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Win a Samsung Microwave with Birds Eye

Frozen food giants Birds Eye have just launched two new products to add to their steamed vegetable range and to celebrate they are hosting a Pick and Mix event at Waterloo station where commuters can choose their favourite vegetables and have them steamed for a quick lunch.

win a microwave with birds eye

Obviously not everyone lives in London and that’s why the Pick and Mix stand comes to you, well, at least virtually. Over on Birds Eye’s Facebook page, you can Create Your Steamfresh and win fabulous prizes like a weekend break, stylish mircrowaves and more. All you have to do is pop 6 vegetables onto your virtual chopping board and create an award-winning combo.

Before you run off to try your hand at creating your own Steamfresh, make sure to enter the giveaway below. Birds Eye are kindly offering one lucky reader the chance to win a brand-new Samsung microwave. It’s compact, features a ceramic enamel interior that is easy to clean and will never scratch or crack, hygienic and odour free.

To enter, simply fill in the Rafflecopter form below following the instructions provided. Please make sure to fulfil the mandatory entry requirements first before moving on to earning extra points. Invalid or faulty entries won’t be counted or entered into the prize draw. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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A random act of kindness by a complete stranger

I know we are always trying to teach our children about stranger danger and to stay clear of people they don’t know and to a degree that is absolutely right, but when I watched a YouTube video about Anthony Nolan’s ‘Kindest of Stranger’ campaign raising awareness for blood cancer and their bone marrow register (you can find out more on the Thank you stranger page), I remembered two cases when complete strangers were absolute lifesavers to me.

Ok, they didn’t pull me out of a burning house or stopped me from drowning, but they offered to help me when they could have just ignored me. I thought the campaign was a great reason to tell you to sign up to the bone marrow register and maybe save someone’s life and also talk about both occasions when strangers did something nice for me – because let’s be honest, we don’t share these positive stories anywhere near enough.

The OAP that ditched his wife

Last week, a couple of bloggers and I attended a forest school morning in a forest just outside Bristol. My friend Liska, her little boy Aaron, Amy and I decided to meet up in town and catch the bus there together. With wise foresight, we joked that getting lost together might be better than on our own, so on the bus we hopped. The bus driver told us where to get off and we thought we’d be at the venue within a couple of minutes. After all, the website told us, it was easily accessible via public transport. To cut a long story short, it wasn’t: at least not from the side of the forest that our bus stopped on.

To get from the bus stop to the venue, we would have had to walk along a busy road without pavement with a three and a four year old and that for 3km. Luckily, a lovely old gentleman and his wife spotted us on the side of the road and offered to give us a lift. Their car was tiny and there was no way, we would have fitted into it, so his wife jumped out of the car, let the four of us take a seat and decided to wait on the side of the road while her husband dropped us off at the forest school. How nice was that? They could have simply driven past, but instead they went out of their way to help us – just because. We were incredibly grateful because it meant we got to the event safely and on time.

The nun who saved our holiday

Another occasion that saw a stranger help me out was when I was on holiday with my best friend and her family. We were 14, her parents wanted to go shopping and we fancied going to the local swimming pool, so they dropped us off and her mum gave us a 10 minute speech on how we should look after our towels and bla bla bla. You know the deal, when you’re 14, towels aren’t really on top of your priority list and you just switch off when someone starts their lecture. Well, the inevitable happened and my friend lost her towel and we both knew that that was not good news, so we had the glorious idea to pack our bags and pop into town to get an identical towel, so her mum wouldn’t find out that we’d lost the towel.

We put our last bits of small change together and believe it or not, found an identical towel. Unfortunately, it cost a couple of D-Mark (yes, it was well before the Euro) more than we had on us and we were getting a little panicky when a nun tapped us on the shoulder and said, she’d pay for the towel for us. We were so desperate not to get into trouble with my friend’s mum that we took her up on her offer, let her buy the towel and raced back to the swimming pool – you know, just so it would look like nothing had happened. We even made sure to get the towel wet, just so my friend’s mum wouldn’t notice and to this day she has no clue that the towel we presented her with was not the towel she thought it was. The whole story is so random, but a stranger’s kindness probably saved our heads – or the holiday.

Have you ever been on the receiving end of a random act of kindness or have you ever helped a complete stranger? Let me know in the comments below and be sure to share your story on Twitter using the #kindeststranger

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Family photos: 10 Unique Ideas

family photo ideas, ideas for family photosWhen planning a family photo session, most parents want to take unique photos that are genuine to the family dynamic. By hosting a unique photo shoot, you can have pictures that will not only last a lifetime but will fit your family personality. While most families want to be unique when picture-taking, it can be difficult to decide what type of photos to actually take. Below are a few examples of unique family photo ideas to create unique memories for your family.

#1 Be Silly

One way to create unique photos is to be silly. Think of silly poses or themes to show each family members personality. You can even create a lovely photo that is serious and then pair it with a silly version for a unique family collage.

#2 Fashion Forward

For an interesting photo-op, create a fashion forward photo. Dress in high-end fashion or unique designs to create a runway style photo. You can create a luxury photo with simple items in your closet or rent pieces to create a one-of-a-kind family photo.

#3 Individual Portraits

Consider taking individual portraits of each member of your family as well as a group photo so you can create a photo wall in the home. By hiring professional photographer such as Wimbledon Studio Photography, you can take individual photos and have portraits of your children as well as yourself to hang and enjoy in the home for many years to come.

#4 Personality

Remember to consider the family personality and dynamic. If your family enjoys video games, consider dressing up like your favorite gaming characters. If your family is sports oriented, choose a football field or sports venue as the backdrop for your photo shoot.

family-portrait family photo

#5 Costuming

An interesting way to take photos is with costuming. Dress as superheroes or royalty to have an exciting photo shoot. Any costume choice can be made or rented to create a fun family photo.

#6 Color Coordination

A traditional option for family photography is to color coordinate. You can choose a color you love or base your color choice on the season. For fall, most families use black or browns to create a cohesive look. In the summer, bright blues or pinks are used as a pop of color. You can choose whatever color you enjoy to create a personalized look for your family photos.

#7 Every Season

For a wonderful photo collage of your family, consider scheduling photos of every season. Head outside during the spring, summer, fall and winter to be able to have a unique collage of your family. Color coordinate to have an even more unique look.

family_ideas family photo

#8 Think Outside the Box

You can also think outside the box from a traditional photo shoot. While most people will choose traditional options for photos, you can do something interesting. Head to local train tracks or a unique brick wall in your town to have an interesting backdrop. Think of areas you enjoy in your town or unique features that can be used to create the best photos for your family.

#9 Fantasyland

Open up your imagination and create a fantasy style photo shoot to not only have fun but have interesting new photos for the home. Don’t just dress up for Halloween, dress up for a photo shoot too!

#10 Simple Silhouettes

A silhouette is an interesting option for family photos and one that a professional can create. Do something different and create black or gray silhouettes to remember your children’s or family profile as everyone changes with age.

family-ties family photo

Disclosure: This is a promotional post with images from hottotrot via Flickr, Ilyas Guertelli, Marianne Wiest Photography, Wendy Vonsosen Photography and Anne Darling Photography.

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How to grow your business in one simple step

Have you watched the video above? I don’t know about you, but I think hearing success stories like Charlie Mullins’ can be incredibly inspiring for business men and woman who find themselves at a similar starting point to the plumber who now employs over 200 people when he started his career. I know that it makes me focus on all the things I want to achieve for myself and my business and it shows me that there are some simple steps out there that I can take to grow my business without spending a lot of money, because let’s face it, that’s what small businesses usually don’t have anywhere near enough of.

Going virtual, e.g. using a virtual phone service such as Everreach and forwarding and managing your company phone calls via your mobile phone, can be an option that doesn’t only save you money, but also allows you to look more professional and credible to your customers and potential business partners.

Virtual services let you choose landline numbers in every city in the United Kingdom and provide callers with personalised audio greetings and voicemail 24h a day, 365 days a year. This means, that your customers receive the highest-level of customer service all day every day.

Another bonus is that all your calls and mailbox messages are stored for you, which means that you can track your call performance, analyse busy call periods and reoccurring patterns in your business calls.

For around £10 a month, the service is affordable and something I will seriously consider for myself in the future. It would mean that I don’t have to get a second phone line for business phone calls and I don’t have to hand out my private telephone number to people I’d rather not share it with.

What do you think about getting a virtual landline number based in any city of the UK? Is this something you’d use for your business?

Disclosure: This is a promotional post.

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10 Halloween face-painting and make-up ideas for kids

10 scarily easy face-painting and make-up ideas for halloween

Halloween is just around the corner, but if you aren’t really into the whole dressing up game, but your kids still want to go trick or treating with their little friends, why not transform them into their favourite animal or character with the help of make-up or face-paint?

If you need some inspiration for your little trick and treaters, here are 10 face-painting and make-up ideas for Halloween – most of them are really quick and simple to do and only a few of them are for the more advanced face-painter or make-up artist. Face-painting kits are really inexpensive and widely available, and a lot of the designs can be achieved with make-up items you’ve already got at home, so I thought these ideas for Halloween would be helpful to a lot of you guys. I hope you like them!

Cute and colourful kitty cat face-painting

cute kitty cat face-painting for halloween

I love this cute and colourful kitty cat face-painting. It’s perfect for little ones as it uses bright and cheerful colours and no one will get scared. A little more advanced, but I’m sure you’ll get the hang of it with a little practice.

Spiderman face-painting

spiderman face-painting ideas for halloween

This cute and simple Spiderman face-painting will have your little super hero’s heart beating faster in an instant. All you need is three colours, a sponge and a paint brush and you’re ready to save the world. To make it even easier, ditch the paintbrush and swap it for an eye-liner pen.

Vampire Make-Up Look

vampire make-up look for halloween

No Halloween party is complete without at least one vampire. This vampire make-up tutorial really pushes the boat out as it uses red contacts, but you really don’t need them, when you are transforming your little ones into a sharp-toothed undead. The rest is fairly simple and can be achieved with your day to day make-up kit.

Frankenstein face-painting

frankenstein face-painting

The world’s most famous monster can be created following this four step Frankenstein tutorial. It’s super simple and kids will absolutely love it. If you don’t have fake blood, although it’s easily accessible in supermarkets around Halloween, simply use some red lipstick to create cracked scars and lips.

Pumpkin face-painting

cute pumpkin face-painting for halloween

Especially for younger children, monsters and vampires can be a little scary. A cute and colourful pumpkin face-painting can make a fabulous seasonal alternative that can be achieved in just a couple of steps.

Devil Face-Painting

devil face-painting

They all can be little devils from time to time, so why not create a devil face-painting to match their cheeky character? This tutorial only uses red and black face paint and shows a super easy way to transform into a devil this Halloween.

How to create fake scars with face paint or make-up

how to create fake scars with facepaint for halloween

Older kids or teens will probably want to go for a more grown-up and gory look, so adding some fake scars to their face will be a great way to give their outfit the scare-factor. Here’s a fabulous tutorial that explains step by step how to create fake scars with simple means.

Skull Face-Painting

skull face painting for halloween

Halloween is all about undead and spooky creatures, so of course, we can’t leave out one of the most popular Halloween make-ups of them all: the skull. This scary skull design takes you no longer than 5 minutes and can be achieved by complete face-painting beginners – that means even me!

Pirate Face-Painting

adorable pirate face-painting for halloween

Pirate outfits are a firm favourite when it comes to dressing up at Halloween or birthday parties and with this adorable pirate face-paint tutorial in your back pocket, you’ll easily transform your landlubber into a member of Captain Hook’s crew.

Butterfly face-painting

elegant butterfly face-painting

Little girls usually like it a little less scary, but full of colour and glitter. This pretty butterfly tutorial combines all of that while still being super easy to recreate. If you want to draw an elegant butterfly face-painting in less than 6 minutes, make sure to follow these tips.

What are your little ones dressing up as for Halloween and will you join them?

Disclaimer: Credit for all images and videos lies with the creators. I just thought I’d round-up some pretty fabulous Halloween face-painting ideas for you.

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Amy takes being messy to a whole new level

messy kids collage 1

If you’ve been following my blog over the last couple of years, you will know that Amy has always been a messy pup. As soon as she learned to hold things, she used them to create havoc. Dinner turned into what we lovingly call the broccoli massacre and a simple afternoon of colouring resulted in rainbow-coloured vomit all over the kitchen floor – Amy had taken a liking to her crayons and bitten chunks off of them.

Once she started walking, Amy’s interest quickly shifted from crayons to Sudocrem and paint. At first, she only smeared it around her mouth or on the table, then she took it to a whole new level…

messy kids collage two

In a quiet moment, she grabbed a pot of red finger paint and gave our bedroom a little makeover. I can laugh about it now, but I was absolutely devastated when I found her in our bedroom, covered in paint and with a proud smile on her little face. There was red pain everywhere. On the walls, on the doors – it looked like a murder scene and there was no way of getting the paint off the wall. We scrubbed and scrubbed and in the end, we painted the room not once, not twice but 6 times to cover her colourful masterpieces. Chocolate smeared faces I can live with, unwanted wall paintings however not so much.

The mess however that got Amy the most giggles from my friends and family was her African tribal painting. While ‘peacefully’ playing in her bedroom, she must have climbed onto the top shelf of her wardrobe where I stored her toiletries and her Sudocrem, and ehm discovered the healing benefits of nappy cream.

She looked hilarious, but admittedly, she almost scared me to death when she stood on top of the stairs with the face of a ghost.

messy kids 4

Have a messy tot yourself? Share your story with Jen from Mum In The Madhouse and be in with a chance of winning a £500 Amazon voucher as well as many other prizes. More details here!

Two Little Fleas
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Amy prepares for Halloween

Haunted house Halloween Pumpkin Kitten Halloween Pumpkin

Halloween is creeping up on us and whenever we walk through the aisles of our local supermarket, Amy starts planning her costume – in detail. I didn’t think she’d get into the whole dressing up thing quite that early, but after banking herself lots of sweet treats when she went trick or treating with her cousins last year, she seems to have caught the Halloween bug.

I’m not a massive fan myself, but as Amy enjoys dressing up in fancy dress costumes, not only for Halloween may I add, I play along and let her embrace the spirit of Halloween while cringing behind my hands. We’ll pick up a cute little outfit for her, carve some pumpkins and visit some houses in our street, so that Amy can practise her scary face – if you ask me, if she puts on the one she shows me at 7.30 every morning, her little bucket will be full within a couple of minutes.

Amy as a witch ready for our Halloween party

Last year, Amy dressed up as a little witch and I absolutely loved her costume. We ordered it last minute from Tesco Direct and it was delivered free of charge the next day to our local branch.  She’s been wearing it until it fell apart last weekend, which is a bit of a shame as it really was utterly adorable. It was cute and girly and most importantly, it was age-appropriate. I hate nothing more than little girls and boys dressed up as zombie brides or the Grim Reaper. It just doesn’t sit right with me when there are outfits out there that are so much more appropriate for them.

Luckily there are lots of cute costumes available at the moment. Here are some of our favourites:

Halloween costumes for little ones

Have you thought about fancy dress costumes for Halloween yet or have you maybe even bought your little ones outfit? I’d love to know what they’re dressing up as!

This is a post written for Tesco.

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Saving for your baby’s financial future

When starting a family, there are many things you will think about: What will be your baby’s gender? Which name will you choose and how are you going to decorate the nursery? But once the initial excitement is over and the idea of becoming parents has set, you will start to think about the serious things coming towards you.

How will you cope financially? Will you go back to work or will you be a stay-at-home-mum and will you be able to afford the lifestyle you had before being mummy and daddy? Although Amy was a surprise baby (I was on the pill when I fell pregnant), we were over the moon when we found out we were going to be a family of three. We instantly started discussing names and all the great things that families experience together, but we also worried about our financial future – thanks to all the scary flyers and articles you read in the magazines your get from midwives. Not having any considerable savings we had to tighten our belts and make savings where possible.

The first thing we cut back on was takeaways. They are so convenient and such a lovely treat on a Friday night, but for the cost of two meals we could easily prepare two or three home cooked meals. The next thing we did was making sure that we had the best possible deals for our mobile phones, our TV, telephone and broadband connection without having to compromise on the service we are used to and like. We simple phoned up our providers and asked, if they could do anything for us and you might be surprised, but all of them could. Vodafone reduced both our bills by at least £5 each, saving us a tenner on our mobile phone bill each month.

Our Virgin bill was reduced by a whopping £20 simply because we said we’d consider switching to Sky and when we checked with our gas and energy suppliers, we got a discount for switching to monthly direct debits and e-billing. Altogether we have reduced our monthly outgoings by around £150. I’m sure we could still do a little better than that, but when making cut-backs we also wanted to make sure that we have to give up on as little as possible. We are creatures of habit after all.

What changed drastically was our view on savings. Before, we would spend whatever we earned on nice meals out, weekend trips, clothes or holidays, we now wanted to make sure that Amy has a secured future, if something happened to either of us. Of course, my mum and dad would be there for her and make sure that she has the best possible upbringing, but we also wanted to make sure that if something should happen to us, Amy doesn’t have to worry about anything.

As we are both no experts, I met up with an old friend and her partner who worked as an independent financial advisor just after Amy’s birth, but after three hours that were meant to be an informal chat, I took my bags and ran a mile. My friend’s partner was pushy, couldn’t really explain what we really needed and what was a waste of money and I just felt, he was after a sale rather than providing us with the information we needed to make a good decision.

In the end, we decided to get life insurance for us and set up a savings account for Amy – online and after checking possible providers and their policies in peace and quiet. Finances might not be the most exciting thing to spend your well-deserved free-time on, but your family and their future make it worth it.

How do you make financial decision? Have you got a financial advisor? Do you trust your friends’ opinion or do you research on your own?

This is a promotional post.

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Monday Parenting Pin It Party #73

Can you believe that the last time I hosted the Monday Parenting Pin It Party, we were talking about water play, ice-cream and summer activities and now we are in the middle of October and preparing for Halloween, Thanksgiving and even Christmas?

It’s crazy how fast the first weeks of autumn have passed. We’re currently preparing a move, but it seems that autumn is in full swing in your houses. Last week, you all linked up fantastic autumn crafts, recipes and activities and these are my two favourites:

First up, we’ve got this adorable Halloween snack from Grace over at Eats Amazing. She’s made a Spooky Spider Snack out of a plum and some raisins and I just know that Amy would absolutely love these. It’s a fun and healthy snack – perfect for when you want to coax your little ones away from their trick or treat baskets.

Eats-Amazing-UK-Healthy-Spooky-Spider-Snack-for-Halloween

My second favourite is this adorable Halloween Rock Garden that would make a beautiful feature on your porch, in front of your house or even as a centre piece on your autumn or Halloween table. It’s a great little project for kids to get involved with and they can be as creative as they like.

Halloween Rock Garden porch display

But now it’s up to you: Link up your favourite posts, check out the others for some inspiration and share the posts you love.

You’re new and don’t know how everything works? No problem, here’s a quick recap of the rules for you:

The Monday Parenting Pin It Party is a linky that is traveling from blog to blog, giving you the chance to link up your best craft, recipe or parenting posts, so that we can share them on our collaborative Pinterest board and show them some comment love. Each host also picks, their two favourite link ups each week and awards their favourite posts their very own special badge. Cool, right? Grab the badge below to let your readers now where the party’s at and let’s get pinning…

Mummy Alarm



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2015: a year in the name of family time and happiness

I don’t know about you, but as soon as we enter the last quarter of the year, I become quite reflective and start looking back at the year that has passed and make plans for the year that lies ahead. In the past, my thought process at this time of the year went something like this “Great year, lots of fun, but yet again you haven’t managed to lose weight or exercise regularly. Don’t worry though! You’ve tried, it hasn’t worked, but there’s always next year.”

I never manage to stick to diets or get into an exercise routine, but this year I won’t be bothered by all this, because this year was different. 2014 was a year that completely threw me. If you had asked me on New Year’s Eve how I thought this year would end, I would have told you that we’d be happy and healthy, enjoying a family Christmas and making plans for the coming months. Never in a million years would I have expected my relationship of five years to end. Never in a million years could I have predicted the changes in our family life and ending up as a family of two.

family time with Amy

I won’t go into details or tell you about the reason for our break-up, but despite obvious signs and struggles over the last year, I thought we’d make it through a pretty tough year in one piece – as a family of three. There are always two sides to a story and telling you just my side wouldn’t be fair on Ben, but despite the shock over the end of our relationship, the tears, the questions in my head and the many many conversations with friends and family, I think that I have done the right thing for both me and Amy.

Being a single mum, holding down a job and looking after an entire household is not easy. If I’m being completely honest, it’s utterly draining and challenging at times, but it’s also incredibly rewarding because I now know that Amy is living in a happy household. My patience might be a little shorter than usual at times and undoubtedly, I’m not always giving Amy 100% of my attention when I should, but being responsible for her on my own and doing all the other things I have to do to keep a roof over our heads is a juggling act.

Six years ago, I move to Bristol wanting to be independent from my family, who were always there for me whenever I needed them – and even when I thought I didn’t. It was overwhelming and sometimes I just wanted to do things on my own: I wanted to make my own decisions and mistakes. I wanted to have my own household, my own responsibilities and with that I mean responsibilities that go further than cleaning my room and leaving the house on time. Now that it’s just Amy and me, I crave the nest of my family home: the warmth, the knowledge that there will always be someone there for me when I need help, support or just someone to look after Amy for 30 minutes while I get a smear test done without her investigating my nether region.

fun as a family of two

And because that sense of security is something that we both need in our lives right now, I have made the decision to go back to Germany with Amy. I’m not taking her away from her dad, she will still see him regularly and we’ll be in close contact via Skype, but being in an environment that gives us stability and love is something that will do us the world of good and I think it will help me to re-discover the girl/woman that I once was.

The last two or three years have been incredibly draining for me. I’ve lost confidence in myself and my abilities. I’ve put myself back when I should have been pushing forward and I’ve allowed other people to make decisions that didn’t make me happy.

2015 will be all about creating a new future for Amy and I and getting back to my old self: the Carolin that’s fierce and confident, the mum that provides a happy and safe environment for her child, the daughter that spends time with her family and the friend that laughs with you until you start hyperventilating. It won’t be easy, but it will be worth it!

What will you do for yourself in 2015?

Disclosure: I was given a voucher to help plan our new future in return for writing this post.