I think Caketoppers read my mind; just when I was busy organising Squiggle’s party and thinking about her birthday cake, they dropped me an email asking if I would like to review their personalised photo cupcakes. Since it’s her birthday, they kindly agreed to send me cake toppers for her birthday party cake as well as two cupcakes to sample too, which I really appreciate!
Caketoppers is based in Farnham, Surrey and offers a selection of personalised photo cupcakes, celebration cakes and toppers. You can use photos, logos or even drawings to personalise your choice of cake, so it makes it really unique. I chose my Living Life Our Way logo for the cupcakes. For the birthday cake toppers, I designed a picture on a photo app using some of Squiggle’s own drawings.
The cupcakes and toppers arrived promptly and were well packaged. I don’t like to create so much waste with plastic packaging personally, but it certainly meant that everything arrived very fresh and in perfect condition.
So firstly, the cupcakes. They are absolutely delicious! I literally dreamt about these cakes (yeah, yeah, I know). They were really moist and fluffy; they honestly tasted like they had just that second been made (by someone with far superior baking skills that my own!) Gorgeous. I would tell you what the rest of the family thought of them, but they wouldn’t know… they were way too good to share! I sampled one vanilla sponge and one chocolate; both were to the same yummy standard. I personally liked the vanilla sponge best but that is just my personal preference – both really were delicious!
The cupcake samples, like my example above, can be purchased for £5 including delivery. A set of 6 cupcakes are £12.99 plus postage. There are also various other options, so check out the website for details.
As for the cake toppers, Squiggle loved the fact that her party cake was so unique and personal, decorated with her very own drawings. It meant so much to her! The cake toppers are easy to use; they came with detailed instructions but basically you just peel the back off then use icing to stick them on. They are ideal if you plan on baking a homemade cake but want a special finishing touch to decorate it with. Cake toppers cost from £7.45 for a round, square or rectangle edible photo topper.
I ended up buying a supermarket ‘decorate your own’ celebration cake for the topper, which was a tiny bit too small so doesn’t really do the topper justice. However, that is entirely my own fault and not a reflection of Caketoppers whatsoever! Squiggle didn’t notice at all though – as I said, she was delighted with her special cake! We all were infact, love it.
Caketoppers do also sell the right size cakes to match the cake toppers so you can decorate it yourself, if you fancy a semi DIY job. A round or medium square undecorated cake is £20 and large square (10 inch) is £26. (Plus delivery charges). I’ll admit I would have much rather ordered her party cake from them too, especially after tasting those amazing cupcakes, but this didn’t quite manage to happen – despite the fact that they do also have a super speedy next day delivery option. Mummy fail. Oops! (Long story that I won’t bore you with but absolutely nothing to do with the company!)
Alternatively, you can purchase photo cakes with your own design printed on them, so the same concept as the cupcakes, only bigger. This is an easy, convenient option; and is the one that I am more than likely to opt for next time! These cost from £32.50 plus P&P for a medium 8 inch cake.
All in all, I would definitely recommend Caketoppers, we are really impressed with them. It is a shame that the same can’t be said of my cake- making or organising skills! 😉
Last but certainly not least, Caketoppers have kindly offered up for grabs a set of 6 yummy cupcakes, with the design of the winner’s choice. So enter my giveaway below for a chance to try these for yourself!
My&Me Jewellery turns children’s artwork into beautiful items of silver jewellery to treasure forever. Founder, Maxine, got her inspiration from the creative doodles of her 6 year old daughter, after she came across a page of the young artist’s artwork in her jewellery sketchbook one day. Much to her little girl’s delight, she decided to make one into a pendant; and it got such a great response that the concept of My&Me Jewellery was born.
Maxine works from a small studio in South Harrow. She also teaches classes and will soon be running workshops for parents to make their very own My&Me Jewellery with BaB courses. This practical workshop will be organised with the attendees convenience in mind; parents can bring babies, toddlers and home ed kids along with them and they will be entertained in the same room while parents can enjoy the workshop without the issue of childcare. Brilliant thinking!
The range includes shaped silver charm pendants priced from £49 for a single charm to £124 for a pendant with four charms. Or opt for a disc shaped or heart shaped engraved single charm bracelet or necklace (£55). You can even save 20% off just by signing up to their email list. These lovely items of jewellery would make a fabulous gift or a wonderful treat for yourself!
The Learning Success System uses various approaches to overcoming learning difficulties, using new findings in neuroscience, as well as tried and tested techniques developed by experts in the field. New exercises are delivered daily via email, and there is also a support forum too.
The first principle of the Learning Success System is small steps. In Japanese culture, it’s called Kaizen. It comes from the idea that crash learning doesn’t work, at least not long-term; continuous improvement over time is more effective. Therefore the tasks are only brief but to work well, the programme should be carried out regularly, although the exact amount in terms of length of time and frequency are flexible. Tasks can be approached in the way that works best for your child/ family.
There is a huge wealth of information over on The Learning Success Blog but as a very brief summary, the programme works on the following strategies for better learning:
Build up micro-skills
The exercises focus on developing different skills such as working memory, auditory discrimination, cross- lateral coordination and other skills that help across many areas of learning. The exercises are quick and simple, but also fun and engaging. They are all very much active learning techniques, not passive teaching. (This is a good thing!)
The Learning Success System is available at the discounted reader price of $197 for a 12 month subscription, with a 90 day guarantee. You can purchase it here. (This is an affiliate link. This means I get a fee for each person that signs up, this does not cost the buyer anything extra. Thank you for supporting me in this way!)
One lucky reader can win a 12 month subscription to The Learning Success System. Enter via rafflecopter below.
Do you get stuck with gift ideas? If you are anything like me, the answer is probably yes! I love thoughtful presents; something handmade, personal or unique in some way. But sometimes it can be difficult to come up with something that really fits the bill. So when I found about naming your very own star, I was excited to discover such a fab gift idea! It is ideal for the person who has everything (I bet they don’t have their very own star!), anyone with an interest in stargazing or who loves the outdoors in general, or for someone who just likes something that bit different!
Star Name Registry is the UK’s number one online registry company who offers this unique gift. There are a variety of packages to choose from, with prices ranging from £14.99 for a standard star to £69.99 for a binary star gift set, as well as several other options inbetween. Their gift set version of each package comes with a framed certficate beautifully presented in a silver box, whereas the regular version comes in an envelope. If you need it in a hurry, you can choose to have it sent via email for an extra £4.99 (sent within 12 hours of order received) or £6.99 for next day delivery (paper version). Gift sets can also be sent via next day special delivery for £8.49. So handy to remember as a last minute present too!
I was sent an extra bright star gift set to review. This lovely set includes my very own star, which I not only got to name but was also able to choose which constellation I wanted it in too, an explanation of the star, free download of software, map and framed certificate in a gorgeous silver box. It does make a really unusual and very lovely gift.
I took quite sometime trying to decide on the name of my star and considered a couple of different options; for example, I thought about naming it after my daughter, or even her nickname ‘Squiggle’. But then I came up with the perfect idea: I chose our family name, because then the star represents all of us together. Wherever any of us are, we can look up at the night sky and see our star, and know we are together. It even includes our furbabies! Perfect.
If you would like the chance to win your own star naming, enter my rafflecopter giveaway below. Good luck!
Are you looking to brighten up your home? As I have written about before, I do love unique interior designs and I think that photo wallpaper can be so eye- catching! A well chosen design can really create the atmosphere that you are looking for in a room; whether that be a nice chilled out vibe, a fun place to play, or even to provide some extra visual stimulation to a sensory room. Whatever your aim, customised wallpaper can help you to create the look you want to achieve.
This custom wallpaper by Colour Graphics looks brilliant and would undoubtedly transform your walls and brighten up your room. It comes in traditional wallpaper, which requires standard wallpaper paste, or a handy self-adhesive version that doesn’t require anything else; it is almost like putting up a giant sticker! The design can be printed in whatever size you need too.
One lucky reader can win up to £150 custom wallpaper printing from Colour Graphics; to be in with a chance of winning this fabulous prize, simply enter via rafflecopter below. Good luck!
November Rain is an awesome stylish brand of poncho that launched back in November 2016 in USA, and are now available in the UK too. I was kindly sent one of these funky ponchos to review and also have a giveaway for one lucky reader to win one too! (See further down to enter).
November Rain ponchos come in a choice of three lovely designs. I admit I deliberated for sometime on my decision before opting for the plain Ocean Blue design (because I have lots of patterned tops and figured this would be more versatile if I might want to wear it partially unzipped anytime!) I was genuinely really drawn to both of the patterned designs too though; love them!
The poncho comes in a little pouch so it is easy to keep it in your bag then throw it on quickly when needed. (Make sure it is dry before you pop it back in the pouch though of course!) It is made with enough room that it can fit any size and shape, and will fit over layers too. It was abit shorter than I imagined; given the fact that I’m only 5 ft 1, I was surprised it didn’t go at least to my knees to allow for taller people. At least that meant Squiggle could also use it too if really necessary lol!
They are very well designed, with poppers to make ‘sleeves’ and a zip fastening at the front, plus a detachable hood too. The ponchos are printed using sublimation, which is an eco-friendly waterless method of printing. They also have reinforced stitching and heat sealed seams, meaning they are heavy duty and fully waterproof. It feels comfortable and lightweight to wear though, and looks stylish compared to most!
The poncho retails at £49 in the UK but, as I said, it is great quality and is intended to be quite the opposite of the cheap disposable ones you usually find; this eco-friendly poncho is designed to last a lifetime. This is one of the main reasons I like it; it is much better for the environment to invest in one that will last, rather than create more waste using disposable or short-lived versions.
But my absolute favourite thing? The brand pledges a full 10% of all turnover to water projects in developing countries. And November Rain is not limiting the resources given to just clean drinking water, they are also funding irrigation projects for crops in areas where water can be the main limiting factor for people being able to put food on the table. Thanks to their popularity, the company has already funded a hydroponic vegetable growing system at a children’s rescue mission in Northern Thailand valued at $3,000USD.
November Rain ponchos are born from Belinda Coker, the same founder of Envirosax – the original designer reusable bag. She explains: “After the success of Envirosax, I realized the importance of sharing the wealth created with those not so fortunate. It’s not all about the money, it’s about creating something that people love with benefits that keep flowing to those in need.” It is so important to make conscious choices, and I totally support brands who actively protect the environment, especially when they also give back in some way. So I am really impressed with this brand!
Chalkola kindly offered us some of their brilliant chalk markers to review. We were sent their newly launched pack of 21 markers, which includes 15 colour chalk pens and 6 metallic markers in the set, and also a pack of their chunky 15mm platinum series markers too.
These funky chalk pens can be used on any non-porous surface; such as glass, mirrors, whiteboards, chalkboards or plastic. You simply wipe them off again when you are done. They are non-toxic and child-friendly so are therefore great for a range of purposes. Lots of fun!
Squiggle and I decided to get creative doodling on our patio doors! When you use the pens for the first time it takes a bit of shaking and pressing down to get the flow started. However, once they get going, they then work very well.
The colours come out nice and bright, and there is good variety within the set. We really enjoyed using these chalk markers, and even our cat got involved in the fun! Squiggle loves any opportunity to get creative and is a big fan of these. (Oh and using the patio door is great for doing lovely big gross motor movements too by the way!)
The Chalkola chalk markers then rub off with a damp cloth, although I am sure my landlord will be very pleased to know that I did test this out before letting Squiggle loose on our patio doors just to be sure! I made a little video clip to show how easily it wipes off…
One lucky reader can win a set of these 21 markers by Chalkola. To be in with a chance of winning this awesome prize, enter the competition via rafflecopter below. T&Cs apply. Competition ends on 20th March 2017.
I am thrilled to have been given the opportunity to interview inspirational author Penelope Magoulianiti. Her book ‘Women, Motherhood & Independence: A Guide to Financial Freedom, Beauty & Confidence After Birth’ aims to help women achieve their goals and be successful, with clear strategies and practical advice on how to do so. Here is our interview…
Your book is inspirational to other women, but who is most inspirational to you?
My mentor and the person who saved my life literally is Anthony Robbins. Many years ago, I attended my first seminar in personal development; the UPW (Unleash Power Within) with Anthony Robbins. It was the best decision I ever made and it changed my life.
I gather you faced many challenges during your childhood. What has been your biggest challenge?
My biggest fear was money, lacking money to be more precise. I also had self-esteem issues due to many financial problems faced by my family while I was growing up. To wake up and fall asleep with the same thought day in – day out was exhausting. The universal law is that you bring to your life what you put energy in and because my focus was so intense and my fear was so big, I found myself at age 29 being completely broke.
It took lots of courage and determination to change my life, but I did and I’ve never looked back since then.
Your bio states you want to leave your children a legacy to be proud of. What are you most proud of to date?
The fact that I don’t live any more within my comfort zone. The fact that one by one I am managing to achieving my goals and living my dream life. I’ve always wanted to write a book and influence as many women as I can to step up and follow their dreams. I did it. Taking into consideration the comments I am receiving from my readers, I believe that I am influencing their lives. The fact that it has also been translated into three languages tells me that what I am sharing in the book is of interest.
Another thing that I am proud of is my decision to escape from the corporate world and to start a completely different career. Starting a new career at the age of 40 was petrifying but I’ve been always honest with my kids. I talk to them and let them know about my successes but at the same time I’ve been always honest about my failures and setbacks too. I try to teach them that we don’t give up our dreams with the first setback or failure and to succeed we need to keep pushing and trying.
I love the quotes you share in your book. What is your favourite quote and why?
‘There is no passion to be found to play small – in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living’ – Nelson Mandela.
I love this quote because many of us, are settling for something less out of fear of not being good enough or capable enough to achieve everything that our heart desires. However, when we settle we don’t live we just exist. Life passes by without meaning and we become like robots. When however, we pursue something that excites us, we are growing. We are looking forward to go to work every single day and we are not perceiving it at all as work. We are alive and happy and that makes all the difference in the world.
If you could only share three pieces of advice from your book what would you tell people?
1.To stop reacting to what life brings and start planning their lives. It’s time to stop trying to fulfil other people’s agendas and start working towards their own.
2.Accept and love ourselves. Understand that each one of us has a unique talent and all of us have something great to give to this world.
3.Take control of your life and stop relying on other people to do it for you. You are the only one responsible for your successes and failures. The minute you take full responsibility for everything that is happening to you; that is when your life will start changing.
Obviously your book is aimed at women specifically, but do you feel there is any value in men reading your book too?
I have many men who read the book and they found it very useful, so yes, even though the title is aimed to women, the principles and techniques I am describing in the book can benefit both sexes.
What advice would you give to mothers who are trying to juggle everything?
We need to understand that even though we are capable we are not superwomen. We need to concentrate on the things that are the most important, the ones that are going to make the biggest difference in our lives and delegate or stop doing the rest. It’s not easy to do it but by setting priorities we can achieve more.
I have created a list is called: “The Ultimate Jugglers Task List – For Mums who have so much to do”
This is a list where you write down the five most important things that you must do on a daily basis to move forward with your projects, to get closer to achieve a goal whatever that goal may be. I have been using this for many years now and it has changed my life completely.
If any of your readers would like to have access to it, they can email at email@example.com using the title “Jugglers List” and we will send it to them free of charge.
What other projects do you have in the pipeline? Any news to share with us?!
I am in the process of launching my online product called “21-Day Transformation Program for a Balanced Life”. This program consists of 9 video- lessons where you receive one by one every three days and it gives you tools to help you do what you need to do in order to create more balance in your life.
Also I’ve started my research for my second book which hopefully will be ready by the end of this year.
About The Author
Penelope Magoulianiti used to work as a private banker for many years. From a very young age, she had to face many challenges, both financial and social. The challenges she faced through those difficult times make her more determined to succeed in life.
When she became a mom, she felt the urgency to pass to her own children a legacy that they would be proud of. She wanted to become a good example for her son and daughter; a successful businesswoman, and entrepreneur dedicating her life to helping her fellow women in becoming successful in their niche.
With the economy getting worse every year and the corporate world looking not so promising, she finally took the decision to quit her job and move forward in creating her own business. Her dream to help other women in gaining their financial independence while being good mothers and living their lives more fully became her ultimate goal.
With her experience throughout her working life in the corporate world, the invaluable knowledge gained through her mentors, together with her home life as a wife and mother of two, Penelope delivers her message in a simple and to-the-point manner that will help women to regain their drive to succeed and the determination to conquer their dreams and ambitions.
Penelope’s book Women, Motherhood & Independence: A Guide to Financial Freedom, Beauty & Confidence After Birth is available in Kindle and paperback version on Amazon
This book is intended to help all of Women who wish to continue living their dreams, achieving their goals and becoming successful without having to compromise their dreams and desires because of Motherhood.
In this book you will find strategies and ideas that you can apply to your life daily in order to stay on top of things, become more creative, more energetic, and healthier irrespective of how much sleep you have managed the night before.
It will encourage and guide you to step out of your comfort zone and claim what is rightfully yours… your success, your financial freedom, your confidence, and beauty.
It is my belief that we can achieve anything we want, in life if we are clear about what it is that we want, make a commitment to become successful, and then take the necessary steps and actions required to achieve that success.
Whether you are already in a career, you have your business, you would like to start a new business, or you just want to be more present and engage more in family life and activities, Women, Motherhood and Independence will help you utilize your talents, become more focused and achieve more in less time with less stress.
To be in with a chance of winning a copy of Women, Motherhood and Independence enter via the rafflecopter app below.
When bakerdays tweeted me asking if I would like to review their letterbox gift cake I was quite excited! Admittedly, I am not a particularly big fan of cake generally (I know, I know… it’s weird) but I was really intrigued by the concept of a cake that can literally be delivered straight through the letterbox. Would that really work?! I had to find out. And I knew that Squiggle would jump at the chance to share some cake with me too!
The website is very user-friendly and there is a massive selection of designs to choose from for all different occasions, including options to personalise with text or an image. I spent ages trying to pick my favourite design because there are so many great choices!
I finally settled on this design with my own personal message that I knew would make Squiggle giggle…
There were a selection of sponges to choose from too. I really like the fact that all of the designs in their entire range can be ordered as a gluten-free or dairy-free option, rather than there being a restricted selection of choices, as is often the case. It is worth noting that the dairy-free option is not vegan, as it does contain eggs.
Whilst we avoid gluten as much as we can, medically we do not need to be strict about it, so I decided on the dairy-free option instead. We do generally try to eat as closely to vegan as we can manage anyway but, apart from anything else, I was keen to test how the dairy-free version tasted!
The cake didn’t take long to arrive and, as promised, it plopped through my letterbox without fuss. The box landed face down and I must say I felt a slight wave of anticipation, as well as excitement, as I picked it up to check the contents!
I need not have worried; the cake comes very well packaged, secured in a cake tin, inside the cardboard box. It also has plastic packaging to keep it fresh and well protected within the tin itself. It even has thoughtful instructions on how to remove it carefully without damage!
The cake itself was delicious! The sponge was light and fluffy, with a lovely buttery filling (which incidently is on the bottom of the cake as opposed to in the middle, due to the letterbox design!) and the icing was soft and tasty. Squiggle was very impressed too; she declared “thank you for sending the cake, I love it!”
We demolished it pretty quickly, but the 5″ letterbox size is easily big enough for 3 or 4 generous portions, as it suggests. We really enjoyed it.
I like the novelty factor of getting a cake delivered directly through the letterbox, it was nicely presented and it was yummy too! So I think a letterbox cake would make a great unique gift for Valentines Day, or any other occasion.
Today, the wonderfully creative and very lovely Stephanie from Avec Amour is chatting to me about her recent wedding and honeymoon, and how she found herself running a lovely little business selling gorgeous handcrafted home decor items and gifts shortly after…
Thanks for taking part Stephanie! Tell me about yourself and your business…
My name is Stephanie and I’m almost 23 years old. I live in a town called Workington which is in Cumbria, North West of England. My hobbies include: animals, shopping, photography, horror movies, travelling (especially to USA) and anything that involves creativity! This year has been a very busy one for me because in the summer something wonderful happened; I married my best friend, Joe.
Joe was my high school sweetheart and we have now been together for over 8 years! Like all relationships it has been a roller coaster but I’m lucky and grateful to have such a loving, caring and family-oriented man for a Husband. We are planning to travel a bit more before we start our family.
After leaving school, I took (a few more than average!) wrong turns in my life. Joe started an apprenticeship in Mechanical Engineering which he absolutely loved, so I thought an apprenticeship would suit me too after hearing so many great things about them. I was an apprentice teaching assistant in a primary school for one year and then they didn’t have enough funding to keep me after that.
For a while I took some time to think about something else I could maybe try. I thought that because I am a very organised person, maybe office work would be suitable for me. I worked in three different office environments in 2014 and 2015 and because I was young with a sensitive personality, I was picked on and bullied in all three of these places with the last one being being the worst. It got so bad that Joe and my parents told me that they wanted me to leave, so I did for my sake of my health.
I have since got my health back on track and I’m much happier! My creativity started to shine through at the beginning of 2016 and at least once a week I got the urge to be creative. The results were handmade wedding invitations and a lot of handmade wedding decor; and subsequently many compliments from our wedding guests!
We spent our honeymoon in Florida. We did the lot, including Disney World and Universal Studios, which includes The Wizarding World of Harry Potter! My Husband and I are both huge fans of Disney and Harry Potter. We thoroughly enjoyed our honeymoon; Joe even more so, because it was his first time in the USA.
So after getting home I got the urge to create some Disney and Harry Potter themed home decor items, and then I thought… I love doing things like this, maybe I could start a little hobby business, because why not? Take a risk and do it, because life is too short. Joe was 100% for it too because all he wants is for me to be happy. Then I gathered up all of my ideas and started my business.
Wow. That’s such a lovely answer, thank you for sharing!
Do you have any specific goals or hopes for your business this coming year?
My only goals are: to create items that brighten up the days of others and to continue to gain joy out of it. If I’m inspired enough to come up with any ideas for a brand new product then that would be a bonus!
Love it, what a great goal!
Tell me one random fact about yourself…
A random fact.. I’m addicted to drinking tea!
What is your favourite outdoor activity?
I will admit that I don’t do lots of outdoor activities at the moment but I enjoy the occasional long forest walk with my Husband.
A lovely long walk in the woods is very relaxing I find! And you live in such a beautiful part of England too; fabulous for outdoor walks I’m sure! So if you could tell someone visiting your part of the country for the first time just one outdoor place they simply must go, where would you suggest?
For someone visiting Cumbria for the beautiful outdoors and scenery, I would recommend Whinlatter because the forests are absolutely beautiful and Go Ape! is also there, which is great fun for families/couples.
Thank you so much for chatting to me Stephanie, and all the best with your fab business.
She has generously offered a wonderful prize to one lucky winner, consisting of a pretty Lace & Ribbon Candle Jar (with a choice of 10 different ribbon colours) and a gorgeous Themed Picture Frame (either Disney, Harry Potter or Wedding themed). Enter via rafflecopter below. (T&Cs apply)