June 6, 2017

What I’m loving this month

It’s been a while since my last round up, as the months seem to have flown by in a busy blur.

This month I’ve been lucky enough to try some great homeware and foodie items. Here’s a round up of my favourites…

Sparkling Ice

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A new range of healthy fizzy drinks, Sparkling Ice combine natural sparkling water with flavours, producing a refreshing and tasty drink with only 12 calories per bottle. Available in four different flavours – Black Raspberry, Orange Mango, Peach Nectarine and Kiwi Strawberry, these should be your go to for on the go refreshment. Each bottle also contains vitamins and anti-oxidants.

Available in all good supermarkets for around £1.25.

 

E-Cloth Starter Pack

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It’s that time of year again. Time to spring clean! There’s nothing handier for your home overhaul than the E-Cloth Starter pack. This pack is a selection of E-Cloths most popular items including:

  •  The Bathroom cloth which is great for tackling limescale
  • The Glass and Polishing cloth which easily remove grease and finger prints
  • The General Purpose cloth which is super absorbent and easily tackles spillages
  • The Kitchen cloth, which has scouring pockets to scrub at stubborn grease
  • and of course, the Window cloth which leaves your windows smear-free and sparkling

The reason I love E-Cloths? You don’t need any cleaning sprays at all. With just water or elbow grease, your home can be sparkling again in no time. Available here for £17.99

Wahaca Soft Taco Kits

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I often pop into Wahaca with friends or family when in London, as the food is so delicious, affordable and authentically Mexican. It’s one of my favourite casual dining restaurant chains and I also have a couple of Thomasina’s Mexican cookbooks at home which I’m trying out. However, for the unitiated to Mexican cuisine, these new soft taco kits from Wahaca are a great, easy introduction.

I was sent two different soft taco kits to try out at home: The Tomato & Smoky Chipotle Kit and The Fiery Habanero & achiote kit. The kits contain everything you need to create the meal with tortillas, marinade and a salsa. Simply add your chosen meat or vegetables. Nice and easy to create a delicious meal.

These kits are literally 100 times better than the usual Old El Paso kits. Packed full of flavour and featuring specific chillies, these will add some flavour to your Friday night. A word of warning though, only the brave should attempt the Fiery habanero & achiote kit….it nearly blew my socks off!

Available in Tesco now for £3.69

Wham Flexi Bags

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These Wham Flexi Bags are some of the best things which have come into my house this month. These flexible bags available in square and bag size are pretty much capable of carrying anything. Use them in the garden, for groceries, to store the kids toys or like me, put one at the bottom of your stairs for things which need to be put away upstairs or use it to transport drinks or use as an ice bucket at your next BBQ. These pretty bags are incredibly durable and will be lasting you for almost a lifetime I imagine! Prices vary from £2.50 for the smallest through to £7.00 for the bigger sizes. Find out more here.

Lyons Coffee Bags

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Now this is an interesting concept….Lyons have created a range of coffee bags featuring fresh ground coffee. Simply place in your cup and brew for 3-4 minutes for a cup of freshly ground coffee…any time, any place. So convenient for on the go and great for sticking in your bag for holidays, caravanning or even just for the office. Currently available in 4 different varieties (one of them a decaf), there’s something to suit everyone.

Just make sure you brew them for 4 minutes, as we found these could be a little weak otherwise. Available in all good supermarkets with an RRP of £2.60.

**I was sent all of the above to review, but opinions are 100% my own and I was not required to write a positive review.**

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May 25, 2017

The Haier Challenge – An Update

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It’s been a week since I started the Haier Fresh challenge and I just wanted to give you a little update on where things since my food shop last week. See below for my video diary which will tell you a little more about my habits this week.

It’s been absolutely shocking to discover how much I’m just throwing away because it’s gone off – from strawberries and salad, through to chicken and yoghurt. Appalling!

This challenge has made me much more conscious of my food waste. I’d definitely recommend doing something similar yourself at home, to keep tabs on what’s been thrown away.

My fridge is gradually emptying, as you can see…. with not much left from the original shop…. just a few stragglers.

I’m looking forward to seeing what Haier suggests to prevent such waste in my fridge!

Find out more about Haier here or follow them on Facebook @haieruk

Sponsored Post by Haier

 

 

 

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May 21, 2017

Feeling Fresh With Haier

Food waste is a huge issue in the UK, not only with supermarkets and shops but also in our own homes. I don’t know about you, but there’s always that cucumber you didn’t get to before it disintegrated or those yoghurts which have long passed their sell by date before you even think of them.

Environmental reasons are of course, a major factor as to why preventing food wastage in the home is so important, but let’s also not forget it can help us save a fortune!

For this reason, I was excited to take part in the Haier Fresher Food Challenge, which will see me updating on my normal shopping and fridge use, followed by some advice from the Haier team on how to keep my food fresher for longer…helping me to combat food wastage.

At the moment my fridge is definitely not being used to its full potential – I throw things in where they fit and then forget about them, unless I can see them! Although I create meal plans before I pop off to the shops, life changes during the week and we often come in late or move meals around just to confuse me.

I’d say the things we tend to throw away the most are salad bags, cucumbers (they really seem to deteriorate quickly), yoghurts and berries (which I always find go mouldy quickly). Food that is used in the meal plan doesn’t tend to go off, as we know when we’ll be using it and I’ll hunt through the fridge to find it. But anything which is either a healthy snack or salad based, soon goes off.

Here’s a little intro to my kitchen and of course, my weekly shop:

Here’s a little snap shot of my weekly shop

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And here’s when it’s been all unpacked in a most higgeldy piggeldy manor in the fridge

 

These shots say it all really…there isn’t a system going on in the fridge at all!

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Sorry for the fussy shots – the light from the fridge has messed it up a bit!

If you’ve not heard of Haier, the people behind this campaign to get us keeping food fresher for longer before, then let me tell you a little bit about them…

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Haier are the global leader in major household appliances. You might not have heard of them before as they are fairly new to the UK market…so watch out, as you’ll see plenty about them over the coming months.

Their range of fridges and fridge freezers use Fresher Tech solutions, which are designed to help consumers to reduce their food waste and inevitably save money. Through better storage and use of our fridges, Haier wants to help us find easy ways to make our food stay fresher for longer and ultimately help prevent food waste.

Find out more about Haier here or follow them on Facebook @haieruk

Sponsored Post by Haier

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April 25, 2017

Bathing Time

Sometimes all it takes is a long, warm bath to take you away from the stresses of reality. Simple pleasures can often be the best, as we all know.

If you are looking to make your bath time even more indulgent, then why not pick up one of these bathing must-buys.

Malki Dead Sea range

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This beautiful range of natural, paraben free products are based on ingredients from the Dead Sea.

I tried the wonderful mud mask soap. Simply use in place of your soap when sitting in the bath, leave on for a while and clean off for beautifully soft skin. I also tried the Sulpher soap and mineral soap which made my skin super soft. Both are great additions to your bathroom routine.

The full range of Maliki Dead Sea products are available from Boots.

Olverum bath oil

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First created over eight decades ago, this beautiful relaxing bath oil is a timeless classic for one reason. It works. Invented in 1931 and still in the same format today, this beautiful bath oil combines a unique formula of essential oils which help ease stress and relax tension to bring you back to life.

As the oil is so concentrated, you only need to use half a capful per bath, meaning your bottle will last a long time!

Available online here for £26 for 125ml (enough for 25 baths!)

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February 21, 2017

Wanderlust with Lonely Planet

There’s only one thing on my mind this time of year…and that’s where to go next. If you are like me, then you really have to pick up a few great books from Lonely Planet which are packed with inspiration, tips and ideas for your next destination or even how to explore your own home town.

 

Wine Trails (£19.99)

Wine_Trails_LargeLooking for the perfect weekend of vineyard tours, wine drinking and tasting? Then this is the book for you. Featuring detailed itineraries focusing on 52 areas near cities around the world, this guide tells you everything you need to know to create the perfect weekend of vino.

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Areas featured include expected regions such as Australia, New Zealand and Chile, but there are plenty of more unusual countries too such as Hungary & Slovakia, Lebanon and Slovenia too.

Each section includes a map with local wineries marked on the page. Each one has a little explanation and extras in each area include Where To Stay, Where To Eat, What To Do and Celebrations.

This is a great gift for any wine lover, or yourself 🙂

Food Trails (£19.99)

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I’ve reviewed this one before, but wanted to include in this round up, as it’s a fantastic book for inspiring foodie based weekend trips. Laid out in a similar format to the Wine Trails book above, this one takes you on weekend tours of top foodie destinations around the world including of course, where to eat!

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Learn about food markets, tours, trails and the best places for street food in 52 different destinations around the world – a great bucket list book!

The Best Things in Life Are Free (£16.99)

The_Best_Things_in_Life_are_Free_LargeHave the travel bug, but tight on budget? Then this book can help you save a penny or two. Packed with money saving tips and tricks for over 60 major cities around the world, this will inspire you to travel on a budget. The guide includes parks, free experiences, events and museums around the world which can be enjoyed on a low budget trip.

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A must-read for any traveller, this will save pennies and open your eyes to new experiences across the world.

101 Ways To Live Well (£7.99)

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While technically not a travel book, this little life-saver helps you take on the travel mindset any day of the week. Helping you feel less stressed and frazzled with a few small tricks such as mindfulness exercises or yoga moves.

101 ways to live well

Just 5 -10 minutes a day working your way through this book can help improve your life in just a few little steps.

The perfect gift for your stressed co-worker, or use it yourself to remain on an even plain – just like me!

The Big Trip (£16.99)

The_Big_Trip_LargeDesigned for the gap year traveller, this book covers everything you need to make your big trip a reality. Don’t feel this is only for the post school backpacker though, as if you are planning a career break at any time in your life, this book is packed with useful information relevant to you too.

Big Trip

The book takes you through everything from planning your trip before you even leave the country, to finding volunteer work, where to stay, ideas of what to do and how to make your money last. A really useful ‘survival’ guide to your year off.

You Only Live Once (£22.99)

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This is the ultimate bucket list book, not in the traditional sense – this isn’t a list of places to visit and things to do, it’s about helping you find what’s important to you and reigniting your passions for them. Simply choose a chapter which is split into time eg An hour, a day, a month etc and choose an activity which could be ‘dressing up for a day’ or ‘Swimming with fish’.

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Once you’ve chosen the time you want to commit and the activity, there are a list of suggestions of where and how to do it. This is a great coffee table book packed full of inspiring and achievable ideas for those who want to live life to the fullest.

The Ultimate Travelist (£19.99)

10013-Lonely_Planet_s_Ultimate_Travel_List403556_LargeThis book is pure travel inspiration. A great hardback book filled with 500 of the best places to visit in the world. Take your pick or just make your way through the whole list – it may take some time though! This book even comes with a fab map, which you can stick on your wall and mark off with pins as you hit the 500 destinations. Where does your favourite destination come in the list?travelist

There are plenty more great books available from the Lonely Planet Shop, so why not take a look here and pick up something for yourself or a friend. I’m currently reading the Travel Writing and Travel Photography guides – so stay tuned for another Lonely Planet review soon.

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January 30, 2017

What I’m loving this month

It’s time for my round up of things I’m loving this month.

  1. Sistema Storage

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One of my New Year’s resolutions was to get organised. I’ve been busy clearing out cupboards, selling excess belongings on ebay and sorting out my cupboards this past month and when it comes to organising the kitchen cabinets, Sistema has been a lifesaver. Their Kip-It range are not only super functional for holding all your opened items such as raisins, rice and cereal, but they can make your cupboards organised and beautiful – Just like you always imagined. Find out more on the range by visiting www.sistemaplastics.com  Prices vary by item.

2. Flat Stacks

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These nifty Flat Stacks from Wowzr are a real space saver. Another resolution for this year was to try and save money, so the husband is being sent off to work with lunch pre-packed everyday. The great think about these containers is that they are collapsible. Simply fold them up and they are easy to transport. They not only save room in your bag on the way home from work, but when not being used, simply fold up to be stored away from sight.

3. Itsu snacks

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Everyone is looking for the ultimate snack. Something that staves off hunger, is healthy and of course, low in calories…which is why these seaweed and miso soup snacks from Itsu are so great. Crispy Seaweed thins are available in three different flavours: Wasabi, Sea Salt or Sweet Soy and Sea Salt. At around 20 calories per pack, these are moreish salty little snacks. A great replacement for unhealthy crisps.

Also available are two different Miso Soups – around 40 calories each and available in regular and vegetarian. Find these at all good supermarkets now!

4. Lonely Planet Food Trails

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Another thing I’ve been busy doing during January, is dreaming of trips to take during 2017. This is where Lonely Planet’s Food Trails book comes in.  With a variety of itineraries for trips around the world which take in the best dishes, restaurants, food markets and more, this book highlights the must visit foodie capitals of the world including Buenos Aires, Puglia, Melbourne, Penang and Paris. A great read and a huge inspiration for trips.

Currently available for only £13.99 here.

Note: I was sent all of the above to review, but all opinions are my own.

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January 29, 2017

Feeling hot, hot, hot

New Year resolutions are tough. We all choose to start them straight after the festivities – going from drinking and eating to excess to hard exercise and diet programs. This makes us so likely to quit them before the month is out. According to a recent survey most people have given up their resolutions by the 17th January.

So why not take another look at those resolutions you made a month ago and set yourself some more achievable healthy living goals, now we are heading into February? To get you started I’m going to suggest a really easy thing to be adding to your lists – HOT YOGA.

On a freezing cold Saturday morning a few weeks ago I headed on over to Westminster Lodge in St Albans to try Hot Yoga for the first time ever. It’s always been on my must try list, but I kept chickening out, worried about being able to cope with the heat (and the yoga moves). Westminster Lodge has recently opened its own Hot Yoga Studio, specially made to create the perfect environment for the activity.

 

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(I stupidly forgot to take any lovely pictures myself, as I was too excited! If you want to see some great ones, visit Miss Wheezy’s blog, as she’s got some great ones)

They have a selection of classes which vary in warmth from Hot to Warm, with something for everyone. I headed to a Intro class which was made up of 10 people, who like me, were completely new to Hot Yoga, which definitely made it less scary. Surprisingly I wasn’t the worst one in the room – but even if you are, they let you go at your own pace and recommend that you don’t compare yourself to others (although that’s always hard to do).

We went through a series of moves which not only helped stretch us out, but which also got us sweating in the heat. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it. The time flew by and the heat wasn’t too much at all.

It really is the perfect, easy addition to your workout schedule and is a great way to warm up on a cold winter’s day. I can’t imagine a better way to whisk yourself off to an exotic location (mentally) while working out!

Here are just a few reasons why you should try Hot Yoga:

  • FLEXIBILITY Heat allows you to reach new levels of flexibility
  • STRENGTH Low impact and uses muscles you didn’t know you had
  • BREATHE Learn to breathe in a full and controlled manner
  • CARDIO A 90-minute class can burn up to 1,000 calories
  • HEALING The primary purpose of this yoga is therapy
  • DETOXIFYING Sweating throughout yoga detoxifies skin

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Find your nearest Hot Yoga Studio at everyoneactive.com or head over to Westminster Lodge in St Albans to sign up to their 15 days of hot yoga for only £20.

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December 19, 2016

A review of PizzaExpress by my niece

My niece had to write up a restaurant review for a school project and she chose to do one at PizzaExpress. I couldn’t resist posting it on my blog for her. Enjoy!

PizzaExpress Review

By Harriet Nation

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Harriet (left) and her sister, Abigail (right)

At Christmas time, I had the most wonderful meal at PizzaExpress.

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First, I had a Bambinocino and it was delicious. It looked like this….

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Secondly, I had the loveliest  starter I’ve ever had which was doughballs dipped in butter with salad. The doughballs were very squishy, look….

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For my main course I had Pizza (which is why the restaurant is called “PizzaExpress”). It was very cheesy and yummy. The best bit about it was that I got to eat it! Yum!

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Finally, I had a scrumptious, apple-flavoured ice lolly. This was a great way to end the meal.

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The whole meal was fantastic but my favourite part was that there were activities to do.  The best activity I did was decorating a Christmas Bauble.

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December 11, 2016

What I’m loving this month

I know I’ve been MIA for the past month or so…but things are back on track now and life has settled back to normality, so here’s my round up of my favourite things this month.

1.Homedics Foldaway Footspa (RRP £49.99)

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This is an absolutely genius idea. Finally, a footspa which can collapse and fold flat for easy storage! Not only that but it’s a great quality item. Give family and friends the gift of relaxation this Christmas with their own easy to use spa from Homedics.

The footspa features soothing vibration massage and can be used with bath salts to provide a soothing experience for tired feet. Raised acunodes provide extra stimulation for tired feet and the fab keep warm technology ensures a comfortable water temperature throughout your experience. A great present for anyone (or yourself)

2. Ahmad Dessert Teas (£4 each)

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On a diet or just trying to cut back on sweet things? Then this new range of Dessert teas from Ahmad Tea are a must-buy. Indulge in dessert guilt-free thanks to these delicious flavours. Available in six different flavours reflecting some dessert favourites: Strawberry Velvet Cake, Pear & Cinnamon Strudel, Moroccan Orange Slice, Citrus & Mint Sorbet, Strawberry Basil Coulis and Mango & Lychee Souffle. Available from Ocado or follow the web link above to purchase.

3. Charles Viancin Camellia Tea Magnet & Infuser

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This little gadget makes enjoying tea leaves great fun. Simply fill the metal infuser with your chosen tea, drop into your mug and leave to soak. When it’s time to remove, use the flower (which is magnetised) to retrieve the infuser and place on the green leaf. A cute little addition to any kitchen and a great stocking filler.

4. Vileda Easy Wring & Clean Turbo (£34.99)

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I know, I know…it’s a mop. But this isn’t just any old mop, this is the Easy Wring & Clean Turbo from Vileda. The pedal powered wringer rotates 500-1000 times a minute to wring out excess water, with virtually no effort – a real life saver when you have a dog in the house like us. Apparently this means it gives 20% better particle pick up. All I can say is our floors look spotless and we’ve been using it for months now. There’s also the mop holder and easy pour function to help get rid of the dirty water with little effort. The mop head is machine washable too – simply pop it in the washing machine when it gets dirty and it will keep going.

5. Shea Moisture Fruit Fusion Weightless Texture Spray

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This styling spray feels as though it has been designed for me – it works perfectly with my crazy, fine hair. The spray delivers a balance of body and definition for an effortless lasting tousled look. With beautifully fruity ingredients including Shea Butter, Coconut Water, Dragon Fruit, Lychee Berry and Green Apple Extracts. The spray also includes Imbe Oil which helps to block humidity and Aloe to add a weightless shine. This really makes my hair manageable and is a great everyday styling spray.

All of the above were sent to me to review, but opinions are all my own.

 

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December 11, 2016

Enjoying veggies with Mash Direct

A recent survey by the lovely people at Mash Direct discovered that British parents aren’t being swayed to eat trendy veggies like avocado and kale, even though they have huge marketing campaigns and celebrity faces behind them. The majority of parents surveyed will continue to serve up their old favourites such as potatoes, broccoli and peas.

It turns out the favourites are potatoes (76%), carrots (72%), peas (68%) and tomatoes (67%).

Surprisingly, the top instagrammed vegetables such as beetroot, kale, avocado and celeriac are the least liked by British families.

Over half of parents questioned admitted they wouldn’t buy a particular vegetable without knowing how to cook it in advance, which is why Mash Direct is a great solution, with their huge selection of ready prepared vegetables.

We were happily sent a selection of Mash Direct items to try and they are fantastic! So easy to just stick in the oven, all the preparation has been taken out of your hands and each different dish provides a great weekday solution. Simply pop in the oven when back from work and serve with some quick pan fry fish or meat and you’ve got a delicious, easy and quick meal.img_2frq8r

We tried a large variety, as you can see in the picture and my favourites were definitely the sweet potato fries – deliciously crispy, these will definitely be a family favourite, along with the sweet potato croquettes, which are fantastic home comforts. Great for one of those days when you need something warming and comforting. Mash Direct has so many items to choose from.

Visit MashDirect for more info on where to buy. You’ll find Mash Direct items in Iceland and Budgens as well as many other good retailers.

 

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October 20, 2016

Competition time: Win Christmas goodies

I know, I know…I said the C word before Bonfire night, but it’s good to plan early when it comes to Christmas shopping. By planning early you can avoid the last minute rush, the crowds of Christmas shoppers and of course, only buy when the price is right. The best thing about all this? You get to enjoy the best bits of the festive season, such as mulled wine and mince pies without any stress.

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To help you on your way, I’ve pulled together a little package of Christmas gifts and goodies to help you get a good head start.

The winner’s package contains:

  • Deadpool Blu-ray
  • Two lovely fun Pug mugs from New Look
  • Champneys Body Souffle
  • Yankee Candles Christmas votive pack
  • Bic fun colours pens
  • The essential scratch & sniff guide to becoming a wine expert

Simply follow the rafflecopter details below to enter. Enter daily to increase your chances!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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October 19, 2016

Lily’s House – Cassandra Parkin

If you are looking for a real page turner of a novel, then this is the book for you. Lily’s House published by Legend follows the difficult dynamics between a grandmother, grand-daughter and her own daughter with twists and turns which are both unexpected and wonderful to read.

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Here’s the description on the back of the book:

When Jen goes to her grandmother’s house for the last time, she’s determined not to dwell on the past. As a child, Jen adored Lily and suspected she might be a witch; but the spell was broken long ago, and now her death means there won’t be any reconciliation.

Lily’s gone, but the enchantments she wove and the secrets she kept still remain. In Lily’s house, Jen and her daughter Marianne reluctantly confront the secrets of the past and present – and discover how dangerous we become when we’re trying to protect the ones we love.

The book is well written, drawing you into a colourfully described world, hiding secrets in the open and then unleashing them with great effect. It explores the strength of love and what binds us in a subtle and delightful way.

Find out more here: http://www.legendtimesgroup.co.uk/legend-press/books/1245-lily-s-house  and follow the book tour over the next few weeks across various blogs. See below for details.

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Out now in all good bookshops

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