Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Race For Life Twilight 5k - Mission Completed!

All In Pink - Waiting For The Race To Start
Well, we have survived the 'storms' in one piece, so I thought now was a good time to nail down a little blog post about my first Race For Life experience. Our Chelmsford 5K Twilight event happened on the 24th October, and luckily the weather held. I have to admit I was nervous about that right up until the day, but the weather gods shone kindly on Chelmsford.
I knew from seeing pictures of other Cancer Research and Breast Cancer Care events that pink was a common colour theme, and wearing pink is positively encouraged, but I wasn't sure how many would join in with this. I arrived at Central Park and was surrounded by a sea of pink. Some had tutu's and fairy lights, others had sweat bands, deely boppers and pink t-shirts or jumpers. To add to the effect the event organisers had several pink up lights around a group of trees, and fairy lights strung along one part of the course, plus the flashing finish start/finish line.

If you've seen my earlier post, you'll know that it was the first time I'd done a Race For Life event. I
Event T-Shirt With All Our Names On
knew I didn't want to run it, but set off from the start aiming to briskly walk, and jog at times, along the 2 laps of the course. All I can say is it was great fun. There's was plenty of encouragement from the stewards and sea cadets along the well marshalled course, music in places, and a good sense of community spirit. Some were taking part just to support the charity, others had been affected by cancer in some way. There was a sense of fun, and sense of purpose. I wasn't the only one taking part on my own, and didn't mind that at all. The event was really well organised so I felt safe, and invigorated.

Watching Others Cross The Finish Line
Although I did get lapped by the runners at one point, the fastest of which crossed the line in 25 minutes, I was pleased with my pace, and felt quite proud of myself when I crossed the line at the 50min 38 seconds mark. A bottle of water, and some sweets were my reward, then I was off home to show off my medal, and tell everyone my time.

It was a good way to spend an evening, and I would definitely do it again, so I hope Race For Life Twilight comes back again next year, although in the meantime I might do the route again whenever I need some invigorating exercise! More importantly I also raised funds for Cancer Research, a brilliant cause, and I hope that somehow the kind donations I received in sponsorship will go a little way to help beat cancer.

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Christmas Tag Post

Source - Tweak Your Biz
Eagle eyes may have spotted me joining in with a fun Autumn Tag Post, thanks to my blogger friend Vicky, who posted before me. I had fun answering all the questions, so I thought I'd start of a Christmas one. Perhaps Vicky will be first, and lots of you will all join in as well - it is about time we got just a little bit festive after all!

1. Do you buy anything in the January sales for next Christmas?

Yes, I am normally down at the sales looking for a treat for myself, find nothing, wonder at the people with bags stuff full of stuff, and then go home with nothing but reduced cards or gift wrap!

2. Are you organised when it comes to Christmas?

I'm on a self employed income, which can go up and down like a rollercoaster, especially as most pay in 30 days. I normally start xmas shopping in October/November when the festive gifts are in the shops, and birthdays are out the way. I also have a rough budget for every person I buy for, and try and be organised about posting things off. I can't stand the thought of standing in long post office queues or dashing around the shops at the last minute. Mostly depends on ideas though, which can be lacking for hard to buy for people!

3. Where do you sit on the scale of liking/disliking Christmas?

Probably somewhere between the middle, and liking. I think Christmas is always going to extremes. I like the build-up when the Christmas lights get turned on in town, I like making my cards and tags, and choosing presents for everyone. Christmas itself can be a bit full on - getting urged out of bed, a lot of socialising at home, more than any other time of year. It's not bad - it's just sometimes you want a break, and other times you end up bored, when nothing much is going on.

4. What is your ideal way to get in the Christmas Spirit?

We have a little tradition in our house, my sister and I both decorate the tree together, which we still do, even though she has left home. The Christmas Lights Switch On always has a good festive spirit. In an ideal world though, they'd hold Winter Wonderland here, instead of Hyde Park - be nice to have something like that, instead of a one-off event.

5. Have you had a white Christmas where you are?

I'm sure we have, but I can't remember it, recently the weather has been pretty miserable over Xmas, so we've been stuck inside, and so has Wilson (my sister's dog). I think fresh air should be a pre-requirement at Christmas! Nearest we've had is snow in January for Dad's birthday. I love the snow though, and have built some snowmen - now I have a nephew I may have company doing that soon!!

6. What is a typical Christmas Day in your house?

I get hauled out of bed by the rest of the family who are eager to start opening presents (big kids!),
Santa Wilson!
we open gifts for a while, then lunch is cooked and eaten, chill out time over coffee, then more presents. So that lasts until 3-4pm. Then we'll have a snack, watch Eastenders (the only programme we seem to end up watching all the way through), and sometimes we'll end up playing games at random times  - Monopoly at 10pm Xmas Day wasn't such a good idea. Then bed, and a nice lie-in, before more food, TV, and games on Boxing Day. It's a bit different now, as my sister has a little (and very cute) son. So we will probably be spending more time keeping him and Wilson the dog entertained this year when they are over, and may be quieter the rest of the time.

7. What do you hope Santa will leave for you under the Christmas Tree this year?

Ooh I've not actually made much of a list yet, but I do keep looking at the new Nintendo 2DS console, so that may have to get a mention. I'd also love some Hunkydory craft kits, you can't get them in the shops around here, and the quality is amazing. I don't need smellies though, well body butter anyway, I have so much of that already!

8. How do you put your own stamp on Christmas?

Christmas Decorations I Made!
For quite a while now, my sister and I decorate the Christmas tree, and (as much as we are allowed), make the rest of the house look festive. I have a few bits for my room as well. Much to Mum's annoyance I am always butting in with ideas for decorating the Christmas Cake, and this year, I think that might be my job!!! Other than that, I make cards and gift tags for friends and family gifts and like to make little gifts if I get time.

So I think that's my Christmas Tag well and truly started. Hope you will all join in, and also leave all your favourite things about Christmas in the comments below. Lets get some Christmas Spirit on These City Days!

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Comment - My Thoughts On Reading, Books, and Kindles

I recently read a lovely post on the To Become Mum blog about reading and books, which mentioned a study by Littlewoods on the subject. It caught my eye because of her passion for books, and her feelings mirror my own.

So I decided to write my own post, after finding the stats a hard read. 2000 parents were surveyed, with just 64 per cent of them read their children bedtime stories, and a quarter of a million under 7's don't earn a single book. The survey hints at parenting issues, stress, lack of time, and an apathy toward reading from children more interested in television and computer games.

Tastes change, and with so many distractions on the market as well, not everyone will grow up with a love of books, and keep on being a bookworm into adulthood. Although me and my sister both liked being read to when we were younger and read at an early age, I was always more into books than she was. These days my sister might read the odd magazine - or look at picture books with my nephew, but her interest in reading waned quite a while ago.

That's just something that happens in life I, but I will always be grateful to my parents for introducing me to books at a young age, and encouraging my reading as I grew older. I just think there is a joy in books, sharing other people's imagination, reading more about your interests, and although it may sound a bit boring, it did help a lot with school work as well.

I remember reading the Village With Three Corners books in infant school, progressing up the reading levels in junior school, then pretty much reading every Famous Five, Secret Seven, and Sweet Valley High book going.

Which makes me pretty much a traditionalist, as I think part of the joy in books is choosing them from a bookshelf or visiting a library. When it comes to books on animals, crafts, or one of my other hobbies, there's nothing quite like large glossy pictures as well. Which is why, although I appreciate the technology, I'm not a Kindle convert, and was a bit sad to see them advertised with children.

Although I own other gadgets I won't be buying a Kindle. I'd much rather pick up a book, and encourage children to leave their gadgets at home and visit a bookshop or library. Gadgets to me don't promote reading aloud or sharing books with your family either.

Reading is an essential skill, you don't have to list it as a favourite hobby, but there is a book out there for everyone, so why not search one out, turn the pages, and enjoy it. Whether it helps you with study, is a distraction as you sit on a sunbed on holiday, or helps you learn more about your favourite subject. Don't let the wonder of books be lost in favour of TOWIE or your Playstation.

Monday, 14 October 2013

Cocoa Brown Tough Stuff Review

One of the things I enjoy about blogging is the chance to try out products and brands that are entirely new to me. I never use tanning products so Marissa Carter's Cocoa Brown brand has been a mystery to me until now.

I was sent a sachet of 'Tough Stuff', an exfoliating scrub that claims it packs no punches, and sets to work on your rough areas, such as elbows, knees, and feet. I've seen a few blogs recently reporting on the scrubs use as a pre-tan, or tan stripping item as well, so it seems to be a product with two target markets.

First impressions were good, as I liked the 50ml size of the sachet, and the pink branding would definitely stand out on a shop shelf. I also noticed the handy addition of usage tips, and explaining about using the scrub on dry and/or wet skin, which was a nice touch.

The pink and girl theme continues inside with the product, so they have already achieved marks for consistency, but how does the product work? As I'm not a fan of fake tan, what drove me to accept this review was the promise that the scrub is tough, and I was also intrigued to see how far the product would go, after all, it was just one sachet so I was a bit sceptical at first. The scrub can be used 3 or 4 times a week, which I have been doing for a few weeks now.

Other exfoliating scrubs I've used have been balanced in favour of the gel, with a more gentle texture, but Tough Stuff is heavier on the scrub element, so it did take a bit of getting used to as I applied it. The texture is more grainy than I am used to, but it didn't really bother me, and there's no scent to like/dislike.

By week 2 I was starting to notice the difference on my elbows and knees which feel nice and smooth now, although I've not noticed the product having as much effect on my feet - I think here it would require longer use, and perhaps used in combination with other products, such as a Pedi Egg to get the tricky bits.

I can't complain other than that though, as I got 8 uses out of the sachet, and there is still some left. Originally the price put me off a bit, but the product is working, and if you just use it as directed for the rough areas, then you get a good number of uses for your money. A thumbs up from These City Days.

If you'd like to try Tough Stuff by Cocoa Brown for yourself, it is currently retailing for £4.50 (2 sachets) at Feel Unique . Have you tried the product, or are you a scrub fan in general, why not share your beauty thoughts below.

* I was sent this product for review, but all comments are honest and my own.

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Autumn Tag

Anyone on Myspace remember when the latest craze was to answer surveys, which spread like wildfire round peoples profiles? It's a big like Deja Vu, as I've spotted a few questionnaires on Blogger, although they are now known as Tag posts. So I am tagging Vicky over at Pretty Witty Things who has joined in with an Autumn Tag Post, and decided I would do one as well.

For Autumn:

1. Favourite Thing About It?

I'd have to say 'nice' Autumn weather. I'm not a big fan of grey skies, and wet and windy misery, so when I wake up to surprising blue skies, and sunshine it really lifts my mood.The other day I was sitting outside a cafe by the river, having a drink with my parents in the sunshine, and it was lovely.

2. Favourite Drink

I've never been able to stomach tea or coffee, so my drink of choice would have to be hot lemon, or boiled water - which may seem a bit odd, but I find it refreshing. Occasionally if I need a boost then I may be naughty and reach for Mountain Dew or Lucozade.

3. Favourite Scent/Candle

Lavender probably wins hands down for this one because of its relaxing properties, although the Mango Yankee Candle that my sister bought me as a present leave a lovely scent in my room as well. I'm not a fan of anything too overpowering, but much to Dad's disgust I like the Ginger and Vanilla Air Freshener in the bathroom too.

4. Best Lipstick

I'm not sure I really have one to be honest, although No7 Lip Gloss Sets have been a cheeky treat in the January Sales, and I also have a Benefit Lipstick in a shade called Breathless that I love.

5. Go To Moisturiser

Hmm I better admit here that I am not always the best at keeping up a skincare routine, I also have a small haul of body butters etc. that I've been given as pressies so sometimes I just put one of those on. I also use Nelsons Pure and Clear range, or Nivea (thanks Dad for that one).

6. Go To Colour For Eyes

I'm a fan of glitter so I have a couple of pots of that which I like using when I go out, I am also getting good use out of a Front Cover set of gold shimmering tones which I reviewed a while back. Basically like anything that glitters or shimmers and isn't grey/black. I DO NOT get on with v.dark colours.

7. Favourite Music To Listen To

I have supported Take That since I was 13/14, apart from that my music tastes vary from 70's Disco, to 80's, classic soul, a bit of Hip Hop and Indie/Pop, soft rock, and Disney soundtrack songs. Current favourites are Matt Cardle, Lawson, and songs such as 'I Don't Trust Myself' - John Mayer, and 'Chasing Stars' - One Republic.

8. Favourite Outfit To Wear

Jeans, a nice pair of comfy flat boots, a top with a bit of bling, a comfy cardigan, and a stylish scarf. I have a bit of a scarf addiction - be it cosy or fabric.

9. Autumn Treat

At the moment I need to stop buying food when I am out and eat much nicer treats (i.e lunch) at home. So then I would have more pennies to buy an Autumn treat - which would probably be a lovely jumper or wintery leggings/dress.

10. Favourite Place To Be

On a nice day, in the park with my sisters gorgeous fluff ball Wilson, and my nephew Joey who is now old enough to go on the swings.

If anyone else fancies joining in this Autumn Tag and keeping the links and answers going, that would be great. Link back to me or maybe leave a few comments below.

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Heat Holder Socks Giveaway

The sun is currently streaming through the window as I write this, and I am reluctant to let it go, but there will come a time, whether it's cold and miserable or bright and fresh, where my toes will be in need of some warmth and comfort. There's only one thing to do then, and that's to bring out the Heat Holders from hibernation.

For those of you who don't know, Heat Holders are thermal socks, with one of the highest tog (warmth ratings) in the business. This means your feet will be toasty warm, and because they are extra thick and cosy, you may find extra cushioning - perfect if you like to wear boots with thinner soles, or you're on your feet all day (which I sometimes am, when out doing reviews).

Heat Holders have products for men, women, and children, including the original Heat Holder Socks, long socks, wellington socks, ski socks, and even leggings, so you can feel the benefit of Heat Holders whatever you're wearing. There's a range of colours in the ladies ranges as well, so you can pick and choose to suit your mood or outfit.

You can view the full range here - but don't stray too long or you'll miss the chance to win a pair. I have two pairs of Original Ladies Heat Holder Socks to give away to two lucky winners, and entering is easy. Just fill in your details on the Rafflecopter form below, completing all the tasks to enter, and then keep your fingers crossed. The competition is set to run until the 10th October, then two winners will be picked at random to win the prizes. Good Luck everybody.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Energy Efficient Cooking Tips

 *sponsored post

Source - PR Web
Sometimes when I am searching out things online, I don't have to look too far to get results, especially when looking at something like energy bills, and energy saving tips and advice. Although the bills in our house are not under my name, as a family, we always look to save on energy where we can. Sometimes this might mean that it's not quite cold enough to heat the house while we're in and out - which equals cold typing fingers, but when it comes to cooking, energy efficiency makes our lives easier, and helps improve the bills.

Eagle eyes may have spotted some food/baking based posts appear since I launched 'These City Days', so I thought for something different I'd add in some energy efficient cooking tips as well. I like cooking, and 'can cook', but I'm no expert, so anything that can save me stress and energy is a winner.

* Use your microwave

Microwave Steamer
 Microwaves are the most energy efficient   cooking appliance in the home. It's a fact nobody can argue with, although I hadn't thought of unplugging it to save power before. Technology means you can cook quickly, but it also means you can cook a greater range of items than ever before. My personal favourite is a spotted dick pudding, which is really easy to do in the microwave, and our steamer gets a lot of use in there when I cook rice as well. With the Consumer Energy Centre saying the device uses 50-65 percent less energy than a normal oven, and rumours that they are set to become even more efficient, what's not to like?

* Electric Fan Ovens

Hands up who has an electric oven in their house, a fan one? even better. Ticks the boxes for quick preheating and cooking times, and even temperatures help save power too. There's some tips you can apply to cooking as well. Don't commit the deadly sins of opening the oven door too much during cooking and losing the heat, or turn it on for single, small items.

* Mines A Large

It might not be so easy in summer when you're feasting on fruit and salad, but cooking hot meals in bulk is something, that with a bit of planning can serve you well all year round. Casseroles and mince based dishes or curries are favourites in our house, whether they are cooked on the hob, or in our energy saving slow cooker - which I've now found out uses less energy than a light bulb. Will you cook and freeze, or make several days dinners in one go?

Electric Oven
* Steamer Pans

Bit of a theme developing here, and I feel a sense of deja vu every time I wash up our steamer pan, but it makes cooking some things a lot easier. One thing that always puts me off recipes, is the thought of juggling lots of different pans, with different cooking times, and basically getting in a right mess. Our steam pan has several layers, so Mum (or I) can steam vegetables, and cook potatoes, and it's all been pretty seamless, plus it uses one ring on the hob, so we're saving power as well.

These are just some of the key ways you can cook more energy efficiently in the home, and there are plenty of small things you can do as well. Think energy smart and you'll soon be pre-boiling potatoes, boiling water in the kettle instead of the hob, or maybe even investing in a halogen oven or induction hob. Have you got any tips to share? why not leave them, and your blog link below, and lets connect.

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