Friday 30 November 2018

Top Tips for Healthy Winter Skin! #MyAquaphor

This time of year can be so cruel to our skin. The wind, cold weather and sitting indoors with the heating on can leave us with dry skin and if it isn't cared for can lead to soreness, cracking and bleeding.

Keep Drinking Water!
I know I always drink less water in the winter. I turn to hot drinks like tea and hot chocolate but our skin still needs hydration! A little warm water with lemon can be refreshing and hydrating at the same time.

Wash in Lukewarm Water
Hot showers and baths always feel so good when it is so cold outside but when you are just washing your hands and face choose lukewarm water to avoid stripping as many oils away from the skin.

Get a Humidifier!
Heating systems dry out the air so a humidifier may help, particularly in your bedroom. It will put moisture back into the air and help prevent your skin from drying out.

Use DIY Masks!
Homemade hydrating face masks can provide needed moisture in the winter months. Use natural moisturising ingredients like honey, avocado, yogurt, olive, almond oil, bananas, and aloe. Mix what you like together to create a cream or paste and leave on the skin for 10-30 minutes for lasting hydration.

Get used to wearing gloves and scarves to protect skin from cold wind, rain, and the snow. Don’t forget the sunscreen too. Winter sun can be just as damaging as summer sun.

Avoid Irritants!
Particularly if you have eczema or skin troubles. If you irritate your skin it could trigger a flare up. Winter skin is more fragile so avoid chemical-laden detergents and fabrics which could irritate like wool.

Choose Skin Care Products Wisely!
What helped you skin during the summer may not help so much during the winter. The key to healthy and glowing winter skin is using mild skin care products.

Eucerin Aquaphor Soothing Skin Balm is great for this time of year, especially if you have dry, cracked or irritated skin. Formulated with only seven ingredients, Aquaphor is gentle enough to be used on highly irritated skin as well as on sensitive baby skin and also in the nappy area.

Eucerin Aquaphore skin balm tube and box on a paved floor

It protects the skin by creating a breathable protective barrier, allowing oxygen and water vapor to circulate to and from the skin allowing skin to breathe and strengthen its natural barrier function.

I have had really dry, cracked sore lips recently and this has really helped. They are feeling much softer and better already. 

In the winter I usually suffer with dry, sore hands. I blame the fact that I have dishes to wash. This is now kept next to the washing up liquid so I can use it to protect my hands.

Eucerin Aquaphor Soothing Skin Balm on the kitchen windowsill with the washing up liquid

A little goes a long way but I have a feeling I will be needing to buy more soon as my teen has started using it too on her face. She has 40 minute walk to school in all weathers and as her face is uncovered I think this will really help her skin.

“This post is an entry for the BritMums #MyAquaphor Challenge, sponsored by Eucerin. Discover the benefits of Eucerin” I was sent this product free of charge.

This week my Word of the Week is: Better! #WotW

This week my Word of the Week is:

I was feeling pretty low for the first half of the week. We had the issue with Becky's job, Ellie was poorly on Monday, I was worrying a bit about money in the run up to Christmas, I was stressing about college courses for Becky next year (She wasn't worried in the slightest), Stu came down with a cold and I felt rotten too and on top of that the weather has been awful which has not helped my mood.

Ellie had a 24 hour bug and after a good sleep she felt better and was back to school on Tuesday. Hooray!

Wednesday came around and things started to seem better.

I went through all the Christmas presents and it turns out the girls have more than I thought they did. I don't need to buy them anything else. I ordered the Christmas eve pj's and they were cheaper than I thought they would be. I did a bit of budgeting and it turns out I don't need to worry about money. We have 3 more bills to pay this year, two of which will be paid on the 1st and then the rest of the money is ours. Phew!

We were looking at college courses for Becky last week and we thought with her predicted grades she would have to do the Level 1 Award In Preparing To Work In Adult Health And Social Care and in her 2nd year the Level 2.

We had her parents evening and we were all pleasantly surprised. Becky is expected to to way better than we thought she was going to do. Since her last report her predicted grades have sky rocketed. Even in her weakest subject she is expected to get a C or D which will do for me. She is working hard and it was lovely to hear all the praise she was getting. 

It means now she can apply to go straight onto the Level 2 course and then in her 2nd year of college do the Level 3 course which we feel better about. We are going to fill in the application form over the weekend and get things rolling! Eek!

Stu is still full of cold but I seem to have shaken mine off for now. I filled myself with Lemsip, had a couple of naps, took some multi-vitamins and had a lazy couple of days which seemed to have helped. I feel I am so lucky to be able to just stop and take the time to make myself feel better.

 We have a meeting about Ellie's suspected Autism today which should give us some answers. Since our last meeting I know things have changed for the better. Ellie is settled in school, she isn't day dreaming as much in lessons and has lots of friends which were our biggest worries. It will be interesting to see what they have to say.

Thursday 29 November 2018

What I loved in November!

November might be my favourite month. We are allowed to get excited and talk about Christmas and it is my birthday month! In just over three weeks Christmas will be here and I can't wait. This year I don't have the stress of cooking the Christmas lunch as we are going out for it. It will be nice to have someone else wash the dishes but I think I am going to miss having no leftovers.

Anyway this isn't about the coming month it is about the past month and what I loved throughout it.


It was my birthday this month. It got off to a shaky start with the boiler not working but it ended up being a fantastic day. This time next year I will be 40. Forty seems so much older than 39. It was also my blog's 6th birthday. The years seem to have flown over since I started blogging. I wrote about my favourite blog posts from the last year and had a good giggle with the girls when we were looking back over the past year.

Little Mix - Strip!

A song that champions the beauty in diversity and celebrates body confidence!

Operation Live!

Channel 5 had three nights where they showed live operations and it was amazing! Replacing a heart valve, a knee replacement and removing a tumour. I was pretty anxious watching the heart surgery knowing that my girls have been through that type of surgery and will probably need similar when they are older but it was fascinating. The knee surgery was brutal, all the hammering, drilling and sawing but still amazing and the tumour removal I think was the most interesting. It is amazing how they can move your insides about. Eek! You can get it on catch up!

Christmas food!

I love this time of year. All the best food comes out. I have tried so many different Christmas sandwiches, mince pies and even things like Christmas pudding fudge and mince pie cookies, both from Asda and they were delicious. I am not so keen on the Pigs in blanket Pringles though, they just taste like smokey bacon one's. I have eaten so many Festive Bakes from Greggs and I've already eaten about 4 mini Christmas puddings. hehehe

Finishing the Christmas shopping!

I think I have finished buying the presents for Christmas. Now I just have to wrap them all. Eek! I may have gone a little crazy buying my dad and his girlfriend presents because unlike other years we will be seeing them over Christmas and not a couple of weeks before. I am so excited and so are the kids. I think the kids will be happy with what they are getting this year.

The Christmas Chronicles!

This is now one of my favourite Christmas films. It is one of the best things I have seen from Netflix! Kurt Russel is a fantastic Santa!

After accidentally crashing Santa's sleigh, a brother and sister pull an all-nighter to save Christmas with a savvy, straight-talking St. Nick.

What have you loved in November?

Wednesday 28 November 2018

My teenager had a job, not anymore!

Becky is 16 years old and when I was her age I had already had a couple of summer/weekend jobs. I worked in riding stables and a launderette. Becky was wanting to work and earn her own money. 

A good couple of months ago we heard of a weekend job going in a local shop. I am not going to name it but we know the manager and most of the staff and it would have been a good place for Becky to learn the in's and out's of having a job.

The manager of the shop she said that she wants to give young people a chance. Now a days you need experience to get a job but can't get a job without experience. It's a catch 22 situation. All she wanted Becky to do was fill in an application form and have an interview. Even if she had messed these up she would still have got the job (she did not know this).

Filling the application form went well. Becky had filled it in before I even had a chance to give her any advice. I was very proud of her. She put across the best of herself and did it all correctly. She handed it in and the manager said it was the best she had seen in months. There was people a lot older than my girl handing in forms with spelling mistakes, bad handwriting and not filling it in correctly. The application form has since been shown to the area manager who was also impressed. hehehe

Late in October she had her interview. She went off to the interview by herself. She wasn't nervous at all. I would have been. She still had no idea that she already had the job, she was just confident and good on her. She text me when she came out and all she said was "I got the job and the uniform to wear"! I was so happy for her. 

 It seems ages ago that all of this happened. She was supposed to start work a few weekends ago but the paper work did not go through in time but she had her first day at work a couple of Saturdays ago and loved it. She didn't stay the full shift because the manager had trouble putting her on to the system. She couldn't stay and work if she wasn't on it for insurance reasons. The manager couldn't do anything to sort it because head office is closed on a weekend.

We found out last week that the company does not employ people who are still at school. Ugh!

I would love to know how it got so far without it being noticed. The manager has never employed anyone as young as Becky so didn't know. She told everyone above her how old Becky was and they never asked if she was still at school. It was only when her date of birth was put into the clocking in system it flagged up. Her date of birth was on the application form which was saw by the area manager, human resources, all the admin people and goodness knows who else but they didn't notice. She had been cleared to work by people but a computer picked up that she couldn't!

I am gutted for Becky and at the moment she is fuming at being messed around. She has put her weekends on hold to take this job, missed a couple of GCSE revision classes to go to the first interview which was cancelled and the second one and had all the excitement and then nothing!

To say I am livid is an understatement. I would love to name the company but can't because my fella works for them. I am not risking his job too! The manager has been lovely and is writing an apology letter and has said she when she is old enough there will be work for her.

Tuesday 27 November 2018

Coconut Candy Scrub & Rose Velvet Body Lotion from Odylique!

I always appreciate beauty and pampering products at Christmas and I was lucky enough to be sent a couple of product from Odylique to try.

Odylique is a brand I had never heard of until now. It is a completely organic skincare and makeup brand based in Suffolk where all of their products are made in a simple workshop. The brand was born when founder Margaret starting making skin care from natural ingredients for her family who suffered from allergy-prone skin and issues with eczema so all the products are suitable for even the most sensitive of skin!

This is a deeply exfoliating and luxurious organic body scrub made with Fair Trade cane sugar that offers exceptional results and compatibility with the most challenged skin.

Offering all the legendary benefits to skin of coconut oil you will feel transported to a tropical island with the heavenly fragrance of virgin coconut and cocoa bean butters whilst cell renewal is gently stimulated, your skin is polished and left silky smooth.

Includes: Exfoliating poppy seeds, Smoothing and renewing Fairtrade sugar cane (rich in glycolic acid), Moisturising virgin coconut (rich in lauric acid) and Hydrating cocoa bean butter.

This smelled good enough to eat. It really made me think of a Bounty bar. I have used it a couple of times and I love it. It feels so luxurious and left my skin feeling amazing! It's not scratchy like some scrubs. The tub may not look that large but a little does go a long way and I think this will last me a long while.

Luxurious botanical actives including aloe, avocado, cocoa bean, coconut and rose petals provide a smooth, velvet-texture and deep skin hydration.

Powerful CO2 extracts of rosehip and sea buckthorn fruit replenish the skin with radiance-enhancing omega 3, 6 and 9 EFAs. The oil of precious organic damask rose petals uplifts the senses and infuses the skin with an exquisite and subtle fragrance.

Includes: Antioxidant, hydrating tropical fruit butters, Pro-collagen reparative rosehips, Calming, toning rose petals, Soothing regenerative aloe juice.

I am being honest. I only used this once. It was wonderful for my skin but I was just not keen on the smell. Everyone is different. I may not like something but you may love it. 

Both of these products would make fantastic gifts

Odylique have an incredible selection of gifts sets to choose from and they all come packaged beautifully. They source, wrap and pack responsibly. Most of their packaging is UK-made, from recycled materials and is entirely recyclable.

Odylique is available from our online store and select retailers.

I was sent these products free of charge in exchange for this blog post.

Monday 26 November 2018

Our weekly meal plan. 26th Nov - 2nd Dec! #MealPlanningMonday

Last weeks meal plan went pretty well. I really spoiled my self on my birthday having lunch out. A Christmas lunch at Wetherspoons and an Indian takeaway later that evening.

I got another shop from Iceland this week. We didn't need much and I am so tempted by things we don't really need if I shop at Tesco at this time of year. hehehe

This week on the menu we have:

Monday - Slow cooker pulled chicken with rice.
Tuesday - Sticky apple, sausage & bacon with mash.
Wednesday - Tomato soup with ham sandwiches to dip in. 
Friday - Pizza.
Saturday - Burgers in buns with fries.
Sunday - A roast dinner.

Saturday 24 November 2018

Barefoot Wine’s Bubbly Pinot Grigio - Review!

Over Christmas I will be indulging a few alcoholic drinks. Something fizzy is always called for over the festive season and this is where Barefoot Wine comes in.

A bottle of the Barefoot Bubbly Pinot Grigio

Barefoot Bubbly Pinot Grigio is a sparkling wine filled with flavours of zesty citrus and orange blossom aromas. It is also one of the only Pinot Grigio sparkling wines from California.

This wine would be fantastic for all the festive get together's and celebrations, over Christmas and New Year. It would be perfect for pairing with party canapes as well as Asian cuisine for takeaways with friends. Of course it can also be enjoyed on it's own to toast the festive season. 

I gave this a try last weekend and loved it. I am a fan of the Barefoot wines anyway and this is a real treat. It seems fancier than a normal wine and it's something special. It was easy to drink and even though it was fizzy it didn't leave me burping all evening.

a bottle of bubbly wine and a wine glass

This wine is sure to add a sparkle to Christmas & NYE celebrations and comes with an affordable price tag available nationwide for just £8.50.

I was sent this free of charge in exchange for this blog post.

A photo every day for a year! Week 47 of #Project365

What a week! It's had it's up's and downs but we're back on the up now. We've had problems with Becky's job. After doing a shift at work it was discovered that she was actually too young to work for the company. You need to have left school to be employed by them. I have a whole blog post about it next week but we are not happy, it was my birthday on Wednesday and we've had boiler troubles for 3 days. It's fixed now so we're warm again. Hooray.

Now for a photo every day.

321/365 - 17th November
Her first and last day of work.

322/365 - 18th November
Ellie got creative with a tub of Pringles and made a circle. She did eat them all eventually. 

323/365 - 19th November
On Monday my fella and the kids put my birthday presents out. It was torture having to wait until Wednesday.

324/365 - 20th November
I have started writing blog posts for December so I can step back a bit and do Christmas!

325/365 - 21st November
Lunch out for my birthday. It was the Christmas lunch from Wetherspoons. I enjoyed it but I won't be having another one. There was nowhere near enough gravy and the mash was so dry.

326/365 - 22nd November
The boiler is behind this fire and it has caused so much stress this week. It was finally fixed yesterday evening. The ignitor switch was not broken, a metal pipe had moved and became disconnected so no air was getting to where it should. It was in a sorry state but the man did his thing and it's working again. Hooray!

327/365 - 23rd November
Ellie with her dirty socks. She was jumping in puddles on the way to school. I got a text off Becky saying she had wet feet. She wanted me to take her dry socks. I tell her every day to take socks or wear her trainers to walk to school but of course she doesn't listen. I told her to go to lost property or just get on with it. She got on with it and they dried. I would like to think she will learn from this but I bet she does the same on the next wet day.

Friday 23 November 2018

This week my Word of the Week is: Spoiled! #WotW

This week my Word of the Week is:

I love words that have two meanings. Spoiled as in ruined and spoiled as in being treated. hehehe

On Saturday I went and did a bit of birthday shopping. I was spoiled for choice when it came to Harry Potter things in Asda. There was pj's, jumpers, knickers, socks and t-shirts. I of course had to get some. hehehe

Ellie was in a bit of trouble at school which spoiled my Tuesday. I spent the day stressing. I got a text saying she had been late for school and then Becky text to say Ellie had been given an hours detention and wouldn't be getting in from school until about 5pm. I needed to know if Becky was right so I knew what time to expect her home. I had to wait for the school to ring me back and it turns out she had just had a warning and was not given a detention. I should have know the school would have rang me if she was being kept back. The reason she was late for school was because her and her friend were looking at rainbows!! Grr! That is not a good enough excuse for being late for school. On Tuesday evening Ellie hated me. I spoiled her fun by banning her from the computer. I think it was a fair punishment because she wasn't bothered in the slightest that she had been late for school. I don't want her to think it's OK.

The plan for my birthday on Wednesday was to get up, open my presents, have a soak in the bath, go out for lunch and then do a bit more shopping. That didn't go to plan. Stu got up early to put the heating on and it wasn't coming on. Ugh! The pilot light was out.

We rang the landlord and she was straight on it and arranged for someone to come out to have a look at it but not until lunchtime. I could have cried. It's daft but I had my day planned and it felt spoiled. I was so angry. The one day I wanted to go to plan couldn't. 

Thankfully the boiler man came a bit earlier than we thought he would and we got out for lunch, I had my soak in the bath and even treated my self to an Indian takeaway for tea. I had a lovely day in the end. It was the ignitor button on the boiler which was broken and he lit it with a blow torch to see us over until he got us a new one fitted.

I was very spoiled on my birthday. I got so many presents. I do feel lucky having a birthday at this time of year because all the Christmas gifts are in the shops. It makes it easy for my fella. hehehe

Thank you for all the birthday wishes across social media. I was blown away by them. I felt very loved!

It turns out the boiler pilot light didn't stay lit for long. We were without heating yesterday until gone 7pm and it has gone out again so he will be back tomorrow to either light it again or put a new ignitor switch on! It would make sense to fix it sooner rather than later because he is rushed off his feet and I don't think he will be coming to us for free. I dread to think how much 3 emergency call outs cost. Eek!

Thursday 22 November 2018

Christmas gifts to give animals a better life.

All the food, drink and gifts at Christmas is lovely but sometimes it is nice to give back a little and help charities.

World Animal Protection works to end the suffering of animals around the world and has ended bear dancing in India, Turkey and Greece, more than halved the number of bears being exploited for bear bile in Vietnam, secured the future of the UK National Wildlife Crime Unit and saved hundreds of thousands of animals from natural disasters.

Why not get someone a Really Wild Gift which are ‘virtual gifts’ that can pay for the rescue of all types of animals including bears, dogs, pigs, seals, elephants, lions or sloths to name a few. 100% of the proceeds from this Really Wild Gift will help animals all over the world. They will send you a card to give to the person receiving the gift. 

As well as virtual gifts they have a Christmas catalogue full of fantastic gifts for animal lovers. Many of the gifts and cards feature cute and cuddly animals who have benefited from the charity’s support. Some of my favourite gifts include:

The Rabble Coaster Set - £7.99
Set of four cork-backed coasters featuring the 'Rabble' pals to brighten your kitchen and bring a smile to your face! 

Papa Bear Sox in a Mug - £12.99
A printed ceramic mug with fun 'Papa Bear, wild without tea' slogan and super-soft mens fluffy socks. 

Let's Flamingle Gift Box - £14.99
Flamboyant bath gift set full of fabulous butters & sassy essential oils.

Squirrel Bird Feeder - £14.99
Cast iron squirrel whose tail acts as a tray for bird seed.

Penguin Mug - £7.50
Fun ceramic mug with penguin shaped handle.

Christmas Donkey Cards - 10 cards - £4.99 or 30 cards - £13.47
This donkey is wearing a nose-band made by one of our wonderful supporters. Our supporters made nearly 40,000 bands to relieve the pain of heavy chains. Inside greeting: With best wishes for Christmas and the New Year. 

We were lucky enough to be sent one of the fab gifts to have a look at for our selves.

The Fluffy Dog Slippers were what I chose.

Slip your feet into the ultimate in warm, fluffy comfort with these super-cute dog slipper socks. One size fits feet up to women's size 7. They have a PVC sole with multi grip for slip resistance.

We do love novelty slippers here and I think these are fantastic for £15.99.

We were sent the Fluffy Dog Slippers free of charge in exchange for this blog post.

Wednesday 21 November 2018

My favourite blog posts from the last year....

I have been daily blogging here on Northumberland Mam for just over six years. It was my blogs birthday last week. I don't think I have ever stuck at anything like this for so long.

I love blogging. Sharing my life, speaking to of new and different people and learning lots. Not a day goes by when I don't learn something new about blogging and just when I think I have learned all I need to know something else comes up or something changes.

Over the past year I have written well over 400 blog posts. Meal plans, Word of the Week, Project 365, reviews, Sunday photos and lots of things inbetween.

Today I am sharing some of my favourite blog posts from the last year, one for each month. They might not be my biggest viewed posts but they have some lovely memories for me.

Sausage and baked bean slow cooker casserole.

This was the first recipe that I cooked in my new slow cooker. It was good! I need to make it again!

A piglet in a tutu

I love recapping the year and this tag was a great way to do it. I have just cried laughing remembering when Ellie called us all piglets. In Ellie's head she is a unicorn. We are not which she keeps telling us. She is the only unicorn and the rest of us are piglets. She means it in the nicest of ways really! Pretty piglets in tutu's.

My two girls Digging for dinosaurs in a chalk block.

I bought the The 2 in 1 Excavation Kit just to bump the kids Christmas presents out a bit but it was such a huge hit. Ellie has actually asked for another set for Christmas this year. 

text with a pretty background

It was a bit higgledy piggledy blog post. A bit of a mind dump and all over the place. I wanted to share the reality of having a child or 2 children go through heart surgery.

The Alcatel U5 HD Android smartphone unboxed.

I was so lucky to be sent a mobile phone to review and keep. Stu claimed it and it turned out being a very good phone. So much so we bought Becky one for her birthday. She loves it and it really is a fantastic budget phone. Tesco don't sell it anymore but I got it from Amazon.

a photo of my girl blowing bubbles

I am still not best pleased with the CYPS people but that's another story for another day. They left us feeling rotten when they came to meet Ellie. Grr.

My two girls walking towards the sea on the beach

It was a fab day out to a beach we don't normally visit.

A space shuttle made from a bottle and toilet rolls

This was the year where Ellie left Primary school and I was an emotional wreck from June until the day she left Primary school. I still miss primary school. We've had no harvest festival, no dress up days and no actual feedback to how she is doing.

A collage of photos of my girls tasting disgusting smoothies

The Smoothie Challenge was a lot of fun! Mix random ingredients in a smoothie and drink it. Simple.

An egg in a glass of vinegar

I had seen people make a bouncy egg before but I hadn't tried it myself....To be honest I really didn't think it would work but it is so simple.

My girls playing a game of hoops and a wall filled with coloured shields

We had a fab day out at Alnwick castle.

a photo of me

I took part in Blogtober again hosted by the fabulous Mandi at Big Family Organised Chaos. One of the prompts was Just Be Yourself. This is me and I am shy.

I want to say thank you to everyone who reads and comments on my blog. I am rubbish at replying to the comments, forgive me but I do read them all!