Thursday, 26 May 2011

Testing, testing... Hands First scrub and Persil Small & Mighty

Michela eating her cereals while watching Peppa Pig, check out the rogue spoon...

I am no domestic goddess when it comes to the cleaning department so any product that does the job in a jiffy is very welcome! I have a preschooler who likes to paint and pottering in the garden (and sandpit), plus she is a messy eater (she likes to eat while watching cartoons so often the fork/spoon misses the mouth... hence the big bib in the picture).

I am a homeworker juggling childcare, voluntary and paid work, plus being social secretary for my outgoing daughter (playdates, birthdays, picnics...), something has to give - so I'm not dusting, washing or scrubbing unless I have to! Let's say I aim for decency rather than perfection. I haven't inherited the cleaning gene from my aunt, who washes her ceiling's light fittings at least once a week and irons hankies, smalls and socks.

I usually buy own-brand products for cleaning, but couldn't resist the chance of trying out these branded goodies that were kindly sent to me.
Hands First Power Scrub

Hands First Power Scrub & Moisturiser
Last time I tried a hand scrub I was freelancing at the News of the World and using their toilet, where the dispensers were filled with a gritty and slightly stinky liquid soap. The toilet was shared by the editorial staff and the men working at the printing presses (the upstair floor vibrated under our feet when the machines were on), hence the soap, which felt like sandpaper on my soft, girly hands.

Back to the present.... now that I work from home I like to have my lunchbreak in the garden (weather permitting). I enjoy gardening but I don't use gloves much (my hands are quite small and it's hard to find gloves that fit). So after planting cuttings, trimming and doing odd jobs, my fingers and nails are quite dirty. Usually soap is not enough to take the dirt off and have to use a nail brush on my skin too... ouch!

With my grubby paws I grabbed Hands First Scrub and gave it a squeeze but a minuscule amount came out. I had to squeeze harder to get enough out, but it did the job quickly without feeling too scratchy, while the gorgeous fresh fragrance lingered on my hands for hours. 

The gritty texture is due to pumice and walnut shells, while oils and other natural ingredients provide the fragrance and moisturise hands. It's anti-bacterial and dermatologically tested too. I can't find any fault with it, aside its dispenser, which is not user friendly. Rather than having a cap like a shampoo bottle, I'd have preferred a pump action system, the one you normally have in liquid soaps. However, it has proved to be a very good product, which my partner likes to use too. He has found it effective against grease after maintaining our bikes.

Stockist info
If you visit there is a search facility to find your nearest stockist and some online retailers are also listed. Prices vary so it pays to shop around (I saw it on sale for a tenner on Amazon, but for around £6 at

Persil Bio Small & Mighty

I'm a washing powder girl (old fashioned, I know!), so I was really curious to try this product. Persil Bio Small & Mighty is a concentrated washing liquid that claims to reduce waste while saving time and energy.

Its size means there is less packaging and the bottle is recyclable, while its cleaning credentials state you can get results even at 30 degrees and on 30 minute cycle. I have an old washing machine without a short cycle, but I was itching to try washing at 30 degrees. As most of the load included Michela's clothes and some dirty bibs, I was curious to see what happened. To my surprise everything came out of the machine looking immaculate and smelling fresh (no need for conditioner, then). Even the dirtiest bib was looking good, which is a feast since it had sauce and other nasty food stains.

I can't fault it, the only thing that would bother me is the price. Its RRP is £4.39 for the 18-wash bottle (other formats available are 28, 54 and 85 washes). The own-brand, basic powder I'm using costs £1.69 for 25 washes. Of course it doesn't come with a fresh scent and I need to wash at 40...

I think time will tell... I recently admitted defeat and stopped buying own-brand washing up liquid as it wasn't cleaning the dishes properly (grease alert!) and I needed to use lots, so I'm now using Fairy (it makes great bubbles too so I can refill Michela's bubble-making kits).

So... brand or own brand? It really depends on the product and how far the supermarket is... That's why this product, which is widely available and lightweight, might be really tempting.

Coming next...
Watch this space for my very own yummy cheesecake recipe using Philadelphia cheese, plus savoury serving suggestions.

Monday, 23 May 2011

London feels like a lifetime away...

I live in Cambridge, which is about an hour and a half away 'door to door' to central London, but have not been there for years. Early in my pregnancy I started to avoid central London - I suppose the badge Baby on Board didn't work that well on the underground and having found a client in Epping Forest, I stuck to East London (I used to live in E17 then). After the birth I only took the tube to Bond Street once, for a picnic with friends in Hyde Park and that was that!

I had a long maternity leave, never went back to my previous occupation as freelance subeditor and left London for Rugby in August 2008. Late in 2009 we moved to Cambridge. In the past years I have never been back to central London. I did pay two or three visits to East London, to view some houses and see friends but it's 10 miles away from central London and a world away!

I do enjoy living in Cambridge but sometimes I feel a pull for London and my life before I had a child - footloose and fancy free! As I still have the lion share of childcare while working from home, I haven't felt like going to London yet, perhaps waiting until my daughter is old enough to see the awesome museums I used to visit on weekends when I was living in the capital.

So when I read about this competition (, it felt like a blast from the past.... Before living in E17 I lived for eight years near Shoreditch and regularly visited the Brick Lane market, Columbia Road market, Spitafields... It feels like a lifetime away!

So who would I most like to meet in The Hoxton Powder Room, and why? I'd love to meet Dr Who in the 'shape' of David Tennant and travel back in time (after attending the Cybermummy conference, of course). I don't regret my new life, but I feel nostalgic at times, craving for some me time and wondering if my old self is still there, lurking under the mummy clothes....

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Catching up.... - my latest copywriting job
I'm still busy catching up after an inhouse stint as a copywriter at Funnily enough the website is also listed in my affiliate marketing list, on the right (click that link to visit the website). I worked on women's and men's fashion, and the new sports and outdoor section (pictured above).

I have been working from home for several years and when I was offered the opportunity of working inhouse again I wasn't quite sure how it would go! Michael took charge of childcare duties, which was a bit more challenging because the preschool was closed due to Easter and various bank holidays. He had work to do too, so he worked over the Easter and bank holidays, which means we didn't celebrate together. I took Michela to an Easter egg hunt at my neighbour's house, which was nice...

During the working week, it was eerie to go to work and be 'childless' for several hours. And when I got home it was quite manic as I still had other work commitments and charity stuff to do. I missed a breastfeeding dropin, but I managed to produce a 48-page NCT newsletter, do a bit of gardening at the preschool, help set up a children's event and do publicity for the Eco Homes event. And I finished some files that needed indexing for a regular client.

The most unusual thing about my inhouse gig at was to be able to commute by bike. I cycled to the office and back (15-20 mins each journey) and occasionally cycled to Histon village to visit its great charity shop and the local supermarket in my lunchhour. I loved it! No need for the bus and unhurried cycling in dry weather.

Now I'm back typing on my kitchen table by a window overlooking the garden. In a few minutes it's pick up time. I did miss not seeing the mums I know but was glad to find out that most children got a place at the local school so Michela will have lots of friends when she starts in September!

PS... I have some products to test still, so if you sent me something, please bear with me!