Health: 8 benefits of drinking sour cherry juice

After reading about the benefits of drinking sour cherry juice I have decided to give it a try to see if it makes me feel any better. It is no hardship for me, as I love cherry juice with something of a passion, so a small glass twice a day is actually something I really look forward to.

Sour cherry juice is different to cartons of juice you might buy from the supermarket. You only need 30mls of this highly concentrated juice which I dilute with water to make a refreshing drink. It certainly puts a spring in my step after I’ve drunk it and it makes me feel really great, it’s hard to describe but I feel super-healthy for about an hour afterwards and I’ve only been drinking it for a week now.

What are the benefits of drinking sour cherry juice?

  1. A glass of juice is one of your recommended five a day. Drinking one glass means I’ve made a start on my fruit and veg portions for the day.
  2. Optima sour cherry juice is made from high quality Montmorency cherries which are packed with powerful antioxidants known as flavonoids. These are a type of antioxidant which is known to fight infection and can have a positive impact on the function of your immune system.
  3. Research by the Macrothink Institute in 2012 revealed that the antioxidants in sour cherry juice can reduce pain and significantly reduce inflammation from osteoarthritis. As a chronic pain sufferer I think that this is worth trying out.
  4. Sour cherry juice is naturally high in potassium, which helps to maintain your blood pressure, nerve impulses, digestion and heart rate. A glass of cherry juice contains about 10% of your daily allowance of potassium.
  5. Cherries are an excellent source of vitamins A and C.
  6. A 2007 study in America looked at the effect of sour cherry juice on rats and they found that including sour cherry juice in your daily diet could lower cholesterol, lead to reduced abdominal fat storage and help to protect against metabolic syndrome.
  7. Some recent research in America had indicated that sour cherry juice may help improve the quality and duration of sleep, reduce the severity of insomnia and increase overall sleep efficiency. 
  8.  A 2014 study by Northumbria University found that cherry juice promoted faster recovery from exercise, maintained muscle function and reduced the incidence and severity of exercise-induced inflammation.

cherry juice

I’ve been drinking the Optima Montmorency Cherry Juice which I got from Nutricentre, it is a 500ml bottle and I have approximately 60mls a day, a little goes a long way. The ingredients are Montmorency Cherry Juice Concentrate (99.8%) and the preservative: Potassium Sorbate, so it’s not packed full of sugar or chemicals. Each 30ml serving of the juice contains 78 calories, but you can dilute this down as much as you want. 

As someone who lives with chronic pain, I am constantly taking pain killers including anti-inflammatory medication and I really struggle to get to sleep every single night. If all of these health benefits are true, then for me drinking sour cherry juice is a no brainer, and I love how it tastes too, so it’s an easy, pleasurable thing for me to do and one which could potentially promote my own good health.

Note: I was sent a bottle of sour cherry juice free of charge for review purposes. All images an opinions are our own.

Review: Valley Mill Wax Melts & Soap

Working from home I often like to light scented candles to fool my brain into thinking I’m left the building and gone to work, it sounds a bit silly, but it’s just something I do when I start work for the day along with switching on my laptop. One of the things I sometimes have on the go are scented wax melts, I was sent a box of these perfumed treats from Valley Mill to try out for myself.

Wax melts (sometimes known as tarts) are little disks of scented wax which you melt in a special burner using the heat from an unscented tealight. The wax sets again once the candle has gone out and it can be reused and reused over and over, all you need is a new unscented tealight to warm it through again.

As with all candles the wax melts should never be left to burn unattended and shouldn’t be used when children and animals are around. Better safe than sorry!

I chose the Welsh Cake Soy Melts which are currently £6.25 for a box of 5 melts. The melts are set in a distinctive cog shape, which obviously melts into a puddle of scented wax when in use. 

The Welsh Cake melts really do smell of Welsh Cakes, they have a really good throw too, meaning my whole house was filled with the fragrance of baking, These would be great to burn in the kitchen to give the impression of domestic goddessness without ever switching the oven on!

valley mill

Valley Mill also sent us a chunky bar of their Rosemary & Lime Natural Soap to try. With two mucky boys in the house I wanted a soap which was natural and nourishing, but which also had antiseptic properties.

Apparently rosemary and lime have been used in skin care for hundreds of years for their cleansing and revitalising properties. This natural soap contains shea butter, coconut oil, olive oil, palm oil and castor oil to make it even more nourishing for hardworking hands.

The Rosemary & Lime Natural Soap is colourful and chunky, when you rub it between your hands it foams a little, but throws up a delicious scent (rosemary is one of my all time favourite fragrances). My hands were squeaky clean and sweet smelling after I’d used the soap. I think this would look eye catching in any soap dish and is good value at £4.

Valley Mill stock a selection of lovely products and gifts, all handmade in Wales, and almost all on my Christmas list!

For more information on these Valley Mill wax melts and natural soaps visit their website.

Note: We were sent these Valley Mill products for review purposes, all images and opinions are our own.

Review: FoodMaestro App

Growing up I had no food allergies, though I remember being tested to try and get to the bottom of why my eczema would sometimes flare up. It’s not unheard of for people to grow out of some allergies, but I managed to grow into some.

I turned vegetarian when I was 13, before the days of Quorn and Linda McCartney products, after about ten years of vegetarianism I developed an intolerance to mushrooms, I get hideous cramps and other things I won’t go into. Suffice to say it’s not worth me eating mushrooms. 

More recently I’ve developed an intolerance to rich dairy, so cream and ice cream are out, cheese is eaten in moderation and I try and have a few entirely dairy free days a week to reduce the unfortunate consequences of this.

The boys are thus far ok, able to eat anything and everything put in front of them, it’s just me, the mushroom and dairy intolerant vegetarian who makes meal planning more difficult at home.

I was introduced to the newly launched FoodMaestro app which allows you to create personalised dietary profiles for each family member, logging allergies, intolerances and lifestyle choices that affect their diet.

The app was built in partnership with Guys & St Thomas Hospital Trust and makes it easier to manage food-related conditions. It currently has a directory of more than 75,000 products and 25,000 ingredients, with more products being added all the time. 

It’s easy to search for food products by name or category and find items that are suitable for your diet, the app checks the nutritional information on each product and tells you if it isn’t suitable for you or your family to eat. This allows you to easily build lists of ‘safe’ foods and identify potential problems. 

FoodMaestro

Once you’ve downloaded the free FoodMaestro app you just put in the details of your family members and their dietary requirements, it’s a simple swipe to choose from a range of allergy and intolerances as well as filtering into vegan, meat free, gluten free options, to name just a few. 

You can then set about creating a shopping list, I went about my kitchen scanning the bar-codes of the items we were starting to run low on, as each item scanned the app would tell me if it matched our dietary requirements. You don’t have to scan the bar-codes, you can write up your list and the app will check each item for you. Once you’ve finished you can share your list, I chose to email it to myself so I could view my list when I went shopping, I normally have my shopping list on my phone anyway. 

FoodMaestro

As you can see, the app has flagged this item up as unsuitable as it contains traces of milk.

The FoodMaestro app currently lists products from most large brands as well as the supermarkets,  Waitrose, Morrisons and Asda, and they are adding Tescos products to the app shortly.

I can see this app being very useful for me, although I’m a keen reader of labels, sometimes I think a product is ok and it turns out not to be and I’m poorly for a few days (unfondly remembers the posh instant noodles I ate which contained an awful lot of mushroom stock). This will also be great for when we have people round for tea who I know have food allergies and intolerances, helping me to double check that I’m not going to make them poorly. I think the FoodMaestro app is a big step forward.

You can find out more about the FoodMaestro app on their website and you can follow them on Twitter for news and updates.

FoodMaestro

= This is a collaborative post =

WIN tickets to the Geronimo Festival!

Geronimo is back! And this year it’s going to be bigger and better. Seeing a return to Tatton Park in 2016 from May 29th – 30th and a new venue at Harewood House from May 1st – 2nd, expect a line-up jam packed with some of the biggest names in children’s entertainment, including CBeebies favourite Mr Bloom, Andy Day, Alex Winters and Cook & Line from Swashbuckle.

Geronomites will also be able to enjoy a brand new theatre and literary zone with award winning productions and a second stage featuring live music. The craft marquee is bound to inspire and don’t forget the full Geronimo circus and 100 other crazy and unusual activities like giant Tortoise encounters, stone carving and a crime scene for kids to solve. Geronimo will also bring the beautiful woodlands to life with den building, high rope courses and a chance to tick off some of your “50 things to do before you’re 11 3/4”.

The whole programme is for the under 12s and tickets are on sale now priced £25.  Children under the age of two go free. More information and tickets are available from  http://www.geronimofest.com/

win geronimo festival

We’ve got one family pass (up to four people) to give away to one lucky family.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

T&C’s:
1. The competition closes on 6th March 2016.
2. We have one family pass to giveaway. Each pass admits 4 people, one person in the group must be aged over 18 (NB children under the age of 2 years do not require a ticket). The winning family can attend either on May 2nd (Harewood House) or May 30th (Tatton Park). The date must be specified at time of confirming the prize.
3. Travel and accommodation are not included. The prize is non-refundable and no cash alternative will be offered.
4. The prize is non transferable and ID will be required at time of collecting the ticket wristband upon arrival.
5. The prize includes all events and activities at Geronimo but not food and drink from any stalls or bar. Winner chosen at random. 

Top Ten Toy Picks from Spring Fair 2016

Over the weekend I went to Spring Fair in the Birmingham NEC, if you’ve never been, it is THE event to attend if you’re a retailer looking for new suppliers and stock. I went with two hats on, as a blogger and as the Marketing and PR person for a toy shop I work for. The Spring Fair was huge, every hall in the NEC was filled with a different category, but we (me and That Lancashire Lass) were primarily interested in the children’s toys. It was a  long and tiring day, but it was incredibly interesting and I’ve got a better idea about what will be under everyone’s Christmas tree this year (too soon?). 

Here are my top picks from the toy hall at Spring Fair 2016 (Hall 5).

Hippychick Ltd (stand 5Eo1) – Pl-ug Den Building Kits, retailing from £12.99, it is an innovative den building kit, by using the specially designed hooks, suckers, clamps and pegs you can build your own indoor or outdoor den. All you need is a sheet or blanket and some imagination. 

Bigjigs (stand 5G01) – I’m a big fan of the Bigjigs wooden toys, but their “Green Toys” were new to me. The Green Toys are classic toys constructed from recycled plastic and other environmentally friendly materials. I particularly liked their selection of chunky vehicles which had a nice retro vibe. Suitable for ages 1+ I know my 5 year old would very happily play with these.

Fiesta Crafts Ltd (stand 5L04) – Fiesta Crafts are well worth looking at full stop, but my favourite new thing on their stand were their “Stickabouts”. A bit like modern day fuzzy-felt, the Stickabouts have a scene on a board and a load of “stickers” to place, but these glue-free stickers easily peel off and re-stick anywhere you want. If they stick to the wall then they easily peel off. This is a bit of a welcome sticker revelation to me, all the fun of stickers but without having to spend hours scraping them off the wall. 

Clockwork Soldier (Stand 5M49) – these are a new brand to me, but I loved the look of the products and I want mentally picturing them on the wall in my son’s room and seeing him playing with some of the craft kits. They have a beautiful range which includes space, dinosaurs, robots, superhero and dress up. I’m going to campaign hard to see these in the toy shop, I think they’ll sell incredibly well!

Keel Toys (Stand 5D20) – I can’t resist a cuddly toy, but my eye was drawn to the Christmas Elves, these are soft, cuddly and smiley Elves which would be a great gift for December, they’re reasonably priced and would be a jolly visitor from the North Pole is you were going to do Elf on a Shelf this year.

Brainstorm Ltd (Stand 5L27) – one word, StikBots. I think these are going to be pretty big this year, these are small pose-able plastic robot figures with suckers on their hands and feet which you can use to create stop-frame animations with using a downloadable app. They come in an array of colours and will be great for creative kids.

Orchard Toys Ltd (Stand 5K41)  – this stand is worth visiting just to see the Giant Railway Puzzle linked up to the Giant Road Puzzle, and the village and the airport. The Giant Road Puzzle is a classic, and they’ve recently launched a whole raft of new puzzles to accompany that and I know that these will sell incredibly well in the toy shop and kids will love making their own town and transport system at home. Fantastic.

Marbel Ltd (Stand 5K50) – the Marbel stand was showing off some of their new Hape wooden toys products, I’m not sure what if anything I’m allowed to say, but if I use the words “wooden train”, “xylophone” and “just awesome” you know what to look out for later this year. Hape products are really well made wooden toys at a good price, great for babies and toddlers.

Stepping Stones Marketing (Stand 5L47) – are the UK distributors for Lilliputiens baby and nursery toys, these are quite captivating soft toys, but with hidden surprises designed to stimulate the child’s senses. We were quite taken by the lemur cot and pram toy as well as the adorable fox, we liked the gender neutral colouring and the quality of these products.

Jamm Toys (Stand 5L10) – I’m new to Jamm Toys and I was impressed by their range, in particular the cool retro wooden scooters stood out to me, they look like Vespas but for small children. I’d be surprised if I don’t see a few of these being scooted around our local park come Christmas!

spring fair 2016

Spring Fair was enormous, if you’re going then go with a game plan, wear comfortable shoes and be prepared for a very long day. 

I’ve picked out just ten things I loved from my day at Spring Fair, but honestly there were hundreds of fantastic toys to go and marvel at. I had a really interesting time and I learned an awful lot about toys and what will be big this year. Fantastic!

My Sunday Photo 7.2.16

muddy puddles

It’s been a wet and windy few days and we were dying to get out of the house and get some fresh air. On Saturday afternoon I’d had enough and bundled me and the boy up and headed off to our local and usually very popular park. We had it almost to ourselves which was great fun. We walked around splashing in all the big puddles and seeing how deep they were. He was wearing his beloved bright yellow RNLI wellies too.

By the time we got home we’d hadve an hour and a half of fresh air and exercise. I kicked my walking boots off as soon as I got in the door, he was struggling to pull his wellies off, but when he did I realised there was about half a pint of water in each welly. Too much splashing! Hot baths and hot chocolate all round, we’d enjoyed being the only people in the park for a change.

We’re going to the Geronimo Festival 2016 – are you?

I’ve got a little bit of exciting news to share with you, I’ve been chosen to be an official blogger at the Geronimo Festival 2016, and what’s more, they’ve given me a very pretty badge to prove it!

Geronimo_Official-Ambassador_Large

I missed The Geronimo Festival last year due to a holiday, and I was gutted when I saw all the lovely pictures on social media of everyone having fun and posing with their favourite CBeebies presenters and characters, I knew I didn’t want to miss out on the fun this time around, especially as the tickets are very reasonably priced for a day of adventure and (hopefully) sunshine.

The festival is on at Tatton Park (May 29th and 30th) and also Harewood House in Yorkshire (May 1st and 2nd).  We’ll be going to the festival nearest our house, which is at Tatton Park in Cheshire.

The festival will feature Cbeebies star live shows, a full circus, 3 theatre companies, amazing bands, a full county fair arena including jousting, sheep shearing, motorcycle displays, funfair rides, tortoise encounters, spy school den building and 100 other amazing activities. Sounds pretty good doesn’t it? 

This year Cbeebies megastar Justin Fletcher will be there, as well as Mr Bloom, presenters Andy Day and Alex Winters and Cook and Line from Swashbuckle. As well as Les Enfants Terrible who present their Imaginary Menagerie. We’ve seen this show before and it is fantastic, so we won’t be missing that particular festival highlight! 

geronimo festival

Looking through the festival highlights makes me want to get my marker pen out and start planning the day, but I’ll have to resist until nearer the time. The Geronimo Festival is aimed at families with children aged between 2 and 12 years old and I know that my 5 year old will love it, probably almost as much as me and his dad!

As a Geronimo Festival Ambassador I’ll be sharing updates on my blog and across my social media sites, so do keep your eyes peeled for updates and maybe more. I hope to see you there!

Tickets are currently available for £25 each. For more information or to buy tickets visit www.geronimofest.com.

Review: Pip Ahoy! DVD – Welcome to Salty Cove + Giveaway

Since Pip Ahoy burst onto our screens in 2014 the small boy has been fascinated by the goings on at Salty Cove. For those who haven’t yet seen Pip Ahoy It is all about the adventures of Pip the puppy, and his friends including kitten Alba and Alan the penguin (Alan is our favourite)  in the seaside town of Salty Cove. Pip Ahoy features the familiar voices of David Jason, Stacy Soloman, Teresa Gallagher and Jimmy Hibbert. 

Pip Ahoy is aimed at pre-schoolers and is shown on Milkshake (Channel 5) and on Cartoonito. The boy makes a special effort every morning to get up and watch it while he has his breakfast, so we treated him to a copy of the latest Pip Ahoy DVD – Welcome to Salty Cove. He was delighted! 

Welcome to Salty Cove contains all 13 episodes of Pip Ahoy season 1 and is 2 hours and 23 minutes long. It’s a long DVD for a pre-schooler to sit and watch in one go, but you can pick and choose the episodes you watch so you can mix it up each day. We watched it over a few days after school and it was nice to sit and snuggle up together.

Pip Ahoy is a brightly coloured cartoon with easy to follow story-lines which are all about friendship and kindness. It’s lovely heartwarming stuff and Pip, Alba and Alan are very popular (I work in a toy shop, I should know) and the songs in the series are brilliant and make fantastic earworms – we’re still singing the penguin song from the Christmas episode!

Welcome to Salty Cove contains the following episodes –

  • The Mice Pirates
  • Fancy That!
  • Snooze Cruise
  • The Mermaid
  • Pizza Pirates
  • Pasty Flies a Kite
  • Stunt Gull Hopper
  • Auntie Twitcher’s Bird Watch
  • The Rocktopus
  • My Turn
  • Anybody Seen Alan?
  • The Wrong Way Train
  • Shelvis’ New Home

As always there’s lots going on in Salty Cove, the episodes are so bright and cheery too. With any series there are always favourite episodes which are watched over and over again, I like “Anybody Seen Alan?” where he bounces off the see-saw and off into adventure; the boy loves “The Rocktoppus” where a drumming octopus loses his drumsticks and it ends with a brilliant underwater gig.

welcome to salty cove

The DVD also comes with a free A3 activity sheet to colour in, do a dot-to-dot or spot the difference. The Pip Ahoy DVD Welcome To Salty Cove is available from Amazon and a range of other retailers for around £7.99. 

welcome to salty cove

I will be taking part in the Pip Ahoy! Twitter party on Thursday 25th February from 1-2.30pm. Pip Ahoy! will be giving away 20 copies of the Welcome To Salty Cove DVD to some partying Pipsqueaks. Use the hashtag #PipAhoy to join in.

Win a copy of the Pip Ahoy! DVD – Welcome to Salty Cove

To be in with a chance to win a copy of the Pip Ahoy! DVD – Welcome to Salty Cove just complete the rafflecopter widget below. Good luck!

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Terms & Conditions:
1. The competition is open to residents of the UK only.
2. There is no cash alternative offered.
3. To enter, please use the rafflecopter widget above. Please ensure you leave some contact details or I will not be able to contact you if you win.
4. The winner will be drawn at random from all qualifying entries. The winner will receive a copy of the Pip Ahoy! DVD – Welcome to Salty Cove.
5. The competition will close on 29th February 2016.
6. The winner will be asked to provide a full UK postal address with postcode for delivery purposes.
7. Address details will be passed onto an agency to post the prize out to the winners, and is therefore beyond my control. I cannot be held responsible for prizes being lost in the post although I will endeavour to liaise with the agency.
8. Your email address may be passed on to the agent for marketing purposes, you may unsubscribe at any time.
9. HodgePodgeDays decision is final in all matters relating to this competition.

 

Win an Orchard Toys Giant Railway Puzzle

One of the small boy’s favourite puzzles has been the Giant Road Jigsaw from Orchard Toys, containing 20 pieces you can make different road layouts and race your cars around the track. Using his imagination he’s created whole villages and had hours of fun with him and his friends. It’s a classic. I was excited to see that they have just released the Orchard Toys Giant Railway Puzzle, which can be used with other puzzles from Orchard Toys, the Giant Road, Giant Town and Airport, Junctions and Stations expansion packs.

The Orchard Toys Giant Railway contains 26 large pieces of interchangeable railway themed jigsaw. You can build lots of different railway tracks, and the puzzle includes railway buffers as well as train and character play pieces. It’s a cracking puzzle and I can’t wait for my son to start playing with it, I’m certain he’ll love it just as much as he enjoys the Giant Road puzzle.

Orchard Toys Giant Railway Puzzle

Orchard Toys puzzles are always designed with a child’s development in mind, the Giant Railway Puzzle from Orchard Toys is suitable for ages 3+ and…

  • Promotes Imaginative Play
  • Encourages Observational Skills
  • Encourages Discussion
  • Develops Hand Eye Coordination

Win an Orchard toys Giant Railway Puzzle 

I am delighted to be able to offer my lovely blog readers the chance to win an Orchard Toys Giant Railway Puzzle. To be in with a chance to win just complete the rafflecopter widget below. Thank you.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Terms & Conditions:
1. The competition is open to residents of the UK only.
2. There is no cash alternative offered.
3. To enter, please use the rafflecopter widget above. Please ensure you leave some contact details or I will not be able to contact you if you win.
4. The winner will be drawn at random from all qualifying entries. The winner will receive an Orchard Toys Giant Railway Puzzle.
5. The competition will close on 28th February 2016.
6. The winner will be asked to provide a full UK postal address with postcode for delivery purposes.
7. Address details will be passed onto an agency to post the prize out to the winners, and is therefore beyond my control. I cannot be held responsible for prizes being lost in the post although I will endeavour to liaise with the agency.
8. Your email address may be passed on to Orchard Toys for marketing purposes, you may unsubscribe at any time.
9. HodgePodgeDays decision is final in all matters relating to this competition.

The Facebook Motherhood Challenge

Are you on Facebook? Are you a mum? Have you been tagged in the motherhood challenge? I pretty much universally hate this kind of thing, but since it’s only posting five happy shiny pictures of me and the boy how hard can it be?

I’ve loved looking at everyone else’s five pictures, and like them I’ve chosen to highlight the good stuff. It’s like a CV of parenting, you accentuate the positive and hide the negative stuff away and hope nobody sees it.

Like when he was 3 weeks old and we were both crying hysterically and we’d run out of tissues so I was so delirious with exhaustion I blew my nose on the duvet and we promptly fell fast asleep.

Or the time when he projectile pooed all over me and then peed on my face when I was cleaning him up.

Or all the cakes he’s coughed and sneezed in while we were making them (plague cake anyone?).

Or the times he’s shouted at me that he’s not my very best friend anymore, then cried out for cuddles before bed.

Or when he was having an operation and I almost tore my heart out with a mixture of fear and anxiety.

Or the times I’ve been too full of anxiety to do anything other than cry and rock to myself until it stopped.

Or the money troubles, the times I’ve not been able to scrape the money together to buy enough food for his tea, never mind the Lego set he dreams of.

Of the things I’ve missed out on in his life because my ruined spine won’t let me kick a ball around with him in the park, or carry him upstairs when he’s sleepy, or wrestle around in the floor playing horsey.

I’m just a normal mum, doing what I can to make sure he grows up to be a happy and productive member of society. My parenting isn’t perfect, in real life it’s not all lovely smiles and cheeky kisses, it’s not been carefully staged for Instagram, with filters applied left, right and centre. Parenting is messy, physically and emotionally, but would I change it? Not on your nelly.

motherhood challenge