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I have written a lot about Syria and the heartbreaking crisis we have all witnessed this year in the media and lately, my mind has been doing rounds, trying to find a way we can help again as a family.

So when I was invited yesterday by the amazing team behind #ShareTheMeal  to write about their amazing new life-saving app, I knew instantly I had found my answer!

Instead of me explaining the idea of the new app to you, I will let Sebastian Stricker do it himself. After all, the app is his brainchild and he does a much better job at passionately presenting it, more than I would ever dream of doing:

What we can all do, on the other hand, and from today is download the app and each time we have a few spare pennies in our bank accounts, click and donate to ensure not only our children get fed this winter, but also the Syrian ones still on the road to safety and a normal life.

Our (to us!) meager donations of £0.37 per day or £2.45 per week have the financial power to change a child’s life! No, actually, they have the potential to SAVE their life!

Please do involve your children and support together the initiative as a family this December. Instead of focusing on Advent Calendars that offer them chocolate and toys only, make it a daily habit to think and give to others, less fortunate, some of their small change and, more importantly, their love.

Emma’s iPad has the app downloaded from yesterday and we will make it a daily joy in December, to click that button and know that for that day, one Syrian child will not go hungry thanks to Emma’s big heart!

The app is fully endorsed by the United Nations World Food Programme. It has been mentioned in Forbes yesterday as the app with most potential for worldwide change. The #ShareTheMeal programme and app have received the support of the WFP Innovation Accelerator and are in line with the United Nations’ ambitious goal to end world hunger by 2030.

On self-assurance, selling oneself short and other employment matters

I have been very busy lately and had to sort out tons of things and tie loads of loose ends when it comes to employment and personal life.

Although I had the summer off and only went back to work at the end of August, by mid-September my part-time day  became a source of huge stress and I had to step right back and evaluate the best strategy concerning it.

I have also been extremely busy on the blog, with many great things happening, like Mama’s Haven winning UK Best Parenting Blog Award with the Blogging Edge network and loads of respectable brands approaching us for collaborations and reviews.

parenting blogger

I did, at the same time, land a wonderful part-time job which I can do from home, during hours that suit our family. As a  Social Media and PR Manager with the fastest growing coupon site in the UK , I haven’t had a dull moment since starting working for them, with every day a steep learning curve that challenges and motivates me!

But in the midst of all this, I have felt, at the best of times, overwhelmed and under extreme pressure to perform and do well by everybody.

In the end, the decision had to be taken and my day job had to go.

I did not take the decision lightly and took four weeks to ponder seriously on all the implications but in my heart of hearts, I knew that a job that leaves me drained and frustrated at the end of the day will only get worse if I stayed in it. Nothing to do with the people or the job itself, more of the wrong person for the wrong job sort of thing.

For the past week and a half, with that burden lifted off my shoulders, I had expected to feel lighter but actually, I continued to put myself under a lot of pressure to do well in my new job and deliver excellent quality content in every blog post that was commissioned to me as well.

Needless to say, adjustments had to be made, once again.

I took yesterday off to consider what were the things that were causing the stress and I did realise that I was doing too much for too little.

So, the decision has been taken to up the game, so to say. This coming month I will abstain from taking every blogging commissioning that is being offered to me, just because I want to be nice, build professional relationships and am unable to say no.

I have also decided to up my blogging fees.

At the end of the day, having given up my day job, I am now self-employed in the finance books. A professional blogger who needs to make a living off her blog. I am also an established blogger with loads of credibility and credentials and accepting modest fees need to become a thing of the past.

Lack of self-assurance and selling myself short, I realised, is never going to bring me where I dream to be!

I have decided to walk this path, the self-employment path because it suits my lifestyle, my personality and my gifting.

Now it is time to stick my head high, believe in myself and my value as a blogger and writer and make my dreams become reality!

Her New Favourite Colour is Yellow – Sibling Grief

Emma was only 4 when Georgie died and, most appropriately for her age, she took everything in her stride.

She accepted without questioning that Georgie went to heaven.

She played tea parties in the chapel where his little body rested for three days, undisturbed by the reality of his departure.

After the funeral, she got back to her only-child life without any qualms, or so it appeared at the time.

But as she grows up, her anger with the situation and her questions grow bigger and bigger too.

Half-term was hell term for us.

Alex worked long hours that week and instead of having a great week off, spending it relaxing and recharging our batteries, Emma and I spent it at each other’s throats.

I haven’t been great myself for a number of weeks so having a screaming, unhappy child for whom nothing was quite right drove me to the brink of insanity several times that week.

I did start to make sense of what was happening the week after, when I picked on the fact that she was insisting her new favourite colour was yellow.

It clicked into place, as I did remember having told her that Georgie loved bright colours and yellow especially.

So I started prodding her gently with questions:

“Do you miss your brother, Emma?”

“No, not really.”

“Do you miss being a big sister?”

“Yes…very much…I made a great big sissie…”

I have also tried to give away some of her soft toys, shortly after her birthday last week, to make room for the new games.

I did show them to her one by one, including one of Georgie’s teddies.

I remember how she stopped breathing when the teddy went up.

She searched my eyes anxiously and asked simply:


She carried on saying that she wants to keep ALL of Georgie’s toys and never lose any of them.

This child of mine is trying so hard to hold on to the very few mementos and memories that she has of her brother.

And it breaks my heart.

As I see her struggle. Her agony with what has happened. Her questions.

And there is nothing, absolutely nothing I can do to make it right.

I cannot bring Georgie back.

I cannot build memories of what they have lost, a whole life of growing up together, of games, of rivalries, of camaraderie and love.

I cannot fix this.

I cannot mend our broken lives.

All I can do is accept it all as it is.

Her broken heart is leaking love for a little brother with whom she will not get to share her life here on earth.

All I can do is offer her the little comfort my words and touch can bring her bruised heart.

That and the fact that….her new favourite colour is yellow…


eBay: Christmas Gift Shopping Made Easy

Christmas gift shopping is well and truly under way and I am writing this post today to encourage you that there are ways to do it painlessly and quickly.

Who finds even the thought of trekking shops for absolute hours in search of that perfect Christmas unbearable?

Yeah, and so do I!

There is something about big crowds, crying children and impatient mothers, loud, tacky festive music and the “buy, buy, buy” signs in every single window shop that always put me off from being out and about for long periods of time during this time of the year so for me, online shopping is ideal!

Of all purchases we have made this year, excluding the weekly food shop and bare (or urgent) necessities, about 95% of our shopping (may I say, MY shopping, as hubby leaves the responsibility to me), has been done online.

So you will not be surprised, after my rather lengthy introduction, when I say that the majority of my Christmas shopping will be done online this year. I would also rather shop for my presents in the same place, when possible, so that I can keep track of the total expenditure and also dispatching times, possible delays and order issues…etc. eBay is for me the ideal place, as all the above is ticked and also the reassurance that if anything goes wrong with an order, eBay will act as a neutral mediator and resolve the issue satisfactorily for both sides.

If this is something you are considering doing too this Christmas, I have put some gift ideas together for you for inspiration, assisted by eBay’s handy Top Trending Collections column.

Presents for Children

Looks like this Christmas the Lego Movie figurines are still very much in fashion and remain coveted items and the family will have plenty of opportunities to spend some quality time together around a game, be in indoors or outdoors!

Presents for Him

This year, it’s all about men who look after themselves and their health, hard working men who deserve a beautiful, personalised present and loads of love.

Presents for Her

The special ladies in our lives deserve the best, this Christmas and always, so it is all about luxury jewelry and the latest gadgets for them!

Will you be doing your Christmas shopping online this year and if, so, how much of it would be on big, all-encompassing sites like eBay? Do you think online shopping is easier to maneuver and manage financially or do you prefer shopping out and about?

Disclaimer: this post contains an affiliate link. The opinions expressed are entirely our own and truthful, as always.

Love Me Beauty – The Best Subscription Beauty Box

Love Me Beauty is not the first subscription beauty box I have tried this autumn, but it is by far, the best one on the UK market, in my informed opinion.

IMG_4279What makes me view it as such?

I have five simple reasons and I am confident you would agree with me, once you have heard me:

1. Price

I have tried several other beauty boxes which are decently priced but none of them beats the £10/month that Love Me Beauty sells for! Most of the beauty boxes out there do offer competitive prices but most of them do start at over £12.00.

2. Value for Money

Again, I have tried beautiful beauty boxes which offered a varied array of products, from hair, make up, nails, body and accessories but most of their products come in minuscule, sample sizes, with the odd product being full size and worth the spending. I was absolutely impressed with the fact that my review box arrived with ALL five full size products to sample and enjoy!

3. Great Quality

I received my beauty box last week and I did have a chance to use all five products the team was very kind to include in the review box for me.

The Neal&Wolf Smoothing Blow Dry Balm left my hair silky and smelling divine after the first use and I look forward to using it loads in the weeks to come!

The Caylin Gel Eye Shadow Pencil is extremely easy to use and stayed put for the 12 hours I used it that day, no smudging or leakage at all!

The Lanolips Banana Balm helped my (and Emma’s) lips stay moisturised and prevented cracking during these last days, with all the high winds and storms. It smells lovely too, Emma says :-).

The Malin and Goetz Face Cleanser produced a luxurious lather which left my face feeling squeaky clean and smelling beautifully of citrus fruit.

And finally, the Nuxe Huile Prodigieuse Or added the ultimate glossy, chic look to my hair (which does have a tendency to look limp after straightening).

4. Product Choice

While assembling your beauty product, you are given the great choice of not only several beauty products categories but also, loads of personal choices to suit your particular skin and hair type.

So, for example, the MONU product choice includes firming facial oil, hydrating mask, reviving mist and hydrating moisturiser, all to suit your personal skin type and preferences.

5. Subscription Choice

You can try the beauty box as a monthly subscription or you can pay in advance for three, six, nine or 12 months, depending on your budget and preferences. You can cancel your subscription anytime you choose, as well.

So, if a Love Me Beauty subscription box is something the special ladies(and gents!) in your life would enjoy as a Christmas present, do check out the website here. I can assure you that as someone who has tested the products and the subscription service herself, this is indeed, the best subscription beauty box there is out there at the moment!

P.S.- For an even greater incentive to spoil your loved ones, the lovely folk at Love Me Beauty are offering our readers the unique discount code haven50 for your first purchase, which will save you a hefty 50% your first month’s subscription! So go on, what is your excuse not to?

Disclaimer: we were sent a Love Me Beauty subscription box for the purpose of this review. All opinions expressed are truthful and entirely my own.

Canned Food Challenge

I love a challenge, of any sort, so when CannedFoodUK approached and challenged us to cook using canned goods, rather than fresh, I, of course, had to say yes!

We do use canned food in this home already, don’t get me wrong but it is only for a few recipes. Our famous spaghetti bolognese is most of the time made with canned tomatoes and we have also been known to resort to a can of rice pudding, when in need for a sweet treat but other than that, we are limited in our consumption of canned goods.

I do think that this streams mainly from the recent food scares and theories that fresh is best and we are certainly victims of the latest health trends here.

But are those trends always accurate and is canned food to be demonised?

I embarked on a virtual search to find out what the real truth(!!) might be and I did discover some stunning facts:

  1. Canned fruits, vegetables and beans are considered minimally processed. After being picked at peak ripeness and quality, fruits and vegetables travel to a local cannery to be cleaned, chopped, peeled and or/ stemmed (if necessary). After the food is sealed, the cans are quickly heated to preserve the contents and to create an airtight seal to keep food fresh and safe until eaten.
  2. Canned foods do not require preservatives. Just as when canned at home, foods sold in cans are already cooked, so they do not need preservatives to prevent spoilage. In fact, most canned foods are preservative-free.
  3. Canned blackcurrants, mangoes, pineapples and strawberries all contain Vitamin C which help strengthen bones and acts as an antioxidant, protecting against infection. All canned berries also provide other antioxidants and phytochemicals.
  4. Canned vegetables, beans and pulses are good sources of fibre, which help promote good digestion as well as lowering blood cholesterol levels and stabilising blood sugar.
  5. Canned tuna is a low carb, high protein food that contains a powerful antioxidant helping to protect your body from free radicals, which are important for a healthy heart and good for your skin ( can find sustainable canned fish at all big UK supermarkets and in some of the health stores).

I also remembered the fact that when we were children most fruit and vegetables consumed during winter months were in canned form. Every self-respecting (and budget savvy!) mummy and granny in Romania would have embarked on the canning process at the beginning of the summer and all sorts of wonderful preserves and brined produce would have donned our tables and made the winter months much more colourful and less culinary dreary.

So here is the recipe I came up with, using canned food and as a response to the challenge. It is not my own recipe, I did use the BBC recipe for Greek gigantes plaki as inspiration but I used canned food instead of fresh.

As you can see, my humble yet so versatile ingredients were two cans of canned beans, one can of baby carrots and one can of Italian plum tomatoes:

DSC_0405I did use also two of my pantry ingredients, olive oil, for that authentic Greek flavour and bouillon(posh word for veggie stock, really), for enhancing the taste:

DSC_0431First, I chopped the onion and the carrot and added them to a pan with oil. I needed the onion to soften a bit and the carrot to blend in as a flavour. Salt and pepper went in at the same time and for the same purpose, to season our base, before the beans went in:

DSC_0407Once the onion softened, it was simply a matter of adding the chopped tomato and loads of olive oil and let it simmer for about half an hour:

DSC_0419The two cans of beans went in last, once the sauce was ready for them. More olive oil and two laurel leaves went in before putting the whole lot in the oven for about two hours, while I worked on my blog:

DSC_0425If you had a peek at the initial BBC recipe, you would have realised that the canned food saved me the soaking overnight and the boiling of the beans, an average of 14 hours, in the making of the dish.

The beans tasted fantastic, even my Greek hubby said so, and I was very pleased that we had a nutritious meal on the table which didn’t take me a whole 24 hours to have ready!

We are planning on a whole meal plan based on canned food this coming winter. Do you have any suggestions or recipes for us to try?

There is plenty of inspiration on the CannedFoodUK website as well. Do pop and say hello to them on Facebook and Twitter.

Disclaimer: we were sent an incentive to put this post together. All opinions expressed are truthful and entirely our own.

Angel’s Face: The Tutus that made A Christmas Star Shine with Colour!

If you follow Mama’s Haven, you do know that back in June, we wrote with great joy about a couple of luxury review items Emma had received from Angel’s Face.

When two days ago, en email popped up into my inbox mentioning the fantastic tutus Angel’s Face sell as one of their ultimate brand staples and the new A Christmas Star movie, I knew I had to know more!

To my shame, I had had no idea up to that point that the company had provided all the wee dancers in the movie with fantastic Red and Snowdrop tutus, which had made such a difference on set, bringing so much colour to the typically grey Norn Irish backdrop!

(The little dancers were all present last night at the movie’s world premiere in Belfast and were bright spots of colour in the Odyssey arena with their gorgeous red tutus and Cinemagic t-shirts.)

skirt red snowdrop-tutu

Emma has had her pink tutu for half a year now and has worn it proudly recently in school, for her Neon Day. Since we already have one that we have put to the test, we can tell you that the Angel Face’s tutus are absolutely magnificent, both in presentation and wear. They look fantastic, make every single little girl that wears them feel and look like a princess and are also hard wearing and hold their own in a tumble and rough play(Emma wore hers all day in school that day and the tutu looked fantastic even after 5 hours of being sat upon, played and run in.)

So, if you are dreaming of a white(or red!) Christmas this year and want to get your little one that extra special something, do head over their website and have a peep at their amazing Christmas range!

Tutus sell on the website for £35 each, as do their beautiful matching glitter shoes and feather capes! Delivery is free until tomorrow, the 6th of November.

Disclaimer: we have received no payment nor compensation for writing this blog post. We love the brand so much that it was a pleasure to write again about it and see all the little tutus on the Belfast streets last night!