Win Mucky Mitts Skin Friendly Hand Sanitiser

hand sanitiserHere’s a quick Twitter Competition to Win a Mucky Mitts Skin Friendly Hand Sanitiser!

So many hand sanitisers leave your hands all sticky afterwards but not this one. It’s got no ‘nasties’ as such and is 99% natural and 100% alcohol free.

  • Skin friendly hand sanitiser
  • Soothing aloe vera and ylang ylang
  • 99% naturally derived ingredients
  • No nasty chemicals, alcohol or parabens
  • 100% alcohol free product
  • pH balanced
  • Not tested on animals

To Enter Follow @TheThumbsUp and

RETWEET THIS LINK

Closes 19th August and Winner can be seen here on my Winners’ Page !

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Our Holiday in Malta and Gozo – The Fortina Spa Resort and The Hotel Ta’Cenc

GozoWe’ve been back from our holidays for over a week now but it seems like aeons ago that we were in sunny Malta and Gozo. I love holidays and I find the switch from work to relax-mode very easy. It’s the other way around I struggle with. Sunday the sun is shining, you’re lying, chilled as chilled can be, on a sunbed catching up on the latest Jodi Picoult or whatever. Monday in a cooler, greyer office you’re meant to shake yourself up as if the holiday never happened and knuckle down to some work which inevitably has doubled in volume in the time you’ve been away. The build-up to holidays is exciting, the come-down though is far less pleasant. Perhaps it should be compulsory to only work half-days in the week you get back from your annual holiday?

Fortina Hotel PoolAnyone enough of the moaning and down to the nitty-gritty. We have just spent a lovely week almost evenly divided between Malta and Gozo. I’d start by saying a week wasn’t really enough but then I’d be back in whinge-mode wouldn’t I? It wasn’t though…… I could have happily stayed a fortnight in Gozo alone!

There were a shed-load of scare stories about our airports in the week before we went and I ended up convincing myself we’d be hanging around at the airport for 12 hours and our luggage would be bound to go missing etc. Huh!! Monarch flew us very comfortably on the Saturday night and we landed in Malta 15 minutes ahead of schedule. There we only waited about 5 minutes for our luggage and were in our hotel amlmost before we should have landed. Thank you Monarch!

The Fortina Spa Resort

Our first hotel was the 5 Star Fortina Spa Resort based on the harbour-front in Sliema with a sleepy Valetta just across the water. As it was 3ish on Sunday morning when we checked in, we understandably thought we’d leave the exploring until after we’d had a sleep. And so it was 6 hours later we woke up, opened the Terrace Restaurantcurtains and had our first proper look around. The sun was shining, the pool below was beckoning from our balcony and our room was ‘something else’. I’ve never seen so many gadgets & gizmos in a hotel room ever. We had a Spa bedroom with a bubbly fairy-lights-lit Hot Tub behind our bed, a shower/sauna for two in the bath-room, another massaging spa bath and (get this) a Dermalife Detox Machine too. Not only did we have all this, but we also had a mysterious spiral-staircase on our balcony which led up to a roof-top PRIVATE POOL!!! Yup, I’m shouting that bit! This pool really made our holiday. It was absolutely fantastic. Every day we lay on our own (guaranteed) sunbeds alternately reading, dreaming and dipping in the pool. It was heavenly.

The various hotel restaurants were based below us in the gardens around the pools. There was a Chinese and Thai, a Japanese, Italian and Taste where breakfast was served every day specialised in Mediterranean and Vietnamese dishes. We really wanted to try the Chinese Restaurant but it was fully-booked the Fortina Whirlpool Spanight we wanted and was closed the next – the moral is make sure to book early. The Pool Bar had lovely low-key entertainment in the evenings and whilst Mr. C went for the local beer, I was more than happy with the choice of cocktails.

I’d say the hotel, which seemed huge by the way, was probably more 4 star than 5 and if truth be told, the bedroom decor could do with updating with a more contemporary look, but The Fortina Spa Resort couldn’t have been in a better location and I now feel spolit for all other holidays in the sun as I’m sure they’ll come up wanting unless they offer me a private pool too!

I found Malta to be a pretty busy, bustling place in stark contrast to the sleepier, quieter, older Gozo where we spent the latter part of our week. The ferry-ride from Tac'Cenc groundsMalta to Gozo took no more than 15 minutes and then the taxi to our hotel in Sannat was another 10 minutes. We stayed in the Hotel Ta’Cenc & Spa (pronounced Tachench) which is at the island’s highest point so has pretty spectacular views all around. The Ta’Cenc is one of these hideaway-type resorts so you don’t really see all the accommodation wherever you are in the hotel and grounds. The little Gozitan bungalows are dotted around in the gardens and blend seamlessly into their foliage-rich surroundings. The pools were lovely with stunning views and the whole set-up was very relaxing. We obviously made our ‘home’ by the ‘adults pool’ and not the family Ta'Cenc Poolpool but neither seemed all that busy and there were sunbeds for everyone. I wasn’t so happy with our room though as I found it too dark and frankly too cold and not in a pleasantly air-conditioned way. I like to have a nice view when I wake up in the mornings on holiday and I was disappointed to find that we didn’t have that. Also I want my room to have a bright, sunny ‘feel’. The rooms though are built in a traditional Gozo style with small windows to keep them cool – perhaps I should have found that out before I went so that I had different expectations?

The food was good though (the breakfasts particularly so), the sun shone, my book was a real page-turner, the setting was amazing and to top it all we were Ta'cenc Restaurantable to spend lots of our time with daughter Maddie, a medical student, who is spending her Summer in Gozo doing her ‘Elective’ in the General Hospital in Victoria. Every day after ‘work’ she’d come over to our pool from Il Girna, the Guest-House she’s based in and conveniently right by Ta’Cenc and the three of us would lie by the pool reading and chatting lazily in the sunshine. It was fairly windy whilst we were in Gozo but the Gozitans were at pains to tell us ‘how this never happens’ and ‘it’s never windy’. I found the breeze a welcome relief to be honest as it was absolutely boiling without it!

Gozo has plenty to offer but this time we barely skimmed the surface. Next time we’ll go for longer and perhaps explore a bit more. Gozo was much more my ‘cup of tea’ than Malta but that ‘Private Pool’ was the real highlight of the holiday!

Monarch logoWe flew with Monarch from East Midlands to Luqa. Monarch operates year round flights to Malta from East Midlands airport with all-in fares starting from £39.99 one way or more realistically £105.69 return – because let’s be fair, most of us have to book a return ticket! Go to www.monarch.co.uk

We used the Holiday Extras Meet and Greet Parking service.

We stayed at the Fortina Spa Resort in Malta  and the Hotel Ta’Cenc & Spa  in Gozo.  I read The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult and it was brilliant!

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The WOW! Factor Not Rated

Mary Elizabeth Camellia and Geranium Gentle Face Scrub

Mary Elizabeth face scrubRecently I’ve been trying out the Camellia and Geranium Gentle Face Scrub from Mary Elizabeth Bodycare. Mary Elizabeth have been going for a few years now making natural skincare products full of vitamin-enriched plant oils and organic essential oils.

I have tried so many face scrubs over the years which have left my skin feeling raw and very pink (well red really!), that I’m always a tad sceptical when trying out new ones. Well I needn’t have worried as this Camellia & Geranium Gentle Face Scrub was gentle as gentle can be. Like many ‘natural’ skin products, it’s not highly perfumed. It’s got a kind of earthy scent I suppose and not unpleasant like many of its competitors. I don’t know about you but I’m genuinely often put off by many natural products because they don’t smell particularly nice.

Mary Elizabeth Camellia and Geranium Gentle Face Scrub

On the Mary Elizabeth website, it says you can use this moisturising face scrub every day to cleanse and brighten your complexion as it’s so gentle. Well I don’t want to tempt fate so I’ve only been using it a few times a week and that works for me. As well as Vitamin A, the face scrub contains camellia oil and avocado oil which combine with the Geranium and Lavender to ‘soothe, smooth and renew your skin’.

Mary Elizabeth logoIt’s dead easy to use and all I’ve been doing is massaging it onto my face before my morning shower. Once I’m in the shower, I massage my face again and rinse off. My skin is feeling particularly bright and clear at the moment. I’m not sure wheter to attribute it to my new face scrub or a combination of that, my Lulu & Boo moisturiser and good old sunshine!?

Needless to say, I really do recommend the Mary Elizabeth Camellia and Geranium Gentle Face Scrub – I just wish it wasn’t such a mouthful to say!

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Best Mascara

no7 mascaraOk, so over the years I have tried loads and loads of different mascaras and to be honest, most of them were ok some of the time, some of them were awful and I’d say one or two of them are probably the best mascara I’ve ever tried!

My favourite go-to everyday mascara is Boots No7 Extreme Length Mascara. It doesn’t clump and stays put pretty much all day. It definitely makes my eyelashes look longer but in a natural way – in other words it doesn’t look as if I’m wearing false eye-lashes. I’m not a falsies sort of woman so this suits me right down to the ground. I saw over on Helena’s Blog that she’s a fan of the No7 Extreme Length Mascara too and to be honest I’m not surprised. What’s not to like? It’s without doubt, one for the best mascara category!

Clinique High Impact Waterproof MascaraI’ve just come back from holidays where I found that Clinique High Impact Waterproof Mascara is without doubt the best waterproof mascara I’ve ever used. Even though I had my eye-lashes tinted before I went, I was still popping on a bit of mascara in the mornings before setting myself up at the pool for the day. I know, I know …… why was I bothering? Well I’m quite fair and without mascara I genuinely don’t look as if I’ve got any eyelashes as they really are so blonde. Call me vain but hey, I’m no spring-chicken and take all the help I can! My Clinique Waterproof Mascara didn’t run once and only came off if I used either make-up remover wipes suitable for waterproof mascara or my usual eye-make-up remover.

Maybelline Waterproof MascarI actually bought Maybelline The Colossal Volum’ Express Waterproof Mascara first and I’m so glad that I tried it out in the week before I went away. How on earth Maybelline can call it waterproof when it wouldn’t even stay on with the usual everyday wear! Ok granted, it was a hot week and I suppose there could have been a bit of sweating but waterproof mascara which can’t even handle warm weather sweating, is hardly waterproof. If it’s not smudge-proof, how can they call it waterproof? I’ve never had ‘panda eyes’ so bad as when I was wearing the Maybelline Waterproof Mascara – it’s possibly the worst mascara I’ve ever tried, in fact!

So there you have it – the best mascara and the worst mascara!

Love Candles, Love Aroma

heyland and whittle citrus and lavender candleI’ve had a few birthdays to buy for this past month and so I was over-the-moon to find the Love Aroma website. Now it might be just me but I don’t think you can go far wrong buying almost any woman a gift of a candle. (However, if anyone out there reading this wants to buy for me, then avoid anything with jasmine ideally as it gives me a headache. Sorry!) Anyway I digress, after much deliberation, I ended up buying two candles but have ear-marked a few others for the next round of family birthdays and Christmas.

I really like the Heyland & Whittle Citrus & Lavender candle in its lovely on-trend Stoneglow Rose Petal May Chang candletin. It’s pure soy wax and I hope it burns as well as it looks and smells. There’s nothing worse than having a nice stylish scented candle which burns unevenly and ends up looking all lop-sided for its life. Love Aroma claim it will burn evenly so I’ll have to check-in on the birthday-girl in a few weeks time to find out.

The other candle I bought was the Stoneglow Modern Classic Rose Petal & May Chang Tumbler. I particularly love the smell of this one . It’s really quite subtle with just that right hint of rose. It comes in a well stylish box and looks like a luxury product even though it’s only £15.

Love candles, love Love Aroma!

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Lulu & Boo Organics Multi-Vitamin Face Cream

Lulu & Boo multi vitamin face creamI’ve been trying out a new moisturiser over the past couple of weeks and it’s fair to say that I’m a fan already. It’s the Lulu & Boo Organics Multi-Vitamin Face Cream and it seems to suit my skin right down to the ground.

It’s got a really pleasing texture and I love the fact that it sinks in pretty quickly. There’s nothing worse when you’re in a hurry in the morning than finding you have to wait ages after putting your moisturiser on before you can think about applying any make-up! This is precisely the reason, as you know, that I love the Weleda moisturisers so much!

I was just taking a look at the Lulu & Boo website as I’ve been trying to work out what the moisturiser smells of. I can smell the lavender that’s mentioned in the ingredients list but there’s another fresh, clean scent and I can’t put my finger on it at all. Suffice to say that whatever it is, I like it. I’m not one for over-scented products, equally I find the smell of many organic beauty products off-putting. Lulu & Boo have the balance just right with this cream.

The Lulu & Boo Organics range have none of the usual ‘nasties’ and are hand made in small batches so you know they’re going to be fresh and have a reasonable shelf life. As a bonus, their packaging is fully recyclable too so tick, tick and more ticks! They’ve also won awards galore and  most of their products have been certified organic by the Soil Association.

I’ve got my eye on the Elderflower & Orange Blossom Whipped Hand and Body Cream next!

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#BigLittleThanks

tulips with cardOne of the more interesting press releases to drop into my Inbox last week was one that claimed 1 in 10 Brits are ‘too busy’ to say thank you. This kind of intrigued me as I simply can not comprehend how anyone can ever be ‘too busy’ to say thanks.

The research by Philips also revealed that 40% of Brits admit they forget to say thank you for the everyday tasks that loved ones do for them. It turns out that British people are more likely to say thank you to a stranger for opening a door for them than to their own family and friends.

Dr Mark Williamson, Director of Action for Happiness (now there’s a job for you!!) said,  “Too often we take our loved ones and friends for granted ….. but we should never underestimate the power of a simple thank-you – or how great it feels when we go out of our way to remind someone that we really appreciate them. Sometimes it’s the little things that make the biggest difference! Deep down we all want to feel loved and saying thank you is one of the simplest and most important ways of showing people that we care and helping them feel valued”.

The good news is that two thirds of people acknowledge they should say thanks more often for everyday things and it’s our mums and dads who top the poll of those people we think deserve the most thanks.
•         Parents 80%
•         Grandparents 21%
•         Friends 15%
•         Retail staff 15%
•         Waiters or waitresses 10%

#BigLittleThanks

Anyway, to cut to the chase, Philips is encouraging people to celebrate those little things people do everyday for us with a Great Big Little Thank You . So to show Philips Viva Collection AirFryeryour gratitude to someone special for the little things they do,  post your thank you using the hashtag #BigLittleThanks.  You can find out more on their Facebook page and on Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram.

The #BigLittleThanks Philips Survey of 1,109 UK residents took place in June 2014.

While I’m here, it seems appropriate to give my own #BigLittleThanks to Mr. C who bought us a joint house present of a Philips Viva Collection AirFryer a few months back. I used to just buy ‘Oven Chips’ as this seemed to be the healthiest way to eat chips but let’s be fair oven chips simply don’t taste the same as the ‘proper’ ones, do they? Stick some chips in my new Air Fryer though with just a spoonful of oil and wow you’ve got amazing chips and healthy too! It’s dead easy to clean, heats up in no time at all and looks neat on the work surface in the kitchen. I’m still playing with it and learning something new every day. It wasn’t cheap but you know that because it’s Philips it’s going to last.  I’ll keep you posted anyhow…….

The Cost of Living?

three happy sistersI was reading an article the other day about how much it costs to bring up a child and I was thinking how absurd most of the figures were. To be honest, the overall cost, referred to, of bringing up a child from 0 to 17 was way more than many people would even earn over 17 years. Multiply the figure given by the number of children you have and the figure you’d end up with would come from Cloud Cuckoo Land!

Cost of Raising A Child Calculator

Anyway I started totting it all up in my head and boy does it all add up. From the nappies in the early days through clothes, books, toys, food, music lessons, school trips, pocket money, entertainment etc and all the way on to Uni. The thing is it doesn’t stop at 17 though, does it? How can it?

Meg and MaddieOne of my daughters is home from Uni as it’s the Summer holidays and obviously it’s made a difference to our shopping bills. Last week in Tesco I bought additional shampoo and conditioner to suit her hair, for example. I had shampoo in the house for my hair but hers is different so I had to buy it. Then there were the tampons I added on to the shop though I actually went to Aldi (nearly next door to the Tesco I went to) for them as they’re so cheap there! The overall food bill was obviously higher too. I bought twice as many grapes as I normally would as I know how much she likes them. I also bought her favourite cereal and various sandwich fillings for her packed lunch when she goes to work. An extra person in the house eating their 5 a day is bound to make a difference to the shopping bill – of course it is!

Some people might say that if she has a holiday job then I should ask her for a Banknotesproportion for bills. If any of my children were living at home after Uni and they were working, then clearly I’d ask them to pay their way. But as far as I’m concerned Meg is working through the holidays and is paying for all her own ‘entertainment’, contact lenses, phone bill, clothes etc. and is saving up to go inter-railing in a few weeks time. She got the travel bug when she was on her gap year in New Zealand and travelling can only be good for her.

I say she buys her own clothes because she does but it’s very rare that I go on a shopping trip with her or her older sister and don’t pay for something. I’ve got to say that I’m more than happy to do this too. I’m their Mum and that’s what Mums do. My Mum did it for me after all.

The cost of living doesn’t stop at 17 – how can it?!

Ruby Red Body Moisturiser

Ruby Red Body MoisturiserRuby Red Body Moisturiser is quite simply pretty amazing stuff! It smells clean, fruity, refreshing and works like a dream. There have been days since I started using it, that I haven’t even bothered with putting perfume on as I like the moisturiser’s lime scent so much.

I’ve got the Revive and Repair Body Moisturiser – Lime but I know they do a ‘Soothe and Nourish’ version too in Jasmine which I’m fairly sure I wouldn’t like as jasmine tends to give me headaches.  (Good call, Kathryn!)

Ruby Red prides itself on being a British brand which uses  plant ingredients and natural fragrance. Their products are free from all the usual ‘nasties’ and as you’d expect from a company with such a strong sense of what’s right, it doesn’t test on animals. This is all very well and good and many ‘green’ companies try to do this, however often their products fall short at the finishing line and end up being unpleasant to use because they ruby red logosmell, let’s say, less than fresh!  This is most certainly not the case with Ruby Red who have produced products which not only ‘do the business’ but are also fabulous to use.

I’ve been using my Ruby Red Body Moisturiser for a couple of weeks now and am nearly out of it. My dry legs though have never felt better and I love how soft amd smoothe they feel. It’s a winner without doubt!

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Jewellery Boxes from The Holding Company

jewelleryOver the years my 3 daughters and I have amassed a fair amount of jewellery, knick-knacks, trinkets and yes, some tat. All of this stuff needs putting somewhere and we all have lots of jewellery boxes and trinket boxes of varying designs and sizes, scattered in our bedrooms, filled with jewellery (both junk and ‘proper’ for want of a better word).

Anyway I thought I’d do a bit of ‘rationalising’ a couple of weeks back as DD3 jewellery boxcame home from Uni with a whole room-full of her Portsmouth life which needed storing until next Term. She can’t keep the things in her own room as it’s too small so I thought I’d make room elsewhere in the house by tidying-up, throwing loads out and donating bagfuls to charity. Whilst doing this, I took a good look at my ‘jewellery’ situation and decided to do a good sort-out.

Decluttering is something I have to do fairly regularly to keep sane as otherwise my house would be like that of one of those people from a Channel 5 documentary. jewellery boxesYou know, those people who, for whatever reason, simply can’t bear to throw anything away.

Well I was pretty brutal in my decluttering day. Necklaces bought in a NEXT Sale and never worn went in the charity bag along with many a ‘holiday bangle’. T-shirts which have been too small for a long time but kept in anticipation of the ‘day that never comes’ when I might fit into them again? Yup, charity bag for them too! Bijoux BoxBy the end of the afternoon, I could see light at the end of the tunnel and I could see some really nice pieces of jewellery I’d simply forgotten about too as they were languishing, all tangled-up under a load of ‘junk jewellery’.

I’ve still kept a few of my treasured trinket boxes but the bulk of my jewellery is now in my new jewellery boxes from The Holding Company . They’re see-through which means a lot less faffing around looking for particular items and nice and contemporary-looking too. I even picked up a couple of their cheap and cheerful Bijoux Boxes for the less-special trinkets I simply couldn’t bear to throw away – memories of Mothers’ Days gone-by!

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