Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Add a Gothic Edge to your Decor with a Vintage Bronze Skull

Smithers of Stamford is a family run business selling a wonderful range of vintage, quirky and retro products, including bespoke furniture, gifts, antiques and ornaments. With a penchant for sourcing interesting items and a flair for interior design, their passion for the unique and the curious is reflected in every piece available across their eclectic range.

With Halloween approaching, I was delighted to receive a beautiful piece from the Smithers of Stamford collection - an amazing bronze effect human skull. As a fan of gothic and vintage items, and having a penchant for horror, I absolutely adore this ornament. It's really quite beautiful, in a slightly macabre way, with a high end antique feel.

Halloween, gothic

Standing 15cm tall and weighing 1.4kg, it is an impressive ornamental piece. It is most definitely not a novelty item, it is stunning and beautifully crafted with great attention to detail. It has an antique style finish and will add a quirky edge to any home or office decor.

In addition to being a stunning ornamental piece, the bronze effect skull would make a fantastic centrepiece at a horror or gothic inspired dinner party and will add a touch of class to any Halloween celebration. I have mine on display in my living room and have received lots of compliments from guests on my quite unique and unusual ornament. It is definitely a great talking point.

smithers of stamford

The Smithers of Stamford website is a wonderful place to browse with so many amazing items. There are some great gift ideas that will definitely delight with their themed vintage designer styles. You can also source unusual items and bespoke pieces for the home or office, including some fantastic furniture. If you are looking for something a bit different and very special, definitely take a look at the Smithers of Stamford range.

The bronze effect Skellington Skull costs £34.00. It is also available in white for a more clinical effect. And be sure to remember - skulls aren't just for Halloween!

Monday, 5 October 2015

Nutribix - a new cereal to revolutionise breakfast

Nutribix is the latest cereal to hit the breakfast aisle in major supermarkets, offering something fresh and new to health conscious consumers and people who want a gluten free cereal for breakfast. Containing the ancient grain and newly hailed superfood Sorghum, Nutribix is naturally high in fibre, protein, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. We were sent some to try out.

Gluten-free, cereal

Available in two variants, the Gluten Free Nutribix is suitable for those with Coeliac Disease or those on gluten free diets. It is made in a 100% gluten free factory so there is no compromise on safety. It is 96% wholegrain Sorghum, low in sugar and fortified with nutrients. The Gluten Free Nutribix are rectangular breakfast biscuits with a light texture, which can be served with milk and fruit. Alternatively they can be blended into a breakfast smoothie for a wholesome and filling start to the day. It is great to see such a tasty breakfast cereal available that is naturally gluten free, bringing more choice to the market.


The Gold and Grains Nutribix is a delicious combination of Sorghum, Oats, Wheat and Rye wholegrains with added rice, a touch of coconut and honey. They have a chunky, crunchy texture full of delicious grains and are fortified with vitamins and iron. I have been eating my way through the box of Gold and Grain Nutribix, served with almond milk and I can honestly say they are fantastic. They are so filling and it feels like they are doing you good. The biscuits look very rustic and natural, they aren't too sweet and are very flavoursome. Serving with colourful fruits and your choice of milk, they make a great breakfast, kick starting the day with wholegrain goodness and nutrients. Nutribix has definitely brought something new and different to the breakfast table.

sorghum, cereals

Each box contains 24 of the Nutribix cereal biscuits, with two being the recommended portion size. You can find them in Tesco, Sainsbury's and Ocado. Look out for the colourful boxes - I love the branding, which makes Nutribix stand out from the other cereals.

Find out more at or follow Nutribix on Twitter @Nutribix, on Instagram @Nutribix or on the Nutribix Facebook page.

Friday, 2 October 2015

Parenting Teens - Happy Birthday to my Beautiful Teenager

Happy 13th birthday to my amazing daughter Kezia Rose. 

My fourth child has at last reached the milestone of becoming a teenager. One big brother and two big sisters have gone through it already and are now making their way in the big wide world as adults. Kezia has waited for it to be her turn for so long. She has been so grown-up for such a long time, but now she can officially, at long last, call herself a teen!

So many people complain about the teenage years, but for me, it's one of my favourite stages of parenting. By this age, your child is well on the way to becoming the adult they will one day become. You see in them all the years of hard work that we as parents have put into their upbringing. You recognise family traits, quirks and ideologies, combining with their own individuality and uniqueness. They have their own ideas and expectations, and are at the brink of forging their own path through life.

Identities are explored through the medium of clothing, hairstyles, make-up and music. Rather than recoiling at the ripped skinny jeans and baggy band tee, the black nail varnish, back combed hair and the thick eyeliner, I rejoice in the fact that my daughter is finding herself. Her punk rock and grunge tastes mirror my own teenage choices.  Music gets louder, but as Nirvana and The 1975 blare out from her room, I smile at her playlist. Instead of shouting at her to keep it down, I sing along with the songs. Ian's vinyl collection of LPs from the 70s and 80s are suddenly back in demand and we have many a session rocking out in the living room. 

I have always maintained that open and honest communication with your child, recognising their right to their own opinions without judgment, is the key to parenting a teen. I love that we can discuss anything. Nothing is off limits, there is no embarrassment or censorship. She knows that whatever she is going through, I have probably been through something similar. I admit to my past mistakes and share the wisdom that has come from my age and experience. Growing up is never going to be plain sailing and I know problems are inevitable, but as long as we can discuss things with honesty and without fear, nothing is insurmountable. Burying my head in the sand is never an option. There will be relationships with boys and the temptation of numerous vices, but preparing them for such eventualities is better than denying they exist. Equipping kids with the tools to make good decisions is fundamentally important, and something I have tried to give to my kids from the word go.

Kezia is such a great person: disarmingly charming, funny with a very quick, dry wit and extremely loving and caring. I know there is a school of thought that says you should never be your teenager's friend and that if they don't say they hate you at least once, you've somehow failed as a parent. To that, I say utter rubbish! Kezia is without doubt my friend as well as my daughter. Why would I ever not want someone as wonderful as her in my life as a friend as well as a daughter? She has so much to offer and I enjoy her company no end. We can laugh together, cry together and have fun together. Long may it last.

Sharing tastes in clothing, music and films has meant there is no generation gap in our home. I remember growing up in a house where my dad's tastes hadn't evolved since the 1950s. The modern culture that I enjoyed was utterly alien to him and he made no secret of hating it all. My kids have never had to deal with that. Both myself and Ian are totally open to anything new and the kids love retro stuff. We love the same films, TV shows and music. I'll happily listen to 5 Seconds of Summer in the car and watch Misfits on Netflix. And Kezia loves her dad helping her to bleach and rip her jeans to make them look punk rock, just like we used to in the eighties. Sharing experiences is such a unifying thing.

I utterly adore my family. We have grown up together, evolved together and all have a strong allegiance for Team McD! Life is too short for fighting with your children. I believe in compromise and discussion rather than hard fast rules and laying down the law. I believe in choosing happiness and laughter over grounding or confiscating mobile phones or laptops. I don't enforce that my children do chores, I'd rather they helped out if they wanted to. I never forget that my kids have rights, just as I do, and finding a solution to problems is better than 'winning' an argument with them. Yes, they might be 'under my roof' - but it's their roof too.

I only have to look at my older kids to know that I have raised three amazing, well rounded and successful adults, who are still so close and connected to us. They are some of the best friends I have in the world. I am now raising my wonderful teenager Kezia with the same love and respect. I wouldn't want things any other way. Teenagers rock as long as you are still in touch with your own inner teen! 

So happy birthday Kezia - my beautiful teenage dirtbag! We're in this together - so let's enjoy it!

13, teenager

Horrifying Haribo for Halloween

This Halloween, I am preparing for the annual Trick or Treaters with a little help from HARIBO. They have sent me a Trick or Treat multipack, some Minions Gone Batty, some Horror Mix and a tub of their Share the Fun treat packs. The neighbouring kids will love to get their fangs into these treats. Having individual mini-bags to hand out makes it quick and easy when little ghouls come knocking.

The Limited Edition Minions Gone Batty put a spooky Halloween twist on everybody's favourite yellow characters while the Horror Mix gives kids witch's hats, spiders, snakes, bats and brooms to munch on. They are great for sharing at parties. Each Trick or Treat bag has ten small packs of assorted HARIBO, while the Share the Fun tub contains twenty four mini bags. That's plenty to keep the Trick or Treaters happy!

confectionery, halloween

Thursday, 1 October 2015

Getting my Bake On with Bacofoil

It's the grand final of the Great British Bake Off next week and we are all extremely excited to find out who will take this year's crown. I'm hoping that Tamal will take first place. Watching the series always inspires me to get baking, although the show stoppers and technical challenges are a bit out of my league!

I love baking some good, home made goodies for the family. Whether I'm making Oreo brownies or Red Velvet cupcakes or a vegan chocolate orange cake, home baking always go down well with everyone.

Bacofoil have sent me some of their Easy Bake Non-Stick Paper and their 2 in 1 Parchment and Foil to try out when I bake. I am already a convert to the Bacofoil Non-Stick Kitchen Foil so I was very interested in trying out their other baking products. I now have a drawer full of Bacofoil products in my kitchen!

baking, GBBO

The Bacofoil Easy Bake Non-Stick Paper is non-stick on both sides so there is no need to grease tins or baking trays, simply line with the paper. It means nothing you bake is going to stick and washing-up is a breeze. It's time saving and gives you confidence in the end results. The paper is also great to use as a non-stick surface for rolling out pastry or dough and it can even be used to make a piping bag.

The 2 in 1 Parchment and Foil can be used in a host of creative ways. The non-stick parchment is lined with foil to insure an even bake. It also acts as an insulator to keep heat in if cooking something in a wrapped parcel. It also allows you to scrunch or shape the paper to create any shape needed for a recipe. The 2 in 1 parchment and foil is freezer and oven safe and the non-stick lining stops food sticking. It's a very useful product to have in the kitchen.

Even Mary Berry would be impressed I'm sure!

The Non-Stick Paper is £2.50 for a 10m roll and it is available in Morrisons stores. Find out more at

Keep an eye out for a Cranberry and Sunflower Seed Cookie recipe, baked using the Non-Stick Paper, coming soon to the blog!

Personalised Halloween Storybook

I always love personalised gifts bearing my children's names. There is something so special about seeing your child's name emblazoned on something lovely.

Born Gifted have treated Freddy to a gorgeous personalised picture book featuring a spooky Halloween story where he is the star. Perfect to commemorate a child's first Halloween or to celebrate the occasion with a young child, the full colour pages include plenty of references to your child's name, in both the text and in the illustrations.

The softback book "Freddy on Halloween Night" comes with a personalised dedication on the front page, making this a lovely gift. The fun rhyming story tells the tale of Freddy's Halloween. Dressed up as a ghost, he meets a whole array of scary characters. At first Freddy is a bit frightened of all the spooky costumes, but he soon discovers that there is no need to be afraid. It definitely makes Halloween seem a lot less scary to little ones when they realise who is underneath the fancy dress outfits. A funny twist in the tale on the last page turns the story on its head and shows children that there is no need to fear make-believe monsters.

Born Gifted, Halloween

The paper is glossy and the illustrations are fun. Little ones will love sharing the rhythmic text and older kids will enjoy reading it themselves and spotting their name throughout the story.


On Halloween Night personalised book from Born Gifted is £9.99 and dispatched in 3 working days of ordering. Standard delivery is £2.95 or free for orders over £40. Born Gifted also stock an exciting range of lovely gifts and toys, both traditional and unusual, for babies and children.

Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Little Stars - A Hetty Feather Adventure from Jacqueline Wilson

Hetty Feather has started a new chapter in her life as she embarks on the road to stardom as a glamorous music hall artiste along with her dearest friend Diamond. They dramatically escape from Tanglefield's Travelling Circus and eventually seek the bright lights of London's theatre world, dreaming of a glittering future. They become the Little Stars of Miss Ruby's show, performing alongside many colourful acts including a face from the past. But life at the Cavalcade Theatre proves dangerous for the girls when Miss Ruby's nephew starts paying unwanted attention to Hetty. She has to fight to protect little Diamond and find a good future for them both.

The book introduces new characters alongside old friends. The return of Bertie, the butcher's boy, brings some drama into Hetty's life as she struggles to understand her feelings for him. Flirty Bertie has become quite the star on the stage since they last saw one another. Hetty wonders what her future will be, thinking about husbands and settling down. Attending her first love Jem's wedding further adds to her confusion. Has she lost her one chance at true happiness?

Will the girls find a place they can call home? Will Hetty's dream of being a successful actress come true? Will Bertie ever figure in her future? These questions are explored in this thrilling tale of stardom, heartbreak, love, loss and self-discovery.

Jacqueline Wilson's style brings to life a time long ago, when Mrs Beeton, workhouses, penny farthings, music halls and frilly frocks were the norm. It gives a gentle insight into Victorian England and gives today's readers a chance to see what life was like for girls like Hetty Feather. Nick Sharratt's illustrates the front cover and adds a silhouette sketch to start each new chapter.

This is the fifth Hetty Feather story from Jacqueline Wilson, so fans of the wonderful and irrepressible Victorian girl will delight in catching up on her latest quest for adventure. The book contains some slightly mature themes and is aimed at girls aged 9 - 12 years old.

Little Stars will be published by Doubleday on October 8th in hardback for £12.99. It will also be available as an e-book.

Jacqueline Wilson


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