Review: L’orèal Paris Casting Crème Gloss

My hair hasn’t been its natural colour since I was about 13.  No joke.  I couldn’t even tell you what my natural shade is.  From what I remember it’s a dull, kind of muddy shade of brown.  I’ve probably tried every brand of hair colour going at one time or another.  I’ve been blonde, I’ve been (and always seem to go back to) ginger, I’ve been black, and I’ve even been pink.  I miss my pink hair but that’s another story for another day.

Despite what you might think, my hair is in bloody good condition considering it’s been dyed every few months for the best part of 20 years (eek!).  Hair dyes are getting better and better all the time and usually give your hair a bit of nourishment at the same time (unless you’re straight up bleaching your hair, expect straw in that case).

So given my lifelong relationship with hair dye I jumped at the chance of trying L’orèal Paris Casting Crème Gloss.  I was quite disappointed in the range of shades, if I’m honest, because I’m leaning towards proper gingery shades right now.  I picked out the most gingery looking one I could find, Chilli Chocolate, and eagerly awaited its arrival.  My hair needed done anyway as I had a wedding to go to so timing was rather fortuitous.

Here are some incredibly unflattering “before” photos to show you what my hair looked like before I started.

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IMG_0457The dye goes on wet hair, something I’m never keen on as I find it harder to ensure you cover all of your hair and, especially with longer hair, there is a tendency for the hair to tangle when it’s wet but hasn’t been conditioned.  That being said, there was more than enough in the bottle to cover all of my hair (I usually buy 2 packs as I have fairly long hair) and I was pleasantly surprised at how easily the dye was to apply.  The gloves provided are obviously meant for someone with much smaller hands than mine though, I found them quite hard to get on which, in turn, made the application a bit more tricky as I didn’t have full range of movement in my fingers.

The instructions, however, were not so simple.  Lots of text made it quite difficult to track down the instructions for the specific stage of application that you’re at, even the time that the dye was to be left on for was hidden away.  I think this had a lot to do with the instructions being in multiple languages.

The dye has a pleasant smell, it’s not chemically and doesn’t go for your eyes, and there were no drips while the colour was developing which was handy because I was giving H&C their dinner and didn’t fancy dying either of them in the process!!

A lot of dyes these days give you enough conditioner for a few applications however there was only enough for the one application with Loreal Casting Crème Gloss and the bottle is an awkward shape so doesn’t stand up by itself and can be a slippery little bugger to get it all out.  I prefer the toothpaste style tubes that other brands give however that’s a personal preference because I’m a skinflint and like to make sure I’ve got every. Last. drop.

The colour washed out well, didn’t leave any residue on my towel (always a bonus) and was remarkably close to the colour on the box.  My hair felt lovely and soft after and had a gorgeous shine to it for the wedding.  I especially love how all the different tones show up when I wear curls.

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Although it’s a bit darker than I would usually go I’m loving the colour and 3 weeks down the line it hasn’t faded at all.  My hair is still shiny, still silky smooth and still getting me loads of compliments!

* I’m a BzzAgent and was sent this pack of L’orèal Paris Casting Crème Gloss free of charge to try however this was not dependant on a favourable review and all words and opinions are my own *

Things to do – East Links Farm Park

My gorgeous sister’s birthday fell on the May Day bank holiday this year so we hopped in the car and took a trip to East Links Farm Park near Dunbar and spent a lovely day cooing at the lambs and chasing after the Peas.  Now that they’re both on their feet it’s been great to give them a bit more freedom when we’re out and about and loosen our dependence on the buggy.

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East Links has a nice mix of things to do for all ages with animals to feed, a giant fort to climb, a huge jelly belly trampoline (along with individual trampolines for the littles), soft play and, of course, the train!  Because what farm would be complete without a train?

After a good play going backwards on the tractors (we still have some difficulty co-ordinating forwards!) we ventured off to see some animals… and have a play on some other tractors!

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There’s a track which follows through all the animal enclosures with little vending machines for animal feed along the way (buy your tokens before you set out… or bring an Uncle you can send back for some like H&C did!).  You can comfortably walk round and take a trip through the maze or hop on one of the family bike type go cart sort of things and let Mum and Dad do all the work.

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There animals are a bit of an eclectic mix for a place which calls itself a farm… I’m not sure there are many farms in the UK which have wallabies but there you go.  There were also Darwin’s Rhea, Llamas, Goats, Sheep, Chickens, Turkeys, Geese, Rabbits and PIGLETS!!!  Ahem. Edit_EastLinks_014

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A quick pitstop for lunch on the picnic benches in the middle of the park and it was off for a shot on the trampolines and a monster about the Fort.  When we reached the top we discovered that 2 of the turrets have picnic benches in them which would have been a perfect spot for lunch!  We planned on heading back up to have birthday cake there later but, when the time came, we were just too keen to eat the cake and we didn’t make it back up.  Also, you know, tractors.

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After a wee trip in to see the chickens it was time for a jaunt on the train!  Very exciting.  It’s all included in the entry fee and the driver gives a good tour as you go round.  We rounded off the day quick visit to see (read: manhandle) the bunnies and decided to head home before H fell asleep on her feet.  Not before we had another shot on the giant chute though!!

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Adult tickets cost £12, kids £9, 2 year olds £6 and under 2’s are free.  A family ticket for 2 adults and 2 kids will set you back £44 with a £1 per person after that.  It’s not the cheapest of days out but it is SO MUCH FUN that it’s worth a treat once in a while.  You can also become a member and (from memory, this information isn’t available on their website and, actually, was rather difficult to track down on the day) if you manage to make 4 trips in the year you’ll have made your money back.  They’ll even deduct your entry fee from that day.

I discovered while writing this post that I’d lost a few pictures that I took that day, some of my favourites, so we’ve already got another date in the diary to go back this summer with more of the clan to take some replacements!

We love East Links and every time we go it just seems to get better and better!  You can find out more information on their website or Facebook page.  The Facebook page is worth a follow just for the pictures of baby animals and tartan sheep!

 

 

 

 

Review: Plum’s Little Yums!

Plum very kindly got in touch to see if we would like to review some of their new range of teething biscuits!  We love a biscuit in this house so of course we jumped at the chance.  If you’re not familiar with Plum, they’re a UK based company who specialise in yummy organic baby & toddler foods whether it be pouches or yoghurts or snacks they’ve got something to fit the bill.

Little Yums come in 2 flavours, Pumpkin & Banana and Spinach, Apple & Kale and both went down a storm with H&C.  Unlike most teething biscuits these aren’t hard biscuits, instead they’re wafers made from buckwheat (along with other yummy fruits and veggies snuck in for good measure) so they provide just the right about of bite but are soft enough that the whole thing will get eaten before it’s forgotten about / mashed into the carpet / fed to the dog.  The other bonus of this is that they don’t turn to mush and end up all over your trousers or welded into your little ones hair!!

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A big bonus for us was that the flavours weren’t too appetising for us parents therefore H&C’s supply didn’t suffer the usual mid evening snack raid!!

Each little packet comes with 3 biscuits but each biscuit can be further split into 2 which gives a lot of control over portions and means that you can eek out one little pack for a good couple of days.  With 6 packs in a box and a box only costing £2.50 (at Tesco) I reckon that’s pretty good value for money, especially when you consider that the ingredients are all organic!

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It would be good if the little packets were resealable or if there was an option to buy a little travel container with your first box but other than that these were a definite winner in our house!!

*Plum very kindly sent us 2 boxes of Little Yums for the purposes of this review however all thoughts and opinions are our own*

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Fun in the Easter Sun

I’ve made a few tentative attempts to get out in the garden this year with H&C however now that they’re both mobile it’s proving a little more difficult than anticipated.  We have a rather… rustic (read: wild) garden so it’s not exactly baby friendly and has meant that most of my attempts have failed in their infancy and we’ve ended up back inside gazing at the sun through the patio doors.

Not anymore though!!

I took baby jail outdoors and the girls played happily for about half an hour while I hung up some washing but they soon got bored with being so confined and there just wasn’t enough room in there for me too so yet again we all ended up indoors.  I spent the rest of the afternoon cursing the lack of safe space in our garden and envying all those mummies with only one baby that they can safely romp about the garden with without having to plan a military operation first.

Our playpen is fab, it was a first birthday present to H&C from their great Nana and it’s saved my sanity on more than one occasion but out there in the garden it just felt so small!  I contacted Lindam to see if it was possible to buy extra panels and they told me it wasn’t, their playpens are not extendable.   Mega sad face.

“But…” said a little voice in my head “the playpen is just a series of clipped together panels, surely if you could source another from somewhere you could join the two together?”.  And that’s what I did.  A very generous twin mummy who saw my begging post on the Edinburgh Twin Group for sale / wanted page on Facebook contacted me to say she would sell me hers.

The very next morning we hopped in the car and went to collect it and by that afternoon I was eagerly sat in the garden marveling at my own ingenuity desperate for H&C to wake up from their nap and give it a try.

Baby Jail v2.0 was born.  And we’re all very happy as a result… Roll on Summer!!

*disclaimer: Lindam have, in no way, endorsed / approved / encouraged the set-up that I have and I, in turn, accept sole responsibility for it.  Please don’t copy it. *worried face* no really, dont! *

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Comfort > Quantity (AKA I’m getting old!)

I’m clearly knocking on a bit now.

I’ve been hunting for shoes to go with a GORGEOUS dress I bought for a wedding in May (for anyone who might be interested it’s Ophelia by Lindy Bop and it’s the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen) but I’m not having much luck.

No, just no.

Gorgeous, but wouldn’t last the day.

Seriously, can anyone even walk in these?

But then I fell in love!

LUSH!

I was told they wouldn’t go but I bought them anyway because, well, SALE!  Also COMFY!!

That then led me to thinking about all the pairs of shoes blister inflicting monsters I have languishing in the loft probably never to be worn again because 6” heels, 2” platforms, and blisters don’t make for happy, toddler pursuing feet.  And I made a pledge to invest in my shoes and no longer delude myself into thinking that a £5 pair of Primark heels are going to fit the bill.

And that’s how to justify buying shoes which are not the shoes you require for the event you are shopping for.

Now Hush Puppies have come a long way since my Granny wore them some 25 years ago.  They’re still comfy as hell but they’re also… beautiful!  These are just a few of the pairs I’m currently lusting over / hinting for (did I mention I turn 30 in the summer?);

Sunny days on the beach

Afternoon tea and cocktails

Beer garden, dinner and drinks

And no, I still don’t have shoes to go with my dress!  I’m now contemplating a new dress to go with my shoes.

And yes, I’m still refusing to part with all the shoes in my loft despite giving them the stink eye every time I go up there.

And no, despite the obviously grovelling nature of this post I wasn’t given any pairs of Hush Puppies to review, I just love them and felt that you all needed to know because your feet are important and deserve to be treated and not rammed into aforementioned £5 Primark heels.

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Walking! (Finally!!)

I know, I know.  I’ve bored you all rotten with this already but I’m SO PROUD!!!

C has always been this way, one day she can’t do something and the next she’s doing it like she’s done it all her life.  At 7 months she just sat.  At 10 months she crawled and now, at 14 months, she walked.

H will try and try and try something, practicing every available second until suddenly you realise she’s mastered it without you really noticing whereas C will observe and watch her sister make all the mistakes and learn the ropes and then one day, seemingly out of nowhere, she’s caught up.

Nature V nurture can kiss my ass.  Babies do what they do in their own time, there’s no rushing them… and why would you?

When Life Hands you Lemons…

…sometimes you can’t make lemonade.  Sometimes the lemons are so damn bitter that all you can do is screw up your face and wait until the sour taste goes away.

DISCLAIMER:  This is a long and, at times, rambly and self indulgent post.  Its been a hard month. 

5 weeks ago our car was stolen right under our noses.  What followed has been 5 of the hardest weeks of my life so far.  So I wrote this letter to the person who stole it;

Dear lowlife,

When you opened my front door to take the keys did you hear my 1 year old daughter crying because you woke her from her peaceful slumber?

As you started up the car and looked in the rear mirror to reverse out of our driveway did you see the two car seats in the back?

When you arrived at your destination to peruse through the contents of your prize did you enjoy the buggy and changing bag you found in the boot?

Did the hand crocheted blanket keep you warm as you dug around looking for something of value?

Did you, at any stage, stop to consider the impact of your actions?  Let me tell you, let me enlighten you and allow me to hope beyond hope that karma is indeed a bitch and you get what’s coming to you.

We live in the country, a beautiful old house in a gorgeous little village.  We were niaive, I see that now, naive to think that our remoteness meant we were safe from scumbags like you.  You’ve seen to that.  I didn’t sleep for a week.  I keep hearing noises.  I’m afraid to go downstairs on my own at night.  When I hear a cry on the baby monitor in the dead of night I open my bedroom door to go through and administer soothing cuddles with a hint of dread that you will be standing in my hallway having woken her again.

We have nowhere within walking distance, that car was our link to the outside world and you took it.  You rendered us housebound.  You deprived my girls of trips to see their friends, to visit their cousins and grandparents.  We thank our lucky stars that we have such amazing friends and family who were all ready and willing to help wherever they could; trips to the shops, a loan of a car, a lift to wherever, babysitting, bringing in bread and milk, bringing in sanity from the outside world as cabin fever began to set in.

1 week on I received a phone call to say the car had been recovered.  I breathed a sigh of relief, the end is in sight. Except it’s not because you locked the car when you left it.  How kind of you to secure what remains of the contents.  The police were unable to get into the car to do any kind of investigations for over a week while they wrangled with our insurers over who would pay for the locksmith.

It’s been a week and a half.  I get up with the girls as we do every Tuesday except this Tuesday we won’t be making the journey over to the nursery to play, we’ll be in the house on our own for another week.  I fill the kettle to make a bottle for the girls and pop back to the living room to open the curtains while it boils.  I hear no kettle boiling, I curse myself for being a div and head back through to the kitchen to find that the kettle is, in fact, on… it’s getting warm… but it’s not making a sound.  I look out into the hallway and see the lights are dim so I call G and by the time I come off the phone the power is gone.  The power company promise to have an engineer out to us by 12:30.  They ask for a mobile number so they can contact me if we decide to go out.  I laugh, somewhat maniacally.  We have no choice but to stay where we are, we’re stuck in the house with no heating, no means of hot food and no means of communication with the outside world (the mobile signal went down too).  I start to resent our remoteness.  I resent you again.  You’re responsible for this.  At 12:14 a text message came through to say the power was back on, the mobile signal disappeared again as quickly as it came and I still had no power.  I called and was told it would be 2pm.  That’s not too bad, I tell myself, we can cope until then.  I put another couple of layers on H&C and curl up under a blanket on the floor beside them.  It’s naptime soon, I tuck the girls into their cots with yet more layers and, with nothing else to do, head to bed myself.  At 4pm I wake, I can hear H&C chatting to one another in the other room.  I sleepily realise that there is still no electricity and still no mobile phone signal.  I know we have an old analogue phone somewhere, thankfully the past owners of our house had left it when they emigrated.  I end up in the loft, digging through cables as the girls become increasingly impatient at being left to entertain themselves in their cots.  I come up trumps.  We all head downstairs, I plug the old dusty phone in and call the electricity company.  It will be 6pm now before we have power.  I cry and call G to get his mum to come and rescue us, we’ll stay with her tonight.  The power eventually returned at 3am.

C is ill.  She’s just not managing to keep her food down.  She’s still her cheeky cheerful self though so I try not to worry. This goes on for a few days.

2 weeks on and finally the car is released from police custody, the contents (what is left of them) are available for us to go and collect from the secure compound.  As my brother in law races through town to make it in time for the 12pm closing I call and tell the man at the compound that we will be there but, thanks to roadworks, we might be a couple of minutes late.  He tells me to turn back.  I tell him we’ve come an awful long way and we will only be a couple of minutes late.  He tells me tough.  We try anyway.  With minutes to spare we park up and go hunting for someone to speak to as reception is abandoned.  We’re at the wrong entrance, we need to be on the other side of the fence.  We can see where we need to be; we’re meters from it but we must get back in the car and drive round the long way.  When we finally arrive at the correct entrance the gates are all locked up.  There is no give, there is no understanding, no sympathy; only coldhearted stubbornness for the rules.  We weren’t in the right place at the right time.  Tough.  We get back in the car to make our return journey empty handed.  I cry again.  It’s just all too much, surely we’re due a break?!

The car has been moved from the vehicle compound to the garage who will be carrying out the repairs.  I rejoice, this means a courtesy car is coming our way.  Except it doesn’t.  The garage will only release a courtesy car once the insurers have given them full permission to carry out the repairs, they’ve only asked for an estimate at this stage.  I call the insurers, they confirm.  I plead with them to do something to speed things up, nothing is forthcoming.  I cry again.  My little ray of light has been snuffed out.  The tunnel just got longer.

It’s Monday night, it’s 11:30 and H has woken.  We give her a bottle.  She doesn’t settle.  She cries and cries and cries. It’s unusual.  I take her downstairs and let her play for a while.  She cuddles in eventually and I put her back to bed.  10 minutes later she’s crying again, I go through to discover that she has been sick in her cot.  On Tuesday she had 8 different outfits on, I had 3.  None of us got much sleep until things started to improve on Friday.

3 weeks on.  H is rebelling against settling back into her normal routine.  Well, as normal a routine as we can muster without a car.  G’s sister kindly offers us her car until we get a courtesy car, they travel through on the Sunday for a visit and leave Eric with us.  Eric is the car, I named him after Bananaman when I bought him all those years ago before The Peas arrived and we needed something MUCH bigger.  The insurance company, however, decided that it wasn’t the best idea for me to be driving Eric again and wanted £700 to add me to the policy.  Needless to say that didn’t happen but thankfully around the same time we heard that the insurance company had authorised the repairs and the garage would now release a courtesy car.  Finally!  Though not in time for us to get to nursery on the Tuesday so we had another couple of days of cabin fever but this time with a very definite light at the end of the tunnel.

The courtesy car arrives on Tuesday afternoon.  It’s a 107.  I laugh because Eric is also a 107 and I LOVE driving him.  The delivery driver laughs at the fact that we have twins and they gave us a 107.  I’m less jovial about that fact.  But we have wheels and, at this stage, I could have kissed the bloke for bringing me them.  We can make it to the soft play tomorrow as planned.  The lock set for the car should be ordered now, all things going well we should have our car back by Wednesday of next week.

Wednesday rolls round and I’m excited to get out and about with friends except it’s now been so long since I’ve been anywhere with The Peas on my own that I forget most of what I need to organise / do / take with us and end up stressed.  We arrive at the soft play and I realise I’ve forgotten my wallet.  Typical.  Thankfully I have awesome mummy friends.  The car is so small that in order to bring the buggy I had to strap it into the front seat, which would have been fine had I not needed that front seat to bring G home with us that evening.  I’m now feeling like a train wreck, I can’t even make it out the house without something going wrong.  Big sisters rock in times like this.  She took the buggy and put it in her car to bring to us on Saturday.

We’re not allowed pets in the courtesy car so Granny still has to make the journey over to us to babysit.  Our routine is so out of whack that despite the fact that we’ve already been shopping twice this week there is no bread or milk for her.  We end up shopping twice more this week and still had to ask big sis to bring across SMA for us on Saturday.

We spend our Sunday decorating the flat to try and get new tenants in while The Peas spend some time with Aunty C.  We do what we can but we couldn’t fit the ladder in the car so we’ll have to go back later.

I take the girls to Clarks on Monday to get fitted for new shoes, the girl can’t decide what size they should be and in the end recommends that H should get a size 3G… the same size she’s already wearing.  Erm… no.  It’s a nice afternoon but I still feel disorganised, plagued with indecision and constantly doubting myself.

On Tuesday we FINALLY make it back to nursery.  It’s so amazing to see everyone again and finally be out of the house and relaxed.  We’re having so much fun that the 3 of us take off to the garden centre for lunch together.  We look at the fish and play on the swings before heading to a friend’s house for coffee and a catch up.  I feel more positive today than I have in a long time but my energy levels are still non existent, life just exhausts me at the moment.  Even the good days.

We get more bad news on Wednesday.  Due to the “newness” of our vehicle the garage were unable to fit the lock set themselves and would have to book the car in to Vauxhaul to have it done.  This wouldn’t be until next Monday and we would therefore need to squish ourselves into Old Man Eric (he’s silver…) for another week.  The Granny’s make their journey’s to us again.  Just another setback, I’m not even surprised now.

And so here we are, 5 weeks later and still without our car despite the fact it was recovered less than a week after it was stolen.  I’m worn out by life.  I’ve descended to a dark place where even the most mundane of daily tasks is a challenge and I’m frantically clawing my way back out.  We still don’t even know what contents were left in the car as we’ve not been able to get back to the compound.  I could go on my own but, you know, twins + portacabin + stuff + jobs worth staff just don’t really add up to a good afternoon out.  I know what I need to do to get back to normal, I need to stop comfort eating, I need to exercise, I need fresh air and stress relief but I just can’t muster up the energy yet.  I feel defeated and I hate it… which just starts the cycle again.  Fingers crossed we get our car back next week, maybe then I will start to feel that I can relax again, that things will finally be returning to normal and this feeling of limbo will start to disappear.

So, lowlife scumbag, now you know.  It’s not just about the car, it’s not even about the contents.  The knock on effect of your mindless actions will probably stay with me for longer than the memory of the theft itself.  If you feel even half as crappy about this whole situation as I do then maybe, just maybe, you’ll think twice next time.