Sunday 31 October 2010

Crips Wheat & Potato Snacks

Teaching English in France, I always have a good laugh when I try to get the kids to pronounce the words crisps - for some reason, it just ain't happening ! 90% of them say either crispsps or crips but they can't manage crisps ! Well, now that I've discovered Crips, I'll tell them not to worry - if they miss out an s, they'll still manage to get their hands on a tasty snack !

I'd never heard of Crips, described as oven-baked wheat and potato chips, so I wasn't at all sure what to expect. The website explains, "CRIPS are all the things you love about traditional crisps, but better. We bake them with just a suggestion of sunflower oil and heaps of natural flavour for a tasty crunch with nearly four times less fat than potato crisps."

Well, less fat is definitely good but can they still taste just as as nice ? Well, in a word - YES ! We started off sharing a big 140g bag of cheese & onion flavour - but not just any old cheese & onion. Crips offer the impressive sounding  "Mature Cheddar Cheese and Spring Onion". They are absolutely packed full of flavour - the flavour seems stronger than when you eat normal cheese & onion crisps - and they are incredibly crisp and crunchy. They're less greasy than normal potato crisps and I find the flavour lasts for longer in your mouth. They're absolutely delicious. The 140g "big bags" to share are also available in Thai Sweet Chilli flavour.

If you opt for a small individual bag of Crips - maybe you want to pop one in your lunchbox or limit yourself to a reasonable sized serving because they're so moreish, you know you'll eat your way through the entire big bag if you're not careful ! - you still find the same ultra kitsch but cute animal packaging. I absolutely love it because it makes me feel all nostalgic, remembering the Tufty club and the "Bunnikins' Tea Party" types of Ladybird books featuring humanised animals from the 70s ! Sophie and Juliette are way too young to remember those but they still love them too.

We tasted three flavours - Sea Salt and Cracked Black Pepper, Sea Salt and Balsamic Vinegar and Natural Sea Salt. The Natural Sea Salt was the real test as it would give the unenhanced flavour of the Crips and I must admit I was worried they would be a bit bland (which is also my opinion of ready salted crisps). Well, although they're not my personal favourite, they're still a lovely crunchy tasty snack. The texture is like a cross between potato crisps and crackers and the girls actually preferred this, saying that they didn't make jagged edges that dig you in the gums like normal crisps. I also like the small size of the Crips which makes them easy for younger children to eat.

For the health-conscious amongst you, or for mums who are after healthier snacking options for their kids, there is also a 99 Cals range, available in three flavours :  Sea Salt and Balsamic Vinegar, Mature Cheddar Cheese and Spring Onion and the deliciously spiced Thai Sweet Chilli. I love the fact that you can tuck in knowing that you (or your kids) will only be eating 99 calories which is not bad at all, especially compared to normal crisps. However, I compared the nutritional information on the 99 cals range and the normal bags and came away totally confused. A 22.5g bag of 99 cals Sea Salt and Balsamic Vinegar Crips contains (unsurprisingly) 99 calories, but 432 calories per 100g and 8.3g of fat. The same flavour in the normal 35g bag contains 141 calories per bag but 403 calories per 100g and 8.1g of fat, which is actually lower than the 99 cals version ! I repeated this experiment with the Thai Sweet Chilli flavour and again found that the 99 cals range contains slightly more calories and fat per 100g than the normal pack ! (EDIT : Crips got back to me with this reply : The oil/flavour application system is different for the 99 cal packs compared to the original 35g. The calorie content is more accurate/100g in the 99 cal pack and it had to be since it was the main pack claim, compared to less tha 10% fat previously claimed.)

Nevertheless, I love the fact that they are a healthier, lower fat and lower calorie option to the usual potato crisps on the market, while packing in just as much if not more flavour. The website says that they have an amazing 6 months shelf life so you can stock up safe in the knowledge that they won't go stale before you get a chance to eat them. Especially as, if our house is anything to go by, they won't hang around for very long anyway !

star rating : 5/5

RRP : 49p for the 22.5g 99 cals packs, £1.69 for the 140g big bags

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Children's Book Review : The Secret of the Amulet - Alex McCarthy

******* Don't miss out - you can currently win 2copies of this book right here on my blog ! ******

I've just been reading Alex McCarthy's debut novel, The Secret of the Amulet, with 9-year-old Sophie. It's an exciting fantasy novel which is targetted at 8-12 year olds but Sophie found it a bit heavy-going in terms of length so I ended up finishing it off by myself ! I will go back to reading the rest of it to her in instalments because she's been enjoying it, but the bedtime reading was going at too slow a pace for me so I stayed up after lights out time (mine as well as Sophie's !) to finish it off last night.

The Secret of the Amulet follows the adventures of fourteen-year-old Noel who is sent to live with his mysterious and slightly menacing uncle when his mother dies. He discovers strange objects, reputed to belong to the mythical beings The Seven, worrying secrets and a strange magical amulet with an enigmatic note from his mother, so he decides to run away to try to find its owner in the mountains (and escape from his uncle), accompanied by his cousin Cassie. On their quest, the pair encounter many mystical creatures, including gnomes, goblins, wolves, elves and the terrifying Thudmarks. They discover strange and sometimes dangerous places like the walled city of Talibar and the network of caves in the moutains.

The book is at times slightly scary for young readers - people are poisoned and killed, fed to the horrible Thudmarks or have their blood sucked by the vampiric Guardians - but Sophie said it was just like watching Merlin or Doctor Who on TV - "yes, there were nasty monsters but you always knew it was just a story so it was exciting more than really scary". I had actually thought myself that it had undertones of Merlin, as well as Harry Potter. It also brought to mind another teen fantasy series I read earlier in the year - David Whitley's The Midnight Charter and The Children of the Lost.

Much has been made of the fact that Alex was inspired by the indigenous people of the Amazon Rainforest when writing the novel. The elves' community and their use of plants in natural medicine does indeed evoke this lifestyle but it is far from the most important element of the book. You'll read this book because it's an exciting quest adventure, filled with magical creatures and thrilling exploits in a dangerous world ruled by tyrannic and evil Guardians - not because you want to learn about the rainforests !

The Secret of the Amulet is the first part of a trilogy so I was slightly disappointed if not surprised by the "to be continued"-type ending. Next year, the second in the trilogy, entitled The Gifts of the Seven, will be published, where the readers will discover the only way a Guardian can be killed. The final book in the trilogy will reveal the truth about the faeries’ hatred of science. I'll definitely be picking up a copy to discover what happens next.

star rating : 4.5/5

RRP : £8.99

Paperback 271 pages
Publisher: Oakdene Publishing Ltd (15 Oct 2010)
ISBN-10: 0956601308
ISBN-13: 978-0956601308

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Saturday 30 October 2010

Milton Antibacterial Surface Spray & Wipes

When Milton got in touch to ask if I'd like to review some of their products, my initial reaction was to say no because I've gone past the sterilising babies' bottles stage. But then I had a look at their website and was amazed at the wide range of products that they produce, not just for babies but for all members of the family and the home. They still do the iconic sterilising fluid and tablets that most parents will be aware of, even if they've never actually used them, but they also have hand sanitizing gel, antibacterial fabric solution and - the products we chose to review - antibacterial surface spray and wipes.

Now, I now that wipes are very naughty things to use because they produce a lot of non-essential waste and are much less environmentally friendly than reuseable cloths but sometimes, they are just so handy that I'm willing to overlook this aspect ! For example, when I urgently need to clean up a runny poo that has just leaked out of Pierre's nappy all over his changing mat and I only have one hand and about 30 seconds before he wees all over me (or worse !), a wipe is just what is needed ! Knowing that Milton are experts in sterilising and bug-busting, I feel much more reassured using one of their antibacterial surface wipes than the usual baby wet wipe out of the pack on the changing table.

The wipes are fragrance-free and alcohol-based and the great thing is, the surface dries within seconds leaving no trace, greasy streaks or stickiness. There's no need to rinse and they are totally biodegradable which makes me feel slightly better about the environmental issues. They are clinically proven to be effective against bacteria and fungi, but they are also great at removing chocolate, yoghurt, milk and anything else that little fingers can wipe all over the house !

The surface spray is my weapon of choice (against the germs, not the other members of the family !) in the kitchen. According to the Milton website, it is "clinically proven to kill a wide range of bacteria and fungi, including those that cause food poisoning such as E Coli, Listeria, Salmonella and Candida Albicans, the fungus that causes thrush." I love using it as the finishing touch after I've cleaned the grime that you can see, to make sure that I also remove the germs that you can't see but that are potentially more harmful. On hard-to-clean surfaces like wooden chopping boards or permanently grubby-looking grouting behind the sink, I'm never really convinced they're clean so this is a great product for setting my mind at rest. It's also perfect for cleaning off the highchair to make sure no nasty bugs are lingering waiting to make Pierre sick.

After using the fragrance-free wipes, I assumed the spray would be the same but it actually has a lovely fragrance that is not at all clinical and reminds me of Cherry Tunes ! It may not get the cooked-on grease off your hob within seconds like powerful grease-busting kitchen sprays but it will get rid of any nasty bacteria that are lurking around and that's even more important in my eyes !

star rating : 5/5

RRP : spray £2.24 for 500ml, wipes £2.24 for 30

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New Rimmel London Lasting Finish Lipstick

As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, when I reviewed their Lash Accelerator Mascara, I'm ecstatic to have been picked to be a Rimmel London VIP so I can regularly give you the lowdown on some of their latest offerings. Well, this time around, I received two of their new improved Lasting Finish lipsticks.

I received two shades to try  - Sweetie, which is a vibrant pink, and Coffee Shimmer, which - as you would expect with a name like that - is a brown, but there are 20 shades available in total. I have to say, maybe it's the resolution of my laptop (or the sticky smears on the screen because the kids have been playing on Club Penguin while I sorted out the laundry !) but the online colour guide really doesn't do them justice. The colours are really bold and vibrant and instantly add a splash of colour to your face, even if you don't have time to put on full make up.

I was amazed at how quickly and easily the lipstick went on, giving fabulous coverage and a vibrant colour with just one coat.The shimmery, almost glittery, sheen means that the light really plays on your lips which is great news if you're a busy mum with huge bags under your eyes from lack of sleep because everyone's eyes will be drawn to the light sparkling on your lips instead of your less flattering facial features !

Now that the chilly autumn weather is here and playing havoc with my skin, I've been constantly applying lip balm to my sore, dehydrated, almost chapped lips. I often feel I need to apply lipbalm underneath my lipstick too but as soon as I applied a coat of Lasting Finish Lipstick, my lips felt protected and moisturised, as if I'd just applied a balm in fact.

As the name suggests, Lasting Finish is designed to stay on for a long time. Rimmel say, "Lasting Finish Lipstick boasts an improved formula incorporating Colour Protect technology, enriched with 50% longer-wearing colour-boost pigments  for up to 25% more colour impact than traditional lipsticks. Intensity, smoothness, shines and an up to 8-hour staying power  – new Rimmel Lasting Finish Lipstick truly has it all !"

What I love is that, although it stays put (I only need to touch my lippie up once in my working day, usually after lunch, for it to look perfect all day long), it's easy to wipe off at the end of the day with a quick cleansing wipe. Despite all these great points, it's light on your pocket too, costing under a fiver ! I love it - it's quick to put on, quick to take off, only needs one coat and avoids the need for lip balm so that's a few minutes more that I've gained in my busy day. Thanks Rimmel !

*** STOP PRESS : If you get in quick (before 31st October so you'll have to get your skates on), you can request one of 10,000 totally free new Lasting Finish Lipsticks here ! *****

star rating : 4.5/5

RRP : £4.99

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BONFIRE Guide to having safe fun, courtesty of Nelsons Natural Healthcare

If you're planning on having a bonfire or fireworks at home this Novembrer 5th, here's a quick reminder of some important safety guidelines, courtesy of Nelsons Natural Healthcare, to ensure you have safe fun on the night. Last year, 533 children went to A&E on Bonfire Night with burns being the most common injury. Make sure your children aren't one of the sad statistics this year.

The BONFIRE Guide to having safe fun

Burns are one of the most common injuries around the 5th November and Nelsons Burn Cream can help to provide natural first aid relief for minor burns and scalds. It is a traditional herbal remedy that can help relieve pain, prevent blistering and help to heal minor burns and scalds.

On the night, wrap up warm !The Full Monty were right to urge you to 'Keep your hat on' as 70% of your body heat passes through your head ! A hat, scarf, gloves and thick socks will help you stay warm in the freezing temperatures.

Never leave children unattended when around sparklers or fireworks.

Frightened animals - animals on Bonfire Night get extremely scared with the loud bangs so make sure your pets are indoors.

If you light a firework and it doesn't go off, do not return to relight it as it might be faulty or just taking longer to burn.

Remember, the end of a sparkler is very hot. Do not touch the end even after it has gone out. It is a good idea to place sparklers straight into a bucket of cold water or sand and leave until the morning.

Ensure you have a fun but safe time !


Nelsons Burn Cream is priced at £4.55 for 30g and is available from Holland & Barrett, Tesco Pharmacy, Waitrose and all good independent health food and pharmacy stores.

Nelsons Tea Tree Cream

Nelsons is a family-owned business and the UK’s largest manufacturer of natural healthcare products - if nothing else, I'm sure you must have heard of their popular Bach Original Flower Remedies or their Rescue Remedy which has an almost cult following in celeb circles- and this year they are celebrating their 150th anniversary. Very impressive stuff - they've certainly had time to really finetune their products in that amount of time !

We received a tube of their award-winning Tea Tree Cream to test. (It won bronze in the 2009/10 Bizzie Baby Awards and is an Ethical Consumer Magazine Best Buy.) The Nelsons website explains, "Our award-winning Nelsons Tea Tree cream is a soothing skin cream prepared using the finest, purest tea tree oil from Australia. Tea tree oil has many uses but is best known for its excellent antiseptic properties."

I didn't actually know tea tree was an antiseptic. I've used many skincare and haircare products in the past that have tea tree in their ingredients list so I knew it was good for the body but didn't really know why. Wikipedia explains, "Tea tree oil has beneficial medical properties when applied topically, including antiseptic, antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral action, and is also believed to have beneficial cosmetic properties." Wow, is there anything it can't do ?! It would appear not, as the article continues : "Tea tree oil has strong activity against Staphylococcus aureus, including MRSA". It is also supposed to be an effective treatment against headlice, but I don't recommend you use this antiseptic cream for that - it would be a bit messy !

I tried the cream out on a couple of nasty mosquito bites that were very red and itchy and by the next day, they'd totally disappeared. Sophie also fell off her bike and grazed her knee. I put some of the cream on it and she said it didn't sting, although she didn't like the smell. (It smells of tea tree oil which is a bit like camphor.) The next day, the graze was healing nicely and had no redness at all.
I'm really impressed. It works just as well as the leading antiseptic creams on the market that we usually use but relies on natural ingredients to do the job. The Aborigines who first used it certainly knew their stuff !

star rating : 5/5

RRP : £4.55 for 30g, £5.90 for 50g

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Friday 29 October 2010

Minami Nutrition Omega-3 Fish Oil Supplements

It is an almost undisputed fact that Omega-3, otherwise known as fish oil, offers a whole host of health benefits to both children and adults. According to The Fish Oil Blog, it is a cure for pretty much all evils, including amongst other things ADHD, high blood pressure, dental health problems, even breast cancer and depression. It is also said to help improve concentration, mood and heart health. It is therefore a really good supplement to give your children. Minami Nutrition, who make the products we were sent to try, offer a premium range of Omega-3 supplements with the highest concentration of Omega-3 on the market.

However, the problem with fish oil is that it is - well - very fishy ! The last time I tried an omega-3 supplement on the kids, it literally made them gag. I want them to be healthy but I won't force them to eat something that makes them physically sick ! I really wanted to like this product but I have to admit, I was dubious.

The first product that we were sent to try was MorEPA Mini-Junior, designed for children and teenagers. It comes as softgel capsules which can be taken as they are, preferably at mealtimes, or opened and mixed with foods like yoghurt, salad dressing, fruit juice or milkshake.You should take one capsule twice a day.

The box says that "a strawberry flavouring provides a pleasant taste" and it has "no fishy after-taste, with added fruit flavours". I pulled the foil-sealed blister pack out and had a tentative sniff and it does smell really lovely and strawberry-scented without the slightest whiff of fishiness. The girls were quite enthusiastic about trying them out, having tested some delicious vitamin and omega-3 gummy "sweets" in the past. They happily popped one in their mouth with big smiles, bit into the capsules and simultaneously went "eeuurrgghhhh it tastes of fish" before running to the bin to spit them out. Oh dear ! I intercepted the tissue-wrapped spat-out capsules before they made their way into the bin and sniffed and there was a definite smell of fish, so I think the promise of no fishy after-taste is sadly exaggerated. I opened a capsule and mixed the contents in with some orange juice but the girls didn't want to taste it again ! I had a sniff and a very tentative taste and I could certainly detect fish too.

I had a look around online and the only reviews that I could find for this product were all highly positive, underlining the fact that there is no fishy taste or "fishy burps". So where did we go wrong ?! I can only think that you're supposed to swallow them without biting them but the packaging is unclear about this. I asked the girls if they'd like to try swallowing them straight down but they point blank refused to try again !

The other product we were sent was for 15-month-old Pierre and is called MorDHA. I was slightly concerned that the website lists this product in the "for children 3 years plus" category but the box does say it is "for babies and toddlers in the early years". This product also claims to have no fishy after-taste but, following our experience with the children's version, I decided to play it safe and added it to a fish pie that Pierre was eating (despite the fruity flavour !). He wolfed it down and didn't seem to notice any dfference !

The moral of the story seems to be, if you eat these supplements thinking fish, they're quite acceptable, but if you're expecting a fruity taste, don't bite them or you'll be disappointed ! It's a real shame because I was really hoping that the girls would enjoy taking this supplement as much as the fruity vitamins but unfortunately, it wasn't to be.

star rating : 3/5 (luckily they got the thumbs up from Pierre !)

RRP : MorEPA £18.95 for 60 capsules, MorDHA Mini IQ £11.95 for 30 capsules

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For your little Lego fans - free Lego Club with five free magazines per year

Before going any further, I just want to point out that the Lego Club is absolutely free - so what are you waiting for ?! Go and sign up your little Lego fans right now ! They will be entitled to five free Lego Club magazines each year and they're full of stories, activities and photos that will keep them entertained and give them inspiration to make new creations and then invent new stories involving them.

There are in fact two separate Lego club magazines : Lego Club Jr for age 4-6 and Lego Club Magazine for ages 7+. We received both so that Juliette (aged 5) and Sophie (aged 9) could have a look and they both really enjoyed looking at them and doing the different activities. Juliette loved the spot the difference, spot the mistakes and colouring pages. I loved the pages that really made her think, like the "what comes next ?" page where you have to work out the logical sequences and the pages giving you step-by-step instructions on how to make constructions, such as a racing car or an alien, with your Lego bricks.

Sophie loved reading the comic strip style stories in her magazine, doing the slightly more difficult activities and using the fan photos to inspire her to get creative. 

The magazines are well thought-out and aim to be both fun and educational. Lego say : LEGO Club members receive five FREE magazines a year starting with LEGO Club Jr. for ages 4 – 6 years, which promotes independent reading, counting and writing, then graduate to LEGO Club Magazine for ages 7+, full of comics, competitions, activities, sneak peeks, info on LEGO Club events and regular LEGOLAND vouchers."

for more information :

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Hallmark Child Sleep Pattern Research - Chance to ask your questions to a Child Sleep Expert

This week, I reviewed (here and here) two lovely Christmas-themed children's books from Hallmark, famed for their cards. Well, they also have another lovely children's book on offer (which I will be reviewing shortly) called 'Night-Night, Sweet Dreams' and featuring those ultra-cute Forever Friends bears. 

The book helps to explain the importance of getting a good night's sleep and, to mark the book's release, Hallmark have launched a campaign to help parents solve their sleeping dilemmas. It couldn't come at a better time - every year, when the time comes around to turn the clocks back or forward, thousands of mums and dads groan inwardly, knowing that nine times out of ten, it will mean throwing their child's sleeping routine out of synch.

Hallmark are working closely with top TV psychologist and children's sleep expert, Chireal Shallow, who is offering lots of great advice and will also be available for an exclusive live Q&A session.

The live chat is on Tuesday 2nd November from 11am-3pm. To join in, post your question to Chireal by including @HallmarkUK in your tweet. Or, if you can't make it on the day, post your questions in advance right here in my comments box and or on the Forever Friends facebook page.

I'll be back soon with some top tips from Chireal and The Sleep Council to help you help your kids get a great night's sleep. In the meantime, get posting your questions for Chireal below !

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Little Me Organics (Shh Sleepy Head Range)

Vetroxx Disinfectant Hand Gel

When swine flue was rife, it seemed that a new brand of hand sanitizing gel was launched on the market every week. To quote one of my mum's favourite sayings, they were all much of a muchness ! I reviewed several brands on this blog and they all try to find a differentiating quality to make them stand out from the rest - maybe they were organic, or natural, or alcohol-free or kid-friendly or fragranced.

Well, this time, the brand I have received to review is Vetroxx. So, what's so different about this one ? Well, the main difference is surprising : "Vetroxx is a small but comprehensive range of disinfectant and cleaning products used by veterinary professionals in their surgeries and animal hospitals. Vetroxx products are also suitable for pet-owners to use at home when caring for their animals (both well animals and sick ones)." Ahh well at least it explains the name Vetroxx. (I now have visions of an American voice doing a TV advert and drawling "your vet rocks" - if you knew what my vet looked like, you'd know why that was funny !).

The product itself looks very similar to all the other hand sanitizers I've tried out. It comes in a pocket/handbag-friendly size so it's perfect for keeping on you at all times so that you can have a quick spray before eating or after touching anything icky like a public toilet door or sneezy child when suitable handwashing facilities aren't always available.

It's very wet and runny when you spray it on to your hands but it rubs away in seconds leaving you with totally dry but pleasantly citrus-fragranced hands. The initial burst of fragrance when you've just sprayed it on your hands is eye-wateringly strong and seems quite harsh. I checked the label and it does contain alcohol (Aqua and Isopropyl Alcohol) so you should be aware of this if giving it to your children to keep in their schoolbag. On the plus side, it also contains Aloe Vera to help look after your hands.

According to the packaging, it is "Clinically Clean but Environmentally Green", natural, non-toxic (although you should immediately seek medical attention if swallowed, which seems a bit contradictory ???), hypo-allergenic and dermatologically-tested and non-flammable. Its active ingredient - a bioflavonoid complex - is derived from fruit. The manufacturer explains : "Vetroxx contains Citroxx, a naturally derived and highly effective disinfectant made from orange pith, which is already being widely used in food preparation, hospital and surgery disinfection, farm animal protection. Safe in use and highly biodegradable, it is also very kind on both the skin and work surfaces."

The Vetroxx range - as well as the hand gel, you can buy a surface spray or wipes - has been evaluated by one of Europe’s leading independent laboratories that has affirmed its effectiveness in rapidly killing flu viruses by 99.9998%. That's impressive but about the same as all the other hand sanitizers on the market. It remains effective for four hours on your skin. I do feel reassured that this product has originally been formulated for use in veterinary practices who obviously need highly efficient products.

star rating : 4/5

RRP : £3.99 for 75ml

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Rosken Bio Serum

Rosken is another brand that I had never heard of when I was asked to review one of their products but it turns out they are hugely popular on the other side of the globe - my research online revealed that they are in fact one of Australia’s most trusted and respected skincare ranges. Advertised as "experts in dry skin relief and repair", they offer three intensive treatments in their Skin Repair range: Feet & Heel Balm, Whitening & Firming Cream and the Bio Serum that we were sent to try out.

 The product's full name is a bit of a mouthful ! - it's called Rosken Skin Repair Bio Serum Intensive Skincare Oil. The label says it is recommended for dry skin, stretch marks, scarring, ageing skin and uneven pigmentation.
According to the blurb, "This multi-purpose intensive miracle oil is quickly absorbed and suitable for use on the face and body and can help to reduce skin conditions such as very dry skin, as well as the appearance of stretch marks, scarring, uneven skin tone and ageing skin. Suitable for massaging directly into skin, this super serum contains a combination of powerful antioxidant vitamins A and E, as well as soothing Chamomile Oil, Lavender Oil, Rosemary Oil, Rosehip Oil and Calendula Oil, all of which instantly seal in moisture and leave skin feeling smooth and healthy."

Well, I do have dry skin so I decided to try it out on my hands, and I also decided to give it a go on my stretch marks, although I don't actually expect anything to get rid of them totally ! The Rosken Bio Serum actually reminds me very much of another product - Bio Oil - that I tried out while still pregnant to try to reduce the appearance of stretch marks.

The one thing I don't like about oils is that they feel yucky when you put your clothes on afterwards and sometimes leave grease stains on them. An oil is by essence oily so I've always thought greasiness is unfortunately par for the course. Well, I'm not sure how they've managed it but Rosken have actually managed to create an oil that isn't as oily as I was expecting. It's surprisingly ungreasy and absorbs really well into the skin.

It has a lovely soothing lavender scent so it's great to incorporate this into your wind-down routine just before bed. I did try it on my face too but it's a serum, not a moisturiser, so I also applied my usual night cream over the top. I'd personally find it a bit heavy to use in the daytime.

So, did it magically make my stretch marks disappear overnight ? Well, no, but I wasn't expecting it to ! Also, for best results, they say to use it on a daily basis so, over time, it might help. The skin does feel less bumpy and the stretch marks are slightly less visible but I think that's possibly down to the nice sheen and softness my skin has after I've applied it because it seems to even out a lot of imperfections in skin tone.

If you desperately want to try to find a product to help prevent the appearance of stretch marks (or other imperfections, scars, wrinkles, or even just dry skin) or reduce their appearance after the event but you hate the idea of smothering yourself in a greasy oil, I'd highly recommend giving this a go. It's surprisingly ungreasy and, despite the small bottle, goes a really long way. You can also add a few drops to your bath for lovely soft, moisturised skin with zero effort. I was pleasantly surprised.

star rating : 4.5/5

RRP : £5.99 for 50ml

ROSKEN SKIN REPAIR range is available by mail order and from selected stockists nationwide. To place an order or for details of your nearest stockist call the ROSKEN SKIN REPAIR customer service line on 01403 280 860.
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Organic Blue Body Scrub

When I was offered one of their products for review, I'd never heard of the Organic Blue brand but I did a little research and liked what I read : "Wave goodbye to synthetic fragrances and artificial colourings and say hello to Organic Blue, a range of soothing and uplifting, natural beauty and mood enhancing treatments. Formulated to leave you feeling and looking the best you can feel, this delicious range is inspired by traditional philosophies and maximises the use of natural and certified organic ingredients." Soothing ... uplifting ...mood-enhancing ... natural ... what's not to like ?

 When the product arrived and I saw the sleek, luxurious looking, vibrant blue bottle and the "organic" label, I was expecting this to be a pricey product but I was pleasantly surprised by the budget price tag. The body scrub I've been testing only costs £3.99.

So what's it like ? It's quite runny so it's better to use in the shower all over your body than on your face. It's made of ground peach kernels and it feels pleasantly "gritty" as if it contains sand. I like my body scrubs to feel slightly harsh and scratchy so that you can feel it working and this does leave you with lovely soft, nicely exfoliated skin without giving you any sense of irritation, itchiness or redness. My skin actually felt nicely moisturised afterwards too and the scrub washed away easily with water - unlike some greasy body scrubs I've tried, I didn't need to reapply shower gel to wash off any oily film. There was what looked like sand in the bottom of the shower afterwards so I'm sure Mike must think I went to the beach without telling him !

But the best thing is the gorgeous fragrance - mandarin and ginger. It's perfect for winter because the smell is somehow warming and energising, and it made me feel a bit Christmassy - probably because it made me think of satsumas and gingerbread. It smelt wonderful and relaxing in the shower but didn't last for very long on my skin afterwards. I would think the rest of the range offer these unique and delicious scents as Organic Blue say that their products are "infused with ingredients from around the world that blend together to refresh, condition and improve skin and hair texture and leave you in a sanctuary of inner peace and tranquility".

 As the name suggests, Organic Blue use certified organic ingredients and are suitable for vegetarians and vegans. They are also paraben, SLS, artificial fragrance and colouring free. I love the wide range of natural ingredients that they pack into each product - the body scrub includes Neem (which has anti-bacterial properties and is renowned for its ability to help with skin disorders) and organic herbal extracts of Angelica, Elder, Red Clover and Passionflower.

If you're looking for a range of beauty products that is kind to your skin but also light on the pocket, smells wonderful and looks very chic in the bathroom, I highly recommend Organic Blue.

star rating : 4/5

RRP : £3.99 for 250ml for the body scrub

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Thursday 28 October 2010

Some delicious recipes for you to try, courtesy of Shloer

*** Don't miss my giveaway to win 12 bottles of Shloer right here ! ***

Last year, I received some Shloer Rosé to review (you can read that review here) and declared it the perfect drink for pregnant or breastfeeding mums for the festive period. This year Shloer has been working with a food ecologist (and no, I'm not quite sure what one of those is either !) to come up with some exciting recipes. They don't contain Shloer but they are apparently delicious when served with it. Keep your eyes peeled because I'll soon be hosting a giveaway where you can get your mitts on a whole crateful of Shloer - that's twelve bottles so you could invite all your friends over and try out one of the recipes at the same time ! Bon appétit !


Spaghetti with Crab, Lemon, Chilli and Parsley

Serves 4
Prep 5 minutes, Cook time 15-20 minutes
500g dried spaghetti
4tbs extra virgin olive oil
4 garlic cloves, sliced
1 large red chilli, de-seeded and finely chopped
200g white crab meat
2 lemons, zested and juiced
1 large bunch of parsley, shredded
Pinch of sea salt and cracked black pepper

Preparation method

1. Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil. Cook the spaghetti according to the packets instructions.

2. While you are waiting for the spaghetti to cook, in another large pan, heat the olive oil, add the garlic, and cook over a medium heat until the garlic starts to turn golden brown. Remove from the heat and add the chilli, crab, lemon zest, juice and parsley.

3. Once the pasta is cooked drain thoroughly and then add to the pan with the crab sauce. Season with sea salt and plenty of black pepper, mixing well. Divide between four warm bowls and serve at once.

We recommend serving with a lovely chilled bottle of Shloer White Grape, Raspberry & Cranberry.
  Lemon and Oregano Lamb kebabs

Serves four
Prep 30 minutes, Cook 5 to 8 minutes

600g diced leg of lamb
Small bunch of oregano chopped
1 lemon zested and juiced
2 tbls olive oil
Salt and pepper
150g Greek yoghurt
½ a cucumber de-seeded and finely chopped
Small bunch of mint, shredded
Salt and pepper
4 warmed flat breads
1 lemon cut into 4 wedges
½ a red onion sliced
Small bunch of picked parsley

1. In a medium sized bowl, place in the lamb with the oregano, lemon and olive oil, season with salt and pepper and set aside for 20 minutes to marinade.

2. In a small bowl, mix together the Greek yoghurt, cucumber and mint and then season with salt and pepper and set aside.

3. Preheat a griddle pan or BBQ. Then divide the lamb between four skewers and place on the griddle or BBQ and cook for three minutes each side, the lamb should be slightly pink in the middle. When the lamb is cooked, divide between four warm plates and serve with the cucumber and mint yoghurt, flat breads, lemon wedges, red onion and parsley.

Shloer White grape and Elderflower is the perfect accompaniment to this light dish


Miso soup with tofu, Asian greens, shitake mushrooms and buckwheat noodles
Serves 4
Prep 10 minutes
Cook 15 minutes

250g Soba noodles
2L light vegetable stock
1 knob of ginger, peeled and cut into matchsticks
200g shitake mushrooms, sliced
200g tofu, cut into cubes
2 tbsp Tamari soy sauce
2tbsp red miso paste, dissolved in 4 tbsp of water
200g pak choi or choy sum, shredded
4 spring onions, finely sliced

1. In a medium saucepan, cook the buckwheat noodles according to the packets instructions then drain and divide between four warm bowls.

2. While you are waiting for the noodles to cook, heat the stock in a large pan.

3. Once the stock is boiling, add the ginger, shitake and tofu, bring back to the boil and add the miso paste, then season with soy.
4. Bring back to the boil again, add the Asian greens and divide between 4 warm bowls. Sprinkle with spring onions and serve.

5. Serve with Shloer


A warm chicken, chorizo and fennel salad

Serves 4
Prep 15 minutes
Cook 25 minutes

2 tbls olive oil
2 chicken Supremes, skin removed
250g chorizo, sliced
200g cherry tomatoes cut in half
1 red onion, finely sliced
1 bulb of fennel, finely sliced
1tbls sherry vinegar
2tbls extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt and cracked black pepper
Small bunch of parsley, chopped

1. Preheat the oven to 180c / 350f
2. In a medium sized ovenproof frying pan, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, until almost smoking, add the chicken breasts, seal on both sides while seasoning at the same time.
3. Place in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes or until cooked, once cooked remove from the oven and leave to rest in a warm place.
4. In another medium size frying pan, heat the rest of the olive oil over a medium heat, add the chorizo and cook for 5 to 10 minutes, until golden brown.
5. While you are waiting for the chorizo to cook, shred the chicken, then place in a large bowl, then add the tomatoes, red onion, fennel, vinegar and extra virgin olive oil.

6. When the chorizo is cooked, add to the bowl with any oil that has been released from the chorizo, season with salt and pepper, then add the parsley, mix well and serve in a warm bowl.

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