30 Dec 2014

Our Family Time at Center Parcs

Back in September this year, I was fortunate to be selected to join the Center Parcs Family Blogger Club, hosted by Center Parcs UK in association with Tots100. If you are a UK-based parent blogger, you have obviously heard of both. If not, CenterParcs is a one-of-its kind fantastic holiday destination for all the family. And Tots100 is an index of UK parent bloggers.

As I said, I was delighted to be a wildcard winner of the Center Parcs Family Blogger Club and wasted no time at all in planning our short break. I usually don’t do winter holidays; the cold just doesn’t agree with me. But I decided to bite the bullet this once, for the sake of my three-year-old little boy, and visit the Winter Wonderland at Whinfell Forest.

23 Dec 2014

Christmas Crafts at the #LauraAshleyXmas Event

It was last Sunday when I was invited to attend the Laura Ashley Christmas Crafts event and came face to face with my nemesis of many years - the sewing machine. I see that it has undergone dramatic modernisation since our last encounter years ago, when I so successfully managed to destroy my Mother's trusty old Singer of many years.

I had accepted the invitation to try my hand at some Christmas crafts, and I was not about to shrink from the challenge. But it was with an element of apprehension that I cautiously approached this new-fangled piece of technology masquerading as a sewing machine.

16 Dec 2014

School Run Colours #5

It's the most wonderful time of the year. Christmas is all around us. We are in the grips of Jingle Bells and Rudolph's red nose at the moment. So it is only apt that I try and capture a little bit of that festive spirit for this week's School Run Colours.         

I am also linking up to The Prompt with my Christmas haiku.

Fairy lights dancing
Piercing inky darkness
Cold nights aglow

School Run Colours
If you are new to the School Run Colours linky, you can read more about it here.  To find out how I ended up being inspired to start this linky, please visit my previous post School Run Colours - My Brand New Linky

I would love it if you added the School Run Colours badge to your post, and if you followed me on twitter (@vaichin). Please use the hashtag #SchoolRunColours on social media, so we can spread the word. I will be pinning all linked up posts to my Pinterest board School Run Colours. It would be great if you could follow the board too. So let's link up, comment, share and spread the love. 

School Run Colours is taking a little break over the festive season as school is out and there is no school run! But we will be back up and running in the New Year. In the meantime, here's wishing you all a very happy Christmas and a wonderful New Year. xxx

School Run Colours

15 Dec 2014

Pretty Bijous Jewellery Review

Like most females of my species, I too am partial to beautiful pieces of jewellery. It doesn’t always have to be bling, although there are very few times when I will willingly refuse a diamond-encrusted tiara. For me, a piece of jewellery has to reflect my mood, complement my personality and make a statement.

Pretty Bijous Jewellery

Pretty Bijous promise to offer just that with their original handcrafted art jewellery. They offer four trendy collections of necklaces, earrings and rings at the moment. Ocean Breeze, Tribal, Mystique and Tutti Frutti – the collections are as varied and colourful as their names suggest.

Pretty Bijous Jewellery

The best part is that being handcrafted, each piece is unique. So there will never be the danger of somebody else wearing the exact same design as you.

Pretty Bijous Jewellery

The earrings are made of polymer clay and are finished with nickel-free silver plated jump rings and fishhook earring wire. Satin glaze is used to finish the look, however they are not too shiny and glossy. They are fairly lightweight as well.

Pretty Bijous Jewellery

The pair I was sent is in pretty earthy brown hues. Each earring is slightly bigger than a 10 pence coin. A good size if you are setting about making a fashion statement. The patterns on the pair are similar, but not exacting, which lends to their charm. I like the attention to detail in that the reverse sides are distinctly unique as well.

Pretty Bijous Jewellery

The Pretty Bijous ring I was sent is reminiscent of a tiger’s eye gemstone. It is a nice chunky piece that sits on an adjustable ring base, so it can fit a range of differently sized fingers. 

Pretty Bijous Jewellery

If you are still looking for a last minute Christmas present, here is your chance to pick up a piece of beautiful statement jewellery at a good price. Pretty Bijous has kindly offered to give my lovely readers a 15% discount if purchasing before 28th December 2014.  Just use the code BIJOUS15OFF at checkout.

Disclaimer: I was sent a pair of Pretty Bijous earrings and a ring for the purpose of this review. All opinions are my own.

8 Dec 2014

Personalised Letterbox Cake by BakerDays: A Review

So what is better than a cake? A personalised cake that tastes just as good as it looks. Or perhaps even better than it looks. BakerDays offered me just such a cake to review.

BakerDays are the personalised cake specialists that deliver delicious cakes straight to your home. The process is really quite simple. Well, I say simple. But it is no easy task when you have a choice of over 500 designs and six flavour options to choose from. Apart from the usual small, medium and large sizes, BakerDays offer a fun and fantastic option of the Letterbox Cake.

Personalised Letterbox Cake by BakerDays

5 Dec 2014

The 12 Smells of Christmas by Febreze : A Giveaway

It's beginning to smell a lot like Christmas! The clean, lush scent of a Christmas tree, the sweet spice of warm gingerbread and the rich tang of mulled wine; we all love to smell our favourite festive scents during the holidays...but not-so-nice aromas also have a habit of lingering in the excitement-charged air!

Whether they are nasty or nice, these 12 smells of Christmas all play a part in the festive season, but with Febreze's Christmas scents to hand there should never be a reason to let any stinky scents ruin your holiday buzz.

So whether it is the sweetness of Vanilla Latte, the traditional warm infusions of Apple & Spice or Warm Cedarwood, the fresh fragrance of Winter Garden or a light spritz of Festive Spice, Febreze's new collection of seasonal scents are the perfect perfumed accessory to keep your home smelling just right this Christmas.

Febreze UK have kindly agreed to gift one of my readers a lovely 'The 12 Smells of Christmas' gift hamper similar to the one shown below. You can enter the giveaway via the Rafflecopter widget at the end of this post. Good luck! And have a lovely, fragrant Christmas.

The 12 Smells of Christmas Gift Hamper Giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclaimer: I was gifted a hamper by Febreze UK to host this giveaway. No other compensation was received.

3 Dec 2014

#ClearAPlate to End Food Poverty

I was brought up to believe that food is a precious commodity that deserves to be revered. Coming from a deeply religious Hindu family, the concept that food is to be treated with the same respect and devotion as God was one that got ingrained into my conscience at a very early age. My parents never spared any opportunity to reinforce the belief that to waste food willy-nilly without a just cause was nothing short of a sin!

The concept was difficult for me to fathom as a child, especially as I was fortunate enough to have enough on my plate and more, at any meal of any day. As I grew up, I became more and more aware of the reason behind my parents' insistence on avoiding food waste.

While there are many of us living in comfort and taking all our meals for granted, there are those who are not so sure about where their next meal is going to come from, if at all. Contrary to popular belief, it is not just people in the developing countries around the globe that are facing the horror of starvation.

It is very unfortunate that there are families right here in the UK for whom hunger is only too real. New research out in November this year shows that not being able to feed ourselves or our children is a very real concern for many families across the UK. 42% of households consider it difficult to live on their income, with 20% of these struggling families borrowing money from family or friends in order to feed themselves and their children. Shockingly 22% of the parents in these families even go without food so that their children can eat. Yet 75% of us continue to throw away food that could have been eaten.

Unilever have launched Project Sunlight with the hope to make this world a better place for our children to inherit. The #ClearAPlate campaign is an off-shoot of this project. Working in partnership with Oxfam, the aim is to 'waste not, want not', to provide meals to struggling families here in the UK.


It really does not take a lot of effort to stop food waste. Here are 5 really simple ways by which you can stop food waste and do your bit to put an end to food poverty.

5 Easy Ways to Stop Food Waste:

1) Meal planning: Try and chart out a weekly plan for all your meals. That way, you will know exactly what and how much of anything you need to buy. It will help you budget better as well.

2) Shopping lists: This is the next logical step to meal planning. Once you know what you are eating through the week, it is only right that you list out all that you need to buy to make those meals. I find shopping lists extremely useful when I do my grocery shop. They allow me to stay focussed on what I actually need to buy, rather than being distracted by all the promotions on supermarket shelves.
Doing your grocery shopping on-line might be another useful way to stick to your shopping list and budget and to avoid being carried away by promotions.

3) Use by and Best before: The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has clear guidelines with regards to 'use by' and 'best before' dates on food packaging. 'Use by' is for perishable foods that go off quickly, like meats, ready-prepared salads and other products in chilled cabinets in the supermarket. Eating products after the 'use by' date can prove to be a health hazard.

'Best before' is for frozen, dried, tinned and other foods. This is more about quality than safety. Eating something beyond its 'best before' date doesn't mean the food will be harmful, but it might begin to lose its flavour and texture.

Knowing what can be eaten and by when can go a long way in avoiding waste.

4) Safely store and use leftovers: This is a key factor in avoiding food waste. Simple, small steps like freezing extra portions, refrigerating left-overs and creating new recipes with them can make all the difference between salvaging food and binning it.

Instead of throwing out those black, over-ripe bananas, try baking with them. The result is guaranteed to bring a smile to your face.

5) Portion sizes: This is such a small change to adopt in our everyday lives, but one that can make a huge impact in the long run. Instead of taking huge portions and then throwing leftovers in the bin, just take smaller portions to start with. You can always go back for seconds. You may even notice a shrinking waistline as a side-effect!

Five really simple things that can make such a big difference. Not only for the cause of preventing food waste, but also to your pocket. Think about how much you will save in a year as a family by incorporating these small little changes in your daily routines.

We are on the threshold of a new year, a time to make new resolutions. A time to act against food poverty and to do your bit to put an end to food waste.

I have joined forces with Unilever and the #ClearAPlate campaign to bring you a competition, one that will hopefully inspire you to pledge your support to this cause.

image courtesy Project Sunlight and #ClearAPlate

One of you, my readers, are in with a chance of winning a fantastic hamper worth £50. It will include a colourful kitchen whisk, measuring spoons, fridge magnets with imperial/metric conversions, a measuring jug, multicoloured stacking food containers, reusable cupcake cases, an egg timer, a shopping list/meal planner notebook, a window planter with seeds and a Leftovers Cookbook. 

You can enter via the Rafflecopter widget below. Good luck! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclaimer: I am running this competition on behalf of the team at Unilever and #ClearAPlate. I am also linking up with Mumsnet in the hope of winning a pair of tickets to BlogFest 2015. I have not received any compensation to do either of these things. 

2 Dec 2014

School Run Colours #4

I have been really pleased with the interest people have shown in the School Run Colours linky over this last week. Although I still don't have many people linking in, I like that the concept has sparked some interest in the blogosphere. 

I started this linky to try and make the mundane a little more interesting. The idea was to walk to school (or cycle or scoot). Anything but take the car. And try and spot colour while doing so, letting it inspire you to be creative. 

Now, quite a few of my readers have commented that they do not do the school run. You can still take part in the linky. As long as you are walking, it does not matter where to. You could be walking to work, or to the shops or to run an errand. If you could have taken the car, but have opted not to, you then have the opportunity to appreciate your surroundings. And that is what this linky is about.

So whether you do the school run or not, you are very welcome to join in with School Run Colours.

My school run colours this week capture fallen autumn leaves.

School Run Colours

Faded leaves scatter
Lifeless rustling careless fling
Waiting to be crushed

If you are new to the School Run Colours linky, you can read more about it here.  To find out how I ended up being inspired to start this linky, please visit my previous post School Run Colours - My Brand New Linky

I would love it if you added the School Run Colours badge to your post, and if you followed me on twitter (@vaichin). Please use the hashtag #SchoolRunColours when sharing your posts on social media, so we can spread the word. I will be pinning all linked up posts to my Pinterest board School Run Colours. It would be great if you could follow the board too.

School Run Colours

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