Soap & Glory Flash Extension mascara

I recently sat in on a training course at work and one question the trainer asked was: what three essentials would you take if you were stranded on a desert island?

Now, he made it clear that you couldn’t take family or items that would aid a rescue, so I mused for a while and decided that if I definitely couldn’t have my family, I’d have a photo of them. I’d also need coffee. I can’t be without a decent cup of coffee. Life is just too short to deny myself a cup of caffeine.

And lastly, a daily essential of mine is mascara! It might seem like a trivial thing, but I love long, thick, dark lashes. Even if I go ‘make up free’, I still have a coat – or two – of mascara.

For years I’ve chased the perfect finish: long lasting (we’ve all been the victim of panda eyes at some point), able to give me long, thick, clump-free finish and crucially, easy to remove at the end of the day. 

I’ve tried brand after brand. Some last but are hard to remove, some don’t even last a few hours. Some make me look like I’ve glued spiders to my eyelids. And I began to think I was chasing the holy grail. 

Until recently. 

I was in my local Boots to pick up my favourite lipstick when I came across Thick and Fast Flash Extensions mascara by Soap & Glory.

I hadn’t seen it before and was intrigued. I’ve tried several Soap & Glory toiletries previously but hadn’t dabbled with their cosmetics. 

The sleek, silver tube looks attractive and more expensive than it is. Priced at just £10.50 it certainly isn’t going to break the bank.

My initial impression was good. It’s a lovely thick, lump free consistency. And one coat is easily enough for day time. 

In the last month I’ve never had a smudge or dark ring underneath my eyes by the end of the day, it’s lasted from 7am through until late. And it’s so easy to remove (a slick of coconut oil or a face cloth in hot water followed by a swipe of micellar water soaked cotton wool).

I am so impressed, I’m tempted to try more products in the range… If you have any suggestions, I’d love to hear from you! 

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The power of frozen 

*Knocks* 

Is anybody still here?

I’m about to dust off the laptop and see if I can remember how to do this…

Well, big news is both me AND Mr six have changed our jobs. He left his store and moved to head office – then a few weeks later, I followed him. We’re both so much happier and it’s lovely to be able to travel in to work together.

One of the biggest challenges is getting dinner on the table once we get in from work. I’ve always done a menu plan but now I need to be more creative as we don’t get in until after 5:30pm…

I’ve liberated my slow cooker from the back of the cupboard (it must be the week for re-finding unused gadgets) and have a couple of ideas.

Tonight was vegetarian fajitas. And it was very cost effective due to shopping at Iceland. 

This morning I put a shake of frozen, chopped onions, added a bag of frozen, sliced peppers, two bags of Quorn chicken style pieces (on offer at the time of writing this), a generous shake of homemade fajita seasoning, a couple of handfuls of frozen sweetcorn and several chopped, fresh tomatoes. 

I switched it on and went to work. That’s it. Barely any prep at all and when we got in from work, it smelled amazing.

Mr six set about grating some cheese whilst I started assembling the fajitas, spooning a little natural yogurt instead of sour cream on to the flour fajitas – and within 10 minutes all of us were sat down to a home cooked, vegetable laden, incredibly tasty dinner.

It wasn’t overly spicy – which meant that Munchkin happily ate his – so the teens spiced theirs up with Tabasco. They ALL asked for extras which is unheard of here!

I’ve got another meal to cook in the slow cooker later this week – I just hope it’s as successful!

I’d love to hear if you have any ‘meal hacks’ as any advice is gratefully received! 

Sticks and stones

Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me…

When I was in primary school, I had a very wise headmaster. 

During an assembly he talked about how powerful our words can be. He quoted the nursery rhyme and said that he thought it was fundamentally flawed:

If someone were to push you and you fell, breaking your arm, it would really hurt. People would be able to see your cast and know that you had suffered. Yet whenever you thought about it you would remember that you were in pain but you wouldn’t be able to recall that level of pain.

However if someone said something that hurt you – even though your wounds wouldn’t be visible to others – for many years when you recalled those words, they would sear as if it were the first time you had heard them.

And he’s right. 

Words, however quickly they fell from your mouth, however ill conceived, they will hurt.

Once a word leaves your mouth, you cannot chase it back. Even with the swiftest horse.

     – Chinese proverb

Every ‘Lidl’ helps

We’re back to budgeting. It’s hard working full time and getting meals on the table -and unfortunately convenience costs. We’re shopping at Lidl more often; admittedly there isn’t as much choice as other supermarkets but it is forcing us to think more about we eat.

Slow cooking is great as it means there’s a healthy dinner on the table when we get in, but that relies on me remembering to prepare the vegetables before I leave for work and I’d rather have an extra coffee and a cuddle with the boys!

This week I wanted to make a stew/soup style dish and I decided that tinned vegetables would be the key to speed. So on Monday, when I got in from work, exhausted, cold, wet and hungry, I knew that comforting stodge was needed. I put a dash of oil in the pan, added a handful of frozen chopped onions and started frying them. As they softened, I added a heaped teaspoon of minced garlic (99p for a jar). I opened two tins of new potatoes and two tins of sliced carrots, rinsed them and added them to the pan. I chucked in a tin of chopped tomatoes, a vegetable stock cube and a shake of dried mixed herbs. I left this to simmer whilst I went for a shower,  then I threw in some frozen spinach and left it for another 5 minutes. When I was ready to serve, I crushed everything with the potato masher to a nice thick consistency.

Munchkin had his with grated cheese whereas Teen 2 (who is known for his love affair with spice) opted for a generous dash of extra hot chilli sauce. This went down so well, that I didn’t even get a chance to photograph it.

I think it really worked  and next time I’ll be brave and add extra frozen veg maybe broccoli, cauliflower and even sweetcorn to make it even healthier and tastier.

Snack time after school can be a flashpoint for some. Munchkin tends to just eat any leftovers from his lunchbox, but this week I decided to trial something new: homemade mushroom pate. I feel a fraud for sharing this ‘recipe’ but it’s just too delicious not to… I started with a 350g punnet of mushrooms which I chopped and gently fried. Once they started releasing thei liquid, I added some of the minced garlic and continued frying until almost dry. I left them to cool them blended with a 250g tub of cream cheese (49p). This will (technically) keep for up to a week in the fridge but Munchkin,who despises mushrooms, had a taste and discovered he loved it and has had it on crackers each evening so that’s something new to add to the menu. I realise it doesn’t look too delicious here – but trust me, it really is! 


Tuesday we had spaghetti bolognese. Discovering a new brand of meat free mince is always a nice surprise and at 1.20 per bag, it’s great value for money! It was a little coarser than our usual brand but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Mr six and the teens loved it.

So that’s a few days back in the budgeting world. I’d love to hear your food savvy tips, every ‘Lidl’ helps…

Once upon a time… 

Once upon a time there was a girl. 

She found herself in a forest. A dark, dark forest. It took her a while to realise that she was in the forest. 

Alone. 

She was scared. She tried to call out for help but her voice was so small.  And the darkness was suffocating. It invaded every part of her. Extinguishing her happiness. Smothering her. Leaving her numb. 

She knew that there was a creature lurking in the darkness. She couldn’t see it. But she knew it was there. It wanted her. It wanted to consume her. So she ran. She ran through the trees. She ran through the forest. She ran through the darkness. Adrenaline coursed through her body, her skin was clammy.  She felt as though she would be alone and terrified forever. She despised her own actions. Her thoughts were loud and told her she was useless. She was unloveable.

Eventually she noticed that thorns had cut her skin. It hurt. Perversely she found pleasure in this; being able to feel something at last. There was a little space to breathe again. Chinks of light forced their way in through the dense canopy which allowed a tiny view of the leafy prison and offered a small amount of warmth. She could hear distant laughter but it did not move her. She heard kind words but they didn’t reach her. Didn’t connect. Didn’t comfort her. The creature, although still present, seemed not to pursue her with such intensity.  She began to relax. Adrenaline still flowed but she found she could distract herself from it sometimes. The thoughts were quieter now. They were less cruel. She stopped hating herself but didn’t dare allow herself to believe anyone could like her.

Time passed and one day she found she was able to see clearly. She was able to inhale deeply and revel in the warmth of the sunshine.  The creature had gone. At least, she couldn’t sense it… She knew that one day it would be back but for now she wanted to live. She wanted her life without fear. Without self loathing. Without darkness and negative thoughts.

Puressentiel have the solution!

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Having 4 children – and working in schools – my stomach doesn’t drop when we get a letter home informing us that headlice have been detected within Munchkin’s year group. Having said that, it’s never pleasant having to apply a treatment, especially as Munchkin has such sensitive skin on his scalp. So when Puressentiel contacted us and offered to send us their ‘anti-lice’ solution, I was thrilled.

Puressentiel products are formulated with natural ingredients in a way that’s environmentally responsible and fair to producers. They aim to be more pure, more natural and more effective. Their products contain 0% parabens, synthetic fragrances, colourants, preservatives or animal products.

The anti-lice lotion is made from vegetable oils to obstruct the respiratory openings of the lice, larvae and nits – and because of this, there is no danger of them building up a resistance to the solution (crucial if your child gets infected on a semi regular basis!) Essential oils are also added to soothe and as an antiseptic.

The bottle has a fabulous design, with a neat little nozzle that allows for precise and direct application against the scalp and reseals to prevent leaking. The lotion itself is lovely and thick and doesn’t drip down the neck or into the eyes. A wonderful long, micro-grooved, steel toothed comb is provided in the box for lice removal too.

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I decided to treat Munchkin and give my own hair a precautionary treatment at the same time. One major advantage is how quickly this treatment works; 10 minutes and you’re ready to comb then rinse. I found it very easy to wash out too as it left our hair incredibly shiny, soft and fragrant, like a conditioning treatment.

Also in this range is the lice repellent spray which is effective for up to 24 hours. During periods of infestation at school, you can spray the lotion onto the hair to increase protection.

Having seen how gentle and effective these products have been, I am going to check out other products from Puressentiel as I have been really impressed. If you want to check out why they’re so impressive, you can read about them on Facebook and Twitter.

DISCLAIMER: we were sent these products for the purpose of this review, but all opinions are my own.

Festive nail wraps

Ok, I’ll admit it. I’ve kinda missed the boat with these little beauties – but in my defence, they were given to me with a whole pile of amazing things and I had completely overlooked them.

I love having pretty nails. Who doesn’t? I used to have gel done at the salon but finances didn’t allow that last year. So I bought myself a home gel kit which has been fabulous – but my nails are incredibly short and peeling at the moment (I assume it’s down to stress and diet) which means my gel doesn’t stay on perfectly so I needed something different.

You may have tried nail wraps previously. I have. And I didn’t really get on with them. They were the ones you need to warm before applying. They felt thick and ‘plasticy’ on my nails and I was constantly aware they were there.

But these festive nail wraps from Paladone claimed to just be stickers that you simply peel off the backing and apply to the nail.

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Oh my!

As these were just sitting in my bedroom and I was looking to avoid finishing the tidying up, I thought I’d give them a whirl. What’s the worst that could happen? I could just peel them off again and no one would be any the wiser.

The first thing I noticed was how thin they were. Almost like when you absent mindedly peel off your gel (admit it, you’ve done that too!) Secondly how easy they were to apply – no heating, no faff, apply, rub, done!

I added two coats of clear nail varnish to protect them and give a lovely shine too.

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As I said, my nails are particularly short at the moment and that kind of detracts from the cuteness of the detail on the snowman and penguin. But I love how they look  – I really love the red with white spots on and would happily wear that all through the year.  And at just £2.99 you just can’t go wrong!

Easi Yo Yogurt

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Here at the sixdegrees house we get through a lot of yogurt.

Our boys like flavoured yogurt as a pudding, I like low fat natural yogurt with fruit for breakfast and Mr six likes it at any time of the day!

I use it in cooking too; natural yogurt makes a much cheaper alternative to sour cream when we have fajitas and I add it to curry and soup instead of cream.

So when we were asked to review the Easi Yo Yogurt maker, we jumped at the chance.

When the box arrived, we were eager to open it. Inside was the large red insulated maker and a lidded beaker. Surely making yogurt couldn’t be *THIS* easy?

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And we were surprised at just how easy it really was…

Having read the instructions thoroughly (I still wasn’t convinced that we were doing it right) we set about rinsing the housing unit and beaker. Then we were good to go. The boys chose the forest fruit flavour and we started.

TAKE NOTE – IT REALLY WAS THIS SIMPLE

Firstly we filled the kettle. Whilst it was boiling I placed the ‘shelf’ in the insulated unit and then we half filled the beaker with room temperature water and added the sachet of powder. We shook that vigorously for a minute or two then added a little more water and gave it another shake.

Once the Kettle boiled, I poured the water in to the insulated unit up to the ‘fill’ mark and placed the beaker in.

Then we sealed the lid and left it for 12 hours.

When we opened it, the consistency of the yogurt was…’unusual’, incredibly thick and resembling PVA glue. I went back and re-read the instructions. However, undeterred by the thickness, Teen 2 set about eating it. He said the flavour was immense and as he stirred the yogurt, it became less viscous and far more like shop-bought yogurt.

In fact, he loves it so much that we have been out and bought lots of flavours now and have made yogurt a couple of times per week!

The Easi Yo yogurt maker can be purchased direct from Easi Yo individually or as part of a bundle. The flavoured sachets and all accessories are also available direct. You can also purchase from well known high street stores too.

DISCLAIMER: We were kindly sent this product for the purpose of this review but all opinions are my own.

Handy ‘Write Size’ pencils

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When I worked as an ALN (additional needs) teaching assistant in primary schools, I saw a lot of small children struggle to hold a pencil correctly. For a tiny hand, with developing fine motor skills, regular size pencils are too long – imagine having to use one of those comedy souvenir pencils (that were oh-so-popular in the 80s) to fill in important paperwork!

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The solution to this comes from Write Size; a range of pencils made to scale for children’s hands, because better control means better results.

They say:

“We would never give a 4 year old child an adult size football to play with or a full size guitar to learn to play music with.”

So when we were sent a pack to review, I was eager to set Munchkin loose. The range comes in ‘three sizes’: Age 2-6, age 6-10 and age 10+. Munchkin has just turned 7 so the 6-10 were a perfect size.

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We had a lot of homework to get through, so we decided to give them a whirl.

Slightly chunkier than a normal pencil, they enable children to control and grip correctly. The reduced length means that children can improve their writing ability and in turn gain confidence.

Munchkin was really happy using ‘Write Size’ and I was impressed that he didn’t once complain of hand strain. In fact, after completing his homework, he decided to write a book…

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These wonderful pencils are available in packs of 5 (£4.99) and classroom packs of 72.

We were kindly sent this product for the purpose of this review, but all opinions are my own.

Be Kind!

When I was little, school told us that we could all be ‘the best’ at something; that if you weren’t good at one thing, not to worry because you would be ‘the best’ at something else.

Which was great.

Except that attending a Roman Catholic school, in the 70s, in  rural Wales, meant that there weren’t *that* many things to try your hand at and therefore not many things to be the best at.

As a consequence, I’ve always compared myself to others.

I saw other people succeeding and I knew I could never do any better. I was scared to try new things and often wouldn’t even try – or if I did, I judged myself quickly.

But as I’ve got older, I’ve realised that school got it wrong.

You don’t need to be the best at something.

You just need to be the best that *you* can be.

Do your best!

Obviously at school you have to work hard. And then there’s your job too. But it does go further..

What about being the best person you can be?

What about using kind words? Smiling? Holding doors? It is what my husband calls “old fashion values”.

It might be a small thing to you, but it could make someone else’s day.

Make a difference.

Be that difference.