Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Smoke Relief Electronic Cigarette Review

Personally I have never smoked. I watched both my grandparents die of cancer, and I vowed then that I would never smoke. Especially as my granddad died because of passive smoking as it was my nan who was the smoker. 

Hubby on the other hand, he has been smoking since he was a young lad, and although he has quit several times, after about a year he has starting again for some unknown reason, and the more times he's started the harder it has been for him to quit!



It's gotten to the point where patches no longer seem to help and he's finding it really hard to quit! Even though he recently lost his own father from throat cancer!

So when we were sent some electric cigarettes from Smoke Relief I wasn't sure what to expect! But what I didn't realise was that they are not an aid for giving up smoking, they are a harm-free alternative to old-style tobacco cigarettes for existing smokers. They are not very good at helping you give up smoking because you are still addicted to the nicotine and you are sill getting the full smoking experience, what they are is a healthier alternative without all those harmful side effects! 

The ideal time was when we went away on my parents canal boat for a week. As the canal meanders through countryside, with few shops and a couple of pubs for him to buy cigarettes from, it meant he had to stick with the electronic cigarettes or do without!

One of his favourite things about the electronic cigarettes, is the fact that he can "smoke" in places where he wouldn't normally be allowed. That he could sit watching tv and having one, instead of being sent to Coventry and having to smoke outside. Being in the car is the same. There is nothing worse for a non-smoker than getting into the car after hubby has used it all week to go to work and to find it stinking of cigarettes! I HATE it!



The kids found the cigarettes fascinating  that it would glow and smoke just like a real cigarette and they enjoyed daddy not disappearing every now and then for a crafty cigarette, but instead sitting and watching the film with them!

But what are the Electronic Cigarettes from Smoke Relief?
Have you ever seen the smoke machines that you often find in nightclubs? It's actually vaporised glycerine. Smoke Relief electronic cigarettes or e-cigarettes are battery-powered devices that give you inhaled doses of glycerine vapour mixed with nicotine and one of seven flavourings (tobacco, menthol, cherry, peach, cappuccino, vanilla and apple).

How do they work?
Each electronic cigarettes consists of a battery and a cartomiser (atomiser and cartridge combined). As you draw on the cigarette the cartomiser gets powered up and vaporises some of the flavoured nicotine which you inhale as smoke

It's not actually real smoke, although it looks like it is. In fact it is just vaporised vegetable glycerine - nothing is burnt so there is no cancerous tar and it is completely harmless. Glycerine is similar to a sugar, it gets absorbed in your lungs and metabolised by your body. Which is why electronic cigarettes are technically legal to use in the UK in clubs, bars, pubs, restaurants, offices and on public transport (but expect to have some explaining to do and the odd raised eyebrow!)



With electronic cigarettes there is no ash, tar, fire risk or smoker's breath. There is no flame, no carbon monoxide and no passive smoking risk. You won't get smoker's breath and you won't smell of stale smoke. 

But why should you use an electric cigarette?
* They look and feel like a real cigarette - although a little heavier. 
* Freedom to smoke it anywhere in the UK - buses, trains, planes, bars, clubs, work, at home, in the car.
* Cheaper than cigarettes - roughly equivalent to £1 a packet
* Nothing to offend other people around you
* No teeth discolouration, bad breath, nicotine-stained fingers and stale smelling clothes



But the big question is.... Do they TASTE like real cigarettes?
Unfortunatly they don't. The regular tobacco flavoured variety of Smoke Relief electronic cigarettes have a slight "caramel/herbal" flavour. So expect a different taste, but it's not that different and you'll get used to it. My hubby soon did and he actually preferred the taste of the electronic cigarette. 

What I really liked was that Smoke Relief electronic cigerattes are available in several flavours (tobacco, menthol, peach, vanilla, apple, cherry and cappuccino) but that they do mixed cartridges (apple, cherry, cappucino, peach, vanilla) so you can sample other flavours without running the risk of buying a box and not liking the taste.



We were sent  a Deluxe Rechargeable eCigarette kit for hubby to try which comprised of;
Deluxe smoke relief charger boc
2 x lithium-ion cigarette batteries
USB cable and charger
5 x 18mg tobacco cartridges - equivalent to 100 cigarettes
5 x cartridges of your chosen flavour and strength - equivalent to 100 cigarettes

Easy to use, you just plug your charger box into a usb port or using the cable into the plug socket and once fully charged it lasts about a week and takes about 4hrs to charge. Once charged just screw in a cartomiser and enjoy! 5-7 drags is equivalent to one ordinary cigarette. The cigarette battery will take 2-2.5hrs to charge in the charger box.

Hubby and I really liked the Smoke Relief electronic cigarettes, hubby enjoyed being able to smoke safely and where he wouldn't be allowed to smoke normally, especially in the house as I don't let him and once he adjusted to the taste he found it was just like smoking a normal cigarette. We both liked the fact that they looked like a normal cigarette, although a little bigger and heavier, as I've seen some fake cigarettes that make people look like they're puffing away on a biro!



The rechargeable kit comes with a 90 day no quibble moneyback guarantee for all UK customers. This means if you don't like it and want your money back just return it and they will refund you but minus the cost of postage. 

At 80% cheaper than cigarette, it saves you money! And I'm all for anything that saves me!

***DISCLAIMER***
We were sent a deluxe rechargeable Smoke Relief eCigarette for free on the understanding I would write an honest review of what I and my husband (the smoker) thought about the product. I received no payment and the review is my own honest and unbiased opinion of the product and I retain full editorial control and integrity. 

Monday, 29 October 2012

When Santa Claus Got Shafted

My dad LOVES Christmas! It's his favourite time of the year! He loves watching the children get excited and he especially loves watching them open their presents! In fact my dad is the biggest kid of them all on Christmas Day! I remember the first year that my brother and I didn't believe in Santa. We didn't want to get up early and my dad practically had to pull us out of bed. He looked so disappointed that the following year we pretended to still believe, just so we didn't see that look on his face again, as though he'd lost the magic of Christmas! Then when I had my own family, I made sure that every year we invited my parents to spend Christmas with us and that they would be there when the children got up to peep into the lounge and see all their presents, the proof that Santa had been!


But that's not all he enjoys doing. My dad LOVES playing Santa! He even looks the part with his shaggy white hair and beard! When I asked him a few months ago, what he was looking forward to the most once he retired, he answered being able to play Santa more often. If he had to turn the opportunity down because of work commitments, he always felt bad as he enjoyed the role so much. He is also very good at it! I remember watching him at a party in our local leisure centre a few years ago, he went around the hall, down on one knee and chatted with all the toddlers who were there whilst they were playing. He spent time getting to know them all and building up their confidence so that when it was time for them to come and see him to receive their gifts, they weren't scared of him at all! He was the friendly man that they had already spoken too. The following year he couldn't do it because of work and his replacement Santa just sat in the chair waiting for the children to come to him, which of course they were a little nervous about doing and some wouldn't go at all. 


The first time he was asked to play Santa, was many many years ago, when my brother and I were still small, up at the local church hall. One of the little girls at the party was a very young Charlie Brooks (Janine in Eastenders) and on seeing my dad she declared "You're not Santa! You're my uncle John!" (no he isn't really her uncle but he was best friends with her dad!)

Me and a very young Charlie Brooks

A few years ago, I'm not sure how many but I know that my eldest was very small, my dad was asked by the school if he could be Santa at the their Christmas fair. It was a long time ago because my nephew was still attending the school and I remember clamping my hand over his mouth as he said "I know that voice it's Gra......!" My nephew is now 15!!!

Ever since that Christmas Fair, the school have always asked him to come back and play Santa every year. And he has! Even if he was working, for the school fair he would book the day off work, taking it as unpaid, so he could play Santa at the school, for free! He never expecting anything for doing it, he just did it because he enjoyed helping out the school and because he loved being Santa. He would be asked to play Santa for the school on other occasions as well, such as the Christmas Dinner and the school disco's and parties and he always felt bad that he was working and couldn't make it!

Santa and Mrs Claus
aka Mum and Dad!

This year, because he was available to play Santa on every occasion he was asked, and because he'd already had two letters asking him to play Santa, one from the school and one from the local childcare partnership for a party for the toddlers of the town, my mum and I decided we would treat him to a proper Santa suit. A really nice one so that he could really look the part from now on!

Then, last week, everything fell apart! On the Sunday my dad had proudly shown me the two letters he'd received about playing Santa and my mum and I had spent all afternoon researching Santa suits. The following day, whilst waiting to collect the children after school, I mentioned to my friends, who were also on the Friends of the School, that my mum and I were looking for a luxury Santa suit for my dad for the school Christmas fair. One of them then turned around to me and said.
"But then he'll be competing with someone else in town. He has his own grotto and does the late night opening in town as well as the old people's home. Plus he's doing the school Christmas fair!"

"What do you mean?" I said shocked. "My dad's playing Santa at the school fair! He's already had the letter!"

Me and my brother with our dad!

That's when I found out that this other person had attended the meeting (which they hadn't invited my dad to) and claimed that the school had looked bare last year and he wanted to play Santa with his own grotto. Because he could bring his own grotto, everyone jumped at the chance to let him play Santa! All because they couldn't be bothered to build the Grotto, which was usually in one of the classrooms so that no one could go in to decorate until 3pm because of classes and of course that was the time the Christmas fair began! Then they blamed the person who sent my dad the letter asking him to play Santa saying she shouldn't have sent it, but when I mentioned it to her, she said that two other members knew and helped her with the letter because at the time everyone else was in agreement that my dad was playing Santa! 

My dad has been playing Santa at the school for around 8 years and this is how they treat him! Throwing him away like a plain biscuit because a fancy biscuit comes along. Even though, without the sparkles and the decorations, the plain biscuit tastes better! Had anyone thought to ask my dad if he could help with the Grotto? NO! Had they invited him to the meeting to discuss the Christmas fair? NO! Had they asked for his help in any way? NO! Would he have helped if he had been asked? HELL YES!!!

My family

When I spoke to my mum that afternoon, my dad was STILL under the impression that HE was playing Santa! They hadn't even had the decency to tell him before telling everyone else that someone else was playing Santa!

I am thoroughly disgusted with them all, they have treated my dad despicably with no respect or common courtesy after all he has done for them over the years!And I REFUSE to go to any events the Friends of the School host and to support them in any way, even though I had been one of the few people who went to EVERY SINGLE ONE!!! 

I've been struggling for the past week on whether I should write this post or not... 

But in the end I've decided I will. Sometimes writing things down can help you feel better, and since I am still annoyed a week later, maybe writing down how I feel will help me get it off my chest and move on, rather than letting it fester like an infected wound and tar my enjoyment of Christmas!


Sunday, 28 October 2012

Help Dora the Explorer

Last year, our small community came together and we won the Tesco School Uniform Competition. It was great to see the community come together as we canvassed all our friends and family from across the globe for votes to help our little school win a free school uniform for every child that attended. The feeling of pride and achievement when we won was amazing! Everywhere I looked on the day we found out we had won, all I saw was huge beaming smiles, as everyone was so amazed that such a small town had won and we felt unbelievably proud of our community. 

You can read our story and even watch the documentary that was made (and I appeared in) as an advert for this years competition here;
School Uniform Competition... Did We Win?
Movie Star For The Day
The Winners Story!!!

So when I heard about the Help Dora Help campaign and I was asked to help promote it I was thrilled that I could help another community feel the same sense of pride that we did when we won our community. Yes, winning the prize is awesome, but with winning comes a more important feeling of pride and well-being. We found that even the competition itself was fun as we reconnected with old friends and family members as well as making new ones, both from the community and further afield!


But what is the Help Dora Help? I actually heard about this earlier in the year on facebook and encouraged our local nursery to apply, I even saw a few TV adverts showing the wonderful garden and nature trail that last years winners had created. The winner will receive the amazing award fund of £20,000 plus fantastic discovery and learning equipment to help their very own little explorers.

Five nurseries selected from across the UK have been chosen as the finalists for Nick Jr's Help Dora Help Campaign. The initiative is supported by The Prince's Foundation for Children and the Arts and is designed to support nurseries, preschools and children's centres in their educational curriculum. Almost 300 nurseries and preschools submitted an entry to this years campaign with applicants from Cumbria, Derbyshire, London and Lancashire elected as finalists. The winner will be decided by members of the public that vote at nickjr.co.uk/helpdorahelp

"The quality of entries for the Help Dora Help was extraordinary and gave a great picture of the areas of educational interest across UK preschools." said Helena Dowling, Nick Jr presenter and Help Dora Help judge. "With funding required for things such as buying a minibus to creating a mini beast learning zone, the finalists each demonstrate a desire to offer more educational opportunities for their pupils. I am looking forward to seeing which entry the public chooses to receive the award."

Voting is now open to decide which of the finalists will receive the amazing award fund of £20,000 plus fantastic discovery and learning equipment to ehlp their very own little explorers. Voting is open to anyone within the UK and voters can take a look at all five finalists and learn more about their submission at nickjr.co.uk/helpdorahelp. Voting is open until 5pm on the 2nd of November 2012 with the winner if the award announced on 19th November. 

Inspired by the adventures spirit of Dora, Help Dora Help seeks to encourage support education, development and exploration in the pre-school environment. The five finalists for this year's campaign are;

The Old Forge Day Nursery - Findern
The current owners took over a very run down, dilapidated nursery in 2009, since then all funds have gone into creating a safe, secure, warm and loving environment. leaving very little left to invest in new resources for our children. We would love to improve many areas within our Pre-School and Nursery, here's a few. A fabulous Log Cabin in the garden with sensory room, library and dance studio which would greatly enhance the children's senses, imagination, movement, communication, language and literacy! Wonderful role play areas, with structures like castles, pirate ships and other themes, filled with wonderful resources for the children to play and explore! Improve our craft and messy play areas so children would have a greater variety of creative resources like easels, play dough, stencilling, cutting, sticking and fabric and greatly improve our sand and water facilities! Develop our music area, sourcing instruments from around the world!

Walton Lane Nursery School and Childrens Centre - Nelson
we are applying to the Help Dora Help Award Fund to help us enable children from an extremely deprived area such as ours (top 8% and 1%) to experience nature first hand. Enhance our developing nature trail so children can experience and explore life cycles with a natural environment with help from our parks departments. Create a bug hotel with children to explore, investigate and increase their knowledge of mini beasts, nature and conservation first hand. Enhance children's learning of recycling and being eco-friendly by creating the bug hotel from natural and recycled resources. Purchase resources such as outdoor clothes, wellingtons, books, magnifying glasses, binoculars and I.T equipment to enable better understanding and learning. Enrich children's learning about the environment around them, which has naturally developed from activities such as building a wormery. Develop Parental Involvement Activity Days, Dad's groups, Holiday Club etc. which include members of the family and community. 

Greystoke Under 5's - Greystoke Penrith
We are applying to the Help Dora Help Award Fund to help us..
1, 2 we need something new. 3, 4 So we can explore. 5, 6 We can learn more tricks. 7, 8 We could move up down and straight. 9, 10 We could build a sensory den. 11, 12 We could dig and delve. 13, 14 It would be like nothing we've seen. 15, 16 We could bake in a new kitchen. 17, 18 Learning and developing. 19, 20 Please help us learn plenty! We are a dedicated volunteer playgroup based in a rural village with a 15 mile catchment. We would use the award to revamp our tired/basic outdoor play area, or our kitchen which would enhance motor skills  confidence, flexibility, social interaction and exploratory learning. This would benefit the entire community, supporting parents learning with their children. 

Oakmount Day Nursery - Preston
We are applying to the Help Dora Help Award Fund to help us...
We continually strive to do stimulating stuff
Like develop our outdoor area but it's simply not enough! 
Unfortunately the amount of space we have is low, 
and sometimes the children's imaginative play has nowhere to go! 
The purchase of a minibus we think is wild. 
To provide continuous invaluable experiences for every child. 
It would allow us to access our local nature spots. 
And have camping and woodland adventures that were really hot! 
Indoors an interactive smart board would allow learning to come alive.
Technology skills could develop and the children would thrive. 
Discovering together would be a fun way to learn, 
instead of sitting at a computer or waiting for a turn! 
Additionally - to enhance our outdoors we hope. 
We'd like metal detectors, walkie talkies and a telescope! 
All of these things could be packed in a bag. 
And taken on many adventures that are waiting to be had!

Parkfield Childrens Centre - West Hendon
We would like to develop our Early Years playground into an adventure wonderland. We want to provide the children with an area that can be adapted to follow the children's interests as well as build their knowledge and understanding of the world. We plan to build the basic dwellings and places common to most villages across the world, town houses, huts, market places, communal areas, transport links etc, but which can then be "staged" to reflect various countries, cultures, seasons and festivals. We will resources each dwelling with equipment and furnishing which reflect a country/season to support the children's creative and expressive development through active learning, exploration and a truly enabling environment. Ideas include; French town and market, African village and animal reservation, Egyptian desert and river Nile. We can create a winter wonderland or seaside town, we decorate the village in lights for Diwali/coloured paint for holi. 

An expert panel led by Nick Jr's Wake Up World Helena Dowling, alongside Nick Jr representatives and partners including The Prince's Foundation for Children and the Arts, Dora Magazine and Chad Valley chose the five finalists with each finalist awarded discovery and learning equipment from Chad Valley as well as a classroom visit from Dora the Explorer. 

So why not pop over to Nick Jr and vote for which nursery or idea you like the most and vote for them. Help another community win a fantastic prize and feel the wonderful feeling of a community coming together to win, that we felt last year!!!


Thursday, 18 October 2012

Fudgeridoo Hand Made Fudge Review

Nestled near the harbour of a Welsh seaside town, there is a shop full of yummy fudge of all different flavours that look so mouth-watering tasty you can't wait to try one, but because there is so many yummy looking and sounding bars, you don't know which one to try!


Once kept a secret, only known by locals and tourists lucky enough to find it, but now the secret is out as FUDGERIDOO now offer a telephone and delivery service to everyone, no matter where you might be, so that now you can enjoy the smooth fudginess of Fudgeridoo's home made fudge wherever you might be!


With over 30 mouthwatering flavours, including but not only;
Lemon Meringue
Chocolate
Orange Chocolate Swirl
Mint Chocolate Swirl
Bakewell Tart
Chocolate Junkyard
Black Forest Gateaux
Blueberry Crunch
Chocolate Fruit and Nut
Chocolate Rum and Raisin
Peanut Butter and Chocolate Cheesecake
Baileys Cheesecake
Ferrero Rocher
Dime Bar
Praline and Cream
Bara Brith
Toffee Popcorn
Toffee Apple
Monkey Bar, Banana and Toffee
Jammie Dodger
50 Shades of Grey
Snickerlisous
Creme Egg
And many many more!


But Fudgeridoo sell more than just lots and lots of yummy fudge! They also sell gifts and are official stockists of Kimmi and Jelly Beans. In fact when we went into the shop, the children's eyes popped out of their heads with all the fudge and gifts, with gifts they wanted for their own rooms! A big hit was the large white letters as they all had ideas for their names on their bedroom walls or our family name on the lounge! 


The fudge is sold in 100g bars at £2.25 per bar, but to make it even better... if you buy 3 100g bars then you get a 4th one free! So 4 great bars of fudge for only £6.75.


Their website is currently under construction, but should be up and running soon and will be found here. But until the website is up and if you live too far away to pop into the shop, then they are taking telephone orders on 01341 280133.

We were given two bars of lucious looking fudge to try.

Chocolate Junkyard Fudge

The Chocolate Junkyard was a big hit with the children, with all the smarties on the top and other chocolate mixed it. They all loved it and wanted more, and it was soon all gone!

Lemon Meringue Fudge

Whilst I was lucky enough to try their Lemon Meringue flavour. I'm not sure what I expected it to taste like, maybe like lemon fudge, but certainly not like eating Lemon Meringue pie, but that's what it tasted like! It was also another hit with the children. In fact they're all asking to go back to Fudgeridoo and choose their own bar that they don't have to share!

Fudgeridoo is on Facebook and if you check out their page you'll see they're running a competition to win some bumper Kimmie Goodies at the moment and well worth a look, especially to see all the fudge flavours and what they look like!!!


#SylvanianFamiliesParty How Did It Go?

So now I have a few minutes to myself, the older 3 are in school and the 2yr old is watching Cbeebies, I can sit down and post how our very first Twitter party went on Tuesday!



We had a few technical issues before and during the party, mainly caused by the fact my 2yr old decided my smart phone wanted to go for a swim in her full potty! Despite being in rice ICU for 2days, I think it has finally passed away and gone to phone heaven, never to be charged again! 

Having no phone meant that I couldn't upload pictures direct to Twitter, but I didn't think it was a problem at the time, I just assumed I would be able to post them from my camera memory chip. How wrong was I! Every single time I tried to post a picture I just got a message saying the memory size was too large, and as at the time I had a house full of kids, a party to organise and Twitter to watch, I decided to give up trying to post pictures and to just post them here instead!

At our party I was very grateful to have the help of my friend and fellow blogger Katie Cupcake Cymru who even brought some yummy cupcakes for us all! I also had my parents and my SIL and my 14yr old nephew around to help!



In total there was 12 children;
A 14yr old boy
A 9yr old boy
3 8yr old girls
3 7yr olds (2 girls and a boy)
3 5yr olds (2 girls and a boy) and
1 2yr old. 
So quite a mix of ages and sexes.

The party seemed to be a big hit. The Camper Van and Log Cabin were played with, even by granddad and the toddler who had a go, especially whilst the colouring competition was going on. 


The 3 winners of the colouring competition.
From left to right, - 2nd, 3rd and 1st

The colouring competition was a hit with 3 winners each winning a prize and the winner of the Camper Van memory game, much to my surprise was one of the youngest girls!

It was quite hard work, trying to keep up with what was going on on Twitter as well as posting on Twitter and running the competitions and keeping the children entertained, but all in all everyone had a good time.

And thanks to hubby (and his OCD)'s help, the house was tidy within half an hour of the last guest going home and once the children were in bed I was able to sit down and enjoy a well deserved glass of wine!!!

The twitter party was a lot of fun and it was great to see that we made such an impact on Twitter that #sylvanianfamiliesparty was actually trending!!!

And as I finish this post, I would just like to say a big thank you to UKMums.TV for allowing me to host it and to Sylvanian Families for providing the Log Cabin and Camper Van for everyone to play with, as well as party bag gifts and prizes for the winners!

Here are some photo's from the day for you to enjoy!


THE COLOURING COMPETITION






PLAYING WITH THE TOYS






EATING



GETTING TATTOOS


JUDGING THE COLOURING COMPETITION



THE WINNERS ARE...





Monday, 15 October 2012

Splashing on the Beach

This weekend the children have had a long weekend because of teacher's training on Friday and Monday.

So this afternoon we decided to take advantage of the autumn sunshine and went for a walk on the beach. Of course, my children being my children couldn't resist the temptation of the big puddle on the beach and although they were wearing their wellies, they soon ended up with more water in their boots than there was on the beach!

But the main thing was... They had lots of fun!!!