ora kitchen towelWay back in 2012 – I know doesn’t it seem so long ago now? I was contacted by the Ora people, they told me they’d come up with something brand new, a product that turns around a century of design, that saves money and time and the planet too.

‘Would you like to review it for us?’ they asked. Of course I said, if it’s that good.

Take your bog standard kitchen towel, it comes on a roll right and you need two hands to rip a piece off, or a hand and an elbow maybe if your hands are wet or dirty. Well Ora is about to change all of that as it is round.

Round? I hear you ask, yes and it comes packed in a stack on a waterproof base so with only one hand you can take a single sheet and the rest of the stack won’t get wet.

In fact this product is so unique that one stack contains the same number of sheets as two traditional rolls meaning more space in your cupboards.

What about the planet bit? you ask. Well, the space saving stack means there’s about 20% saving on packaging and it takes 30% fewer trucks to deliver the same amount of kitchen towel to the supermarkets, so that’s less pollution and congestion.

Ora kitchen towel collage

Ora was launched in February in 30 Tesco stores, in fact this review has been sitting on my desk for a while and I apologise for that Ora but you know, I went and got married and it kind of sucked up all my time.

The product range will be available in 500 stores by summer 2013 and more plans as the year progresses.

One stack costs £1.89 but remember you get the equivalent of two rolls for that.

My verdict – It took some getting used too and I haven’t yet used it for blowing noses which I do use traditional kitchen towel for as it seems a ‘waste’. It does seem to last forever and it’s very handy to be able to take one piece and use it with one hand only to clean up any spillage or mess. I can see myself using this more and more and I’m very impressed with the technology and design gone into the thinking behind this product. I think it’s the way forward.

Disclosure: I was sent a roll of Ora kitchen towel for the purpose of this review.

magnolia treeI was brought up a Catholic and although over the years I am no longer a church go-er or a catholic for that matter I do believe there is something. We are here for a reason and there is a ‘god’ if we can refer to him/her/it as such.

From my Catholic teachings I understand that Jesus at Easter died on the cross for us to save us from our sins, so religion aside, Easter is a time for reflection and appreciating what we have.

I find myself frequently questioning things I do, the people around me and situations. I believe in serendipity, in the fact that maybe it’s not coincidence, maybe things happen for a reason. It’s all very complicated and quite shady and pointless me trying to explain something I really don’t know 100% myself but this post is because I want to say thank you.

I want to thank life for my four children who bring me great pleasure; I watch my older two and am immensely proud of them, they are hard workers, they are good people and though times have been tough and sent us to different parts of the world which at times is difficult, we have a strong bond that won’t be easily broken.

I want to thank life for giving me my husband, a man who is kind and gentle. A man who will sacrifice for the benefit of his family.

I want to thank life for giving us a nice home to live in, a great school for the girls, a lovely neighbourhood and for introducing me constantly to so many nice people.

I want to thank life for this little blog that started out as a hobby back in January 2010 and has led me to enjoy a great job editing the BritMums blog and getting to know so many different lovely bloggers from all over the UK and beyond.

I count myself very lucky, I am a Butlins mum ambassador, a Panasonic Intelligent Living Mum, a Britax mum and I have many wonderful products and experiences sent to me to review for you, the reader.

I want to thank YOU, my reader, because if you didn’t read Mari’s World, I wouldn’t be where I am today. For all bloggers the thrill of writing is knowing that someone reads it, someone enjoys it and that gives us the inspiration to continue and learn and get better.

Thank you

Have a lovely Easter

Mari x

They say that everyone has a book and it’s no secret that I would love to write a book but I hear so many soul destroying stories of writers who spend days, months and years trying to find an agent to get it published and sometimes they fail and lose hope.

With that in mind sometimes the entire process is off putting from the start, after all why go to all that trouble and effort if it’s not going to get anywhere?

But the phenomenon of self publishing has rekindled the desire and when I got the chance to speak to a literary agent from LBA Literary Agency the other day I was immensly inspired and excited to hear that publishers are on the lookout for new writers in fiction and non fiction.

Here Amanda Preston gives some excellent tips on how to prepare yourself for a first approach to an agent and also some insider advice on how to go about it. So if you have a dream of being published one day, take a look a this hangout and sharpen your pencil. That dream really could come true.

Amanda will be at BritMums Live, where LBA will be speaking on our publishing panel and hosting 10-minute pitch sessions for bloggers interested in getting feedback on their book project. Don’t miss out ;)

Hedrin ONCE nitsWARNING: This post may make you scratch your head

The girls started school back in September and sometime during the first term I was contacted by a company asking if I’d like to review their head lice products. The voice inside my head said ‘You might need that one day.’ But life got in the way and the email slipped out away forgotten. UNTIL that is Alice came home scratching and itching her head one evening as we were reading together on the sofa.

I looked at where she was scratching and to my horror I found an egg tightly stuck on a strand of her hair. Can you imagine my disgust?

Way back at Cybermummy I had discovered a Boots Electronic Head Lice comb in my goody bag, my two weren’t even at preschool then so I popped it in with other bathroom paraphernalia in a huge blue basket and forgot about it. Fortunately for me it was still there that evening when I hunted it down and I had the AA battery it needed to work.

I brushed her hair with a normal brush to get rid of any knots and then I combed her hair piece by piece. I found a number of head lice. The beauty of this comb is it electrocutes the lice, you know you’ve got one as the comb goes silent instead of sending out it’s constant humming sound. You stop, clean the electrocuted lice onto a tissue and carry on. It’s pretty vile but has to be done.

Not content that we were nit free I bought a product from the supermarket called Full Marks solution. It cost around £10 and the box says ‘Kills Head Lice’ that was good enough for me. I applied it to all three of us. It’s very oily and when I went to wash it out after the suggested 10 minutes, the shampoo wouldn’t even lather! I did another wash and rinse and still no luck. The head lice were dead and the eggs had been eliminated BUT our hair looked as dull as dishwater. I apologised to the teacher the next day as they looked greasy girls.

That’s not the end of the story either as although the school had sent out a text someone hadn’t acted and checked their child’s hair as poor Alice a few days later, the electrocuting comb detected more of the blighters in her hair.

head lice treatment

I repeated my thorough electrocuting combing technique and my next shop turned up Hedrin Treat & Go mousse. Fuss free head lice treatment with revolutionary Activdiol technology. Again around £8 – 10. Clinically proven to kill head lice and eggs without pesticides.

I applied the mousse to all three of us (dad gets away with it as he’s only got a Number 2 and a quick electronic comb reveals he’s clear). Again we had the same wash out problem and this was three days before the wedding. Eek! I also had my daughter and granddaughter over from Italy so we doused them too for good measure.

Greasy hair again, daily washes and once again on Monday she returned from school with eggs in her hair. ARRRRGGGGHHHH!!!

I was angry.

Here am I spending loads of money and diligently trying to get rid of the problem only to find that one trip to school and we’re back to square one.

I had a good rant on the class Facebook community page and I called the school and told them too.

I learnt

  1. The school no longer has a nit nurse
  2. The school can no longer send a child home if head lice are detected
  3. The school won’t single parents out but can text messages to all parents, only some parents do not pick up these messages and some, clearly, aren’t taking any action on them.

I understand we’re now too politically correct for our own good.

For chrissakes, if a kid’s got head lice let’s clear them up immediately and stop the problem.

I have picked up a few tips from other frustrated school mums and if you have any to add leave them in the comment section for us all to act upon as sadly I think there will be another time *sigh*

Tips to keep children’s hair free from head lice

  1. Use a few drops of tea tree oil in water as a final rinse after washing hair.
  2. To rid hair of the greasy products, fully dry the hair after one rinse and then re wash from dry – school mum tip ;)
  3. Use Vosene 3 in 1 kids shampoo
  4. Read Actually Mummy’s infographic for myth busters and more information
  5. If you find a live louse, then do a wet conditioner recomb every 3 days until you are clear with no eggs and no live lice. You need to bring the comb right close to the scalp and divide the hair into sections to do it properly
  6. Make it practise to fine comb everyone’s hair once a week with lots of conditioner.

I have received many favours at weddings especially in Italy where the bride takes a lot of time and effort to give her guests something special and personal to say thank you.

Bag of Happiness JM

When Paul and I decided to get married the wedding favour was high on my list of things to do and I wanted to give something a little different from the usual, something with a lot of meaning and that wasn’t going to cost a bomb. When I came across the Bag of Happiness I knew I had found my perfect wedding favour.

What is a wedding favour?

Wedding favors are small gifts given as a gesture of appreciation or gratitude to guests from the bride and groom during a wedding  reception.

It is believed that the first wedding favor, common amongst European aristocrats, was known as a bonbonniere, asmall trinket box made of crystal, porcelain, and/or precious stones. The contents of these precious boxes were generally sugar cubes or delicate confections to symbolize wealth and royalty.  As the price of sugar decreased throughout centuries, the tradition of providing gifts to guests reached the general populace and was embraced by couples of modest means.

As sugar became more affordable, bonbonnieres were replaced with almonds. For centuries, almonds were commonly distributed to wedding guests to signify well wishes on the bridegroom’s new life. In the 13th century, almonds coated with sugar, known as confetti, were introduced. Confetti soon transformed to sugared almonds, which later evolved into the wedding favor for modern day weddings. Traditionally, five Jordan almonds are presented in a confection box or wrapped in fabric to represent fertility, longevity, wealth, health and happiness.

Bag of Happiness

It’s incredibly simple to make your own and once I give you the list of the contents you can then start brainstorming on how to present them. A Bag of Happiness is quite simply wishing a wonderful life for each of your guests and giving them small gestures to help them along the way.

bag of happinessThank you Jean Kemp for all the design and printing

I chose a simple brown paper bag to hold my goodies. I ordered them from eBay and Jean hand printed each one for me using a Gocco, then she bought some dolly pegs and dipped them in acrylic paint to keep the bags closed.

dipped dolly pegs

What does a Bag of Happiness contain?

A plaster to heal you when you’re hurt

A love heart so you know someone loves you

String to hold it together in tough times

Bag of Happiness contents

A pebble so you always remain grounded

A rubber to erase those little mistakes you make

A diamond to bring a sparkle to your eye

guest opening bag of happiness

A marble for when you start losing yours

A lucky bean so you always have luck on your side

A coin so you are never completely broke

Bag of happiness

A star to wish all your wishes upon

A paperclip so you are always organised

A kiss for when you are feeling down

making bags of happiness

Of course you can find them ready made online too if you’re in a hurry ;)

NB. I used heart shaped cookie cutters  and Bacetti chocolates from Italy for Kisses as Italy is such a huge part of me.

Images: an enormous thank you to Jay Mountford who captured the moments above and allowed me to use them here see her website for other stunning wedding photography