this month?
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Sunday, 29 March 2015

Izabel London From House Of Fraser

Whenever I am in Cardiff I pop into House Of Fraser. I like to browse the beauty counters, in particular Benefit and my husband buys from Ted Baker. I also adore the handbag section, Fiorelli bags and Ted Baker purses are a weakness of mine.

So when House Of Fraser got in touch to ask me to review one of their dresses from Izabel London, I was delighted, especially when it was in a floral pattern and in a style I would pick myself.







This dress is unashamedly feminine with an all over print, v next and button detail on the front. Being made of a soft and easy to wear, slightly stretchy fabric, the material moves with you and is incredible comfortable on. It is made of a knitted woven material so it is perfect for this time of year when it is still a bit chilly outside. This shift dress is incredibly flattering on, skimming my curves. 


Regarding sizing I think it is fairly true to size, perhaps slightly bigger than I would normally wear. On the House Of Fraser website there is a nifty little gadget called "Your True Fit" that allows you to add your measurements to work out the correct size item for you. Very useful I must admit!



I feel this dress is very versatile especially if you love dresses as much as me. I would pair this dress with black opaque tights and boots for a day shopping out in Cardiff or sheer tights and heels for a meal out at our favourite restaurant with my husband.





Do you know the best part of this too? The dress is only £20. I really have to admit I adore this dress and look forward to wearing it a lot this Spring. House Of Fraser is known for quality items and often quality is associated with expensive, but as you can see quality doesn't always mean expensive either.





Tell me, do you shop in House Of Fraser? What do you think of the dress I have reviewed?

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Thursday, 26 March 2015

Win Tickets To The Good Food Show, 10-12 April. Ends 5th of April

Now that spring is around the corner it means it is almost time for the BBC Good Food Show Spring. I went many years ago when the show was in London and I was delighted to get a photograph with James Martin and Anthony Worrel-Thomson. It's a great day out.

The BBC Good Food Show Spring will run at the Harrogate International Centre from 10 - 12 April 2015 and last year was well attended by over 15,000 visitors.

It's the place to explore the food from over 140 culinary exhibitors including small artisan producers and big name brands, like the Producers’ Village, Delicious Yorkshire, Bursary Award Winners, Cakes Village and BBC Good Food Champions. Lots of delicious seasonal food and drink to try, and with free samples as well as entertainment in the celebrity kitchens, it is a great day for the foodies amongst us.



Some of the cookery writers and chefs this year include The Hairy Bikers, Mary Berry, Paul Hollywood, James Martin, John Torode, and Brian Turner. Cooking live in the large super theater, they will share recipes, hints and tips, and a few laughs along the way.

There will also be an interactive Interview Stage, where you can pose your questions to the chefs. Have you ever wondered how Mary avoids a soggy bottom, or which chef James Martin admires the most, then ask them?


Standard ticket prices start at £18.50 and if you want some special treatment there is a VIP package available to buy as well as VIP packages from the best tearoom in the area, Betty's. The standard VIP package lets you enjoy front row seats in the super theatre, access to the exclusive VIP lounge, refreshments and tastings, a goody bag, cookbook, glass of fizz, VIP parking and much more!   
The Bettys VIP package offers the quintessential Yorkshire experience which includes a luxury afternoon tea at nearby Betty’s Tea Rooms - you’ll be spoilt by their pampering.   

Book your tickets online via http://www.bbcgoodfoodshowspring.com/ today, and more details of the VIP packages are here too.

Today I am giving two lucky people a chance to win a pair of tickets for the 10th of April and a pair of tickets on the 12th of April. Please enter the competition via the Rafflecopter application below, telling me which or both dates you are available. Good Luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

SuperLucky Blog Giveaway Linky

www.theprizefinder.com - See more at: http://www.theprizefinder.com/content/tickets-bbc-good-food-show#sthash.POzRrma4.dpuf
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Chocoholic Cupcakes With Dr. Oetker

When I was invited to try out some Dr Oetker baking products I thought, yes please! I first came across the brand through my love of pizza, and then I found out that they make a range of items for bakers everywhere. From cooking chocolate to frostings, icings to marzipan and edible decorations too, they have everything the home cook needs to take their bakes from the "yummy" to the "SCRUMMY".

So I decided to make the chocoholic cupcakes and to involve my teenage son in the making of them ( and eating) as I am trying to teach him some life skills before he ventures off to university in September, and of course, everyone should know how to make cupcakes! We decided to decorate them in lots of different ways to the recipe on the website, using a selection of Dr Oetker decorations.


These cupcakes were easy to make and looked impressive. My 18-year-old son had no problems making them at all, although I did help him by sieving the flour into the mixture whilst he creamed the butter and sugar together and added the eggs. The recipe states it makes 12 but we made 10 nice size cupcakes.  

So how did they taste? Totally delicious! Myself, my son and my husband polished them off in no time.

If we were going to make them again, I think we would pipe the chocolate buttercream on top into swirls to make them look even better.

Competition

Dr Oetker has a variety of recipes on their website, for all skill levels, and they are running a campaign to encourage people to make chocolate bakes in March, whether they are experts or beginners. To enter this competition for a chance to win a deluxe chocolate hamper, follow @DrOetkerBakes on Twitter and tweet a picture of your chocolate Dr Oetker bake, using the hashtag #EvenBetterBaking and mentioning who you will be sharing your bake with.

Good Luck!


Chocoholic Cupcakes Recipe

Ingredients

Sponge cakes


110 g Butter or Margarine (4 oz)
110 g Caster Sugar (4 oz)
Medium Eggs x 2
60 g Self-Raising Flour (3 oz) Sieved
15 g Cocoa Powder
2 ml Dr Oetker Madagascan Vanilla Extract (2-3 drops)
Dr Oetker Cupcake Cases


Icing

75 g Butter Softened
175 g Icing Sugar
45 g Cocoa Powder (3 tbsp)

50 g Dr Oetker Fine Cooks' Milk Chocolate

Method

Pre-heat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4. Place the Baking Cases into a cupcake tin.

Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in the eggs and the Natural Vanilla Extract. If the mixture starts to curdle, add a little flour. Fold in the remaining flour and cocoa powder with a spoon

Place spoonfuls of the mixture into the baking cases and bake for 15-20 minutes until well risen and firm to the touch.

Remove from the oven and leave to cool on a cooling rack.




Ensure you sieve the flour and cocoa powder for best results

To make the chocolate icing, place the softened butter into a bowl. Sieve in the icing sugar and whisk until smooth. Add the cocoa powder to the butter and sugar and stir until smooth. Spread the icing over the cupcakes and leave to set.

To decorate, break the chocolate into pieces in a dish and pop in the microwave on high for 30 seconds, give it a stir and then cook on high again for 30 seconds or until melted.  You can also do this is a bowl over a pan of hot water. Once melted take a dessert spoon of the mixture and drizzle it over the cakes. Top with Dr Oetker chocolate hearts or Dr Oetker silver edible balls. Eat and enjoy! 





Cupcake icing


Top Tips To Making The Perfect Cupcakes
  • Use butter that has come up to room temperature or an alternative spread like Flora buttery for taste and ease of mixing.
  • Make sure you pour the mixed egg into the creamed butter and flour, a little at a time, as the mixture could curdle if you add it all at once.
  • To help the mixture rise and avoid lumps, I recommend sieving the cocoa powder and the flour before adding to the cake mix.
  • If the mixture does curdle add a couple of tablespoons of flour from the pre-weighed floured and mix in well. 
  • To check if the cakes are baked properly touch the top lightly, if it springs back and doesn't leave a dent in the top then they are cooked.
You can contact Dr Oetker on

Twitter https://twitter.com//droetkerbakes

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/DrOetkerBaking

Website www.oetker.co.uk/
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Friday, 20 March 2015

4th Office - The Fourth Dimension Of Organisation

In today's modern society, work patterns have changed, and more people work from home, or need to work remotely. The 4th Office can help with this.

The 4th Office is a cloud based service, with the emphasis on collaborative working, with file sharing and work management tools. Ideas, projects, tasks and updates can be shared and worked on easily in this online office space. 






The 4th Office is organised in a number of virtual zones, which are integrated seamlessly throughout.

‘My Desk’ involves collaboration tools like email, newsfeeds and messenger.

‘My Office’ neatly organises task and project management, productivity apps and to do lists.

‘My Apps’ seamlessly integrates document and file sharing.



Getting started with 4th Office

Benefits 

It allows you to allocate people into certain groups and projects.

Within each group or project you have:- 

A feed - where you can chat in real time.
An inbox - where all your private emails are stored for that group or project.
A document section - useful as everyone involved can edit or make notes on a document.

An interesting addition is the customer section. This allows you to be the 'account manager' to a number of clients. For each client tasks and documents can be shared virtually and easily, you can even allocate an individual email address to the customer (or even the project). 

If you have new people allocated to a project you can invite them via email to be part of the project and make them feel involved from the very first instance.

Branding is easy with the 4th Office as you can personalise each project with your logo, background and details, adding that professional touch to everything you do.


Signing up to the basic account with 4th Office is free, and if you are curious to what benefits it can offer you, this is a good way of exploring the website without any outlay. With the basic account you get unlimited users, guests and documents, and up to 5 projects and 5GB of storage. Upgraded solutions are priced from £8 a month for the business package from £18 a month for the Enterprise package. 

With an online help centre and a selection of apps for mobile and tablet, I personally feel it is a useful service if you are a remote worker that need to work with others on collaborative projects.


So if you are self employed working for yourself, a blogger, freelance journalist or start up entrepreneur perhaps, or you work for, or manage others, check out the free service now and let me know what you think

* I was gifted to voucher to write about the service, all words and opinions are my own
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Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Spring 2015 Street Style Fashion Trends

These are some of the fashion trends from the catwalk for Spring 2015 and how real women wear them. Let me know what your favourites pieces are.

Fringe




Vila Safe Fringe Kimono - Very

Fringe style is on trend this season. This Vila kimono mixes Wild West style with the Eastern influence in a pretty cherry blossom pattern. Perfect for throwing on and transforming an outfit from day to night. If you want to glam it up add black figure hugging jeans and some silver or white gold bangles.



Military



Joanna Hope military coat - Marisota

The military look always comes back into fashion every few years. This long double breasted coat is machine washable and easy care for the modern woman.

Glitter


French Connection Confetti Grid Sequin Kimono - Very

Aztec prints mix with sequins in this stunning blue kimono. Wear with jeans and heels to add instant glamour to your look and with the right clutch bag and statement earrings, you will be a knock out in that stylish bar or chic restaurant.

Shirt Dress



River Island Sleeveless Dress - Very

Shirt dresses are extremely wearable and big this season. This monochrome loose cut sleeveless dress by River Island is a versatile number. Worn with a black military jacket and boots for a shopping trip or with black opaque tights and a cardigan for work, you will look effortlessly stylish without trying too hard.

Gingham


Gingham Bardot Jersey Top - Simply Be

Add a little retro cool to your wardrobe with this Bardot gingham top. This off the shoulder number is in a pretty check design, made of a comfy jersey fabric and would look great with some capri pants or high waisted jeans. Just add some stylish sunnies for that film star look.

All these items can be ordered from catalogues online if you need to spread the payments too. So in a few days you can have a whole new wardrobe of clothes, perfect for that night out, or chic city break. 


Let me know what you think of these seasonal fashion trends. Which look would you wear?

* This post contains a sponsored link, all words and opinions are my own.
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Monday, 16 March 2015

Win a Necklace with Lady Muck Of Whitstable - Ends 31/03

Esa Evans is the jewellery designer behind a brand of jewellery called Lady Muck Of Whitstable. Lady Muck jewellery is quirky and different, designs include sweet little bird earrings, galloping horses and pineapple pendants.




Esa started designing from her kitchen table in Whitstable a few years ago. At the time she was working as a school teaching assistant, selling at local craft fairs in her spare time. After getting amazing responses from her early designs she started selling her earrings and fascinators to local shops, and family and friends, building up a regular customer base.




Galloping horses 

Her big break came 6 months after leaving her job to focus on her business full time, when the Turner Contemporary Gallery in Margate decided they wanted to stock her designs. The gallery now stocks around 20 of her designs including a bespoke range of seagull earrings, necklaces and brooches.

Lady Muck now has over 150 stockists including the Saatchi Gallery, and The Red Door Gallery in Edinburgh and her jewellery is well received by both customers and stockists alike.



The Design Process

Now Lady Muck needs you! Esa is asking for support through Kickstarter for the launch of a new campaign. The money raised will be used for a new laser cut metal range. Using the height of new technology the money will go towards producing the new jewellery and marketing and promotion.  A small donation will buy you a gorgeous pair of magpie earrings or quirky galloping horses whilst a larger donation will buy you a pretty pineapple necklace or an unusual ant design.

So if you like individual jewellery with prices from £10 I urge you to check out Lady Muck Of Whitstable and check out her Kickstarter campaign today.


Pineapple pendant 

Today on my blog I am giving you the chance to win this beautiful pineapple pendant above in either polished steel or gold plate.  Please follow the steps on the Rafflecopter application to enter below. You can tweet daily for extra entries. If you love this competition please check out my competition to win a leather bag here.


a Rafflecopter giveaway


Terms and conditions

My giveaway is open to those 18 + living in the UK only.
Winner picked at random via Rafflecopter.
Please allow 28 days for delivery.
No automated entries.
One entry per person.
Giveaway ends midnight on 31/03/15

As seen on Loquax

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Friday, 13 March 2015

Top 5 San Francisco Restaurants

A guest post by Chelsea Marrs from Chow Down USA.

Growing up in a big time foodie city like San Francisco, it’s so hard to pick a favorite restaurant or dish! I’ve been to countless venues, from Michelin-starred to holes-in-the-wall, and thought I would share my favorite joints with you, along with what makes them so unique and special to me. 

Brunch at Kitchen Story


Famous for their millionaire bacon and mascarpone-filled, deep-fried French toast, Kitchen Story is the place to go for all you sweet toothed foodies like myself! But fair warning: It may leave you with a serious case of sugar shock and a food coma. Proceed with caution.





Flatbread at The Vestry 

Located in the sunny, hipster, foodie mecca that is the Mission district, The Vestry has seating (inside a chapel!) as well as outdoor seating. They specialize in artisan flatbreads like the bacon & apple dish you see below. As a pizza fiend, I’ve had my fair share of pizzas over the years, and this one definitely takes the cake.




Unique Plates at Frances

With a Michelin star on its resume, it’s no wonder that Frances continues to amaze its diners with impossibly unique dishes like the squid ink tagliatelle below. Come here for a romantic date night, then head to the nearby Castro Theater for some great entertainment!




Southern Cookin’ at Hard Knox 

Get your chicken ‘n waffle fix at the Hard Knox, and bring your appetite! Instead of bread, diners start with a scrumptious platter of cornbread muffins. Plates here are generously portioned, and the staff is incredibly friendly. Choose from southern comfort entrees like jumbalaya rice, fried catfish and country fried steak – each of which comes with two huge sides of your choosing. This is really rare in SF, which is usually so health conscious. But sometimes you just need some comfort food!



Deviled Eggs and Poutine at Jasper’s Corner Tap and Kitchen

Conveniently located near Union Square, Jasper’s Corner Tap and Kitchen goes above and beyond when it comes to devilled eggs and poutine. They have a huge selection to choose from, and the presentation is utterly Pinterest-worthy. And the best part? Everything tastes as good as it looks!



And there you have it! There are a thousand other incredible restaurants in the city, like State Bird, Per Diem, and The Indian Oven, but these are some great places to start. I love restaurants with something special or different to offer, and these all encompass that quality in their own ways. I hope you find them as delicious as I do!
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Chemist Direct Review

Chemist Direct recently got in touch with me to review their ordering service. I do a lot of online shopping, and although I had heard of them I have never used their service before. There are many advantages of buying from an online chemist so I was eager to try it out.


Image Artisticco Shutterstock

Advantages of buying from an online chemist

Convenience

Firstly there is the convenience of ordering online from the comfort of your home or even on the go from your phone, 24 hours a day. You can put your feet up with a cup of tea and browse online and pay at a click of a button.

Door To Door Delivery

This can be particularly good if you are placing a big order and saves you carrying it far. This can also save time in travelling to the chemist and money if you need to drive there or get public transport.

Lack of Embarrassment 

We have all been there, when you need to buy an embarrassing medicine or lotion and you have to ask for it.  You can buy pile cream, laxatives, condoms or lotion to eradicate head lice lotion online without any face-to-face contact, which I feel can only be a good thing.

Saves Money

Allows you to bulk buy when you see special offers such as 2 for 1s and price reductions. If you are good at sticking to a shopping list this can prevent temptation at the till, such as the latest health and beauty product you just have to have or a treat for the kids.

Prevents The Third Degree

If you are feeling under the weather, sometimes the last thing you want is the third degree from the pharmacist assistant. Online chemists such as Chemist Direct have a checklist that allows you to answer some simple questions online to ensure you have the right medicine for the job.

Ordering From Chemist Direct




Ordering from the Chemist Direct website was clear and straight forward. There is a search box at the top of the page and all the departments are clearly marked on the left side menu. Special offers are highlighted in the centre of the page and change every few seconds.

Besides the obvious medicines Chemist Direct also sell a wide range of toiletries, make up and skin care products including brand names L'oreal, and Bare Minerals. They have a large selection of mother and baby products, as well as a selection of pet nutrition, for all you pet lovers.

Of course a big selection of the items they sell are medicines and health care products. If you buy a medicine you are taken through a number of questions to ensure you are buying the right product for the job, providing the role of the online pharmacy assistant. This is very reassuring.




I ordered a great selection of items for £50, many with price reductions. Free delivery is available on items over £40 and takes 5 working days. A couple of days later I had an email to say that a couple of the items were out of stock and they would send the parcel anyway and refund the difference.

Unfortunately the parcel didn't arrive when expected so I rang the customer services team. The lady on the phone was helpful and pleasant and informed me that there was a problem with the parcel, and it had become damaged in transit. It had been returned to the dispatch centre and would be resent.

As promised, a short while later the parcel arrived. Most items were in bubble wrap but one of the bottles was leaking and the lid on the shampoo was cracked. Maybe adding an extra layer of cushioning in the box would have helped.

I was really pleased with the selection I received. As you can see below I had a great haul for just under £50. Good buys were the cotton wool packs 3 for £2.89, a saving of 86 pence, L'oreal Shampoo half price at £2.79 and the Chlorhexidine mouth wash half price at £1.75.

Orders are free if you spend £40 or more at the moment but if you want to order less then delivery is from £3.49.




So the crunch is - would I order from Chemist Direct again?

It is convenient, great for buying in bulk and has some fantastic offers, some with up to 70% off.  I would have preferred to wait for my items to be in stock then had it all shipped at the same time, rather than had my items cancelled. I think they do need to look at how the items are packaged as my parcel was sent back due to damage and then had slight issues with the bottles. Except for the issues with delivery I would order again especially if I was stocking up or if I saw some bargains.


You can also have your NHS and private prescriptions delivered to your door too, which I think is an extremely valuable service.

Tell me what do you think of the service they offer? Would you order from Chemist Direct?

* I was gifted a voucher to try the service

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Wednesday, 11 March 2015

How To Find A Local Dentist

We all want perfect teeth, and recently I have unfortunately had some problems with my mine. My dentist is a drive away and I have had to get there on numerous occasions over the last month due to a pesky tooth infection. Luckily I work from home but if I didn't it would have been a real problem. It can also be incredibly difficult if you are new to an area to find a local dentist, especially one that is covered by the NHS. This guest post highlights a booking system that is easy to use, efficient and extremely useful next time you want to book a dentist.



Image HconQ - Shutterstock

In the age of the internet, you don't need to worry about how to find a local dentist and what to do when you want to sign up and arrange your first appointment.

Step one: review a handy list of dentists in your area

The first step is to go to toothpick.com and type in your location. You will find a list of dentists in your area and you can draw up a shortlist from the available practices in your area. You can also search by practice or dentist name, if you already have some information you wish to follow up, or if want to know more about any particular practice. 

This website also lets you search by treatment, which is a very useful feature if you want to check out the range of options available in your local area.

Step two: check the details of each practice

The next step is to check whether the practice suits your particular needs. Do you have children or elderly people in your family who might need special treatments? Are you looking for an NHS dentist, or a private one? Does the distance from work or home to the practice matter to you? 

Make a list of your requirements and check them against each dentist on your shortlist. This should help you to determine your final choice. 

Step three: book an appointment online

Once you have chosen the right dentist for you, then you should click on the appointments booking function. This allows you to select an appointment time that suits your schedule. You will have to enter a few details at this point, including your email address. 

The practice administrator will confirm your booking by email. Now you are nearly there, and have successfully completed the initial registration and booking process.

Step four: attend your appointment at your chosen dental practice

The last step is, of course, to visit your dentist at the appointed time. You will have to complete some forms on your first visit, and you will be able to arrange any further treatments when you are there. Payment is made directly to the practice in the usual way.

For future visits, you can use the same appointments booking process. It is so quick and easy to use this online booking system, and you can even book appointments late at night and over the weekend, because the website is available outside office hours. 

This system really streamlines the process of booking dental appointments, and it makes life so much easier for you, and for your dentist.

* This is a guest post
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Monday, 9 March 2015

Letting Go

A guest post by Lucy from The Parent Game Blog

I had an opportunity to write a guest post for my friend and she mentioned that I could write it about anything I wanted. Which got me thinking. There’s a subject that crops up in my head now and again, and I’ve often wondered if I’m alone in this one, or if other parents feel the same. So read on, and tell me, is this normal, or am I just a little bit loopy!

I’ve been a mum for nineteen years. I have, without exception, loved every single minute of it. I was very lucky, my first daughter, who I had at eighteen, was very, very easy going. Slept through the night from six weeks old, rarely had toddler tantrums, etc, etc. I didn’t realise that I was lucky, until I had my son, ten years later, who, especially at night, was a bit more of a challenge! However, I wouldn’t change a thing. My son, now nearly nine, has grown into a wonderfully intelligent, fun, thoughtful little man and I love him to bits. As all us mums will. That’s the point, isn’t it? We are all mums and they are all our babies, regardless of what they do or say. They will all go through phases at one time or another, and we will get angry, frustrated, whatever, but they will come out the other side and we will love them just the same. We will love them. It’s what we do. But, and here’s the rub, what happens when they are not little ones anymore?




I remember someone saying to me when my daughter was small, ‘It goes by so quickly, before you know it, she will be picking out college courses.’ Of course, I laughed. It sounded so ridiculous, as she grinned up at me, dribbling a little bit. I thought of that comment often, over the years, and others like it. ‘She won’t be a baby forever’, ‘enjoy it while it lasts’, but, it never felt that way to me. Each time she grew out of one developmental phase, she grew into another, even better one. Walking, talking, singing, telling jokes, she was such fun to be around, I never really felt I’d lost anything and it felt as if the whole world was ours to enjoy. I didn’t think I’d have any more children, so was extra-privileged to have another turn at being a mum. I think that may be why these thoughts crop up now, because, I know I won’t be having any more children, so every milestone feels a bit more final.

It hit me not long after my daughter turned eighteen. Like a steam train. This may sound crazy, and I am completely aware that it’s not the same thing, but I don’t know how else to describe it. I almost felt like I was grieving. For that little girl I used to know. Mad, right? I love my daughter with every breath in my body, she’s amazing and I’m so proud of how she’s turned out. She’s my best friend and I wouldn’t change a thing about her. But I miss that other life, the little girl with the crazy laugh and the little curls either side of her face. It all seems so far away, sometimes I feel like I want to go back and see her, just once. She seems like a completely separate entity to who my daughter is now. Is that crazy?

I wonder if, in a few years, I’ll feel the same about my son. Or, will I heed those warnings, make more of an effort to enjoy it all somehow? Would it really make a difference? I don’t think so. I suspect that, to some degree, most parents go through these feelings at one time or another and we just have to learn to cope with it. Be thankful for the great joy our children bring us, the wonderful people they have become, and hope to God we they give us plenty of grandchildren!

By Lucy Dorrington
The Parent Game 


Mummy Alarm

Brilliant blog posts on HonestMum.com
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Saturday, 7 March 2015

Nutmeg - The Spicy Savings Portfolio

Putting money aside is a good idea for big life events, unexpected costs, an emergency and for retirement planning, but who can you trust when you want the right savings account and how can you limit your risk?  
Have you heard of Nutmeg? Nutmeg is a simple to manage online savings platform, with completely transparent costs.





Image Valentyn Volkov Shutterstock

Started in 2011, by Nick Hungerford, who was frustrated by the exclusivity and lack of transparency in the investment world, Nutmeg is the UK's first online discretionary investment company.

They invest primarily in Exchange Traded Funds or ETFs. These are simple, physically-backed and liquid securities that comprise a range of asset classes including equities, bonds, commodities and cash. As Nutmeg is a totally independent company and not tied to anyone, they can select the assets, holding and securities that they like and base their investments on past performance, and the spreading of risk

Building up a portfolio of invest
ments can be daunting to those that are not experienced in this area, what with finding the best interest rates and understanding the costs involved it can be a minefield, so it's reassuring to know that as an investor in a Nutmeg product you are not charged any initial or setup charges, any exit fees or any trader or broker fees. You will only pay 0.3 to 1.0% based on how much you invest. 


As a Nutmeg Investor You are Not Charged Any Of these Fees


It is important to point out that with all savings nothing is guaranteed, and your investment can go up as well as down. Nutmeg manage the risks by tailoring the portfolio based on your individual needs, spreading your risk and opportunity and regularly reviewing your investment. 

Frequently Asked Questions

You are not locked into any minimum terms, and the minimum investment is £1000 for each fund you create. To get started you answer some simple questions such as the type of account you want, the goal and the target amount. It allows you to set a timeframe and a risk level from 1 to 10, and then shows you a financial projection. The risk levels start at 1, "Avoiding Loss" to 10 , "I'll risk large losses for higher gains". I found it interesting going through a dummy run to see the list of investments they would make with different risk levels.

Of course you could open these accounts yourself but this platform guides you along the way through the investment maze, in simple easy to understand language. Costs are also kept low due to the bulk buying of investments. 


You can open a Nutmeg ISA, start a personal pension plan and transfer your ISAs and personal pension pots to other providers. I am particularly interested in the stocks and shares ISA. This video below explains how it works.  



If you have an interest in the stocks and shares market but want to be guided along the way I think the Nutmeg way of doing business is perfect for you. You are guided, some of the risk is spread and your investment is regularly reviewed. 

An important point is they are also regulated by the FCA.

Let me know what you think of the Nutmeg way of investing. Do you have a pension fund, ISA or other long term savings?

* A sponsored post, words and opinions are my own.
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Friday, 6 March 2015

Win A Quality Leather Bag From Scaramanga - Ends 31/03/14

I love quality products and I love bags. I also love companies that have an ethical policy and treat their suppliers well.

Scaramanga UK is one such company. A company that produces award winning bags based on traditional vintage designs. A company that pays suppliers a fair price for their products. A company that encourages sustainable development and really cares about the welfare of their staff and their suppliers. 


From worn look leather messenger bags, to multi-purpose holdalls, to bright coloured satchels and protective laptop briefcases, they sell stylish, and useful bags for the modern urban man and woman. 

I was given a chance to review a bag and I honestly couldn't decide which to choose. One of the bags I really liked the look of, was leather tote bag below.



This leather tote bag is roomy and big enough for all your shopping needs. With useful side pockets with magnetic fastenings the classic faded leather look is perfect when you don't want to look like you're trying too hard.

Another bag that caught my eye was the Citylander leather laptop briefcase.


This functional laptop briefcase is big enough to hold a good sized laptop in the padded main compartment and still is super stylish. It has lots of compartments to hold a notebook, purse, phone and anything else you need too. Great as a flight bag, this sturdy briefcase in a distressed leather, is well made and would look great on your arm.

With so many choices it was hard to decide but I did finally pick the cobalt blue leather satchel below. This was delivered next day and packaged well in an outer box and covered in a silk bag. With the bag came care instructions which was very useful and a lovely touch.  




I remember having a brown leather satchel in school and was so excited when I had one for a present one Christmas. Leather satchels were expensive over 30 years ago and my mum paid £30 even then. You could only buy satchels in brown in those days - gosh I would have been dancing with joy if I had a cobalt blue satchel to take to school!


silk outer bag 



It is all in the attention to detail with this satchel. The stitching is perfectly even with no loose threads, the leather is strong enough to hold everything you need and the long handle is adjustable so you can wear it across your body or on your arm. It even has a pocket with a clear window just like your old school satchel. What a colour too! A lovely mid blue that goes well with jeans and a jacket for a shopping trip.


Included with the bag were care instructions.  The use of 'saddle soap' to clean it is recommended as well as a leather conditioner to restore it's lustre. The information also tells you how to store the satchel correctly. I have yet to clean the bag but I found this information extremely useful to have, as I often get makeup or pen on my bags.

The satchel comes in a variety of colours from black and brown to purple and red and even yellow and pink, and a variety of sizes too. If you are looking for a good quality leather satchel you really can't really go wrong in picking one from ScaramangaUK. 

Today I have a chance for you to win any leather bag from the Scaramanga UK site. So answer the questions on the Rafflecopter application below and good luck! If you like the prize you can tweet daily for extra entries. You can also check out my current competitions here.


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Terms and Conditions
My giveaway is open to those 18 + living in the UK only.
Winner picked at random via Rafflecopter
Please allow 28 days for delivery
No automated entries
One entry per person

Giveaway ends midnight on 31/03/15
as seen on www.loquax.co.uk

Win competitions at ThePrizeFinder.com - See more at: http://www.theprizefinder.com/content/quality-leather-bag#sthash.5vwfLb12.dpuf

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