Monday, 31 January 2011

Get the perfect roses this Valentine's Day



Not all roses are the same ! Some will guarantee a night of affection, others will get you a kiss if you’re lucky! And then of course the colour you choose says a whole lot more. The Flowers & Plants Association gives a run down on what roses to ask for if you want to get the right message across.

The right variety

When it comes to red roses the choice is huge. Some can be almost black whilst others verge on the edge of orange, some have elegant champagne shapes whilst others are more like garden roses and of course they come in all sorts of sizes.

Red Naomi

If you’re looking for the real WOW factor then Red Naomi is the rose being tipped by florists this year. A gorgeous deep red with just a hint of fragrance, this luxury, open type rose will last for up to 14 days.


If you prefer a more fluted shape – think champagne glass – then ask for Freedom, a fabulous deep red rose that again lasts for ages and comes in a range of lengths.


Red Intuition

If you want your red rose with a bit of a twist then Red Intuition is a must buy with soft flecks of pink against a gorgeous red base. And if size counts then this one comes in a 2mtr length … a statement of love that can’t be beaten!

If you want a smaller gesture of love, look out for Passion roses. Popular with supermarkets and for lower priced bouquets the heads are smaller than some but with a lovely deep red velvety appearance very pretty. Upper Class is a relatively new rose which opens slowly and lasts well while Red Sky from Ethiopia is another good value for money variety.


If you can’t bear the thought of thorns, although a good florist should have blunted them for you (see our care notes) the thornless Grand Amore is the one to choose while if it’s scent you’re after then you can’t go wrong with garden type roses like Darcy and Ecstasy … the vase life may be much shorter but the scent more than makes up for it.

The right colour

While everyone knows red roses symbolise the ultimate message of true love, other rose colours have their own significant meanings and might actually be more appropriate to send.

For example white roses, which represent truth, purity and innocence, ask ‘will you love me?’ while dark pink roses carry the message ‘meet me by moonlight’ as they symbolise secret love, admiration and joy.

If you send yellow roses you are saying ‘thou are all that is lovely’ as they mean exuberance, friendship, and happiness while purple roses are the ones to send if it’s a case of love at first sight, adoration or fascination!


Light pink means ‘only for thee’ while orange roses are the truly passionate ones as they represent intense desire and energy!

The right style

You don’t have to send a dozen roses to say I Love You … a single stem can be just as powerful and a six pack can be the perfect way to show affection without going over the top.


And you don’t always need to send a huge bouquet … especially if you’re not sure your intended has a vase. A good florist can create all sorts of romantic gifts such as a hatbox filled with a mass of be-jewelled rose heads or a gorgeous country-style basket design.

The right care


Flowers need the right TLC to make sure they last as long as possible but you don’t need a degree in biology. Just follow these simple instructions and your roses should blossom and bloom for ages.


• If the bouquet has been delivered in a water bubble (aqua pack) make sure you change it – it might look pretty sitting in its wrap but this is for transportation only, not long term display. Transfer your roses to a clean vase.

• Remove any foliage that will sit below the waterline as this can cause infection.

• Never break thorns off … this opens up the stem to infection. If necessary simply snip the sharp points off.

• Cut the stems with a sharp knife and at a sharp angle 2cm from the bottom … the sharper the better as this allows more water take up.

• Never bash the stems … you destroy the cell structure and they won’t be able to drink.

• Always use the flower food provided ... old wife solutions like asprin, bleach or lemonade will kill rather than cure. As for gin or vodka ... keep it for yourself!

• Keep the water topped up and change it after a week, make sure there are no leaves or petals floating in the water.

Other reviews you may be interested in :

Upcoming book blog tour - Across The Universe : Beth Revis


I love getting involved with blog tours because it's a great way to discover new like-minded blogs and bloggers. The next one will be for Across The Universe by Beth Revis, which will be published on 3rd March 2011.

The press release says : Across the Universe is an astonishing story combining the popular sci-fi elements of dystopia, romance and murder mystery - set in space.

Publishing simultaneously with Penguin US, Across the Universe is set to be a global phenomenon.

Amy has left the life she loves for a world 300 years away. Amy is a cryogenically frozen passenger aboard the vast spaceship Godspeed. She expects to wake up on a new planet, 300 years in the future. But fifty years before Godspeed's scheduled landing, Amy's cryo chamber is unplugged, and she is nearly killed.

Now, Amy is caught inside an enclosed world where nothing makes sense. Godspeed's passengers have forfeited all control to Eldest, a tyrannical and frightening leader, and Elder, his rebellious and brilliant younger heir.

Amy desperately wants to trust Elder. But should she? All she knows is that she must race to unlock Godspeed's hidden secrets before whoever woke her tries to kill again.

About the author :
Beth Revis wrote her first books whilst still at university, where she secretly jotted down stories instead of taking notes. In addition to writing teen fiction, Beth is also a teacher and spends her time doing things like trying to point out the dramatic irony in 'Oedipus Rex' to classes of sixteen-year-olds.

Beth lives in rural North Carolina with her husband and her dog, where she splits her time between writing lesson plans, writing stories, and writing up plans to travel somewhere new. Across the Universe is her debut novel.


Don't miss the video trailer : (click here if the embedded video doesn't work)



You can also become a fan of the Across the Universe book ( UK ) Facebook Fan Page (where there will be an exciting competition challenge to follow):


Over the next few weeks, I'll be posting a review and also a giveaway where you can win a copy of this exciting new young adult fiction novel so watch this space !

Other blogposts you may be interested in :


Sunday, 30 January 2011

Book review : My Name Is Memory - Ann Brashares


Do you believe in past lives and reincarnation ? Well, I have to admit that I'm not entirely convinced but I would say I possibly adhere to the notion of soulmates, which if you think about it is basically the same thing ! In any case, the leading lady in the novel - named Lucy, in this lifetime - is equally cynical so even the non-believers will feel at ease with the narrative.

My Name Is Memory follows the central character, Daniel, through a succession of his lives. I was initially a bit disappointed that each of his early lifetimes is condensed into a couple of pages so we don't really have time to get a feel for the period. However, it soon becomes clear that these glimpses of the past merely serve as background to show the entwined destinies of Daniel and his (for want of a better word) soulmate, Sophia. He has the gift of memory and the capacity to recognise souls, so he seeks out his beloved in each of his lives and the novel boils down to a will-they-won't-they love story.

There are a few nice touches, like the shapeshifting Ben who also has The Memory but accepts to come back in different identities, including the hilariously flirtatious Amita in Kalkota. Throw in an evil soul in the form of Joaquim, Daniel's nasty brother from his first life, to add a bit of tension and danger and you have an original and interesting plot.

I love the idea of past, present and future overlapping, with people leaving messages for their future reincarnations to find, but I would have liked each period to have been developed a bit further, especially in the First World War episode. The open end also left me wanting more - although this is such an intriguing and original concept that I could see this being the beginning of a whole series of novels. I enjoyed this as an adult but I can see it really appealing to teens who enjoy paranormal fiction too.

star rating : 4/5

RRP : £6.99

Paperback: 416 pages

Publisher: Hodder Paperbacks (20 Jan 2011)

Language English

ISBN-10: 0340953519

ISBN-13: 978-0340953518

Other reviews you may be interested in :
 

Saturday, 29 January 2011

Book preview : video trailer for The Undrowned Child and The Mourning Emporium



Just over a year ago, I read an enchanting book called The Undrowned Child by Michelle Lovric which I described as a crazy mixture of Harry Potter, The Little Mermaid and Cloverfield ! You can read my review here. I loved the curry-quaffing mermaids who speak in sailor-speak punctuated with archaic oaths and the detailed descriptions of Venice.

I promised myself that I would buy the sequel, The Mourning Emporium, and use it in my lessons because the follow-up novel is based in London. Then - slapped wrists ! - I forgot all about it. Oops !

But the lovely author, Michelle Lovric, has just sent me a fabulous video trailer for both books and reminded me so I'll definitely have to hunt out a copy now.

You can watch the video on you tube (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e4_nYiYVMa8) or I'll hopefully manage to embed it below. Happy viewing and hopefully reading !




Other reviews you may be interested in :

PrelovedReloved, One girl’s challenge to wear only second-hand for a whole year!


Could you wear nothing but second-hand clothing for a whole year?

Imagine no more proper, brand spanking new clothes fresh out of the wrapper. No Saturday shopping splurges with your girlfriends or quick lunch break trawls round the shops.



Well that's exactly the dilemma that Kim Sklinar has set herself in 2011 when she launched her campaign PrelovedReloved, in order to raise £2500 for Macmillan Cancer Support.



A keen fundraiser who is always looking for a challenge, Kim has launched PrelovedReloved in honour of her dad, a cancer patient who sadly passed away on 7th January this year.



Becoming a stranger to the high street fashion stores in 2011, Kim will instead be scouring charity shops and fashion markets, eBay and vintage fairs as well as making and upcycling her own garments in order to find new old clothes to supplement her wardrobe.

Kim says: “I am looking forward to not bumping into three people wearing the same dress as me at the same event! More and more vintage pieces are sneaking into my wardrobe and I love hunting for unusual items. I love new garments (new to me, anyway) and I will be updating my outfits as the seasons come and go.”

Kim will be completing the project to raise awareness of cancer, heart disease and diabetes, while also raising funds for the charity Macmillan Cancer Support. “Macmillan was a natural choice,” she says. “They provide an amazing emotional and financial crutch to those suffering (and their families) from this evil disease.”
Please follow Kim’s blog http://www.prelovedreloved.co.uk/, where you can donate money via JustGiving as well as keep track of Kim’s year-long journey of second-hand fashion.

Tweets of encouragement and ideas for where to shop are also welcome! Thanks for your support!

for more information :





Other blogposts you may be interested in :


Thursday, 27 January 2011

Baby SebaMed Baby Lotion


When I looked at the packaging, I have to admit that nothing particularly leapt out at me about this baby lotion. The clinical white packaging with gentle baby-shades of blue and pink, promising "the best protection from the first day", seems pretty standard and not particularly eye-catching.

But I decided to give it a fair go and squeezed some out on to the back of my hand. It's quite runny and has a delicate fragrance that is typical for baby products. I rubbed it into my skin, expecting to feel a greasy residue, but what I really love is that - like the hand sanitizers - if you rub your hands together for a few moments, it totally disappears without leaving any greasiness or stickiness at all.

The packaging clearly explains all the healing and calming properties of SebaMed. "Baby Sebamed Baby Lotion safeguards baby's delicate skin against dryness. Its moisturizing and emollient complex with 7% lipids is rapidly absorbed without greasy residue. The active ingredients allantoin and camomile recutita extract counteract inflammation and irritation. Moisturizers enhance the skin's hydrolipid balance making it smooth and supple." Its great for dribble rash and protecting baby's sensitive skin against the cold and wind, soothing any redness or soreness.

It's a product that should be used over a period of time to help "promote the build-up of the skin's protective acid mantle". I'd never heard of the term acid mantle before but the packaging explains : "Healthy skin has a biological, slightly acidic surface, called the acid mantle. The delicate skin of a newborn is lacking this protective acid mantle, which is established during the first few months of life. Only if the skin has a pH value of 5.5 is it able to safe-guard against penetration of pathogenic micro-organisms and harmful environmental influences. Baby Sebamed has been especially formulated to consolidate the resistance of baby's skin." 

It's also been adopted by 9-year-oldSophie, when she gets the odd flare up on her arms and legs or chapped skin in the cold weather, and I love rubbing it into my hands after rubbing it into Pierre's skin so it's actually a good all-round family product.

star rating : 4/5

RRP : £3.09 for 100ml

for more information : http://www.sebamed.com

Other reviews you may be interested in :


Lypsyl Sun SPF35


The weather has turned cold again and poor Sophie has got a nasty cold too so, not only are we all suffering from sore, tingly, chapped lips but Sophie has also got a sore red area of skin below her nose from all the constant nose-blowing. I've been offering her different products to try out, from lip balms to nappy creams to skin moisturisers, but nothing has really been to her liking. Some of the lip balms are too sticky and greasy or they stain her face red ! The creams tend to sting and the nappy creams look unsightly. What to do ?

Well, I've finally found a product that is soothing without being greasy and that doesn't sting and the best thing is, it's in a handy tube that she can pop in her pocket to apply as needed. And the winner is ... Lypsyl Sun. Despite the name, the packaging says that it protects against the sun, wind & cold to help keep your lips looking and feeling healthy. And I can add that it also works on sore red noses ! (OK all you biology buffs - what's the medical name for the bit of skin between your top lip and your nose ?! Answers on a postcard ... !)

As it is labelled as a sunblock, I had visions of those highly visible bright green, red and blue stripes that people streak across their faces to avoid getting sunburnt at the beach or on the mountain slopes. However, it's totally colourless and invisible. I love the smell too, which is kind of coconutty but that may be psychological because the colours of the packaging remind me of suncream !

Lypsyl Sun SPF 35 feels just like a regular lipbalm but promises to help prevent sunburn and damage that can be caused by exposure to the sun. Lypsyl say that their moisturisers help to maintain the healthy structure of cells, keeping your lips looking soft and smooth. UV filters also apparently help to prevent sun-induced skin ageing.

I never think of using anti-ageing products on my lips, as I do on the rest of my face, but apparently we shouldn't neglect them.  Lypsyl explain : "With the thin skin of the lips particularly vulnerable to the signs of ageing, extra TLC is a must. The skin on the lips contains virtually no melanin, the body’s natural sunscreen, which means they need year round protection from the sun. Lypsyl Sun with an SPF of 35 cares for lips and leaves them protected, hydrated, soft and looking healthy."

The combination of waterproof formula and sunblock means that I'll definitely be stocking up on a couple for our holiday to Turkey this summer !

star rating : 5/5

RRP : £2.06


Other reviews you may be interested in :

The Perfect Valentine’s Cheese from Godminster

If you're planning on cooking a romantic meal for your partner this Valentine's Day (or any other day of the year, come to that !), I have discovered the perfect foodie product to finish off your meal - heart-shaped cheese ! When your other half murmurs "That is soooo cheesy", you won't know if he means it's kitsch or just plain cheddary !



Either way, it looks absolutely gorgeous and should have pride of place on your cheese board. Just a word of warning - my mum saw it and was convinced it was a candle so make sure he doesn't try to set fire to it while you're clearing away the dishes ! I can't blame her though. The wax is deep red and glossy and does look good enough to be a decorative object.

That would be a shame though because the cheese inside is delicious too - even though I did feel a bit sad slicing open the gorgeous heart ! Godminster has been making award-winning Vintage Organic Cheddar on its farm in Bruton, Somerset, for the last ten years, using a unique 70-year-old recipe. Recipes aside, they also have a wonderfully environmentally-friendly ethos. They say : "Godminster Vintage’s mantra is a simple one – nature repays those who treat her kindly – from the rolling fertile pasture and grazing herd of Friesian dairy cows to the organic soil and rambling orchards, Mother Nature is at the core of Godminster Farm. By looking after her, the unsurpassable organic raw ingredients are readily available to create a delicious range of high quality organic foods – all incredibly familiar, yet twisted tastefully into the unique." The cheese is lovely and creamy with a really deep flavour so it's ideal in a sandwich or as cheese on toast, as well as in cooking or just on its own at the end of a meal.



If you're looking for a Valentine's gift with a difference, Godminster have also come up with a Cheese & Cake Combo which looks as good as it tastes. The rich, indulgent fruit cake from The Simply Delicious Fruit Cake Company nicely complements the mature cheddar, and the pretty presentation box certainly makes a change from the usual chocolates ! Godminster Vintage owner, Richard Hollingbery says : “We all love giving and receiving food and our deep berry red, heart-shaped cheddar has long been a favourite for those looking for something just that little bit different for Valentine’s Day. Combine this with a delicious fruit cake and in my book, it’s pretty much spot on – the combination of sweet and savoury is unbeatable.”

The new Godminster Vintage Cheddar and Fruit Cake Pack includes a 400g Vintage Cheddar Heart and The New Discovery Fruit Cake, and has a retail price of £26.00. Other ways to celebrate Valentine’s Day with Godminster include a single 400g heart-shaped cheddar which retails at £14.00, or a cheese and cheeseboard at £35.00. All prices are inclusive of postage and packing and orders can be placed on the Godminster Vintage website at http://www.organic-cheese.co.uk/.

If the old saying that the way to a man's heart is through his stomach, you'll definitely be on to a winner !

star rating : 5/5

RRP : £14 for 400g cheese, £26 for the cheese & cake combo

for more information : http://www.organic-cheese.co.uk/

Other reviews you may be interested in :



Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Find me a (quirky Valentine's) gift



I've just blogged about the brilliant personalised map jigsaw puzzles, focusing on a special place that stands out in your heart, that you can order online at Find me a Gift, but in researching that review, I've also come across several other really original and quirky gifts that you can buy. So here's a quick rundown to give you some ideas if you're bored of offering chocolates and flowers !

HEART SHAPED UMBRELLA – rrp £18.99


Brighten up rainy days with this funky umbrella, a must-have for any romantic. When it’s closed, it looks like a normal stylish brolly, but once opened it takes the shape of a huge heart! Choose between a red, hot pink and candy pink umbrella to give your loved one a present to cheer them up on a rainy day.



MESSAGE IN A BOTTLE – rrp £19.90


This enchanting present brings a welcome change from chocolates and flowers, with a fully personalised scroll carrying a message of up to 2000 characters. The Message in a Bottle arrives in a nautical treasure chest complete with sea shells and sand for extra authenticity.

 
SECRET MESSAGE ARROW – rrp £14.99



Make like cupid and stun your Valentine with a meaningful secret message hidden inside this brushed steel arrow. It comes with five spare scrolls in case you don’t get your love note right first time round… or if you’re given to changing your mind! Dimensions of the message arrow: 335 x 52 x 10mm.

I also love some of their ideas in the naughty and funny categories but this is a family blog so you'll have to go and discover those for yourselves !


Other reviews you may be interested in :

Unique Valentine's Gift - Personalised Jigsaw Puzzle


I can tell Valentine's Day is almost here because I've just got back from the shops with armfuls of Barbie-themed paper cups, party bags and Happy Birthday balloons ! Before you think I've gone mad, my daughter Juliette was born on 14th February 2005 ! (At 11.55pm. And I can still hear the midwife saying, "If you want a Valentine's baby, push !")

Well, earlier on today , I posted a blogpost about buying flowers with some wow-factor (rather than ow-factor, when you get a smack round the ear for buying a half-dead bunch of daffs from the local mini mart ! If you need extra advice, you can order a special free Man's Guide to Buying Flowers too !), but if you want a really impressive and totally unique gift idea to blow your loved one's socks off, I think this puzzle is an absolutely fabulous idea. It shows that you've really put some thought into it instead of just going for the easy option of chocolates or flowers.

Find-me-a-gift will create a unique map jigsaw puzzle for you, focusing on a special place - maybe the place you had your first kiss or your first argument or went on your first date ! As they explain : "These unique, made-to-order 400 piece map jigsaws centre on your place of choice – perhaps where you first met, got engaged, or tied the knot. The result is an intriguing street or Victorian puzzle that will draw on your local knowledge and map-reading skills. For an added personal touch, why not customise the box lid too?"



You have a variety of map-types to choose from, depending on the location. The Ordnance Survey Landranger and Streetview Mapping bases are available for all of mainland Great Britain. The Victorian and Aerial bases are only available for England and Wales. The London Street map base is only available for Greater London inside the M25.



The 400 piece jigsaw measures approximately 47cm x 31cm and is made of high quality 1.5mm quality Millboard. There is an area on the box lid for you to write a description, title or message so it's ideal for your romantic Valentine's Day message ! Ordering is easy - you just put in an address and postcode and this automatically becomes the centre of the puzzle. The scale: 1:50 000 (which equates to 1.3 inches for 1 mile) so you see a fascinating amount of detail.


I think these would be a great gift idea for wedding anniversaries, birthdays or just to keep a nostalgic reminder of your home if you go for the aerial view, but you should be warned, at the moment they're only being introduced for a limited time as a special Valentine's Day gift idea. You can opt for next day delivery but because each puzzle has to be made especially for you, it will take up to 10 days to make during the off peak season and 14 days during the peak season. In other words, get your skates on if you want this in time for Valentine's Day !

I love the fact that it's a quirky, highly original and totally unique gift idea and that nobody else in the world will have one just like you !

star rating : 5/5

RRP : from £25.11


Other reviews you may be interested in :



Dealing with the loss of a Child - 'Aaron's Star' book

Since Eastenders recently hit the headlines with their controversial cot death/babyswap story, it seems that absolutely everyone has jumped on the Baby Loss bandwagon, mouthing off about how the programme producers have dealt with it all insensitively and created a story that is totally unrealistic and mentioning how traumatic it is to watch it. As anyone who has actually been there knows, grieving the loss of a baby is one of the hardest things to go through and I actually think Eastenders have done a pretty good job of showing the rollercoaster ride of emotions that Kat and Ronnie are dealing with. One of the hardest things is explaining it all to the older siblings, who will be grieving too and probably understanding a lot more than you think but not knowing how to put it into words. Sophie and Juliette latched on to the idea of "Angel's star" for their sister and it brought a smile to their faces to go and wave at the "new star" in the sky. That's why I love the idea of this new book, written by a grieving father, which may help spread a message of hope to those who need it. More info below ...

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Losing a child is every parent’s worst fear, whether that loss comes in pregnancy, during neo-natal care or in an infant’s early life. Surprisingly, figures from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) rate the UK as being second in the world’s ten worst mortality rates for children under five; and at 6.5 deaths per 1,000 live births, that’s only marginally better than the USA, with 8.5 deaths per 1,000 live births for children under five.

The grieving process for parents who lose babies or infant children can be nothing less than traumatic and agonising - but for one couple living in Hampshire, England, the tragic loss of one of their twins half-way through an exceptionally difficult pregnancy resulted in a message of consolation and hope for other parents who have lost a beloved child.

To give voice to his grief and share his experiences with a wider world, Roark McMaster, the father of lost baby, Aaron, wrote a book entitled ‘Aaron’s Star’. Principally written for his wife, Aaron’s mother, the book was an attempt to make sense of what had happened to their child and to both of them. More than that, though, ‘Aaron’s Star’ gave the very clear message that Aaron’s life-force lived on after his passing and continued to enrich the lives of his parents.


The book, available now, is written and presented in the format of an illustrated children’s story; and as well as being for Aaron’s mother, it has been written for all those parents who have experienced the loss of a beloved child. ‘Aaron’s Star’ takes the reader on a journey in which Aaron shares a message from his heart, and asks the reader to take his ’message’ into their own life. The book also has space for readers to add their child’s name and to dedicate the book to their child’s memory.

By sharing his story through publication of the book, McMaster hopes to help other parents who are struggling with their loss, so that they too may find hope and understanding from the song of life that Aaron shares with his mother in ‘Aaron’s Star’.

RRP : £9.99 inc P&P

for more information : http://www.cloudninebooks.com/

Other blogposts you may be interested in :

Man’s Guide to Flower Buying - Get it right !


OK, let's make a quick prediction here. How many of us girlies will be getting chocolates, flowers or a combination of both for Valentine's Day ?! Quite a lot, I'd say ! Well, here's some useful advice from The Flowers & Plants Association to nudge them in the right direction so that you at least get a lovely bouquet. You might want to send off for the Man’s Guide to Flower Buying in your partner's name for an even bigger nudge in the right direction too !!

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The Flowers & Plants Association gives men the lowdown on what to do this Valentine’s Day!

OK we know we’re being a little sexist but where you buy your Valentine flowers from says a whole load about how you rate your loved one. And while we know there are many ladies who will appreciate the fact you bought them any flowers at all we reckon you can earn yourself some serious brownie points by going the extra mile and choosing the right bunch.


Because women can spot a hastily bought bunch from the garage a mile off. Not only is that more likely to get you a slap round the chops than a kiss but they may not last long enough for make up time!


So to help you protect your cheek and your points, The Flowers & Plants Association – which just happens to be run by a team of ladies – has come up with some hints on where to buy your flowers and has compiled the Man’s Guide to Choosing Flowers as well to make it even easier!


Supermarket flowers: Flowers here are often incredibly cheap, and we know it might be convenient if you’ve been sent on the Sunday shopping run, but be careful! She knows supermarkets better than you and even if you manage to get that dreadful sticky price tag off without ripping the packaging she’ll still know it was a cheap, last minute purchase.

Garage forecourt flowers: This is probably the worst purchase of all because you weren’t even multi-tasking i.e. doing the shopping ... you’d simply forgotten! Take it from us … garage flowers are a complete no-no for any self respecting man looking to woo his woman.

Online ordering: Not bad, especially if you use one of the decent websites who use a network of florists to make and deliver your order. However be careful if you’re having them couriered, rather than delivered by a local shop, because you run the risk they may not arrive on time – remember what happened before Christmas. If that big brown box is late you’re really going to be in the doghouse!

Street Stalls: A good combination of economy and personal choice. And because many stalls offer as good a range as a bespoke florist you can have your gift personally made and wrapped. The downside is that they don’t deliver and so you’ll need to hide them somewhere from Saturday so make sure you have a bucket of water and can cut and condition them so they’re not dead by Monday morning.

Local Florists: When it comes to special deliveries a local florist is quite simply the best option. Not only will your lover know you took the time to pick up the phone or visit the shop to speak to the person making the gift but you’ll have had the chance to really personalise your gift and, if you went in, hand-write the card. This sort of purchase shows real love and shouldn’t cost you any more than an online order.

And don’t worry if you’re stuck for ideas on what to buy … we’ve got a whole load of suggestions from £10 to a £1000! Just give us a ring or drop us an e-mail at info@flowers.org.uk and we’ll send you our complete Man’s Guide to Flower Buying which gives you design ideas, flowers to choose and even includes some suggested messages.

Good luck and happy Valentines!
Lots of Love
The girls at the Flowers & Plants Association

Other reviews you may be interested in :


ORDER A PHONE RE-CYCLING BOX AND HELP THE HOMELESS


Now call me a lazy bum but I love finding ways of helping charity without lifting a finger ! I've posted numerous articles on this blog with simple ways of doing your bit to help charity, from buying bread to clicking on a link, and here's another simple but effective way to help a good cause. Read on for more information ...

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It is estimated there are currently 80 million redundant mobile phones in the UK, but a new corporate drop box scheme will help put them to good use. The scheme has been organised by Broadway, a leading London homelessness charity, as part of its “Phones For Homes” campaign whereby the charity receives a minimum of £3 and up to £30 for every phone donated.

Rebecca Sycamore, Broadway’s Director of Fundraising and Marketing, commented: “The money raised from the campaign will help fund our work with homeless people in London, helping them to find and keep a home and supporting them into training and work. As well as phones employees can also re-cycle empty inkjet cartridges in the boxes. Companies can also help by becoming commercial sponsors for the campaign.”
To order a donation box or envelope contact the Broadway fundraising team by phoning 020 7710 0576, or emailing fundraising@broadwaylondon.org. Further information on the campaign is available on Broadway’s web site at http://www.broadwaylondon.org/ or www.facebook.com/broadwaycharity.



Additional Facts About Homelessness

•The most common cause of homelessness is relationship breakdown.

•The average person is just three pay cheques away from being homeless.

•“People who are homeless are amongst the poorest, most vulnerable and least healthy in society,” (Health Development

Agency, Homelessness, Smoking and Health 2004).

•In England tonight, more than 500 people will sleep rough on the streets and a further 50,000 will sleep in homeless hostels.

•Homelessness is not a popular cause in the UK. The top three causes donors support are medical research (20%), hospitals/hospices (15%) and children/ young people (14%). In contrast, homelessness receives only 4% which even falls behind animal welfare in popularity.

•For every one homeless person you see sleeping on the streets there are 100 people living in hostels and 1100 households living in unsafe, insecure accommodation.

About Broadway

Broadway is a London based charity helping homeless and vulnerable adults to move off the streets and into a home. Last year it worked with 4,327 people on their journey from street to home. The charity works mainly with single adults - not directly with children or families - but individuals who have often led difficult, lonely and turbulent lives with less access to support.

Other blogposts you may be interested in :

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Sleeping Naked Saves Marriages !



This cheeky press release landed in my email inbox today and made me smile so I thought I'd share it with you ! I don't think I'll be trying it though - the girls love coming in to our bedroom first thing in the morning so that one might take a bit of explaining !

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It might sound like a saucy comment your partner would cheekily make to encourage a bit of action in the bedroom but it has been reported that sleeping naked can indeed improve your health and lower the chances of divorce!



Sleeping in your 'birthday suit' apparently increases your level of comfort; avoiding over heating in restrictive clothing. This results in a deeper, longer sleep as the body relaxes, and in turn, enhances its regeneration rate; enabling the body to store up energy for the forthcoming day.



Feeling revitalized after a good night's sleep will also allow you to cope with all that life throws at you, and be less prone to shortness of temper and arguments with loved ones. It has also been reported that sleeping naked with a partner increases the closeness and heightens the level of intimacy...consequently intensifying the frequency of 'when a man loves a woman'!



January is notoriously known for high divorce rates, however, The Best Bed Linen in the World has sublimely soft and luxurious, crisp white bed linen (found in top five-star hotels around the world) to bring couples together and encourage a little more nakedness at night... Available up to super king size with 400 thread count percale, the gorgeous white bed linen is incredibly soft to the touch due to the quality of the finishing process. With its silky-like texture caressing the skin, you'll never want to have pyjamas come between you and your sheets ever again!



The new collection from The Best Bed Linen in the World also includes; hotel-quality feather duvets and synthetic duvets for superb drape, warmth and comfort; plush pillows with a beautiful 100% cotton percale cover; and super soft spa-quality towels and bathrobes.



Slip into something more comfortable with The Best Bed Linen in the World's luxury bed linen. It will either be the best night's sleep you've ever experienced...or the best night you've have had since the honeymoon!


Mail Order: 01442 842885

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How Baby Massage can Help Coughs & Colds


The flu season is most definitely upon us. The changing temperatures have meant that most of us have caught some kind of bug. Of course, it’s not a big deal to adults - we understand what’s happening to us, we can get some bed rest and take the appropriate medication without too much drama. However, it’s not so easy with babies. We need to do everything we can to try to help make them feel comfortable and help ease their symptoms in the least invasive way possible.

Tiddley Pom - the first ever spa treatment range for babies - has teamed up with a baby masseuse to demonstrate how baby massage can help alleviate congestion. The video can be viewed on an exclusive Tiddley Pom DVD and parts of it can also be viewed for free on You Tube:


The expert masseuse provides step-by-step instructions about how to massage your baby and throughout the video - which features a few very contented looking babies - explains what she is doing and why.

“We all know that baby massage is a wonderful way to create a bond with baby that can last a lifetime,” says Emma Nash, founder of Tiddley Pom. “But there are so many other wonderful benefits too! Babies spend a lot of time lying down which makes them congested when they have a cough or a cold. Their sinuses may cause them pressure, pain and discomfort and chests can get particularly congested. Massage techniques can help to both sooth congestion and relax the baby.”

Baby massage can also help improve baby’s circulation by taking the blood out to the extremities more effectively and can even help improve baby’s nervous system, increasing the communication between the brain and the body! Emma Nash has also devised a general and simple to follow step-by-step guide for baby massage at home she hopes will help parents learn how easy and rewarding it is to do:

Step-by-Step Guide for Baby Massage at Home

It is easy to prepare for baby massage at home. Ensure the room is warm, the lighting is soft and gentle music is in the background.

Spread towels on the floor and dress comfortably. Light a couple of candles if this is in the evening prior to baby’s bedtime.

(This routine is a vital bonding element between mother and baby in the first few formative months of your new baby’s life).

Warm a teaspoon of Tiddley Pom’s Organic Massage Oil in your hands. Apply to baby’s arms one at a time, maintaining eye contact with them at all times.

Keeping in time with the beat of the music gently, but firmly, massage baby’s arms and hands paying special
attention to all the tiny creases and folds in the skin.

Work up their tiny shoulders and onto their tummies. Working in small clockwise circular movements, massage baby’s tummy area for about a minute.

Move down to their legs, giving them a gentle stretch followed by deep thumb pressure to the underneath of their tiny feet.

Turn baby over ensuring that their airway is free and gently work up and down their backs.

Turn baby back over and wrap the towel around them.

The Tiddley Pom Organic Massage Oil retails at £7.99 and comes in a 150ml bottle. It features an ingenious spray pump which means that no oil is wasted and you don’t end up with oil everywhere it shouldn’t be!

About Emma Nash, Tiddley Pom’s founder

Emma is not just another other mother turned businesswoman. She comes from an aromatherapy background and was an expert in that field first before launching Tiddley Pom. “I was not just someone who had a baby and decided to make toys or baby food. I had always thought one day I would have my own range.”

Emma had worked on various product lines for well-known spa and beauty retailers, including several for babies. She also previously worked at The Children’s Trust, a rehabilitation centre for children with profound and multiple disabilities, where she saw for herself the powerful effects of multi-sensory stimulation.

Tiddley Pom launched in Christmas 2009 with the Baby’s First Christmas gift set. The full-sized versions of the range were launched in June 2010.

for more information (and the possibility to request a free sample) : http://tiddley-pom.com/

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Monday, 24 January 2011

Special bonus entries to win personalised magazine covers daily until 14/2



I'll be back shortly with a full review of Blue Friesian and their fabulous personalised spoof magazine covers and 8 or 12 page magazines (perfect for immortalizing those special events) but I wanted to give you a heads up about a special daily competition that you can enter to win every day on their facebook page.

As they explain :

Fancy seeing your name in the spotlight?


We're giving away a free magazine cover worth £10 EVERY DAY between now and Valentines Day. it's really easy to enter - you just need to tell us whether you have created a personalised magazine/newspaper before. There are two ways to enter:

You can simply email us with your answers and we will add you to the competition list. Or

You can add yourself to our marketing database which will automatically enter you into this Free Cover competition and also register you onto our database to receive more offers, discount codes and ideas. Click to enter & register!


Once you have entered, we only remove your name from the list of potential winners IF you win so you have a great chance of being a winner!


TELL ALL YOUR FRIENDS

THERE'S A WINNER EVERY DAY UNTIL VALENTINES DAY

THE PRIZE GETS BIGGER IF WE HIT 100 FACEBOOK FANS!


Well, I have two pieces of good news to give you. The first is that they are currently on 99 fans so that prize is about to get bigger ! And secondly, if you tell them you came from this blog (Madhouse Family Reviews) when you enter, you'll get a special "double entry" so you'll have twice as many chances of winning.
 
Good luck and don't forget to come back and let me know if you're lucky enough to win !

to enter, go to their facebook page here : http://www.facebook.com/BlueFriesian?v=app_4949752878
 
Other giveaways you may be interested in on this blog :  








Giveaway #47 - 6 x Ei204 audible Carbon Monoxide alarms - CLOSED - winners @acguest @kinnairdkath @marzutek @DinkumAussie2 @meetjosmith @kemo_2002


CO-Be Alarmed !


You may already be aware of the dangers of not having a smoke alarm in your home but most people are unaware of the dangers of not having a Carbon Monoxide alarm as well.


Ei Electronics, the UK’s leading manufacturer of domestic Carbon Monoxide alarms will once again be supporting this year’s national safety campaign, ‘CO-Be Alarmed’ and to get the ball rolling, they’re giving 6 people the chance to win an Ei204 audible Carbon Monoxide alarm for the home.


Produced when certain fuels are not burnt properly such as gas, oil, coal and wood, all fuel burning appliances, including cookers, fires, boilers and water heaters can produce Carbon Monoxide. In addition, Carbon Monoxide can also seep into properties via shared flues or chimneys and can even permeate through brick walls and plaster so always stay aware of the signs.



With the potential to cause permanent injury or even death, Carbon Monoxide poisoning is a potentially big threat to all.

So what are the main symptoms to watch out for?

Headaches
Dizziness
Nausea
Breathlessness
Collapse
Loss of consciousness


You can now buy an audible alarm such as the Ei204 from most DIY stores, supermarkets and high street stores such as Homebase, Robert Dyas and Wilkinsons.
The alarms retail at approx £29.99 each.




To be in with a chance of winning, you must do the following three things :


(1) follow my blog with Google Friends Connect (over on the side bar on the right)


(2) comment on any of my other blogposts and tell me where you commented (other giveaways don't count !)

(3) leave me a comment with an email or twitter name so I can contact you if you win. If I don't hear back from you within a week, I'll have to pick another winner.
Bonus entries :

You can do any or all of the following for bonus entries - just make sure you leave me one comment per entry so that they're all counted !

(1) Tweet : Be alarmed ! Carbon monoxide alarms up for grabs on @cherylp59 's blog. Enter here : http://bit.ly/fwbxnq Pls RT

(2) I love reading your comments so leave me some extra comments (maximum 3) and I'll give you a bonus entry for each one ! Just remember to leave me a comment here each time to tell me you've done so.

(3) I've just created a facebook page for Madhouse Family Reviews so I'd love for you to become a follower on there too - http://www.facebook.com/pages/Madhouse-Family-Reviews/144910798898626


UK only. Closing date : 8/2/11. Good luck.

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