Last Minute Mother's Day Gift Guide with Lewisham Shopping*

With Mother's Day just around the corner (it's this Sunday!!) I teamed up with Lewisham Shopping to share a few ideas to help you buy a last minute gift.

Though called Mother's Day, so many important women in our lives can also benefit from being reminded how much they mean to us this Sunday with a gift.

So what have i found?

For the woman who loves to travel TK Maxx have a wash bag set which sport a really eye catching pattern. Stylist yet functional, i think I may have to go back and get one for myself.

The Works has been one of my favourite shops for a while now with it's vast arts and crafts supplies, cute storage boxes and books at discounted prices. I never leave the store without something. I love this Grandma You're the Best book. It is full of funny and inspirational quotes and would make a lovely present from a grandchild.

The Perfume Shop have lots of gifts and a wide choice of fragrances. I picked up a refillable bottle of Thierry Mugler Alien which comes in a cute presentation box.

M &S has everything covered from Mother's Day cakes, flowers, jewellery and beauty treats. You will be spoiled for choice on every budget. I picked up this treat box which is perfect for a foodie which contains fruit jellies, sea salt caramel, Assam teabags, Viennese creams and a little cheeky bottle of prosecco.

If you are looking for the Perfect Mother's Day card or gift head to the Card Factory. They have everything from cute personalised wine glasses, candles, balloons and gift wrap. 

Lewisham Shopping have also come up with some gift inspiration of their own...

1.    Hand Cream Gift Set From The Body shop - £10

2.    Alphabet Make Up Bag From Next - £8

3.    The Collection Prosecco & Chocolates From Marks and Spencer - £20

4.    Chamilia Sterling Silver Mother's Day Gift Set From Ernest Jones -£50

5.    Rose & Lily Flowers from Marks and Spencer - £40

6.    White and Red Made With Love Teapot From TKMaxx - £12.99 

7.    EsteĆ© Lauder Modern Muse Nuit Parfum From The Perfume Shop - £50

8.     Paddywax Hygge Ceramic Candle Vetiver and Cardamom From Boots - £30

Lewisham Shopping Centre is open 9am - 5pm on Saturday and 11am - 5pm on Sunday. With lots of transport route, parking and  a wide selection of top high street stores such as BHS, H&M, M&S, The Body Shop, TK MAXX, Evans and Tiger. You will not sturggle to find your perfect Mother's Day gift to give.

*This is a collaborative post with Lewisham Shopping, however all opinions are my own 

Brent Cross | Family Friendly Shopping For Everyone*

As I have spoken about on the blog before, Wednesdays are "Mummy and Darcy Days". When the lovely people at Brent Cross got in contact and asked if we would like to come down for a girlie day of manicures, lunch and shopping, of course we snapped up the offer.

Brent Cross is really easy to get to. We got on a bus which stopped right in front of the main entrance. It is easy to get to by tube and there are numerous buses you can get there. There is LOTS of parking if you are coming by car and most importantly the parking is free.

First stop was Sia Hair and Beauty, which is based on the ground floor. I opted for the express manicure as time is of the essence when you have a toddler and lots of shops to visit. They have a great selection of OPI gel polishes. The staff were very welcoming and helpful with Darcy, who ended up getting a little manicure for herself with some cute nail art. Sia Hair and Beauty offer a range of treatments including threading, waxing, manicures, pedicures, facials, tinting, lash extensions, massage, microdermabrasion and much more.If you are in a hurry they have a express bar on the first floor for manicures and threading.

One thing about Brent Cross is you will never ever be hungry. They have a food court on the top floor. Whether you fancy a coffee or a sit down meal they have it covered. From Nandos to Leon's,  there are lots of places to choose from to meet all types of diets and culinary tastes. I decided on Wagamama's as I was craving a Pad Thai. I was a little nervous as I have never taken Darcy before and I didn't know what she could and would be willing to eat. However, they have a great kid's menu from freshly squeezed juices to yummy noddles they had everything covered. Darcy had lots of fun trying to work out how to use the chop sticks, the service is fast and the staff are very friendly. If you are worried about using chopsticks, forks and spoons are readily available onthe tables!

Brent Cross is very family friendly, there are signage everywhere which is perfect when you are trying to navigate yourself around with a lively toddler. There are spacious toilets on every floor with great changing room facilities. If you need a five minute break they have plenty of seating on each floor and on the top floor there have a kid zone where the little angels can let off some steam!!!.

Fenwick is like an Aladdins cave, literally everything you need is under one roof. From make up and skin care to designer handbags. Their Womens selection has everything you would need. Up to the trend denim with trimmings and embroidery which is big this season. Stylist sportswear which can be worn outside of the gym, and for when you have a special occasion to go to, they have some amazing evening dresses and accessories.

The Children selection has a totally different feel. Straight away you notice how bright is as, with plenty of room to move a buggy around. They have a great selection of baby items and lots of gift sets which will be perfect to give to a newborn and their parents. Darcy is already a shopaholic and had great fun showing me what clothes and accessories she liked.

They also have their toy selection on the same floor. From Lego to Barbie, there are lots of selections of toys for all ages and most importantly lots of displays to not only look at but also to play with. They are up to date with all the new releases.

We found ourselves in the Build A Bear department which is on the same floor. I loved the whole experience. Your child gets to pick their own bear, not only do they stuff it to the fullness they want, they also do a heart ceremony where they get a red heart rub it in between their hands to keep it warm, rub it on their tummy so they never get hungry, rub it on their forehead so they are really smart and rub it on their back so they always got their teddy bears back. I really think its a lovely bonding experience. Darcy named her bear Ariel after her favourite Disney Princess and they have been inseparable every since. We have been back since to buy Ariel some new clothes and accessories, never would I had thought I would be buying clothes for a teddy bear, but they are reasonable priced.

Whilst we were there they were hosting a birthday party, which the kids were loving. I think it's a great idea and when Darcy is older she will definitely be having a party there.

No trip to Brent Cross is not complete without a visit into Lush. As you know I love Lush, from the products to the staff,  shopping there is such a lovely experience it. It is also fun for the kids, they get to touch the products, give the shower jellies a womble and there are always bath bomb and bubble bar demonstrations which the kids can get involved with.

Shopping can be very thirsty work, so we headed down to Fuel Juice Bar which is located on the ground floor. Fuel Juice Bars offer a healthy range of deliciously fresh fruit smoothies and juice made from natural ingredients. They have a specialist kids menu with four smoothies to pick from which are both nut and gluten free.

We had a great day at Brent Cross and of course we will be back every soon.  A massive thank you for inviting us down.

You can find out more about Brent Cross and their regular theme events here.

*This is a collaborative post with Brent Cross, however all opinions are my own

Cash Lady | A Quick Fix Money Solution

I am not ashamed to say that I have used payday loan before. I know there is a lot of bad press surrounding them. However it's a great way to obtain a guaranteed sum of money for people are in need of quick loans. And are in the position to pay it back within the agreed time frame

One of the things I noticed about Pay Day Loans is that they are advertised everywhere as a quick fix solution that is suitable for everyone. Personally I don't agree with this, they're not a one size fits all solution. When it comes to financial decisions it's really important that you think carefully about what you're doing and ensure that whatever decision you make is the right one for you and your set-up.

What is essential is that you ensure that you only borrow what you can afford to pay back - I know sometimes that seems like pointless advice, because let's face it - if you have to borrow in the first place then you probably don't have spare funds lying about everywhere.

And most importantly if you find your are struggling often financially, please contact Step Change. Step Change are a debt charity who give free debt advice & debt management.  Step Change are fantastic, they will deal with contacting your lenders so you don't have to, they are happy to give you advice when you need it.

Remember though, loans are great if they work for you - however sometimes it's important to ensure that you only borrow for what you need. Sometimes I am tempted to splash out left right and centre to treat D, but then I have to remember that the most important thing I can give her is my time.

If you do need to borrow money, there is nothing to be ashamed of - just make sure that you  do your research and borrow in the right way, from the right company.

Choosing A Care Home*

I am extremely lucky that at my age I have a full set of Grandparents on my maternal side in good health and  independent. However, some of us at some point will have to think about the option putting our loved ones into a care home.

Of course there is a lot to consider when chosing a care home for elderly relatives with their involvement. You want to make sure they will be happy, safe and well looked after. Here are things worth while looking into when chosing a care home.

Get a Needs assessment from Social Services, the assessment is free and will highlight what type of care and support they will need, the Social Worker will explain the options available. They will also see if you qualify for any financial support which would include completing a means tested asssessment.

Make a short list of homes, The Elderly Accommodation Counsel provides a directory of over 40,000 retirement housing and care homes in the UK .Also ask friends and family for any recommendations

Check the quality of care, The Care Quality Commision is an established independent regulator for care homes in England. They undertake regular inspections of all care homes to make sure they meet government standards and can help find any areas for concern. In Wales the independent regulator is Care and Social Services Inspectorat and Scotland Care Inspectorate

Visit the home, it is vital to visit a prospective home on several occasions before deciding try and go at different times of the day and or week, just like when you are looking to buy property. 
Things you should look for include, do you feel welcomed? Staff interaction with the residents and each other, Do you see staff spending time with the residents or is the television on?  Are the seating all the same size? Is there quiet spaces when residents can sit away from the communal lounge? as people have different needs. Do the residents look comfortable? Is there an event programme and Activities Organiser? Can you see residents taking part in daily life activities. What does the decor look?,look at the cleansliness of the home and the rooms, and most importantly WOULD YOU WANT TO LIVE THERE?

Choosing a care home is a very hard decision and one that you have to get right. There is lots of specialist knowledge from care homes themselves. For more information Barchester has great advice when it comes to nursing care

Summer in London*

As a born and bred Londoner I have across loads of different party venues in my time. In fact, one of our favourite things about living in such a busy city is that there are so many different types of venues. This city is full of such vibrancy and hustle and bustle, which means that there is always fun, exciting and new to explore – which makes for an interesting night out!

This time of year I start to find that my summer calendar gets a bit booked up – with summer party venues  London being booked well in advance.  I have to say, there is nothing quite like a party outside in the summer. When the evenings are nice and long, and you can spend sometime outside in the sunshine I really think it is time to get involved and make the most of it. The last few weeks I have noticed that the evenings are drawing out, which means that Summer is well and truly on its way.

When it comes to London party and events, there’s also plenty of family fun to be had. It’s nice that D is at the age now where we can go out and about and have a day full of adventures. As much as winter has been nice to go out and about, when the weather is nicer I really think that we’re going to be able to go out and do even more – and that’s something I’m really looking forward to.

D’s birthday is at the start of the year, so although it’s lovely to celebrate her birthday in the winter – perhaps we’ll have our own summer garden party and really make the most of summer!

What do you look for from your perfect party venue?

Cake Toppers Review and Giveaway

We all know that I am partial to a bit of cake, so when the guys over at Cake Toppers recently got in touch to see if I would be interested in reviewing some of their cupcakes of course I said yes.

Even though I had received a letterbox cake before, I didn't know what to expect as cupcakes can be rather delicate. However, as you can see the cupcakes survived their journey. They arrived really well packaged, from the sturdy slimline board that they came in, to the bubble wrap and plastic cupcake case. There was no way that these cupcakes where going to get damaged.

Now to the most important part, the taste. I'm going to be honest, I'm not the biggest fan of chocolate cake. But when Darcy leaped over and  swiped the cake I had my eye on. I had no choice but to try the chocolate one and I have to say it was really nice.not at all sickly sweet which you normally get with most chocolate flavoured stuff, so soft and moist. The icing was the right thickness and I liked the little added touch with the gold foil cupcake case, Oh and Darcy said that the vanilla was really nice also.

Overall,  if you are looking for a quirky gift idea, Cake Toppers is definitely the place to go. You can personalise your cupcakes with a photo, logo or message of your choice. Perfect for birthdays, anniversaries, celebrations or any special occasion big or small.

Cake Toppers have been lovely enough to give me a box of these cupcakes to giveaway to one of my lucky readers. To enter, simply complete one or more of the entries on the Rafflecoopter below. Good Luck!

So tell me, what would you have printed on your cupcakes?

SuperLucky Blog Giveaway Linky

The Buyer’s Guide To Olive Oil*

Olive oil is a staple in our cupboards, it's one of the healthiest oils to cook with. Olive Oil is the natural oil obtained from olives, it has Monosaturated Fats, has antiflammatory properties and is thought to help prevent strokes and protect against Heart Disease.

There is nothing more that I love than dipping warm crusty bread into olive oil, or making a quick and easy pesto. I've even tried olive oil ice cream, I'm not going to lie it wasn't to my liking. however, it shows there is so much more you can use olive oil for.

Not only do I use olive oil to cook with, I also use it on my body. It's great for removing make up with, used as part of a homemade hair mask/conditioner and moisturising cuticles.Some people drink a teaspoon in the morning as a tonic!

Jamie's Italian has created a really helpful infographic, which makes it so much easier to know which type of olive oil to pick whilst out shopping. If you have visited one of Jamie Oliver's restaurants you will know he knows what he is talking about when it comes to olive oil. Check it out below!