Jessica Flinn Jewellery - Competition and Review Ends 21/09

Jessica Flinn is an exciting emerging talent on the jewellery scene. The young designer from Sheffield Hallam University has a degree in metalwork and specialises in unique and modern jewellery made from stainless steel. Her pieces have been noticed by magazines such as Vogue, and GQ, who have realised that she is definitely a designer to watch in the future. The trade magazines have also realised this fact and she has been listed in the Professional Jeweller Magazines Hot 100 and in November 2012 she reached the finals of the BJA Jewellery Designer of the Year awards.

When I saw Jessica's designs I immediately fell in love with her feminine girlie jewellery that is just that bit different. What I particularly love is that she creates statement pieces that ensure you stand out in a crowd. In fact her jewellery is rather unique. Using traditional and modern metalwork techniques her fresh and contemporary jewellery is both desirable and wearable. 

I love this Russian Bird cuff, its beautiful blue bird design is bang on trend. I love the blue on cream, it is simply adorable. The cuff is easy to mould to your wrist too. I was sent two cuffs to try as I couldn't decide which was the nicest. Which one do you think? I am swayed by the large cuff as it fits almost perfectly to my wrist.

Large Russian Bird cuff on left. Medium Cuff in the same design right
Large Russian Bird Cuff

Another beautiful piece is the French lace inspired cuff. I think this would set off a little black dress perfect for those Christmas parties and the matching necklace is too gorgeous for words too. I love the way the high polished steel glitters with the black lace design.

French Lace Necklace

I think I'm already becoming a fan of Jessica Flinn's jewellery and if like me you love these pieces you will be in good company as comedian Miranda Hart, Angela Bell from The One Show and Daybreak presenter Kate Garraway are fans of hers as well. Her jewellery is also competitively priced and prices start at only £25 with the more elaborate pieces still under £100.

 9ct gold plated Floral Lace Collar necklace

You can find Jessica Flinn Designer Jewellery on Twitter and Facebook. Why don't you follow her to keep up to date with her stunning designs, but also I have some exciting news for you!

Jessica has given me a beautiful medium Russian bird cuff from the Silvermatics collection to give away. To enter visit the Jessica Flinn Designer Jewellery website, then come back and answer the questions on the Rafflecopter application below.

Good luck jewellery lovers!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

* I was given a piece of jewellery to keep for an honest review

Slumberdown Mem-Gel Pillow Review

I am lucky enough to be part of the Slumberdown panel of mums which means I get to try, review and blog about their fab products. It's always exciting to see what they are sending me next!

Slumberdown manufacture high-quality pillows, duvet and mattress protectors since 1970 being part of the British bedding industry for over 40 years. A well established British company with modern thinking their latest innovations have increased quality and brought new ideas to life. With over 1 million pounds every year invested back into its British factory, it feels great to support them. 

Recently I was sent a Mem-Gel pillow. The technology is intriguing in this pillow. Firstly it is made from memory foam, so it moulds comfortably to your shape and secondly it features a cooling layer which is perfect for those balmy nights like we have had recently, or for when you want to feel a nice cool pillow next to your skin. The cooling layer is made with a gel pad.

Now the science bit - memory foam is amazing, if you have ever woken up with a stiff neck, memory foam can help eradicate this as it provides you were perfect support.

The cooling layer in the pillow isn't uncomfortably cold just pleasant cooling, as a lady I know that certain times of the month I can feel hotter than others, this would help keep me cool. I would also think it would be pleasantly cool if you get the hot flushes that menopause could bring.

Top - cooling pad in pillow, Bottom inside cover showing cooling pad

The pillow provides firm support for head neck and spine and has a removable cover, The outer cover is also removable and can be sponge cleaned. The size is 40cm by 70cm so it also fits in a standard pillowcase. I guess if you wanted to, you could use the outer cooling pad on any pillow.

For further information on Slumberdown check out for a wide range of pillows and duvets for the best nights sleep ever.

You can buy Slumberdown products in Asda, Sainsbury's, Argos and many other stores. Argos has 25% off a range of Slumberdown products at present.

To follow Slumberdown and keep up to date with their special offers and new products check out their Facebook or Twitter page.

If you have tried Slumberdown products let me know how you have got on!

* I was given this product to review but the opinions are entirely my own.

Dirty Martini - Cool Classy Cocktails in Covent Garden

I do love cocktails! Margaritas, Tequila Sunrises, Cosmopolitans, Mojitos ... all simply delicious. So when I was contacted to review a cocktail bar in Covent Garden I jumped at the chance.

Dirty Martini is one of those little secrets that only the insiders know. Hidden away in a basement on Covent Garden it's a tricky place to find but SOOO worth it. You can find this little gem in Covent Garden itself about 20 yards up from the Transport Museum.

Once you get into the cocktail bar, a nice relaxed vibe with classic pop tunes puts you at ease. As you can't see into the bar I didn't know what to expect but I shouldn't have worried. A New York style bar is surrounded by a smart crowd of mixed ages. Attentive staff provide table service or you can order drinks and nibbles at the bar yourself. The extensive drinks menu is full of well-loved classics such as Mojitos, Cosmopolitans, Daiquiris as well as a decent wine list, and their trademark selection of Martini's is something to be seen. Chocolate or Passion Fruit Martini anyone?

Snacks consist of sharing boards with a hot and cold selection and bar nibbles such as olives, flatbreads and sliders provide some sustenance whether you are up for partying all night or not. 

So onto the drinks... We ordered from the Summer Nights Menu. This menu runs on a Thursday and is an incredibly well-priced menu of refreshing fruity classics - cocktails are all just £6. This is an excellent price point for the centre of London. The Berry Margarita was incredibly fresh and fruity. Fresh berries are shaken with tequila and Cointreau, with lime juice to cut through the sweetness, a sugar rim to the glass added a classy touch. A delightful summer drink. 

My husband chose the Mandarin Iced Cooler. This was made of fresh mandarin juice, and peach puree with vodka and pear cognac. As my husband really enjoyed this long drink I decided to order it next. When mine came I thought it was very fruity but a little sweet for me - totally my fault as I like a more refreshing drink.

Stylish Interior

My husband then moved onto the Apple Pear Fizz. Fresh raspberries muddled with Absolute Vodka, lychee liqueur and fresh apple juice was topped with Prosecco. A thumbs up from us both on this one! 

Apple Pear Fizz, Mandarin Iced Cooler and Berry Margarita

To compliment the drinks we had a sharing board off the Summer menu. This consisted of mini hamburgers, marinated tiger prawns, mini hot dogs with onions and vegetable and pesto kebabs. For a snack selection, it was the perfect accompaniment to the fruity cocktails.   

Our service was quick, efficient. Never overcrowded it seems like only a select number of people were let in at any time, which made it a fabulous experience. I am not sure what it is like on the weekend but we really enjoyed it on the Bank Holiday Monday. You can also book an area from a link on their website, which is perfect for large groups and parties.

What's especially great about Dirty Martini is that they have a selection of special offers on a weekly basis. Happy hour is Mon-Thurs 5pm -10pm, Fri and Sat 5pm-8pm and Sun all day. Half price martinis, Prosecco cocktails and bottles of wine as well as other offers make this a steal if you are in the area.

If you can't make it to Covent Garden they also have branches at Hanover Square and Bishopsgate, all in London. Let's hope they expand countrywide soon, I know that Cardiff could do with a classy cocktail bar, hope you are listening Dirty Martini!

* I was given complimentary food and drink in exchange for an honest review

A True Taste Of Wales

I like to keep healthy, I also like to eat out a lot. Sometimes the two things are not a good combination!

Seriously I have been thinking of how to improve my health recently, this has involved walking for at least 30 mins a day and eating more fresh fruit and vegetables.

As many of you know I avidly enter competitions and one recently caught my eye. It was to win a box of food from a local company Taste Wales.

Taste Wales is run by Nicola who both juggles the responsibilities of a young family with running a box scheme company for fruit and veg.

Well I was so impressed with the prices - and surprised that they didn't charge for delivery, that I ordered a Small Fruit Box and also some extra peppers. The small fruit box was anything but small, they use seasonal fruit so you always get the best value and I have to say the quality of the fruit was excellent. £10 for a box of fruit that contained nectarines, strawberries, plums, apples, bananas, grapes, tangerines, pears and grapefruit was fantastic value.

I decided I wanted to know more about the company so decided to send Nicola some questions, to find out more, here are her answers.

Why did you start your company Taste Wales?

I had a graduate job at a large global organisation, but long hours and starting a family meant I wanted to change direction as I got older. With the costs involved with childcare and travel for work it seemed like a good idea. I have wanted to do fruit & veg boxes for a few years and also work with local Welsh produce as I am passionate about healthy living and all things Welsh. There are Organic companies that run box schemes in Wales but none that do great quality, GMO free, Class 1 produce. The supermarket food is often bland and after a little research, realised there was a market for this. 18 months later I have grown from local trade to covering much of South Wales, and not only sell to residential, but also wholesale to commercial clients. To me, the business isn’t just a fruit & veg delivery service, but about working with my customers on ensuring they get a balanced, healthy lifestyle which is then linked into future company ambitions and my Nursing degree.

What areas do you deliver to?

Currently we cover most towns in South Wales. Cities are not targeted yet as they are so big for the resource currently available, but once the shop opens I hope to cover all of South Wales.

£30 Gift Hamper

Where and when will your shop open?

We are hoping to open in the Autumn in Woodland Walk Garden Cenre, Efail Isaf, near Pontypridd, South Wales.

What are your best sellers?

Best Sellers are traditional items. We as Brits are quite wary of trying new things, so I like to provide traditional seasonal boxes but incorporate a different type of fruit each week plus a freebie. I think with money being tight for many of us, we like to spend it on what we know if fear of waste. This is a good way to get people tasting new foods. This time of year Summer Berries and Cherries are best sellers and Vine Tomatoes. My customers are generally split 50/50. Half like to receive the seasonal boxes, not knowing what they get each week. Others like to do the Pick Your Own option so they know exactly what they are getting.

£10 Traditional Fruit and Veg Hamper *contents may vary

How do you juggle the demand of parenthood and a business?

I have No idea! (Lol). My partner works away Mon – Fri, I have daughter 2.5 and son 8 months. I breastfeed too so no one can have my son for me.  With deliveries the kids are often with me, so I have now got some additional support from my family. Facebook marketing has been great for me as even if out and about with kids, I still get alerts on phone and can respond quite easily. The fact that I can do this work (usually with baby in harness strapped to me) and with children around me means I get to be with them, whilst they are in young, yet hopefully teach them the value of working to live, rather than living to work.

What do you do in your spare time?

Spare time? What’s that? Haha. Obviously being home alone with kids means walks or play time with children. Weekends are quality family time. Having quality fresh food at hand is great for cooking / baking which we love to do. Once kids are asleep and work caught up on, I enjoy the peace to read. Other time is spent sorting out all admin work for getting my shop opened. We are working on developing a mobile app for the business, and I'm going back too University in October to study nursing whilst keeping the business going and growing.

So if you want to support a local business and receive a fab box of local produce, why don't you check out Taste Wales now. If you would like an order list email Nicola  and if you quote Jewel13 or say The Diary Of A Jewellery Lover sent you, you will get 10% discount off your first box.
£15 traditional hamper *contents may vary

Delicious Jacobs Oddities - A Guest Post By Lynn Fancy

This is a guest post by Lynn Fancy who blogs at A Slice of Lemon's Cake. Lynn is a mum, a carer and all round lovely person.

Jacobs Oddities

I am not a usual crisp-a-holic but if I’m in the mood then multi packs beware I could eat the lot whilst watching TV and not even realise until it is too late!

I try not to have them in the house just because of that reason. Life is much easier if temptation is removed completely and I don’t have the opportunity to gorge myself to death like the man in the film Seven!

So when it comes to snacks if I do buy any in then I try to be as healthy as possible and so when I discovered Jacob’s Oddities on offer in my local supermarket I thought I would give them a go and buy them. Evan, my 11-year-old garbage disposal unit (otherwise known as a growing boy) loves crisps so second reason why I don’t buy them.

He loves salt and vinegar flavour anything, so I purchased a couple of bags of Oddities in this flavour although they also are available in Smokey Bacon, Ready Salted, Cheese and Sour Cream & Chive.

You can buy a large sharing bag 125grams or a multi-bag which holds 5 individual portion size packets (Smokey Bacon and Cheese also in 30-gram bags). Retailing at around £1.59 for the multi-pack they are great value for money!

I find them absolutely delicious and the baked recipe makes them almost ‘puffy’ crackers – really light and crispy with a lovely texture.

They come in all different shapes which are also used as their main marketing strategy. Ev and I make up little stories whilst we eat them!

So here comes the science bit:

As they are baked the fat difference is huge, 24% LESS than a standard pack of Walkers crisps but they are high in carbs and protein. If you are looking for something to nibble on though as part of a calorie controlled diet and follow a sensible exercise plan they are very good:

There are 114 calories in a 1 bag serving of Jacob's Oddities.
Calorie Breakdown: 30% fat, 61% carbs, 9% protein.
There are 130 calories in a 1 bag serving of Walkers Salt and Vinegar Crisps.
Calorie breakdown: 54% fat, 41% carbs, 5% protein.

I think that is always what I miss on a ‘diet’ that lovely crunchy, crispy texture that you can really chomp on. Too much soft, sloppy and runny food can get so boring! On Slimming World, they count as 5 syns so you could eat 3 in a day if you so wish. Weight Watchers have them as 3 points. So pretty much allowed on a healthy eating plan which is brilliant!

I would totally recommend them as an alternative to a bag of crisps and don’t be put off if one flavour isn’t to your taste, you are sure to find one that you can’t resist!


* I was not paid for this review nor did I receive any products. This is a completely independent post on a product that I purchased myself - Lynn Fancy

It's All About The Money, Money, Money

We all have dreams about winning the lottery. What would we do if we won? 

The National Lottery is changing on 5th October, giving players more chances to win more prizes. Players will get £25 for matching 3 numbers in the draw (up from £10) and 4 numbers (from £60 to £100), and a new raffle guarantees at least 50 winners of £20,000 each draw! And the best bit? When the jackpot rolls, so does the raffle, meaning hundreds more guaranteed £20,000 prizes.

So what would I do if I won twenty grand?
I'd book a holiday to Florida for sightseeing, sea and sand.
I'd tour the parks and experience the rides,
With the best loving, beautiful family by my side.
I'd tour the county and visit the Florida Keys,
Miami, Fort Lauderdale and feel the sea breeze.
And when I got home I'd buy a new car,
To take me on my travels both near and far.
And what would I do to my home you ask?
Well that's not a complicated or difficult task.
I'd have a new kitchen and bathroom too,
With a rainfall shower, designer sink and poshest loo!
And if I had any money left after all that is done
I'd give it to my son as he's my number one!

Ok my poetry skills need to be improved but that is what I would do with the money. What would you do if you won £20,000?

Epcot Florida

This post is an entry for BritMums #Spend20K Challenge sponsored by The National Lottery, with more ways to win more money on the new Lotto game.

Review & Competition - How Clean? I'm Astonished! Ends 23/08

Years ago I remember buying some Astonish and being amazed how good the paste was at cleaning. A small pot lasted ages, and I coveted it, using it to clean the bath, sink, kitchen and even the paintwork. 

Fast forward today and I can certainly say nothing has changed, except the variety of the products. Did you know Astonish  has a range that includes cream cleaners, dishwasher tablets, handwash, carpet and upholstery spray, and 4 in 1 washing detergent amongst others?

Well I was excited to try out the Cream Cleaner with Bleach on my bathroom as I remember how good my paste was all those years ago. So donning the rubber gloves as advised as it contains bleach I squirted the product over the bath. What I liked about this product is that it worked really quickly! I left it for only 10 seconds and just wiped it away and it was brilliant. The finish on my bath and sink was the shiniest I had seen in ages. 

So onto the 4 in 1 detergent. This is a new product and not on their website yet. It has an added conditioner to the washing liquid to soften and freshen clothes. I found the product worked as a detergent but I did not notice a discernible fresh smell so probably best used with a conditioner if you normally use one.

Next I tried the Multi-surface Cleaner with Orange. I really liked this product, it smells divine and the contribution of the orange oil appears to cut through the grease. Useful when you only want to buy one type of cleaner.

When I buy dishwasher tablets I always look for a lemon fragrance and multi-action so I was particularly impressed with the 5 in 1 Dishwasher Tablets in lemon fresh. The 5 in 1 action refers to Outstanding Cleaning, Rinse Aid, Salt Action Power, Protects Cutlery and Protects Glassware. Everything you could need in a dishwasher tablet. Do they work? That's a resounding Yes! Glasses were particularly sparkling.

Then onto the Mould and Mildew Remover. My bath needs new grouting, so I always have a problem with mould growing in the uneven grouting so I was looking forward to trying this product with interest. This is simple to use, spray on, leave for three minutes then wash off. I was pleasantly surprised how effective it was!

Did you know that Astonish products are proud of their ethical stance and from day one in the 60's have always been "cruelty free"?

You can buy Astonish products at a variety of stores including Poundland, B and M, Poundstretchers, Waitrose and Ocado amongst others and you can also buy online.

 But if you like the look of these products why don't you enter my Giveaway.  Astonish have given me a hamper of assorted products* for my readers to win. All you have to do is enter via the Rafflecopter application. Don't forget to bookmark this page for an extra entry with a daily tweet via the Rafflecopter app.

*products may vary from those shown.

Happy Cleaning and Good Luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*I was given these products to review but the opinions are entirely my own

My Edinburgh Fringe Laugh-athon

"I've just been on a holiday of a lifetime....I tell you what never again!"

Bad joke or good joke? Comedy is very subjective, but one thing I know is that if you are ever lucky enough to visit the Edinburgh Festival, you will be spoilt for choice with comedians - one for every day of the week, one for every week of the year. I will interject this blog post with jokes from a comedian I saw last year...see if you can guess who it is by the end.

The Edinburgh Festival is one of the biggest cultural festivals in the world and I was privileged to visit last year and soak up what the festival had to offer. My son and I love stand up comedians so we focused on seeing a range of the best. We were spoilt for choice. If you would like to read about our experiences it is here.

So what would my dream Edinburgh experience look like? When I saw this competition with Premier Inn which ends today, I was keen to enter, and this is how I would spend my £500 budget in the Edinburgh Festival. I would take my husband as he has never been and show him the sights of this fantastic city.

1) Pick a great value hotel in the heart of the action

"Beware of Alphabet Grenades. If you throw them, it could spell disaster."

A Great Hotel In The Heart Of Edinburgh

Firstly I'd pick a great hotel in the heart of the action. The Premier Inn at Princes Street is perfect. Of course, everything is premier but the price - and what a view from the window! A great central location with everything on your doorstep, even fire eaters and jugglers, or fire eating jugglers on a unicycle! One thing I learnt was always expecting the unexpected at the Edinburgh Festival.

Fire Eating Unicycling Jugglers

2) See great comedy from new and established stars

“Last night me and my girlfriend watched three DVDs back to back. Luckily I was the one facing the telly. ”

A Random Laughing Man

Then I'd go to the shows, but what to see!? So much choice - OH MY!

Firstly I'd go and see Sarah Millican, she is so funny, rude but innocent at the same time, she is a true genius of comedy.

Then I'd see Paul Merton's Impro chums . I love "Have I Got News For You" and "Whose Line Is It Anyway" - he's an expert in intelligent comedy and with a range of comedians improvising you know it will be hilarious.

Of course, Edinburgh is famous for giving those new comedians their big break, so I'd also go and see an afternoon show of little known up and coming comedians, you never know when you will see the next Russell Brand, Michael Macintyre or Russell Howard, that's what makes the Edinburgh festival so exciting! Some shows are even free.

3) Eat the most amazing food and drink

"I took part in the sun tanning Olympics – I just got Bronze.”

Here's One I Made Earlier 

For a special meal, it has to be Mark Greenway and they do a pre-theatre market menu perfect before you see the shows. Locally sourced food with amazing flavour and presentation is what he is known for.

For cocktails in a cool environment, it has to be Rick's Bar and with names like Fly Away On My Zephyr and Millionaire you know this is no normal cocktail bar, it's that little bit special with a fantastic vibe.

If I had any money left, for some fun and laughs I'd go and see The Faulty Towers Dining Experience. I was so disappointed when I didn't manage to see it this last year. My husband would love to see this, and you also get fed - well in some shape lol. I hope you don't get your dinner on your lap.....just don't mention the war!

4) Take a tour of this historic city

"I saw this bloke chatting up a cheetah and I thought: 'He's trying to pull a fast one."

My Son In Stocks On The Witchery Tour

Edinburgh is steeped in history and is reputed to be haunted. In the past, I have visited The Real Mary King's Close and toured the city with The Witchery Tours. My son was even put in stocks. So I'd pick a tour that would show a different side to Edinburgh, A tour of the Castle or a walking tour of this historic city perhaps.

So this would be my 48 hours in Edinburgh. To sum up - hotel £350 (normally much cheaper but this is peak season), shows from free to £10-£20 each, Pre-theatre dinner from £16.50, Tour £10-£20, Cocktails £5 to £10 each, repeat as required until you run out of money!

I would probably save some extra pennies and book the Faulty Towers Dining Experience if I could afford it, after all, it would be an experience not to miss, don't you think?

So this is how I would spend my £500 on a 48 hour Edinburgh Fringe Laughathon. Who was the comedian you may ask? Tim Vine of course! And on that note, I leave you with this classic..

"So I went down my local ice-cream shop and said: 'I want to buy an ice cream.' He said: 'Hundreds and thousands?' I said: 'We'll start with the one.'

* This blog post is my entry into the Foodies100 competition as part of Premier Inn's festival Fringe Campaign. If I win my ideal 48 hour Edinburgh Festival Fringe weekend I'd love to stay at The Premier Inn Princes Street