Friday, 23 May 2014

Our family is growing

No I'm not having a baby, but a puppy. Two puppies to be precise. Angel is around a year and a half, and Dylan is three months, and they are both currently in Cyprus. I will tell you all about them soon, but as an introduction, here's a short video of Angel taken by Constantina, the lovely lady currently looking after her.

We can't wait for both dogs to join our little family and are so excited - they should be with us in around three weeks.

Friday, 16 May 2014

Summer scent - Alesha Rose Quartz

At last, it’s sunny and warm in Newcastle today and it feels like summer’s here. One of my favourite things in summer is the fragrance of roses, that heady, heavy, scent I associate with August, the six weeks holiday and playing outside as a child. Aunty Mary and Uncle Stan lived opposite us, across the back lane, and their garden was full to bursting with rose bushes, big, glorious blooms that spilled out their perfume in the air, especially in the evening. Happy days.

My daughter has inherited my love of that flower’s scent, though it’s a shame she won’t get to experience the joy of Uncle Stan’s garden as I did. Her love of roses though translates to perfume – currently one in particular, Alesha Dixon’s Rose Quartz.

(It's a press image - our kitten chewed up the perfume box before I got a chance to take my own photo)

Containing geranium, bergamot, grapefruit and magnolia, I don’t know if this eau de toilette includes any actual roses, but it smells like it does. It is very light, not cloying, so will suit a wide range of people. In the absence of actual roses around our way this is an enjoyable substitute. Not that I get to wear it often – Dot has acquired it and added it to her getting-larger-every-day haul of make-up and fragrance.

Usually I’m not one for celebrity scents, but this one is a belter.

Rose Quartz by Alesha Dixon costs £24.50 for 100ml from here.

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Tresemmé 7 Day Keratin Smooth - not impressed

I bought Tresemmé 7 Day Keratin Smooth after reading rave reviews on a couple of beauty blogs I follow. It wasn’t exactly cheap, but I thought well, if it works…

I have dreadful hair – thick and lots of it, but not straight and not curly. There’s a wave that if left to dry naturally shows as frizzy, so I was excited at the thought that this set of products could be the answer.
It wasn’t.

The blurb says you can use the straightening treatment without the shampoo and conditioner, but the best results are to use all three steps of the system. So I did.

According to Tresemmé, the 7-Day Keratin Smooth Heat Activated Treatment uses heat activated polymers to keep hair beautifully smooth for seven days and up to three washes. It is described as a breakthrough in hair technology, and works with the heat of your hair straighteners. And it did, that bit is certainly true – my hair was so smooth and didn’t feel heavy with product, which is good.

It’s the bit where you wash your hair again and it’s supposed to still be smooth that I have the problem with – my hair was just as frizzy as it usually is when left to its own devices. I know I’m in the minority with my opinion here – there’s lots of reviews on the Boots website for example with people simply swooning over these products – but I won’t be putting away my straighteners anytime soon.

Tresemmé 7 Day Keratin Smooth Shampoo and Conditioner, around £5.99 each; heat activated treatment, around £6.99 depending where you shop.

Sunday, 11 May 2014

I'm a #Morrisons' Mum

This is the first May bank holiday I have spent in the north east for many, many years, so I was thrilled to be selected as a Morrisons' Mum and I turned the occasion into a bit of a family celebration.

My sister and I did the shopping at our local Morrisons' store and then I prepared the food for all of us – Dot, Don (my sister), Becky and Laura (my nieces). 

Unfortunately the temperamental northern weather let us down so the picnic I had planned went out the window – or rather we had it indoors, with lots of little dishes to tempt our tastebuds.

We enjoyed Greek salad, chicken drumsticks, which I flavoured with a smoked paprika and red pepper rub (Morrisons' own make), outdoor reared chipolata sausages in buns, garlic bread (always goes down well with the kids) and homemade spicy potato wedges. For my sister, a committed vegetarian, I also bought a pack of frozen cheese ‘sausage’ rolls and she had Quorn hot dogs in buns in place of the chipolatas.

There were dips, houmous, cheese, French bread and mushroom pate. Finally for dessert I bought a dark chocolate and passion fruit terrine – ice cream layers with passionfruit sorbet and sauce, topped with sugar crunch and chocolate curls. Unfortunately we didn’t get that far. After bowls of fresh strawberries with cream and ice cream we didn’t have any room left! Talk about a feast.

Now I have shopped at Morrisons in the past, but what I noticed especially this time was the huge variety of product on sale. Instead of just popping in for a few things I set about my shop strategically and went in armed with a list of dishes I intended to make as well as an ingredient list. I’m particularly pleased with my spice find – there’s loads of the smoked paprika and red pepper rub left and it gave a fantastic flavour to the chicken. Another buy that has become a big favourite with me is Morrisons' smoky chipotle BBQ sauce, which was great on the chipolatas and I suspect will be sublime on burgers. The kid’s preferred Morrisons' tomato and chilli relish, which I liked too, but the chipotle sauce is something else.

Bargain-wise I did very well. The outdoor reared pork chipolatas were two packs for £5, saving £1.38; I bought a big bag of potatoes for spicy wedges for 69p; salad potatoes reduced to 50p, two packs of chestnut mushrooms for garlic mushrooms, down to 34p per pack, vine tomatoes for 69p and half price pizzas, £1.49 each. Needless to say there was no way we could eat everything I’d bought at one sitting, so the bank holiday has continued all week with salade tricolore, pizzas, garlic mushrooms, chiopolatas, chicken and more spicy wedges (yum).

I definitely noticed a difference in prices. Morrisons' current campaign to lower prices is working – and they’re lowering them on things people actually buy. The fruit and veg offer (three items for £1.50) is particularly attractive and one I will be taking advantage of in future.

It’s almost six months since I became a single parent and with my daughter moved back to the north east, where I grew up. I can’t believe these past months have gone so fast; I love my new life, but I don’t think the transition would have been so pain-free had it not been for the enormous support of my family, especially my sister. Despite the Newcastle weather, we had a happy day and it felt good to be sharing it with my closest people; a family celebration to mark my almost six months' anniversary and being back home.

My sister Donna, enjoying her veggie hot dogs in between rain showers (she will kill me for putting this up!)