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Our little boy Jack William arrived on 25th February 2011 three weeks early weighing 6lbs - am loving being a mum though there just isn't enough time in the day!

Reviews written

since 12/04/2005


Mam Anti-Colic Self Sterilising Bottles 30/10/2011

Great bottles which are an absolute godsend

Mam Anti-Colic Self Sterilising Bottles As those who follow my reviews will know we welcomed our little boy into the world earlier this year. Since then I haven’t had much time to write reviews but I have missed doing them so much so have decided to try and make a little time to get back into writing them. As first time parents you enter into a confusing world of baby products – bottles, sterilisers, prams, car seats, cribs, nappies, bouncers, high chairs the list is endless. Of course every company tries to make you think that their product is an absolute must have but as we have learnt over the past 8 months (yes 8 months have gone already) not everything is as good as it seems. When breastfeeding didn’t work out for us and we had to buy some bottles I went for one of the two most popular and well known brands, Avent which worked well and suited us until we were going to stay with my parents for the weekend. Not wanting to pack a bulky steriliser plus bottles and all the other paraphernalia that goes with a small baby I noticed MAM self-sterilising bottles whilst in my local supermarket. The bottles claim to be self-sterilised in a microwave in just three minutes and also provide protection against colic – as Jack was suffering from a lot of trapped wind these seemed like they may help so I decided to try them out. The bottles come in four different colours, blue, green, pink and lilac so there is something suitable whether your little one is a boy or a girl, I opted for the blue which is a lovely medium ...

Everything that starts with B ... 23/05/2011

My Birth Story

Everything that starts with B ... As a lot of my regular readers will know I was pregnant with our first baby who was due on 20th March. I had a pretty easy pregnancy without any problems and quite enjoyed having a bump and my journey to becoming a mum. We decided not to find out what gender our baby was as I wanted the surprise - my husband wanted to find out but I managed to talk him round. I thought I'd write up my birth story so I’ll start on the Thursday (24th February) it was an ordinary day. I’d made myself an appointment to have my hair cut as I thought that it was looking a bit messy and I wanted it to be looking nice for when the baby came for all the first pictures. I never quite thought that they would be taken so soon afterwards! I’d been and had my hair cut, and then went to Mamas and Papas to pick up the adapters for our travel system which meant we could fit the car seat into it. While I was there I popped into Tesco to collect a changing bag which I had ordered online. I felt fine, if not a little tired – I just put it down to not sleeping too well, pretty standard for someone who is one day short of being 37 weeks pregnant. That afternoon I got a sudden urge to clean. We had guests coming over on the Thursday evening and I looked at our bathroom sink and thought it looked a bit grimy so started by giving that the once over. Before I knew it I was on my hands and knees scrubbing the bathroom floor and giving everything a really deep clean. When my husband came home he said “you’re nesting” ...

Neutrogena Norwegian Formula Immediate Repair Lip Balm 24/08/2010

Great for Sore Noses but No Repair for Chapped Lips

Neutrogena Norwegian Formula Immediate Repair Lip Balm If you flick through the pages of any woman’s magazine you will find plenty of advertisements for the latest lipstick or lip gloss which is going to give you the perfectly kissable lips of your dreams. Well apart from if you have dry lips that is as no lipstick is going to be able to disguise them! Dry lips are not only unsightly but they can be sore and painful too and I’m sure that all of us have experienced them at some point. Recently after a rather bad cold my lips were looking and feeling rather sorry for themselves and I decided my usual lip balm wasn’t helping so I decided to invest in something a bit more heavy duty. I browsed the shelves at my local Boots and decided on the ‘Immediate Repair Lip Balm’ by Neutrogena. I think the words immediate repair jumped out at me and that was what swayed my decision and the £2.50 price tag wasn’t too bad either. The product comes in a small white plastic tub with a red screw on lid, pretty standard packaging for a lip balm really. Wanting to experience this immediate relief I opened the jar as soon as I’d paid for it and was greeted with a white paste which had a pleasant smell to it. I can’t quite describe what it smells of as there isn’t anything that stands out from it. As with a lot of lip balms that come in a pot the idea with this is that you use the end of your finger to take a little of the balm from pot and then use this to apply it to your mouth – I always think that these are a little unhygienic as you never ...

Max Factor Miracle Touch Foundation 23/08/2010

Not Quite the Miracle I was Hoping For!

Max Factor Miracle Touch Foundation I have a confession……I have totally neglected Ciao over the past few months. I have just had so much going on that I really haven’t had the time to write but I’m determined to get my mojo back and start trying to put fingers to keyboard again as I miss doing the reviews on here. So to ease myself in gently I’m going to start with a review of a beauty product (my favourite kind) Max Factors Miracle Touch Liquid Illusion Foundation. I have a fail safe foundation that I love which is made by another company, however it is expensive at almost £30 a bottle. Unfortunately gone are the days when my skin was good enough to not need any coverage day to day and I could go to work with just a tinted moisturiser on! Using my usual foundation every day was starting to prove expensive as a bottle just wasn’t lasting me so I needed to find a cheaper day to day alternative. As much as I love shopping for cosmetics and toiletries the one thing I hate shopping for is foundation. I think years of buying foundations which appear to be the right colour/texture/coverage to then find once I got them home that they made me look like Casper the ghost or Dale Winton in the harsh reality of non shop lighting has made me detest the time when I need to buy a new foundation. After all they aren’t cheap and buying products that turn out to be totally unsuitable for you becomes expensive after a couple of costly mistakes. I wearily took myself off to Boots with the intention of finding a cheaper ...

Boots Time Delay Skin Treatments Radiance Booster 08/03/2010

Never a dull moment with Time Delay Radiance Booster!

Boots Time Delay Skin Treatments Radiance Booster Now I don’t know about you ladies out there but I am constantly striving to find those Holy Grail products which make my skin look and feel fantastic – unfortunately this isn’t as easy as it sounds for all of us! Over the years I have experienced all kinds of stuff with my skin – oiliness, dryness, tightness, dullness, flaking, peeling, breakouts… name it I’ve probably had it. I’ve always struggled to get the flawless, glowing skin that I dream of but I have found a product that has taken me one step closer. Last month at Boots they were doing one of their usual ‘spend £5 get a £5 voucher’ deal, these vouchers are given out regularly and tend to rotate between certain brands. Last months voucher was for a few different brands including the Time Delay range at Boots. The products are quite reasonably priced anyway but once you add in the £5 reduction then they are great on the old purse strings. Although one thing I’ve learnt is that nothing is good value unless it actually works and suits my skin. So last month I brought a few things at Boots and was given a voucher. Quite often I end up either buying something that I already have just to use the voucher - this is one of the reasons why I have five face washes in my toiletries box! So this time I decided that I would buy something which was totally different to anything else I already own. I was browsing the Time Delay items and came across their ‘Radiance Booster’ a quick read of the packaging made it sound quite ...

Soap & Glory Eau de Soap & Glory 26/02/2010

Smell like Soap? Nope just like Glory!

Soap & Glory Eau de Soap & Glory Yes I know I’ve done it again, I’ve not been on here for ages so I apologise for that. Unfortunately I have had a lot of personal stuff going on and haven’t really been able to get on here but today I decided I would come and visit and try and ease myself back into writing reviews again. I always like it when I try something new and like it so much that I feel I want to come and write a review to tell you all about it. This happened just recently when I purchased Eau de Soap & Glory a new fragrance from one of my most favourite ranges. Soap and Glory was set up by Marcia Kilgore who is also responsible for the huge brand Bliss and more recently the increasingly popular Fit flops. The Soap and Glory range started off as mainly a selection of bath and body products but it has evolved into a brand with a cult following and now makes skincare and even fragrances, it is sold in Boots predominantly although I believe it is available in John Lewis as well. The whole range is designed in a kind of retro kitsch way with their products featuring pictures of women from the 50’s and 60’s and kooky sounding names quite often with a pun thrown in for good measure. Most of the products come in a kind of powder pink colour but just recently there have been a few items which come in blue or white packaging just to confuse everyone. I think the packaging is so cute and they are the kind of items that you want to show off in your bathroom rather than hide away in a cupboard. A little ...

Soap & Glory Glad Pits 12/11/2009

I'm Not the Only One Who's Glad my Pits Don't Smell!

Soap & Glory Glad Pits Unfortunately I’ve had to take a break from Ciao for a while as I just haven’t had time to invest in writing good quality reviews. Sure I could have easily written shorter reviews which take less time but I do try and ensure my reviews have all the information the reader needs to get an idea of the reviewed topic without being so long they send them to sleep. It’s a hard balance to achieve and one that means I need to be prepared to take time to think about what I’m writing. However I am back and am going to endeavour to try and spend some time and effort building up my Ciao empire once again. So hello to all my readers old and new. To ease myself back into writing reviews I’ve decided to kick off with a beauty product. Those who have read my previous reviews will know I do have a penchant for toiletries, cosmetics and perfumes so it seemed like a good place to start. I recently bought a few new items from one of my favourite ranges at Boots - Soap and Glory. One of the products I purchased was Glad Pits a 24 hour antiperspirant and that is the product I will be reviewing today. Soap and Glory was set up by Marcia Kilgore who is also responsible for the huge brand Bliss and more recently the increasingly popular Fitflops. The Soap and Glory range started off as mainly a selection of bath and body products but it has evolved into a brand with a cult following and now makes skincare and even fragrances, it is sold in Boots predominantly although I believe it is available ...

Smollensky's Restaurant, London 30/07/2009

A great meal at a fantastic price - and free bubbly too!

Smollensky's Restaurant, London Last week it was my husbands 31st birthday and as one of his birthday presents I booked some tickets for us to go and see Derren Brown in London. Both of us booked the day off work so I decided to make an evening of it and treat us to a meal before the show started. The show was at the Adelphi Theatre on the Strand so I set to work trying to find a nearby restaurant that was reasonably priced and offered a good selection of food. There were plenty of places to choose from so I gathered a few menus and checked out lots of different websites to see what was available, one place caught my eye and that was Smollenskys. The website told me that Smollenskys is situated on The Strand and it described it as a bright, spacious and stylish restaurant with a New York feel offering American cuisine with interesting twists. I noticed that they offered a pre-theatre menu which looked like it would suit us down to the ground best of all it was only £9.95 for two courses or £12.50 for three which is a great price for a central London restaurant. I bookmarked the site and carried on looking at alternatives but I kept going back to their website. Whilst browsing the Smollenskys website for about the tenth time I noticed that if you register with them they email you a voucher to receive either a free bottle of Champagne or Prosecco if you celebrate your birthday with them. Now being the money saver I am this sounded fantastic – not only could I treat my husband to a three course meal ...

Christian Dior Addict Ultra Gloss 313 A Bite of Toffee 19/06/2009

Gorgeously Glossy Lips Without Gloop

Christian Dior Addict Ultra Gloss 313 A Bite of Toffee It’s been a while since I wrote a review so today I have decided that I will get fingers to keyboard and sort that out. I decided I fancied writing a make up review as it’s been a little while since I did one of those. I’ve always been interested in make up ever since the age of about seven when I discovered my mum’s lipstick and ended up with most of it smeared over my face to her horror. As a teenager I did the obligatory crudely applied blue eye shadow, green mascara and wonky eyeliner (well it was the 80’s!) but over the years I’d like to hope my application skills and tastes have evolved slightly. I used to be more of a lipstick girl with a Rimmel Heather Shimmer always featuring in my make up bag, along with everyone else’s. On the rare occasion I tried lip gloss I always found it to be too gloopy and sticky and I never really liked the way it felt on my lips. As I got older though I have turned the other way and now I don’t think I even own a single lipstick. I’m not sure if this is because the lip glosses have improved or if the change has been me, I think it may be the latter as on occasions I still find some lip glosses too sticky to wear. My day to day look is quite simple a little foundation mixed with a light moisturiser, black mascara, a very light dusting of either bronzer or a spot of blusher and a nice neutral lip gloss. I have a few lip glosses that I would class as staple favourites one of them being Dior Addict Ultra Gloss in shade 313 A Bite of ...

Elemis Tan Accelerator 12/05/2009

Golden Brown Texture Like Sun

Elemis Tan Accelerator I love holidays, doesn’t everyone? I especially like holidays to sunnier countries, the sound of the sea while you sunbathe on the beach and the lovely glow you have when you come home. Saying that I’ve never been a massive sun worshipper, mainly because I get very bored whilst sunbathing and slightly fidgety, I’ll read a book for about 15 minutes and then get bored and want to do something else. Plus there is obviously the health risks associated with baking yourself in the sun all day – don’t get me wrong I love having a tan but I don’t want to lay there for 7 hours trying to get one. I am one of the few people who luckily catches the sun quite easily and when I have a tan it stays for ages, I’m still quite tanned from my honeymoon which was back in October - 7 months ago. I think that is partly down to my skin but partly down to my secret holiday essential – Elemis Tan Accelerator. I first discovered Tan Accelerator’s a few years ago when watching QVC. I had never heard of them before but soon found out that these lotions/creams help increase the melanin underneath the skin and encourage it to rise to the surface. This then means that you do not need to sunbathe for as long to get a tan because they prepare your skin before you go away. I was intrigued so I purchased the Elemis Tan Accelerator as I was going on holiday shortly afterwards. Elemis are a company launched in 1989, they make a large variety of skincare and toiletry items which combine natural active ...

Virgin Vie Dream Spa - Sleeping Beauty Pillow Mist 06/05/2009

A Pretty Purple Sleep Inducer!

Virgin Vie Dream Spa - Sleeping Beauty Pillow Mist Well once again I’ve been quite rubbish and have been neglecting you all so I apologise for that. Things have been mega busy over the past few weeks and it’s been hard to find the time to do everything so I had to put review writing on the back burner for a little while. I have a bit of time spare today though so I thought I’d write a review this time on Virgin Vie Dream Spa Sleeping Beauty Pillow Mist. I can sometimes struggle to get to sleep, not always (thank goodness) but occasionally I just find that I can’t drop off which then means I lay there for ages getting frustrated at my intermittent insomnia while my husband snores next to me. I know there are many herbal remedies on the market that claim they will help you sleep but I prefer not to take pills really. Previously I had a spray from the Sleep range at Avon which you applied to your pillow every night which contained various essential oils to help you sleep. I had really liked it and it had become a stable favourite of mine. I then attended a Virgin Vie party and came across the Sleeping Beauty pillow mist from their Dream Spa Range. The well known Virgin company is owned by Sir Richard Branson. In 1997 the brand decided to set up Virgin Cosmetics through which they sold make up, skincare and bath and body products through retail stores, party plan and mail order. Over the years they have extended their range of products to include homeware and jewellery and they have won many awards. The Dream Spa ...

Vera Wang Princess Eau De Toilette 18/03/2009

The Perfume of a Princess!

Vera Wang Princess Eau De Toilette One of my favourite things to treat myself to is perfume and those who have read my earlier reviews will know that I am a self confessed perfume addict. I love the different varieties you can buy all with their own distinctive scents and pretty bottles. I have worked hard at my perfume addiction though and have really cut back on the amount that I buy – these days I adopt a one in one out rule as I started getting far too many bottles of half used fragrances sat in my wardrobe (any perfume lover knows that you keep bottles out of daylight to keep them smelling fresh). Before we went on honeymoon I used up a couple of bottles of perfume and so I decided to treat myself to something new rather than buy a replacement for the fragrances that I just finished from the duty free shop at the airport. I had already been and tested a few different perfumes and had drawn up a list of ones I fancied getting, one of the fragrances on the list was Vera Wang Princess. Vera Wang is a successful designer born in New York who originally wanted to become an actress; however she gave up this dream when she realised that it was unlikely an Asian woman would become successful in this field in the early 1970’s. Despite having no formal design training she worked at Ralph Lauren as Design Director for two years and was also an Editor at Vogue for 17 years. She has designed dresses for a number of celebrities including Alicia Silverstone, Sharon Stone, Tyra Banks, Jennifer Garner and Mariah ...

Maybelline Pure Liquid Mineral Foundation 16/03/2009

Liquid Mineral Foundation, Flawless Skin....Or Is It?

Maybelline Pure Liquid Mineral Foundation As much as I love to save money wherever possible there are certain things that I don’t mind spending a little more on, tried and tested products that I have used over and over again and have never let me down. I used to only wear foundation at the weekends but as I’ve got older I need more help during the week and so I started wearing a very light foundation to work. This meant that I found my favourite Lancôme foundation wasn’t lasting anywhere near as long. As I tried to get every little drop out of my current bottle which was coming to an end I realised that I would have to spend out £25 on a new bottle. Not a problem as it is my favourite foundation however I kind of begrudge spending that much on a foundation for work as there isn’t anyone there I want to impress! I decided I would try and find a cheaper foundation for work and then save my Lancôme one for the weekends so off I went to my local Boots to see what was available. Having not bought a foundation from one of the non-premium beauty brands for quite a while I wasn’t sure what would be available so I knew it might take me a while to find something that suited my needs. I like a foundation which although feels light on the skin also provides good coverage because I have blemish prone skin and a smooth natural looking base as I never was a fan of the mask look. After looking at a few different brands I decided on a new foundation from Maybelline – Pure Liquid Mineral Breathable Foundation. Not only was ...

The Bridal Shop, Northampton 09/03/2009

Bridezilla? Shopzilla more like!

The Bridal Shop, Northampton I’m a firm believer that everything happens for a reason even if it isn’t clear at the time what that reason actually is. Never have I been more certain that this is true until I started looking for a wedding dress. Some of you may have read my review on Just Pretty Bridal the US store I bought my wedding dress from, if so you’ll know just how pleased I was with them and how much I loved my dress, what you won’t know is all the problems I had before I ended up choosing to buy a dress from them. When we got engaged I didn’t want to rush out and start trying on dresses straight away instead opting for trying to lose some weight before I started looking, after all we had over around 16 months to plan so there was no rush. I waited about 6 months after we got engaged and then I decided I should start at least trying on dresses in case I couldn’t find anything I liked. Having never been to a bridal shop before (funny that as I had never been married) I had no idea what you have to do when you want to go to try on dresses. I just happened to be in Milton Keynes town centre and a new bridal shop had opened so I decided to call in to see if I could book an appointment. From the moment I went in I immediately felt very comfortable, the shop which was made to feel very much like an upper class boutique instantly struck me as the kind of shop that would only sell extremely pricey dresses and nothing in my budget. The assistant asked if she could help me in a very snooty voice, ...

Milton Hill House Conference & Training Centre, Abingdon 27/02/2009

De Vere Milton Hill House -Do Not Believe What You May Read!

Milton Hill House Conference & Training Centre, Abingdon My partner and I always celebrate Valentines day – call us slaves to the commercialism of today’s age but we usually buy each other a card and get a small gift. This year as it was our first Valentines since we got married I wanted to do something a bit different but didn’t want to spend a great deal of money because as usual the penny pincher in me is always present. We had been talking about the possibility of going away for an overnight or weekend break and had suggested a few different places that we fancied going, these included Bath and Oxford. I had a look at a few different hotels but they were all quite expensive so it wasn’t looking likely that we would be going away any time soon. Luckily a solution came to light when I received my weekly email from the Money Saving Expert website – De Vere were offering selected hotel rooms starting from £19 a night including weekends. A quick search showed me that they were offering rooms at Milton Hill House in Abingdon for £29 each on Sunday 15th February. It just so happened that the week after Valentines was half term week at the local schools which meant I could take some of the holidays I had remaining (as I work in a school) so my husband and I both booked the Monday off work. I didn’t tell him where we were going or what we were doing I just told him that I was booking a Valentines surprise for us. Now I just needed to keep my mouth shut and not give the game away, which for a big mouth like me was a challenge in ...
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