Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Ink cartridges at fabulous discount prices

Buying a printer can be daunting.  I've often looked for something small and snazzy and at a reasonable price, but what I didn't always take into account is the cost of the replacement ink cartidges after the first set has been used.  It's one of those cases where it's occasionally cheaper to buy a brand new printer at a discounted price because it will be cheaper than buying the supplier made ink!

I've thankfully been introduced to a website called Cartridge Discount where you can buy ink and toner cartidges at fabulously discounted prices.  They stock Printer Ink (remanufactured and original) for all the big name brands, including ink for franking machines, photo paper and other accessories that you may need for printing and mailing.

Prices are quoted with and without VAT which is great because when you buy from catalogues for instance, they often give the price without VAT, which I forget about and then get extremely excited at a great price until I realise it still needs that little 20% extra tacked on to it.

Ordering through them means that I save about £1.00 on both cartridges for my HP OfficeJet 4500 compared to my already discounted price from my current supplier.  Delivery is free on all orders but you do have the option of 1st Class Mail or Courier delivery if you needed something in a hurry, but nowadays you get enough warning for when your ink is on it's last legs.

There are a number of way in which to pay through secure options and the re-order service means that you don't have to spend time searching for your favourite items each and every time you log on.

Hopefully some of you find this useful.  The older I get, the more excited I get about getting a good deal on something and saving the pennies for my old age!

Ally x

Brought to you in partnership with Cartridge Discount

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Infographic: Stop being ripped off. Switch your energy supplier!

It's that time of year again when electicity bills start to sneakily climb up and all of a sudden you are lumped with a heafty bill that you may not have expected. 

Like with any of your home bills, it is always an excellent idea to review your suppliers and see if you can get a better deal elsewhere and save those precious pennies!

The infographic below provides very good reasons as to why you should review your suppliers annually and also shows that it is actually easier to do than you think with more people going down this path each year.

Being with one of the 'big' providers doesn't always mean that you are getting a good deal and if you could get a better deal from a smaller supplier, I'm sure you'd take the opportunity and happily pocket the extra money saved. Food for thought, isn't it?

Ally x

 Switch Energy Supplier Infographic
Brought to you by Ovo Energy – the cheaper, greener and simpler energy supplier

Monday, 28 October 2013

The whole world could be my office!

Being a working mum with my own business I sometimes bring work home with me to finish off or catch up on.  Working from home as it's positives as you can do a load of washing in between spreadsheets, emails and phone calls.  It also has its distractions such as getting dinner started early instead of after bedtime madness or trying to be disciplined and avoid not turning on the telly, even if it is just for background noise, and getting caught up in something other than work.

This got me to thinking that wouldn't it just be lovely to sit in a coffee shop or in a park and make that your office for the day?  Maybe even on a beach?  I think I'd be more productive in a busier space and possibly unleash more of my creative side.  One vital piece of equipment needed however, would be a laptop as I use a desktop at home.

In my internet search for a suitable laptop, John Lewis popped up first showing a vast selection of laptops and netbooks.  I actually breathed a sigh of relief when I saw the left hand bar on the web page.  It meant that I could find exactly what I wanted according to my budget, what I would be using the laptop for on a daily basis, screen size and general functionality.  Making my choice would be easy and not as tedious as I thought it would possibly be.

With the ability to compare up to 4 laptops at a time I could see which one was best for me without being bombarded by jargon from a sales person, possibly swaying me away from what I really needed and getting something with extra features that I would simply never use.

All laptops include a 2 year guarantee and have fair returns policy too.  The option to either have the laptop delivered to my door or the choice to pick it up in-store is great because I'm often impatient.   The advice on internet safety for parents was of particular interest to me too.  Not that I want my daughter playing on it but kids these days have a habit of jumping onto these things as quick as a flash and if I can keep the nasties at bay, I'll sure as heck try to do so.

So, all in all, a pretty pleasant experience that left me rather pleased, not flustered and when I do buy a laptop in the future, I know it will suit my pocket too.

Ally x

Note: This is a sponsored post

Friday, 25 October 2013

GBBO: worst failures of the first 3 seasons

It's that time of year again, when the crème-de-la-crème of amateur bakers head into the big white tent and bake for Britain, wowing us with their cakes, tarts, pies and bread creations. The Great British Bake Off has given us some glorious successes and spectacular triumphs, but it has also seen some magnificent disasters. When the heat - and the pressure - are on high, even the best bakers can have meltdowns in the kitchen. This season has already seen custard theft and elbowed egg muffins, but what about the failures that came before? From crumbling cakes to sliced fingers, here's our roundup of the Bake Off's top cooking catastrophes.

Dropped Cakes

It's fairly safe to say that all the bakers are particularly keen to impress in the very first episode of the series, but poor Rob Billington fell prey to the kind of kitchen failure we've all had nightmares about when he dropped his sponge on the floor. Like all great cooks, however, Rob managed to salvage his creation, and it was even named as Mary Berry's favourite.

Burned Fingers

When it wasn't the food that was suffering it was the bakers themselves. Season two saw its share of injuries, with Yasmin managing to burn all eight of her fingers in one show. To add insult to injury, she was sent home at the end of the episode, and we're not sure which hurt more.

Collapsing Cakes

James Morton's infamous gingerbread barn was meant to be an architectural masterpiece, but had to be hastily redesigned as a crumbling ruin, complete with spun cobwebs, when the cake began to collapse in on itself. 

Diced Digits

John Waite certainly had his share of baking disasters on season three. He was lucky to avoid elimination in his salt/sugar mix-up of episode one (it's never a good sign when Paul Hollywood spits out your food) but he suffered a more serious kitchen mishap when he sliced his finger open on an electric mixer during a showstopper challenge. John had to withdraw from the final task of the episode, but didn't let the injury get in the way of winning the whole series. 

To follow in the footsteps of our fearless Bake Off champions, shop cookers and cake-stands for your very own baking extravaganza!

This is a guest post on All-in-One Mum.

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Review: How to really love your gums with Oral-B

I’m a working mum and although I like to think I’m organised, most weekday mornings are a mad rush to get myself, hubby and little one out of the house.  We all brush our teeth as part of our morning and evening routine but giving them their full 2 minutes of attention isn’t always the case.

One thing my parents always said to me was “look after your teeth, you only get one set!”. I’ve always kept this in mind, very rarely skipping a morning or evening brushing.  When I was pregnant I was particularly aware of how sensitive my gums were and found that my gums bled, so I needed to be gentle when I brushed.  Using a normal toothbrush made it quite hard as I had to gauge it correctly to make sure I was applying just the right amount of pressure to clean my teeth properly at the same time.

Over the past couple of weeks I’ve been trying out the Oral-B Triumph 5000 with SmartGuide power brush and new Pro-Expert Premium Gum Protection toothpaste.  Recommended by Dentists, the Triumph 5000 with SmartGuide has the British Dental Health Foundation Platinum endorsement.

The Oral-B Triumph 5000 electric toothbrush comes with a little digital box called a SmartGuide.  It clearly shows you the time you have spent brushing each of the four sections of teeth.  The excuse to brush for any shorter than this is thrown out the window as you now naturally pay extra attention to what you are actually doing when brushing.

All-in-One Mum Product Testing

There are 3 brush heads provided; Oral-B FlossAction, ProBright and Sensitive.  I used the Oral-B FlossAction brush head as I have a thin metal bar behind my six front bottom teeth from when I had braces as a teenager.  The bar is great for keeping my teeth straight and also excellent at attracting food which isn’t so wonderful.  

Using a pea-sized amount of the Pro-Expert Premium Gum Protection toothpaste, I turned on the brush once it was in my mouth, otherwise I’d have toothpaste splatter on my walls and on me!   The SmartGuide sprang into action, starting the count to 30 seconds per each segment.  The toothpaste had a 'just come from the dentist' clean taste to it which I really liked.  I used the Deep Clean mode as I felt like my teeth could do with a good scrub.  The beep of the toothbrush, stopping of the brush head, flashing on SmartGuide meant that I knew when to move to the next area I had to brush.

My gums bled for the first day or two but have since stopped and I’m using the Daily Clean mode.  My teeth, especially in the hard to reach places and behind my lower teeth bracket felt cleaner than they had in weeks and stayed feeling like that for a large part of my day too.  This really made me more confident at work when I meet clients as well and most importantly, in my social groups.

The great thing about having something visual showing your brushing time is that I can use it with my young daughter, too.  We brush our teeth at the same time and it encourages her to spend the right amount of time giving her pearly whites a good once over.  She finds it fun so brushing her teeth has become less of a chore and is now an exciting part of her daily routine.

The brush is great for…
  • Everyday use! – Daily Clean mode
  • Getting a bit of an extra clean – Deep Clean mode
  • Sensitive areas – Sensitive mode
  • Giving your teeth a really good polish – Whitening mode
  • Treating your gums to a gentle massage – Massage mode
With 40,000 pulsations and 8,800 oscillating movements, you can chose any of these modes by pressing the mode button just below the on/off switch on the Oral-B Triumph 5000.  An indicator on the brush head lets you know when it needs replacing so that you can keep optimum performance.  

My (rather poor!) video gives a bit of an idea of what the brush looks like in action.  I would have used it on myself but I'm sure you wouldn't want to see me with a mouth full of toothpaste and talking at the same time.

Is it worth the price?

One of the things that I have learnt in my (just over) three decades is the importance of a good toothbrush…or so I thought until now!  With an RRP of £199.99, the Oral-B Triumph 5000 with SmartGuide is pricey but I feel that it is worth every penny.  The different brush modes mean that you can get the perfect clean according to what you need and more importantly, what your teeth and gums need too.  The plaque removal outstrips a regular manual brush as it removes up to 100% more than regular brushing.  I'm actually looking forward to being pregnant again one day just so that I can try the different settings to see and feel the difference from the first time round when I used a regular brush.

The travel case means that you won’t have your toothbrush coming to life, sometimes causing embarrassing stares and comments, when you are travelling and you can take an extra 2 heads with you.  There are also a number of other brush heads in the Oral-B range that are compatible with it so you have a wide selection to choose from.

The Oral-B Triumph 5000 with SmartGuide and Pro-Expert Premium Gum Protection toothpaste (RRP £3.99 for the toothpaste) are available online and at most major retailers.

Happy brushing!

Ally x

Note: This post is an entry for Mumsnet Blogger Network Challenge sponsored by Oral-B, promoting healthy gums. Get tips and advice on  I was sent the Oral-B Triumph 5000 and SmartGuide as well as the Pro-Expert Premium Gum Protection toothpaste to provide my honest and unbiased views and opinions on.

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Baby vs Career Infographic: What would you choose?

I think (and yes it's a large generalisation) that in years and actually generations gone by it was far more simple to have a baby and not have to go back to work.  You had a baby or you had a career.  You didn't always have to make a choice.

The cost of raising a child to the age of 18 rises each year and with that in mind, many women have no choice but to go back to work in order to contribute to the household income, pushing them back out into the working world.  Working mums, but not by choice.

Some women decide not to have offspring.  It doesn't make them bad people.  If anything it's actually quite a smart move.  You get to dote on other people's kids and at the end of the day, you can pass them back over.  You can avoid all the tantrums and just have little smiley faces.  They also have the benefit of going to work in clothes that have not been re-styled by messy hands and snotty noses.  If they have rings under their eyes it's more likely to be from a late night out or a long night at the office.  They are career women who made a personal choice not to have children and get to the highest rung on the career ladder.

Of course, there are mum's out there (like moi) who actually wanted to go back to work.  I wanted a husband, home, pet dog (we have a cat), children (we are at number 1) and career.  Why shouldn't I work?  I want to have it all.  My parents had their own successful business and I want to emulate that.  If they could do it, I damn well can too!

The tantrums are probably nature's way of getting me back for the year's of hell I put my parents through but then there are the smiles, laughs and cuddles that make you forget all of that.  I occasionally go to work looking like I've been pulled through a bush backwards, with rings under my eyes and toothpaste on my sleeves or trouser leg.  I think it adds to my character.  I'm a working mum by choice.  I chose to have a child and a career.

Yes, I do feel that I push myself harder now at work and probably spend more time at the office, especially as I only do 4 days a week.  Do I feel guilty?  No, I actually enjoy it!  I love that (I think) I'm doing well, coping with a family, work and a blog on the side.  It excites me and makes me want to do more.  I do get tired sometimes but then again, so do stay-at-home moms, working moms and career woman.

There are more of us 'baby + career' people out there and boy, do I admire them.  There are moms and dads who get up at 5am for a run, get back at 6am for a shower, get the kids ready at 7am, do the school run at 8.15am (or earlier if kids are at breakfast clubs) then shoot off straight to work, leave the office at 5.30/6 pm and then pick up kids from various clubs, minders, family members etc.  They still need to sort out dinner, housework, homework and be a wife/husband/partner at the same time.  Do I see them complaining?  Well, if they do, it's behind closed doors.  Single moms and dads are even more amazing!

I found the Baby vs. Career infographic on the Gumtree blog and immediately loved it, reading it with many head nods and mental 'yes's'.  Women should never have to choose between baby and/or career as I feel that it is a right that we all have and to be honest, there is never a good time to start a family as that in itself is a bit of a lottery.

Hope you enjoy the read and feel free to share it with other moms out there.

Ally x

Gumtree infographic baby versus careerGumtree infographic baby versus career is an infographic that was produced by Gumtree

Sunday, 13 October 2013

Competition and Review: Zappie - bringing walls and clothes to life!

Zappie is a wonderful new app that brings pictures to life right in front of your eyes.  The first of it's kind, Zappie uses the latest augmented reality technology to bring very cute images and products to life anywhere from walls to t-shirts.

Zappie was designed to support pre-school children as part of their development and play.  Not only do the wall stickers look beautiful but they can transform even the dullest of rooms into a gorgeous fun and educational space.  

We were sent a set of the "I'm a Little Teapot" stickers so that we could see for ourselves just how lovely they really are.  The quality of the stickers is very good and even little hands find it easy to peel them from their sticky backing sheet and apply to the wall.  The images are large, beautifully detailed and typical of traditional English nursery rhymes, which I find very appealing.

To get the images to come to life I download the free "Zappie" Nursery Rhyme app through the iTunes stores to my iPhone but it is also available through Google Play for android phones.  After it downloaded I opened the app (I couldn't do it fast enough for my daughter's liking!) and selected the nursery rhyme which matched my sticker set which was 'I'm a Little Teapot".  Holding my iPhone over the main image I tapped the bee imaged and 'zapped' the teapot image underneath until the animation loaded, which was a matter of seconds.  

My daughter was ridiculously excited when the music started playing; singing and dancing along to the happy tune.  I joined it to because it is so hard not to!  Please don't ask me how many times we had to repeat the animation as I stopped counting after about the fifth time.

The initial range is made up of brightly coloured and adorable nursery rhyme products ranging from wall stickers to heat transfers and fairly priced greeting cards, all of which make fabulous gifts, rewards and special treats!  The folk at Zappie have plans to extend the range even further into learning and interactive pet products.

What  nursery rhymes can I choose from?
  1. Five monkeys jumping on the bed
  2. I’m a little teapot
  3. Five little ducks went swimming one day
  4. Wheels on the bus go round and round
  5. Row, row, row your boat
  6. Old MacDonald had a farm
  7. Once I caught a fish alive
  8. Twinkle twinkle little star

Where can I buy Zappie products

All Zappie products can be purchased on-line at  Prices range from £2.99 for greeting cards to £29.99 for large text wall stickers.

How much does the Zappie app cost?
The Zappie Rhymes app is now available for free download onto Android and Apple smartphone/tablet devices through Google Play and iTunes stores.

Fancy winning a pack of Zappie Nursery Rhyme Wall Stickers?
Zappie are giving 1 lucky person the chance to win a pack of Nursery Rhyme Wall Stickers from one of the 8 available nursery rhymes above up to the value of £25.00.  Enter by reading the question on the Rafflecopter below and leaving your answer at the bottom of this post.  Once the first task is complete, you will then have 6 other chances to put your name into the prize draw with the Winner picked at random on 1 November 2013.

The Zappie range of products make wonderful gifts that entertain, educate and stimulate young minds while brightening up bedrooms and playrooms at the same time.

Good luck and have fun!

Ally x

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Note: I was sent a pack of Zappie Nursery Rhyme "I'm a Little Teapot" stickers at no cost.  My thoughts and views on the product are completely my own and not bias.

Peaceful Potty Training with Huggies Pull-Ups

Little Miss and I hopped on to the Huggies Pull-ups potty training bus a few weeks back for a very informative morning about potty training and how to encourage and reward your little one through this next stage in their development.  

Although the bus is no longer on tour, it was an excellent way of educating parents and toddlers about potty training and showing that instead of being daunting, potty training can actually be fun!  Huggies offer free samples to parents to try the Huggies Pull-ups on their child before buying a full pack.  

My daughter loved the designs on the Pull-ups and enjoyed putting them on at night.  The DryNites Pyjama Pants are just as lovely.  She was slightly annoyed that she couldn't wear the boys pants because their absorbent sections are slightly different to those of the girl ones.  I'm pretty sure that she can't be the only girl that likes Disney's Cars movie?!
To make potty training interesting and to keep it exciting, go to the Tools and Games section on the Huggies Pull-Ups website to download hints and tips, reward cards, progress training charts and certificates.
Huggies Pull-Ups day and night time pants are available at Ocado, Amazon, Tesco, Boots, Sainsburys, Mothercare both in store and online.

Ally x

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