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Dear Daisy, It is your first day at school...

Aldi Dupes | Is it acceptable?

Even if you haven't bought into it I am pretty sure you'll have heard all about the Aldi dupes for products such as Liz Earles Cleanse and Polish. Aldi's version being Hot Cloth cleanser and well a quarter of the price at least. I have bought into it and I have mixed feelings, I will be really honest.

One part of me absolutely loves the product for what it is. To me it does a good job for the price and my skin appears to really like it. It is gentle enough for me and leaves me feeling cleansed and well, polished. I also love the consistency and the smell is very spa like which is a scent I like. It is filled with rosemary, chamomile, cocoa butter, white tea and eucalyptus oil which are all scents I enjoy. It isn't floral or over powering, it just smells clean and fresh.

Aldi Hot cloth cleanser

But let's be real here. It is a complete rip off of the cult Liz Earle product that has been a staple in many peoples cleansing routine for a long time and for a good reason. In one way I think Aldi (Lacura) have made a bold step even attempting to come close to such a brand and surely it can't compare?

I am not a long time user of the L.E Cleanser, as much as I would love to it sadly is purchased as a gift and I can't sustain the price tag as my usual go to product, as much as I would love to. So to compare the two wouldn't be fair. So I looked at the ingredients.

First let's look at Aldi’s Lacura Hot Cloth Cleanser. Firstly it looks like a great pick for your skin. It’s got no harsh cleansers such as SLS and 2 of its top listed ingredients are coconut oil  and cocoa seed butter. Good right? Pretty much the same pattern you'll see emerging from L.E Ingredients list. Of course you can see which of the ingredients is a top ingredient by seeing how far up the list it is but you can't necessarily see exactly how much is in either of the products to truly compare.

Either L.E has a lot more of the active ingredients in them to warrant the price tag or they are using their brand name and trust to reflect the price tag.

Image Source: Look Magazine

For me I like the Lacura product, I just wish they had marketed it slightly differently. Why make a deliberate copy of that famous cult product? But then you have to ask yourself would the likes of you and I have picked it up if it wasn't?

There are some more dupes that have been released this last few weeks and as much as I want to try them I do feel this tie to the original cult brands. Watch this space!

Stop Rushing Me

time saving with kids
Come on, in to the bath...

Out you Jump quickly!

Eat up faster!

Come on tidy up, we need to go...

Stop rushing me.

Do you feel like you’re always in a hurry and rushing your kids around?  Or is it just me?

It is is difficult as a parent not to add this time pressure to our little ones, especially when we have school to get to on time, work to start and jobs to do before a certain time. But just lately I have been feeling the guilt when I have spent the afternoon rushing them about, especially Daisy who has been at school all day. She obviously just wants to spend the time doing things at her own pace once she is home, enjoying her bath and playing with the toys she has missed whilst at school all day. I am not sure why it has suddenly dawned on me how often I actually do this and truth be told how to try and make it that bit easier for her.

At the weekends I make a conscious effort to allow the day to be slower. If she doesn't get dressed util 11am then so be it. If we are spending the day at home then why not? If she wants to dilly dally over her lunch and be the worlds most painfully slow eater then fine. But how do I bring more of this into the time she has after school? How do I change my mindset that everything has to be done in a rush?

I know rushing about makes me feel on edge, especially when there is hold ups and she wants just "2 more minutes" in the bath at least 3 times before actually getting out! But why is it that I let it bother me? Because really, does it matter if it takes that 10 more minutes to do our bedtime routine?

When I stop and see other people with my children just absorbing the moments and letting them explore I feel a pang of jealousy. Not because I wish it was me but because sometimes life and routine just feels like it doesn't let me very often. Should we be letting out children stop and think a little more, take things in and then act. Sometimes ‘slowing down’ is easier said than done and obviously some things we can't help but rush and some times we really do need to be somewhere at a specific time, I.e - School!

My commitment (I have to now I have noted it here) is to try and remove things from the never ending job list. For example they really don't need  baths/ showers every single night, why not spend longer choosing the bedtime story that I often hurry along. Why not let Daisy doodle away whilst having her tea and let her spend extra 10 minutes eating if she enjoying herself? And do you know what, yes she has to read at home for school, but will one evening a week less really made a massive difference to her education at this age? I think not.

Just a bit of thought for you on this dreary, frosty day...

Garden Activities For Kids: Ideas To Improve Your Lawn and Plants With Little Helping Hands* AD

Those of you that have followed us for a while will know that we have recently been renovating our home. This means our garden has taken a bit of a hit and so we really need to start focusing on that now!

Free activities for kids

Keeping your garden in a reasonable-looking state is a year-round task though. Whether you live in the city and have a man-made patch of greenery or in the countryside, there is always room for improvement and odd jobs that can be done. So, why not get the kids involved? Garden activities for kids are a great way to keep your kiddies happy but keep your garden in tip-top shape at the same time. Of course, there are some jobs that the kids can’t get involved in, like using machinery or sharp tools, but little odd jobs can all add up to improve the overall look and health of your lawn and general outdoor areas.

1. Planting!

Whatever the weather, there is potential to get outside in the garden and plant some seeds. You may think that now winter has arrived there is no hope for any sort of flower, vegetable or shrubbery to thrive but that is not the case. Taking kids shopping for seeds is an activity they will no doubt enjoy, or you can even use food scraps to reduce waste and grow your own veg for free! Some hardy trees, plants and vegetables that can survive even in freezing temperatures are evergreen trees, shrubs, grass, berry bushes, kale, spinach, beetroot, carrots, cauliflower and much more.

An important aspect of every garden (well, most) is the lawn, so why not get the kids involved in preparing the lawn for winter. Of course, using lawn mowers is not an option but you could get inventive and have a leaf collecting competition to see who can pick up the most or who can find the biggest or most colourful. Ideas like this might seem simple but are a free and easy way to keep your kids busy for hours, whilst also keeping your lawn in good health. Aerating your lawn by spiking small holes on its surface is another way you could all have a go, but with the kids using toy rakes which can be found in most kids gardening sets.

However, if you think your lawn might need a slightly heavier helping hand to get it through winter, you could get the professionals in. Greensleeves offer a range of year-round and affordable lawn care services, with guaranteed results. There’s nothing to say you couldn’t get the job started off with a seasonal winter lawn treatment from Greensleeves, then add little finishing touches with some garden activities for kids, as all their services are completely child-friendly.

2. Crafts and DIY!

The good thing about getting creative and doing some child-safe DIY, is that it doesn’t need to be done outdoors. There’s plenty of things that can be made indoors to add some colour or even functionality to your garden – lawn, plants and all.

You could create shelters or mini houses for animals, whether these be for birds, hedgehogs, toads, bugs or worms. Winter months are the perfect time to recycle some of your household waste, such as coffee cans, paint cans, old containers etc. and your kids can get messy and crafty (which of course they’ll love) whilst giving some lucky animals a place to hide from the cold! As well as keeping the kids happy while they’re making the shelters, they’ll no doubt be kept occupied for the weeks following too to check if their shelters are being used.

A really good idea which would help improve the quality of your garden and lawn, whilst also creating something that the kids can monitor and check up on, is a worm farm. Worms, although they may seem gross, play a super important role in your garden. To create a worm farm, use a cardboard box lined with a bin bag and soil. Then add a few worms, which should multiply if you give your children the fun responsibility of putting kitchen scraps in the soil regularly. Once your worm farm is alive and kicking you can even use the soil as compost to help the growth of your lawn or plants.

3. Planning!

Although this post has hopefully shown so far that there are plenty of garden activities for kids to be done no matter the season… sometimes it really is just too cold to take your kids outside without wrapping them in a thousand layers. All mums will know that getting a coat on a child is a struggle! Despite this, there is nothing saying that you can’t sit down with your kids and plan your future garden activities, for example, you could create a fun wish-list for your kids to tick off. As the famous saying goes… failing to prepare, is preparing to fail. You could book in some lawn care treatments, for example, at the start of each season, alongside seasonal garden activities for kids to keep your lawn in good health but with lots of colourful creations to compliment it!

If reading this post has inspired you to get creative in the garden with the kids but you like the idea of getting a professional treatment too, Greensleeves offer affordable lawn treatment services across the whole of the UK. Visit their website for a quick quote or to book in your own personal lawn assessment.

*Collaborative Post, all opinions are my own.

Finding that Perfect Dress for the Winter Party Season* Collaborative Post

The festive season is coming up fast, far too fast if I am honest! I was just starting to relish the autumnal colours and before I knew it the word "Christmas" was being thrown about!

 Usually Christmas comes with lots of parties and celebratory dinners. For these events you will want to dress up and get into the spirit of the occasion or at least have a go if you're anything like me sat with your mum bun! So, more of than not that means going online scouring the web for somewhere like Simply Be and putting together a great outfit that you can wear to several parties.

The fact that the Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales are on the 23rd and 26th of November gives us the perfect opportunity to buy what you need at a bargain price, any chance of a bargain and I am there! Plus, if you do it now you will not be left running around frantically at the last minute (that old habit I have!). To get you started, I have had a quick look around and identified some great trends that you can tap into to quickly find your perfect winter party dress.

Choose a classic dress

Sticking with the classics is a particularly good approach, they don't go out of fashion and can hang about in your wardrobe for a while. These cuts look good on most women and the fact that they are timeless means you can easily wear them again and again.

Fortunately, these cuts are really easy to find this year. Most retailers have plenty of A-line, maxi, pencil and wrap dresses in their collections. If you are unsure of what the classic cuts are, just click here to find out and decide whether they are right for you or not.

Opt for a luxury fabric

Nothing says special better than a luxury fabric. If you wear a dress that is made from lace, velvet, silk or a nice shiny, metallic fabric people know that you have spent a bit of money on your outfit. Or, at least they think that you have. Although these days, it is relatively easy to pick up a nice lace, velvet or metallic dress for not much more than you would pay for an everyday one but it definitely makes you feel that little bit fancier!

The great thing about these dresses is that they hang really well. The fact that the fabric is relatively heavy is the reason for this. It also means that they are great for covering up any little bulges.

Choose a dress that is easy to accessorise

When shopping for your dress, choose one that you can easily accessorise. Doing this will enable you to create different looks and let you get plenty of wear out of your outfit.  It should also make it easier for you to wear it on an everyday basis once the parties are over instead of it simply sitting in your wardrobe gathering dust.

*This post is a sponsored post but all opinions are my own

Top Tips For Saving Money Before Christmas

Christmas is looming and we all know it can be a struggle with the old bank balance. All of the gifts you need to buy, the special food, clothes and all of the additional funds you need for the special events that come with it like your Christmas party! It’s never easy especially when you throw children into the mix. I have done posts like this before but I wanted to write an updated one with a couple of new additions:

Top Tips For Saving Money Before Christmas
Image Source: Youtube

These are my top ways of saving a bit of money to help lighten the load a little this year.

1- Meal plan. I’ve talked about this before and how it really does help us a family to not only be organised and know what we are doing each evening for food but it also cuts down on waste and trips to the shop. We try to go for dinners that we can bulk and stretch out to at least two days, sometimes even three. For example if I’m doing a chilli then I’ll throw in some extra veg (what ever is lurking in the fridge) or an extra tin of beans or lentils to bulk it up and make it go that bit further.

2- This is more about utilising what you’ve got to free of funds rather than dipping into your bank account. Start working your way around the house room by room and minimalise. Do you need everything, love everything or have a use for it all? If not, sell it! That way you not only free your house up of unnecessary clutter but you also make some £ to spend on things you do need to buy or to put away for a rainy day!

3- Think free! At a weekend it’s so easy to pop out for the day with the kids and before you know it you’ve bought lunch, a coffee, parking, a present the kids have begged you for and so on. Instead go for a walk or a bike ride, visit the library and take some snacks with you or aim to be back home by meal times. It may not feel much of a day out to you but the children will barely notice, or at least mine wouldn’t who are just 2 and 4 years old. All they want to do is be out and about. Basically if you avoid opportunities to spend then you won’t! A prime example of coffee shops for us, it’s so easy to spend way over £10 on two coffees and a snack so I try to avoid it where I can because they all add up.

4- Sleep on it. With this I am talking about impulse buys. The internet is a wonderful yet very tempting place, it’s makes shopping that bit too easy! Instead of clicking buy now on that new pair of boots or what ever it may be leave it in your basket for 12-24 hours and then have another look, is it really necessary?

5- Be a bit thrifty. Not everything you buy has to be brand new. I know some people will stick their nose up at this but what’s really wrong with looking around a charity shop or eBay for that particular toy your after for your son? Or maybe you’ve a thing for Joules clothing, then there are a ton of Joules pages on Facebook where people are selling either brand new or almost new items every single hour and you could pick up a bargain!

6- Voucher codes. I used to be the person laughing at those others who would scour magazines and things for coupons to save that bit of money on their shopping. Now I’m not as In to it as that but if I’m buying online then I do a simple Google searching for vouchers for that particular store and quite often I’ll find a voucher of some kind such as free delivery of 20% off if you spend £20 etc. It’s always worth a look.