Saturday, 30 July 2011

Finding My Niche - And a Giveaway! - *closed*

I've been neglecting my blog quite a bit lately, for several reasons, but a big reason is that I wasn't really sure where I was going with it.  But I think I may have found my niche and what I want to write about and am celebrating it with a small giveaway.

I love make-up and jewellery.  I think I mentioned in a post that I've been an Avon rep.  I just love all the prettiness, and making something pretty.  I've started making jewellery and hope to have my own business some day.  And I just love the new special effect nail polishes that are around.  Particularly the crackle ones!  I find myself talking about them to everyone.  So it kind of seemed natural that my blog should go down a beauty route.  So there you go - a mummy beauty blog!

Don't worry, its still going to be relevant to mummys!  I don't wear make-up every day and I'm rubbish at moisturisers and stuff.  I have to wait until the kids are in bed before I can paint my nails so quite often they're just plain.  Or chipped.  I'm kind of hoping that I'll be able to find the best easy make-up products for busy mums who only have time to throw on a bit of lippy and mascara before they go out!

I recently invested in a load of new eyeshadows from beauty uk who sell a gorgeous range of make-up products at a really good price.  My attention was caught by their good value Eye Shadow Palettes, 10 eye shadow colours for £3.99.  I ordered the Pastels palette but there was a slight mix up in my (large!) order and they sent the Twighlight palette of blues instead.  I contacted them by their very friendly twitter feed and straight away they sent me out the correct palette and told me to keep the other one!  I don't really wear blues so it's this 'freebie' that I'm offering as a giveaway!

Twighlight Eyeshadow Palette
I'm giving away a brand new beauty uk Twighlight Eye Shadow palette worth £3.99 (only to UK followers, sorry) and this is what you have to do:

  1. Become a follower of my blog, either via GFC or subscribing via email (mandatory)

  2. Follow me on twitter - @meetjosmith (mandatory)

Please leave me a comment saying you have completed the above 2 steps, along with your GFC name and twitter name.

You can gain an additional entry by tweeting the following:

I've entered to win a @beautyuktweets eyeshadow palette with @meetjosmith here:

Please leave an additional comment after you have tweeted.  

The competition will remain open until midnight 8th August 2011 and a winner will be picked at random.

The competition is only open to UK residents.

The prize has been provided by me and I have received no incentive for this post.


The winner was picked by and the winner was:



Saturday, 23 July 2011

Red Hot World Buffet Leeds - Caribbean Food and Drink Festival

We've all been there.  You fancy a nice family meal out, but you want Indian but your other half would prefer Chinese.  Dad doesn't want any of that foreign muck but Mum wants to try something different.  Uncle Jeff will have a starter, main, sides and dessert and then insist on splitting the bill equally and somewhere there's a teenager who's just decided she's vegetarian!  By the time you've decided on where to eat its too late anyway, and nobody is quite happy.

So go visit the Red Hot World Buffet - problem solved!

I'd thoroughly enjoyed my visit to the Nottingham restaurant with friends a couple of years ago, so when I was asked to check out the Caribbean Food and Drink Festival they are currently promoting and I realised I would be near Leeds I jumped at the opportunity!

If you are unfamiliar with the concept of Red Hot World Buffet then basically it is a restaurant described as "A food lover's fantasy".  For a set price per person you can visit the buffet and help yourself to the wonderful selection of food on offer, as many times as you like.  There are starters, sides, mains and desserts, and the food is a variety of Chinese, Japanese, Thai, Italian, Mexican, Indian and English, although from 15th July - 14th August they are also offering Caribbean food.

I was supposed to be taking my husband with me, but he wasn't feeling very well so my sister-in-law came instead, who is a notoriously fussy eater.  She thought it was brilliant which I thought said a lot in itself!

The Leeds restaurant is in the style of an airport and we found ourselves sat next to the fusilage of an aeroplane which was a bit odd, and the first time we headed off to get food we got a bit lost as it is a massive restaurant and it isn't that clearly signed but we just headed in the direction from where people were coming with plates laden with food!  I was slightly bemused at being confronted with stacks of desserts as soon as I entered the buffet area but soon located the starters and, well, made a start!

The starters
We were quite impressed with the cute little dishes the salads came in!  There really is an incredible amount of choice!  The Leeds restaurant offers 200 dishes!  The salads were fresh and the onion bhajis (a particular favourite of mine) were hot, spicy and crispy.

Something I love about the Red Hot World Buffet is the opportunity to try something new.  I have always wanted to try sushi and mussels (tho not necessarily together) but have never wanted to order a full meal in case I didn't like them.  That evening I had mussels for the first time and loved them, and enjoyed several raw tuna sushi.  I will definitely be having them again!

Mussels, prawn crackers, won ton, jerk chicken...
As you can see I'm not a food photographer but the jerk chicken from the Caribbean section was just as it should be, the won ton was goregous and the Akai fish was yummy!

They are also offering 6 new cocktails during the Caribbean Food and Drink festival and I would thorough recommend trying the Jamaican Jig (I think!) - an alcoholic chocolate milkshake!  What more could a girl ask for?

More mussels, sushi, and Mexican
You can also ask for certain dishes to be cooked in front of you, but I wasn't that brave!

The meal was accompanied by a live band playing music on traditional Caribbean instruments including 50 gallon drums.  Unfortunately the music itself wasn't traditional Caribbean music but a mix of 80's and 90's stuff so it didn't quite sit right but it was pleasant enough.

There was a ginormous selection of desserts presented in bite size little dishes - perfect for allowing you to have a small taste of lots of different things.  The Key Lime pie was divine and I also and panacotta for the first time which I will also be having again!

Ice cream!!!
I had a little bit of room left for some ice cream!  Again, a huge choice of flavours, served up on request, along with a selection of sauces and sweets to add to it.

The food was excellent, tasty, fresh and hot (except for the salads. obviously!)  The waiters were pleasant and helpful and I can't wait to go again!

The cost of the meal varies depending on the restaurant you visit, the day and the time but on a Saturday night in Leeds your entire meal will cost £14.99, half price for children under 10.  For such a huge selection of food and considering that covers your starters, mains, sides and desserts and you can eat as much as you want, I think it's a bargain!  Unfortunately there are only 6 restaurants so far, in Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Milton Keynes, Northampton and Nottingham.  However, if you are near one of these restaurants I fully recommend a visit.

Disclaimer:  The cost of the meal and drinks were complimentary for the purpose of this review but the opinions expressed within are my own and no further recompense was received.

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

#MUMenTUM - The Tricks We Use

I've not made a #MUMenTUM post for a couple of weeks - probably because I was ashamed.  I've not had a very good couple of weeks - I've stalled, diet wise, but trying to give myself a kick up the bum.  So far I've lost 1 stone 5 1/2lbs which isn't bad but I've been hanging around the 1 stone 2-4lb mark for a few weeks now and it's time to get back onto losing weight.  So I thought I'd list some of the tricks I use to make sure the scales say what I want them to say, and the other methods we employ to have our cake and eat it!!

  1. Take as much off before you get on the scales.  Watch, glasses - you name it, it's coming off.
  2. Wee as much as possible before weigh in.  It's a well known fact that water retention will make you put on weight so try to wee away as much as possible before you get on those scales.  I have been known to go to the loo before I leave the house and as I arrive at Slimming World.  5 minutes away!
  3. Food that you eat after weigh in doesn't count.  Hence the huge bar of chocolate and 2 bottles of cider I've just downed (and that's just what I'm admitting to!)  Weigh in night is treat night and you've got all week to lose those pounds so stuff yourself (disclaimer - this is not a recommended diet tactic, it's just how normal people manage a diet!)
  4. Don't eat before weigh in.  Any meal is bound to add a couple of pounds!
  5. If you normally get weighed in jeans and think you may not have lost this week then go in a skirt or something else light weight.  Swapping jeans for a lightweight skirt or shorts or leggings is good for at least a pound!
So, those are my scales tactics for when I know I've had a bad week.  Come on,  admit it, we all have them.  So my question is - what tricks do you use?

Another disclaimer.  Please do not follow this blog in an attempt to lose weight.  Any weight loss will only be achieved by a calorie controlled diet and plenty of exercise!

Spider Bones by Kathy Reichs

I love the 'Bones' series of books.  I've read all of them and was reading them before the series appeared.  I was delighted to find it had been made into a TV series but found the character of Temperance Brennan on TV to be quite different from the Temperance Brennan in the books.  For instance, the TV version appears to be on the Autistic Spectrum whereas the book version is an alcoholic (tho mostly on the wagon).  I find i have to separate the two characters and enjoy them separately as the 2 don't really relate.  They even have different family backgrounds.

Anyway, I always look forward to the new Bones book and Spider Bones was not a disappointment.  Again, graphic detail, bizarre twists and danger for the heroine herself.  Although I have to say, I did see the end twist coming, I thought the clues dropped were a bit heavy handed and rather obvious.

The best bit about the entire book is when a cop says to a suspect: "You claim to be smart.  Know all about DNA.  I'm sure you watch CSI and Law and Order.  Maybe Bones, but that may be over your head."  The sheer gall of referring to her own TV programme based on the Bones books took my breath away, made me laugh, re-read the sentence and enjoy the book even more that Ms Reichs felt comfortable making that reference!

So if you love the Bones series of books, if you love a good mystery, or if you are new to the books and enjoy CSI and similar dramas then get hold of this book.  The technicalities can sometimes bog you down but nothing can stop you enjoying this good read.

Friday, 8 July 2011

How Do You Manage 60 Minutes a Day?

So the current advice I'm getting is that my kids should be getting 60 minutes of exercise a day.  My question is - How?!?!

I have a small house and the weather has been atrocious lately so they've been stuck inside.  I don't have the time or the energy to spend 60 minutes a day exercising - I've had M.E. so have to be careful about what I do - so am limited as to what I can do with them.

They're 3 and nearly 5 and the eldest starts school in September with the other being in nursery every day so hopefully they'll get a bit at school but what am I supposed to do in the school holidays?  I love the way one of the recommendations was take them to soft play!  Yes, I can really afford to take 2 kids to soft play every day for 6 weeks!  I'd be bankrupt!

So any ideas would be gratefully received - how do you make sure your kids get enough exercise every day?

Avon Eyeshadow - Why Did I Keep Buying Them?

I've been an Avon rep tho had to stop recently after Bug was born.  I love eyeshadows and kept buying all their new shades and quads but was vaguely aware that I wasn't quite happy with them, which is why I kept buying more.

After reading lots of beauty blogs I've finally worked out what the problem is - the eyeshadows are rubbish!  I believe the correct term is lack of pigmentation - the shades look fab in the palette but when you apply them there is hardly any colour.

I'm not very good at photos yet so can't show you what I mean but I think I'll be throwing away all my Avon eyeshadows and finding a replacement.  I know No 7s are quite good and have heard good things about Beauty UK but am open to any suggestions!

I thought I was just rubbish at applying them until I used one of my old No 7 eyeshadows and realized how much more colour I was getting!

Something else I noticed as a rep is that when taking photos of their products, they don't take photos of each of the different shades.  If you look closely all the pictures are exactly the same, and I defy anyone to make an eyeshadow break up in the same way.  Which means that the photos are not an accurate representation of the colours but have been shopped to make them look that colour.

I've always loved Avon products but have become a bit disillusioned lately.