Sunday, 23 March 2014

Silent Sunday 23 March 2014

Fabulous Foodie Degustabox

If you are a foodie or simply love trying new and exciting products, Degustabox is just what you have been looking for.

Now into it's third month in the UK, Degustabox is a monthly subscription service that offers subscribers the chance to sample 10 to 15 exciting new food products on a monthly basis.  Some of the products in the food box are new to the market and the joy of having a food delivery put together like this is that all the food products work out to be less than their advertised retail price.

The service is £12.99 per month which includes postage with no commitment necessary as long as you cancel before the 10th of the month.

One of the most recent boxes contained some delicious times from Dorset Cereals, Zico, Jules Destrooper, Amy's Kitchen, Alice and Oscar's, Go! Kombucha, Goody Good Stuff, Maggi.  What I loved about this selection is that there isn't anything in there that I wouldn't eat or give to my family.

I love that the majority of the products in this food box are focused on a healthy diet.  The Goody Good Stuff treats are perfect for vegetarians as they are gluten free and my daughter loved them.  Also having seen the Maggi SoTender cooking range advertised on TV I was intrigued and really wanted to give them a go and had the chance to do this (very yummy by the way!) because of the sample in my food box.  Fabulous!

Included in the box was a lovely card giving two delicious recipes using products in the food box itself.  The back of the card gives information about the products at a glance which is really handy when you are unfamiliar with a product and trying it for the first time.

The money off vouchers are a great touch too as they are relevant to products within the box as opposed to being for items which are completely unrelated which I often find a bit senseless.

Degustabox makes a wonderful gift, especially for those who have everything or for friends and family who just love their food.  It's also a great monthly treat for yourself.  Food boxes arrive at the end of the month if you purchase before the 20th or before the 8th of the following month if purchased on or after the 21st.

Happy discovering, eating, cooking and sharing!

Ally x


note: I was sent this box to review with all views being my own.

Sunday, 16 March 2014

What's your perfect day?

A friend of mine posted a link to a short film on Facebook recently featuring an acclaimed photographer, Jerry Ghionis.

Jerry poses the following question to a room full of photographers.  "What is your perfect day?".  A simple enough question to answer you'd think but if you actually took the time to mull it over, it's more than just spa days or track days, an extra few hours in bed or an hour to yourself in the day.  It comes right down to the root of who you are, what your needs are as a human being, what you want from life and what you want to achieve from it.

So after watching the video and then discussing it with a few friends over the weekend and telling them what I thought was my perfect day I actually stopped talking and started listening.  The day that I had described simply wasn't true to myself and was something that I could honestly do on any given day of the week if I wanted to.

I spent the best part of midnight to 2.00 a.m. having a debate with myself and then realising that as I was creating a story in my mind, seeing it laid out on the page, that the only person I was kidding was myself.  My perfect day isn't one where I'm being pampered and having a story book day with my family but one where I am by myself, where it is warm and the sun is streaming in through a window and I have my computer.

These three key factors all lead to one thing.  Writing.  I love to write, plain and simple.  It's a time where I can really be me with every thought being released out into the open through my blog.  How I choose to express myself is up to me and if people read and enjoy what I've composed that is an added extra but not the sole purpose of this creative outlet.  I find it cathartic with my blog being a small sanctuary; something that is completely mine that no one can take from me, that is never right or wrong and lets me be exactly who I am.

The big question that you are probably wondering is why then, if this is my nirvana, have I stopped writing for the past few months?  The simple facts are as follows:

  1. I'm now 23 weeks pregnant with my second child.  I've been kidding myself that my tiredness has taken over and actually stopped me from writing.  It just isn't physically possible be a working mum to one, a wife and be pregnant at the same time and then still have a life, or so I told myself.
  2. I think I should be doing vast amounts of housework as a spotless house (which will only look like a disaster area in a few hours) is the answer to all my prayers.  My husband knows all to well that this is one of the biggest lies I tell myself each day.
  3. For some irrational reason I've become afraid to write.  I see other blogs with people spurting out new and fresh ideas on a near daily basis which threatened me.  To be honest, I'm not trying to compete with anyone or win any awards so why should this bother me?
  4. I think that I'm being selfish by taking out a few hours at night or even on a Sunday morning like I am doing now.  I don't want to not spend time with my husband and feel even more guilty for shipping my daughter off to my in-laws just so that mommy can spend time on the computer, writing random and seemingly meaningless articles, putting them up on to her blog.  
  5. I felt uninspired; like I couldn't create with the pressure from some completely unknown source making me feel like anything I wrote would be worthless and not worth the time taken to push the publish button.  I was aiming to please a completely unknown audience but scared of the my posts being ridiculed or having some sort of bizarre backlash at what I'd composed.  This contradicted my views at every turn.
After thinking about all these seemingly stupid excuses (because that is all that they are) I stopped to ponder them again...   
  • If this is what makes me happy then surely I must be a better person to be around when I'm writing and being creative?  
  • Why should I feel guilty for taking time out from my family?  Before I was a wife and mother I was me, plain and simple.  Losing sight of that is probably one of the biggest makes I could be making.  
  • How can my daughter and husband respect me as an individual if I just give up on doing something that makes me feel alive?  I don't believe in doing things that are at the cost of others but out of the 168 hours we are given each and every week, taking 8 of those or less to spend time doing something you love is hardly a hardship.
  • Do I honestly care about competing with other people.  Do I want to be the same as all the other 'mommy bloggers' out there.  A simple answer to this is 'no'.
Well, here I am.  I'm writing and it has probably been the best 30 minutes of time spent so far this week.  Just me and my thoughts being poured out into my blog. 

I also often say that I'd love to write a novel but then push the idea aside thinking that there isn't much point as it will probably be a load of rubbish and no one would want to publish it anyway.  I've basically kicked the idea to the curb before I've given it a chance, making excuse after excuse after excuse to persuade myself not to do something that I've always dreamt of doing purely based on the fact that I think I'll fail before I've even started.   I'm not saying I'm going to start putting all the cogs in motion tomorrow but the time for excuses is now over.

Watch this video and take from it what you want.  It made me realise that I was the only person stopping me from having my perfect day was me and no on else.  No more excuses for why I can't allow myself to do what I love and allow myself the chance to be this person too.

Ally x

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

New App Review for Pre-Schoolers: Jonty - The Dinosaur Who Could Not Go to Sleep

My daughter has been testing out a beautiful new App called “Jonty – The DinosaurWho Could Not Go to Sleep”.  When I first saw the title I felt like replacing ‘Jonty’ with her name, to be honest!

This is a very cute story about a lively young dinosaur that has trouble getting to sleep at bedtime.  The story is fully interactive so your child can help to get Jonty to sleep, encouraging ‘invisible learning’ while having fun at the same time. 
My little one, who is 3 ½, loved that she could get involved in the story and make the characters move and interact with other items on the page.  I can’t really count the times that we’ve played it but the fact that she goes back to it over and over again, finding new things to do each time is wonderful.  She loves me to read it her as well as have it read to her by the narrator.  For her, getting to interact with the characters on the page really brings the story to life.
You can interact with the app in these four ways:

  1. Choose to have the story read to you by a narrator.
  2. Read it yourself.  If your child gets stuck on reading a word you can tap on individual words to have them read out by the narrator. 
  3. If you would prefer to not interact with the story at all then you can select the ‘Auto Play’ option.
  4. In the creative ‘Add To Story’ mode, you can drag and drop additional items onto the page, such as a rainbow or a robot.  For each page, you can also record your own audio in this mode.

We used the app on an iPad Mini and my daughter finds it very easy to use and interact with.  I like that even in the ‘read to me’ mode, you can press on the words which are highlighted briefly and then read back to you.  This means my daughter can say the word out aloud and learn to recognise it too.
The animated images are lovely and perfect for both goys and girls.  The interaction throughout the story also helps your child with problem solving skills as they actively help Jonty to get to sleep.
No personal information is collected via the app and it contains no ads or in-app purchases.  This really appeals to me because I don’t like the idea of my personal information being shared with 3rd parties and in-app purchases really ruin game play.  The fear in the back of my mind that she will somehow learn my iTunes password and download apps and ring up a huge bill is also put to rest.

I would highly recommend this App for little ones who are just learning to read.  It is especially good for children who don’t like to read as it encourages them to interact in a very different way whilst still learning new words and holding their attention at the same time.  I really hope that there are a few more of these to come as they are really lovely and are a great way of introducing the skill of being able to read to a pre-schooler.

The App costs £2.99 and is available via the Apple App Store.  An eBook version, for Kindle fire and Apple devices is also available.

Ally x

Find out more here:

Note: We were sent the App free of charge for my little one to put through it’s paces and give her views on.  All opinions are our own.

Monday, 3 February 2014

It's true. No two pregnancies are the same...

We waited for over three years before thinking about trying for our second child, and in the one month that we weren't trying, I fell pregnant.  Shock was the first reaction along with utter disbelief.  That lasted for the best part of the first month.  Waiting for something for such a long time and then suddenly having it is a very surreal feeling.

So, now at nearly 18 weeks pregnant I am still stunned by my every expanding belly and my voluptuous upper body.  Other than extreme tiredness, a bit of swelling and my bump, I've had no 'real' symptoms.  I was sick from just after 5 weeks until 11 weeks and 4 days (yes, I remember it well), twice a day, if not more with my daughter.  I could barely eat never mind how I felt when I caught a whiff of something my senses now decided to despise.

This time round I couldn't eat enough.  I was like a machine in the first three weeks after I found out, shovelling everything and anything in to try and satisfy the most ridiculous hunger that couldn't be appeased easily.  This all went straight to my thighs.  Awesome.

I now also have a belly that is growing at rate of knots, so much so that I feel like I need to use Bio Oil three times a day in order to ease the itchiness and make it feel less like the living daylights are being wrapped out of my skin.  I must look like a bit of a crazy person, holding onto my belly at one second and rubbing it in a moment of love and adoration for my growing child, and then scratching the heck out of it the next as if my life depended on it.  All I want to do at the end of the day is come home, layer on enough oil to make me greasy enough to win every slip and slide challenge known to man and enjoy the freedom of chilling out in my underwear while my skin breaths.  Bliss!

I now have insomnia some evenings (but I'm tired, right?!) and the inability to get comfortable at night even at this early stage is definitely new.  The snoring is apparently another addition to the list of firsts.  Whilst it doesn't bother me I'm sure my husband is plotting his revenge as I type, and I can see myself waking up on the floor on morning, cuddling on to my pregnancy pillow.

My husband has started to refer to my pillow as my 'anti-roll bar' or 'contraceptive barrier'.  Once you get comfy in that thing, sleep or no sleep, there is no letting go of it.  Better than having to use the excuse of having a headache I guess? "Sorry Hon, I'm tucked into my preggy pillow.  Can't get out of it now, you know.  Took me a few minutes just to get comfy!"

My memory seems to fail me and random words slip into sentences.  I know what I'm saying but often am at a loss for words.  This definitely didn't happen this early on, so now that I feel like a bit of an old fart, I can use the excuse of actually thinking about what I'm saying before I say it, because I often am.

All things said, it's pretty smooth sailing this time.  I've felt movement from about 12 weeks; the little butterfly feelings, and just yesterday I got my first real kick from the outside, which was out of this world.  Energy levels during the day are good though but I do find that if I stop and rest on the couch, I somehow lose about an hour or two of my day and suddenly it's dark.  Amazing how you can close your eyes for one second and that happens?!

I'm pretty much convinced on what the sex of the baby is, which is being confirmed in the middle of this month.  To be honest, I'd be happy with either sex as long as baby is strong and healthy.  My daughter wants a brother so baby, you had better be a boy!

Ally x