…you’re reading an article in the Guardian Weekend magazine about how many people have died mining tin for mobile phones on the island of Bangka and you turn the page to find a full page ad, in the middle of the feature, for the Blackberry Curve 9320.

"Blackberry Curve 9320 ad"

Seriously, it was right there, all festive, in your face.

In the corner of the opposite page is a picture of Suge. Suge was buried alive in August when the pit he was working in collapsed. He escaped with a broken leg but three of this friends joined the 75 others who have died in Bangka’s tin mines so far this year.

Suge says the accident was ‘a small sacrifice to give happiness to people in the world, to give them phones and electronics’.

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Today I’ve got a fantastic competition for you, where you can win £100 to spend on pampering yourself at a spa near you. Christmas for parents can be a little on the draining side, financially, physically and mentally, so what better way to recharge your festive batteries than with a spot of self-indulgence?

"lovetub"

The prize has been very kindly donated by lovetub. Lovetub is an indulgent chilled dessert, (not a saucy outdoor hot tub, as the name might suggest), packed in to one single-serve tasty tub. Each tub can be popped in the microwave and in 30 seconds you’ve got yourself a delicious gooey centred treat.

To celebrate the launch of their latest two new flavours, lovetub wanted to share the love and give one of my readers a voucher which entitles you to a beauty treatment of your choice, at a spa or beauty parlour near you, to the value of £100.

If that wasn’t enough, you could also bag yourself a free lovetub or a money-off coupon by visiting the lovetub Facebook page. Everyone’s a winner! If you haven’t already tried the delicious desserts, this is the perfect opportunity.

To be in with a chance to win a personal pampering session, you’ve got a few options. Each will count as one entry, so the more you do, the more chances you have to win!

  • Leave a comment on this post telling me why you deserve a treat
  • Go and like me on Facebook and leave a comment there saying hello
  • Follow me on Twitter and tweet the following – ”#Win £100 of pampering with @mummyblogger http://wp.me/pJA3j-124″
  • Sign up to receive new posts by email or RSS feed

The competition will close on 11th December and a winner will be chosen at random after that, so you can have your lovely treat in time for Christmas.

Good luck!

As featured on Loquax Competitions

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This is a guest post from Mari of Mari’s World fame as I have a small kitchen and a disinclination towards cooking.

It’s not very often you get invited to guest post on somebody’s blog and then get to call them a doughnut, right? But that is what I am about to do and I am so very pleased that Slummy single mummy missed the trick on this one as I am now the very proud and excited owner of a Morphy Richards soup maker.

soup maker morphy richards

I have been longing for one since the summer time, dreaming of me quickly whipping up homemade soups for my lunch and being very nutritious and frugal but prices range from around £40.00 to £140.00 so that stopped me.

THEN I met Slummy single mummy at an event, funnily enough it was a cooking event and she is very forward in saying cooking is not one of her passions and she’ll take the easy life every time. She said she’d been offered a soup maker by Morphy Richards and didn’t want it as she wouldn’t use it, was anyone interested. My hand shot in the air faster than the blenders spinning blades, ‘Me, me, me, I’ll have it… please’

It was a match made in heaven, I got the soup mixer and Slummy single mummy gets a post all about it.

The Morphy Richards soup maker takes up the same amount of space as a kettle on the worktop, it’s made in stainless steel and has a removable lid which contains the blade and heating element. It is so easy to use any fool could work it out and my first trial was to make one of Morphy Richards’ own recipes that intrigued me for the speed to make it, the frozen peas element and of course the delicious ingredients used. I tried

Really quick and easy pea, ham and mint soup

Preparation time : 5 minutes
Cooking time: 21 minutes
Setting: smooth
Serves 4

Ingredients

450g frozen peas
20g fresh mint, leaves only (I didn’t have this)
200g ham – chopped/shredded
800ml hot stock from cube or vegetable
4 tsps olive oil
75ml creme fraiche (I didn’t have any so used Philadelphia instead)

Now get this…

  1. Place the peas, hot stock, mint and ham in the soup maker and select the smooth setting (this will last 21 minutes)
  2. Season with salt and pepper to taste, add the olive oil (I didn’t) and the creme fraiche and using the blend button blend the soup again for 20 seconds
  3. Serve with crusty bread or sliced bread like I did. 😉

How easy is that? Chuck it all in and press a button. That is the moment I fell in love with my soup maker.morphy richards control panel soup maker

I was careful not to immerse the bits in water but it washed up very easily and now sits waiting for today’s trial of French Style Pistou but you’ll have to nip over to Mari’s World to see the outcome of that one and this time I’ll be using the chunky setting…isn’t it exciting?

pea and ham soup

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There is now exactly one month until Christmas.

I don’t care what any of you scrooges say, I don’t even mind that the supermarket aisles have been lined with selection boxes since September, Christmas is coming, and I love it. I love everything about it – the smell, the crappy songs, the mounds of recycling, but especially buying presents.

Now I am lucky enough to have been blessed with the ability, most of the time, to choose presents that people actually like. Either that or I am scary enough that people don’t like to tell me if I get them something they hate. Either way it’s the same outcome for me, so that’s fine.

If you get stuck though, and don’t want to waste money on endless boxes of  chocolates or overpackaged miniature Jack Daniels and glass tumblers sets, then personalised gifts could be a good option. A personalised gift is a sure-fire way to say ‘I was actually thinking of you when I bought this, it hasn’t just come from that stand-by box under my bed for people I had forgotten about’.

Best of all, it doesn’t have to be just pencils with your kids’ names on or novelty family calendars. I’ve just spent a happy hour (in the name of research) on gettingpersonal.co.uk and bring you my top five more unusual personalised gifts:

1. Baubles

A lovely pressie for a baby’s first Christmas, and something they can keep forever. They’re made of fine bone china too:

2. Doormat

A nice idea, but do you really want to be saying  ‘I saw this doormat and thought of you’??

3. Heritage blue plaque

Just in case the rest of the world hasn’t realised your unique contribution to mankind yet:

4. Pestle and mortar

What better way to tell your partner you love them than to grind some spices together?

5. Friday afternoon hammer

You’ve been busy hammering stuff, you fancy a beer, you’re not sure which bottle-opener-hammer is yours…

Happy Christmas!

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“Can you cut my hair for me?”

We’ve just had tea and are about to watch an episode of Hercule Poirot. I had been planning to not move much for at least the next hour.

“I want it to look like this,” she says, handing me her phone. This is what she showed me:

"short hair"

How hard can this be?

Now I am not a hairdresser.

At this point Bee has a jaw length straight bob as this is a variant of the only haircut I can do. I’m always up for a challenge though, so sent Belle to fetch some scissors.

"Haircuts"

I can do bobs, between shoulder and jaw length, fringe optional.

She sits between my legs on the floor, a towel around her shoulders. In one hand she has a brush, in the other her phone with the required haircut on it. “Shall I hold it up for you?”

“Sure,” I say, and try to imagine that the scissors are a pencil, and that copying a haircut is just like copying a picture. Loads of people are hairdressers right? How hard can it be?

For the first five minutes or so I am mildly hysterical. I have literally no idea where to start and begin by just grabbing handfuls of hair and chopping them off. I’m aiming for short, so this seems a sensible approach. Bee starts to look worried by the hysteria, so I try to control myself.

“Should I do some layers?” I ask.

“I guess so,” says Bee.

“How?” I say.

“I don’t know, I guess you just pick bits up and cut them shorter? Shall I look it up on YouTube?”

“No, that’s OK, I’ll just give it a go,” I say, picking up a chunk of hair and cutting it shorter than the rest before my nerve fails me. “Well,” I say, “you have a layer now.”

One layer?” Bee asks, anxiety in her voice.

“I’m going to try and sort of blend it in a little more,” I add before she cries.

The next twenty minutes or so pass in a blur of haphazard chopping and trying not to laugh, but by the end I feel I’ve done a pretty good job. The different sides don’t exactly look the same, but then her ears are different shapes, which isn’t my fault.

This is Bee taking a little arty shot of herself for Instagram. She has scruffed it up a little bit. What do you reckon?

It’s good to know that if my copywriting work dries up I can fall back on a career in hairdressing.

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