Friday, October 11, 2019

A Quick Life Update

So it's October which means we are in our final quarter of not just this year but this DECADE!

I thought I'd take this opportunity to look back on the year so far and see what has been going well, what hasn't been and how much we have managed to tick off of our 2019 Bucket List.

2019 Bucket List

Family            Couple          Children        Personal       Home

Picnic on the beach Christmas Break City Break Spa Break
Theatre Pedicure Visit Boxhill New Forest Short Break
Replace mattresses New Dinner Set Go Fishing
Loose at Least 2 Stone Send a message in a bottle Save More
Visit a trampoline park Alton Towers Break Visit a Waterpark
Have a Water Balloon/Gun Fight Take More Pics Visit a New City
Visit Virginia Water Replace Wardrobes New Sofa Read More
Go on Holiday Go to Peppa Pig World Go for a Couples Massage
Go on a Steam Train Hot Air Balloon Ride Conquer 1 of My Fears
Replace Duvets and Pillows Fit Breakfast Bar

We realised that a breakfast bar wouldn't work in the kitchen so that's one thing off the list and as for a hot air balloon we had a look at a few but decided we would wait until next year when I had worked a little more on  my fear of heights.

My Youtube video has my top tips for money saving.
So far we've managed to do 16 things from our Bucket List but the one I'm most please about is saving more. This year I opened a separate account where I could create different 'pots' for all of the individual things that I wanted to save for and I'm really proud of myself for sticking at it and nearly reaching all of my targets.

The one goal that isn't looking likely and I'm really disappointed in myself in is weight loss. I started off so well at the beginning of the year but then slowly and surely I stopped putting the effort in and the weight crept back on. Last week I decided that I needed to get my butt back in gear and I'm pleased to say that in the first week I've seen a 5lb loss.

We're off on a mini break during the October half term where we're hoping to tick off at least another 3 things off this list so look out for my Instagram stories for updates on these.

Over the last few months my outlook on life has been changing and day by day I'm realising what the most important things are to me and they aren't the same as what I previously thought. Having lost my mother in law earlier this year and watching my Grandmother struggling with dementia it really drives home how precious every day is and that we should be making every second count.

Lymington in The New Forest

Small things that would've got my back up before, I'm slowly learning to let slide and teaching the kids to collect memories and not things are high up on my list.

I started this year off with high hopes and in good spirits and had a big wobble around May and June but thankfully I've managed to take some time out, clear my mind and hit the refresh button and have got back on the proverbial horse.

If you've got in to a bit of a funk just take a deep breath, hit the reset button, don't let life stress you too much and rest will fall into place.

How are you feeling entering the last quarter of this decade?

Emma xoxo

Monday, October 7, 2019

Weekly Meal Planner 07/10/19

Beef bourguignon with mashed potato and green beans

Chicken and 'rainbow' rice

Meatballs in a spicy tomato sauce, spaghetti and doughballs

Chicken kebabs, salad and cous cous

Cajun spiced chicken thigh burgers, hassle back new potatoes and corn on the cob

Breakfast dinner

Curried mutton, rice and peas, plantain and salad

What's on your menu this week?

Emma xoxo

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Dealing With Dementia

The last couple of years our life has been affected by dementia. We have had to watch members of our family become almost strangers all because of one of the most horrible diseases out there. It is absolutely heartbreaking watching those that you love the most become people that you barely recognise. The not remembering people and places and watching them confused and vulnerable has broken me more times that I care to remember but I refuse to let this horrid disease ruin whatever time I have left with them so I've armed myself with knowledge and am doing what I can to help myself, family and you understand life with dementia.

So what is dementia?
Dementia is actually an umbrella term used to describe a number of progressive neurological disorders that affect the brain. There are astonishingly over 200 subtypes of dementia with the 5 most common being Alzheimer's disease, vascular dementia, dementia with Lewy bodies, frontotemporal dementia and mixed dementia.

What causes dementia?
The brain is made up of nerve cells that communicate with each other by sending messages. Dementia actually damages the nerve cells in the brain which means that messages cannot be sent effectively and that prevents the body from functioning as it normally would.

It doesn't matter which type of dementia a person is diagnosed with or which part of the part of the brain that it affects, every sufferer will experience dementia in their own way.

When can it be diagnosed?
Commonly dementia is diagnosed in people over the age of 65, however, it can affect a person at any age so it's worth seeing your GP if you are worried.

What symptoms should I look out for?
Memory problems - You may notice that people with dementia may get lost in places they were previously familiar in or struggle with names of people that they know. They may also have difficulty retaining new information and increasingly misplace things.

Communication - People that have dementia can have difficulty verbally expressing themselves or finding the right words and may often repeat themselves. You may also notice a difference in their personality where they can suffer from mood swings, depression and anxiety. You may find that they are no longer interested in social interactions, become withdrawn and their self confidence can also become affected.

Cognitive ability - Some people with dementia can suffer with timelines. For example you may find them getting ready for bed at 2 in the afternoon or waking up in the middle of the night to get ready for work, the school run, shopping etc. Their concentration may also be affected so things like making a list or watching a programme or film from start to finish can be tricky. 
In some cases the ability to make decisions, reason and manage their own affairs can be affected.

How do I get a diagnosis? 
If you feel that a loved one or yourself may be suffering from some of the symptoms and are concerned it is important to see your GP as soon as possible. Some conditions have similar symptoms to dementia(ie, infections, vitamin B12 deficiency, sleep apnoea etc) but if diagnosed quickly they can be treated without long term problems.
To decide if someone is suffering from dementia, the GP will find out any family and medical history, asking about behaviour and mood changes along with screening them for mental health and cognitive issues by asking questions, testing short term memory, concentration.
If, deemed necessary the GP will requests an MRI or CT scan and/or blood tests. In some cases a referral may also be made to a memory clinic or specialist for further investigation and/or assessment.
If after all of the above is completed and a diagnosis of dementia is given then the GP will ensure that the person with the diagnosis and family or carer is signposted to services in the local area that are able to help and support both the patient and the family. You should also be referred for further assessments and treatments that may be beneficial. 

How can I help and support my loved one?
You may feel that you don't have much to offer or don't know what to do but just by being there you are being a huge help. If your loved one starts talking about events that happened in the past as if they were yesterday, go with it. Try not to raise your voice or speak too quickly around them as it can confuse and agitate them. Have pictures to hand so that you can talk about people and gently remind them of names and relationships to them. Some of the websites below offer more information on what you can do to help

When going through the process of getting a dementia diagnosis there is so much information to take in and medical terms that are bounded about that it can seem like you are drowning but don't be scared to ask professionals to slow down or use language that you understand. Also, once you have a diagnosis don't be afraid to ask for help. It can all seem so overwhelming but there are organisations, charities and people out there who can offer you support and guidance.

Alzheimers Society

Dementia UK

Below are a a couple of organisations that will be able to offer you help and advice regarding dementia but remember to check out what facilities that you have locally as it varies from borough to borough.

If you or anyone you know is going through this, my heart goes out to you and I hope that you have found this post useful. Feel free to pop me a message if you want to chat, my inbox is always open!

Emma xoxo

Monday, September 23, 2019

Weekly Meal Plan 23/09/19

Spaghetti bolognese and garlic bread

Fish fingers, chips and beans

Chicken biriyani, onion bhajis and samosas

Toad in the hole, roast potatoes and veg

KFC rice box fakeaway

At a party

Beef stew and dumplings

If you want more meal ideas and recipes then head on over to the lovely Katy Kicker's blog where I have linked this meal plan up with her meal planning linky. 
What's on your menu this week?

Emma xoxo

Friday, September 20, 2019

Helping Your Child Through their SATS

Like many parents of year 6 children up and down the country, not only will I bedoing the rounds and visiting schools to decide which ones we'll put on our secondary applications we also will be preparing our son for his SATS.

As parents we know our children better than anyone and despite reassuring them and telling them just to do their best we also know that their smiles can hide a million worries.

This will be my third time going through this and here are some tips I've picked up along the way.

Talk about them as early as possible
Start talking to your child about them as soon as possible. They'll be talking about it in school anyway so this way you find out what your child may feel stressed or unsure about or where they are struggling

Ease any anxieties
If you pick up that your child is anxious about the upcoming SATs then try to find out what is making them feel like that. Is there a specific aspect of the tests or just the tests in general and work on strategies to help them when they feel the most pressure. There are loads of articles online and YouTube videos that can help.

Speak to their teacher
If you or your child have any questions, concerns or worries make sure you speak to their teacher asap. They spend a lot of time with our children and know them pretty well. They'll be able to ease your mind or offer sources of info or support to help you deal with any concerns. Parent's evening are a great opportunity to bring up any quick issues but if you have a few things you want to discuss, make a list and arrange an appointment to speak to them.

Encourage them to complete homework
Reading daily and things like practising times tables may seem like small things but it really is all these little things that add up. Feeling confident in these things really goes a long way. You could also download, buy or borrow resources from your library to assist your child. Ask their teacher which ones will be the most help.

Ask what you can do
It may seem a really obvious one but sometimes the most obvious things are the ones we miss. Ask your child or their teacher what you can do to support them at home. 

Be patient
This one is the most important I think. Every child is different but when the time comes to taking the tests, you may find your child is more tired than usual, grumpy, tearful etc. Remember to be patient with them. Schools are supporting them but they will also be feeling the pressure to 'get it right' or 'be the best' so be prepared that they may need you to be just that little bit for patient.

Reassure them
There will be times when they are horrid little things but keep reassuring them that they are amazing and they will be just fine. As I said above, the confidence and reassurance goes a long way.

Wishing you and them all the love and luck.

Emma xoxo

Monday, September 9, 2019

Weekly Meal Plan 09/09/19

On our menu this week is

Pork chops, roast potatoes, yorkshire puddings and vegetables

Stew and dumplings

Meatballs and spaghetti

Spicy chicken, rice and corn on the cob

Steak, chips and mushrooms

Pizza and garlic bread

At a friends for lunch

What are your favourite or go to meals?

Emma xoxo

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Weekly Meal Plan 02/09/19

Pasta in a spicy tomato sauce

Old school fish fingers, chips and beans 

Chicken and mushroom curry with rice, salad and naan bread

Sausage, mash and onion gravy

Breakfast dinner

At parties all day

Stewed beef, curry mutton, rice and peas, plantain, macaroni pie and salad

What's on your menu this week?

Emma xoxo

Friday, August 30, 2019

The Miracle Morning

One of my goals for this year was to get back into reading. I've always loved reading but over the last few years(that should read decade) I had slowly but surely got out of the habit of reading.
In January I chose a few books from one of our local libraries and one of them was called The Miracle Morning. I posted on Instagram that I would e giving it a go and had quite a few messages from people saying that they had heard of The Miracle Morning and could I let them now how I found it.
So here it is...
I know it's now August but it's definitely not a book that you read once and then implement and I also wanted to be honest about the book and process which I knew wouldn't be possible after trying it for just a few weeks.

                                            Image result for the miracle morning

The book is designed to help people build simple habits that will go on to create positive changes in life. Many experts have hailed it as a life changing read saying that it "contains the building blocks to get your life back on track or turn it around."
 I had a copy from the library which meant I couldn't make notes on it which I quickly realised wouldn't work. I ordered myself a copy from Amazon and picked up where I left off. 
The idea of The Miracle Morning is simple yet effective. It involves getting up earlier than usual(not ridiculously early though) and spending time alone to focus yourself on being the best version of you. 

I quickly set about making notes on suggestions in the book; things that would work for me, things that weren't practical etc 
The book tells you that The Miracle Morning consists of 6 life SAVERS 

  You have a period of Silence
A  You read or say Affirmations
V  You do Visualisations
E  . You Exercise
R  You do some Reading
S   You spend some time Scribing, journalling, writing etc

All of this is done in the time that you wake up earlier before getting ready to face the day ahead.

The books author, Hal Elrod suggests what you could do for each activity and how long to spend on it but I found myself getting so hung up on his suggestions that the first 3 days that I tried to implement it I just didn't feel that it was working for me. I looked at the SAVERS again and this time decided to reorganise them in a way that worked better for me and after a few mornings of doing it my way I felt this was something that definitely was making a difference to my days and my mental well being too.

"But don't you find getting up earlier hard?"
This is question that I get asked the most and the truth is sometimes yes. I learned rather quickly though that my usual bedtime of after 11pm wouldn't work with The Miracle Morning but actually wasn't working with my normal routine either so I decided that going to bed an hour earlier was worth it. If you establish a good bedtime routine then it definitely makes getting up earlier much easier.

"Aren't you tired all the time?"
This is the second most commonly asked question. There are days where it gets to about 1pm and I am shattered and just want to nap but equally before I started TMM and on the days that I don't do it I still can and do have days that I feel tired. Making small changes to my lifestyle has helped combat the tiredness and I also believe that TMM has made those changes possible.

"It won't work with my lifestyle/family!"
I'm not even going to lie, after first reading the book and trying it for 2 days this was me. "It doesn't work, I'm too busy, I don't have the time, It's inconvenient" every excuse you could think of I had. It was when I sat down and really thought about what I want from life and how I could achieve those things that I knew that I had to give this a proper go and if after that it didn't work then fair enough. There is a quote or saying that is always doing the rounds on Facebook about people making time for what they want and it's true. If you really want to do something you'll find a way.

I won't lie and say that it's always easy and I do give myself 2-4 days off of TMM a week depending on what my week looks like(ie, during the summer holidays it wasn't physically possible to be able to do it for 7 days a week because of our plans) and I won't say that as a result I have millions in the bank or have lost all the weight I want but what I will say is that this process is undeniably helping me make positive changes to my life and helping see that my goals are more within my reach than I ever dreamed.

If you've tried The Miracle Morning I'd love to know how you've found it and if you are going to give it a go because of this post then please keep me updated.

Emma xoxo

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Weekly Meal Plan 26/08/19

We are at Notting Hill Carnival

Out for the day

Spaghetti Bolognese and garlic bread

Jacket potatoes with various fillings

Vegetable curry and rice

Picnic at the farm

Sunday roast

What’s on your menu this week?

Emma xoxo

Friday, August 23, 2019

Chicken Arrabbiata Recipe

One of my favourite dishes at an Italian restaurant is Chicken Arrabbiata. A basic dish that tastes yummy and whilst I haven't perfected it this recipe comes a pretty close second.

You will need
Serves 4

400g chicken breasts
400g penne pasta
2 cartons of passata
2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
1 onion finely chopped
1 chilli deseeded and finely chopped (you can leave the seeds in if you're feeling brave)
Pinch of salt
Pinch of pepper
4 tbs olive oil
Parsley chopped

Heat the oil in a frying pan over a medium heat

Dice the chicken breasts, season with salt and pepper and add to the pan. Cook for 5 mins or until the chicken is cooked.

Chop the garlic, onion and chilli and add to the pan. Fry for another minute, stirring everything together.

Pour the passata in as well as the chopped parsley, stir well and simmer gently uncovered for 10 minutes. Stir occasionally.

In the meanwhile cook the pasta following the instructions on the packet. Once cooked, drain and tip the pasta back into the same saucepan.

Add the chicken in sauce to the pasta and stir everything together.

Serve straightaway. (Serve with chopped parsley and parmesan if you like)

If you try this recipe I'd love to see your finished products. Feel free to tag me on Instagram I'd also love to see your take on my favourite recipe.

Emma xoxo

Monday, August 19, 2019

Weekly Meal Plan 19/08/19

Pork chops, roast potatoes and vegetables

Chilli con carne and rice

Spicy chicken arrabbbiate

Homemade wrap pizzas

Beef nachos

Saturday and Sunday
Away for the weekend

What's on your menu this week?

Emma xoxo

Friday, August 16, 2019

Dinosaur World Live

On Thursday 14th August we headed to the Troubadour Wembley Park Theatre to watch Dinosaur World Live
For the last few years families have had to opportunity to get their hands on free theatre tickets for their children for some great shows so we took advantage of that and got our tickets.
The show was held in the brand new Troubadour Wembley Park Theatre located in the heart of Wembley Park and just a few minutes walk from the station.

We were greeted at the entrance by some really fun and friendly members of staff who showed us to the box office to collect our tickets. The equally lovely staff at the box office gave us our tickets along with a nice surprise of free seat upgrades.

The foyer was styled in a very urban and cool way with a dinosaur egg and foliage in the centre which makes for a great photo opportunity. The concession stand had loads of dinosaur related merchandise and programmes available to buy opposite a very well stocked bar serving hot and cold drinks.
After purchasing our dino heads on sticks and programme we made sure we visited the toilet(which were very snazzy may I add) before taking our seats. 

The staff were super efficient at seating all guests and offered booster seats where necessary. We had an amazing view from our seats in row D and shortly after being seated we were taking in the scenery of the stage; crates strategically placed with warning signs of what may reside inside then a lady appeared on stage and introduced herself as Miranda. She talked about her parents being palaeontologists, growing up on an island off South America and how they studied dinosaurs. Miranda continued by telling us that they brought some species back to the UK to educate us about these dinosaurs.
As the story continues Miranda introduces us to six different dinosaurs one at a time and asks for volunteers from the audience to feed, pet and cuddle the dinosaurs. Every so often Miranda would say "Dino fact" and then provide us with some factual information about dinosaurs so not only was it a fun show but also educational.
Towards the end Titus the T-Rex was 'released' on stage and with smoke, lights and fantastic sound effects had everyone on the edge of their seats with excitement. Once Titus is safely led away the show ends with us being able to witness a baby dinosaur hatching from its egg and mother and baby singing to each other which had the whole audience cooing.

Once the show was finished there was the opportunity to meet one of the dinosaurs on stage and two of the dinosaurs were in the foyer waiting to meet the audience and have a cuddle.

The show is aimed at families of children aged 3 and up and as an interactive show there are lots of opportunities for audience participation which all of the kids(including the adults) loved. Now although I've talked about dinosaurs I will take this opportunity to point out that as fantastic as the show was the dinosaurs are in fact the most amazing looking puppets that are life size(I assume as I've never met a dinosaur in person)and as for the puppeteers well what can I say, blown away by their performances.

I was pleasantly surprised with just how much my two children enjoyed it and took away from it. I myself wasn't sure exactly what to expect but I left the theatre in awe of what a great show we had just watched. Along the the fab setting and awesome staff I can safely say that we loved our afternoon out and would definitely recommend Dinosaur World Live as a show and Troubadour Wembley Park Theatre as a venue.

**Dinosaur World Live will be on at the Troubadour Wembley Park Theatre until 1st September so there's still time to get some tickets. Don't forget if you book them through kids theatre week you will get one free child ticket per adult ticket purchased and a second child can go for half price.

Emma xoxo

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Meal Plan 12/08/19

Chicken skewers, cous cous and salad

Shepherds pie, vegetables and Yorkshire puddings

Wings, chips, corn on the cob and salad

Beef nachos 

Jacket potatoes with various fillings

Eating out

Roast pork with all the trimmings 

For more meal plans head over to Katy Kicker's blog for lots of ideas and inspiration.

What’s on your menu this week?

Emma xoxo

Friday, July 19, 2019

Free Summer Activities and Days Out.......or Very Low Cost

We all know how expensive school holidays can be but the six weeks holiday in particular is a monster. I don't know about you but when my children are at home during the holidays the fridge empties faster than I can fill it up. The energy bills are always higher thanks to the extended gaming, charging of devices and use of ALL the televisions and then its the cost of all the uniform and stationary on top of all of that!
Sooooo, free and cheap days out and activities are always a win for me.

Days Out

Have a look on Eventbrite for free events local to you.

Visit a city farm. Most are free entry and those that do have an entry free charge minimal amounts.

Visit a pick your own farm. Many don't charge an entry fee and you just pay for what you pick so free day out plus pick up some win.

Be a tourist in your own city. Living in London I take a lot for granted so sometimes it's nice to pack a picnic, do some sightseeing and really take in what London has to offer.

Visit a museum or gallery. Entry is free to a lot of these and there's so much to see and do that you'll while away a day in no time.

Go geocaching. All you need is a smartphone or GPS device to track co-ordinates and a smartphone to download the app for more details.

Go to the beach. Ok,so if you don't live close to the sea it may cost a small amount in petrol, train or bus fare but that's a small price to pay for a day playing on the sand(I can't guarantee sunshine unfortunately)

Go to the park. Sure your local park will do but why not have a look to see if you have a larger park not too far away. Places like Virginia Water Lake and Beckenham Palace Park are fab for a fun full day out.

Visit a national park, there are 15 across England, Scotland and Wales. Often they have trails to follow, lots of wildlife to see and are beautiful places to spend a free day.


Check out your local leisure centre. Many have free activities for the kids during the holidays and some often do fun days.

Have a baking day. Get the kids to decide what they'd like to make and then spend the day baking some tasty treats, Why not package some and gift them to neighbours, friends and family.

Go on a scavenger hunt. Either download one of the many free ones or make your own and see what you can find.

Have a 'spa day.' My kids love nothing more than a very bubbly bubble bath, face masks, painting nails, foot scrub. You can do as little or as much as you want but a little self is definitely a worthwhile activity.

Hold a sports day. Why not get some friends or family together and hold your own sports day. If you don't have a garden then head to your local park.

Play board games. We are huge fans of board games in our house and often spend a day getting rather competitive. The only warning I will give is that Monopoly can take aaagggeeess and get really competitive

Have a movie day or night. Get some snacks in(maybe even some of the treats that you baked), clothes the curtains and snuggle on the sofa together.

Check out some local stores for free in store activities. Lego stores, Hobbycraft, Pets at Home and Dobbies are just a few shops that run workshops or free activities for kids. Whether it's pet or gardening workshops or arts and craft sessions, if you have a shop close by see what's on.

Conduct some science experiments. You may need to buy a few materials for this but there are loads of resources online that are free that will tell you everything you need and all the instructions for an afternoon of educational fun.

Whatever you do over the holidays, try to remember that it's not about the most extravagant days out, fancy holidays or most instagrammable pics its about quality time and memories(and if you're kids are anything like mine just surviving.) Before you know it they will be grown up and times like these will be a thing of the past.

I'd love to know what your plans are for the summer and your free and cheap days out and activities.

Emma xoxo

Saturday, June 1, 2019

Half Term Visit to Slime Planet

Like thousands of other children up and down the country mine have been obsessed with slime since it took over the world again about 2 years ago. Glitter, homemade, glow in the dark, neon, unicorn poop, you name it, my kids have had it and so has my curtains, sofa, get the picture right?!
So when a few friends recommended Slime Planet, we knew we had to pay it a visit. 

The website is super user friendly and was really clear on where the venue was and how to get there and luckily for us it was a short bus journey away. The website also has a list of the different workshops available so you are able to choose which one you want to book. We visited during half term so booked onto the 'Half Squirm May-hem!' workshop which was £13.50 for a one hour session. 

We arrived at the venue which is under a railway arch just a 1 minute walk from Loughborough Junction train station. The kids thought the black and green slime designed entrance was really cool and the bogey green door lead us into a darkened room lit with lots of multi-coloured fluorescent tube lights. 
The venue is small but has a cool vibe with black brick walls and metal shelving housing lots of cute containers with an array of elements that can be added to your slime, stools for accompanying adults and not forgetting an Instagram worthy photo wall.

The kids were all given aprons and seated in the centre of the space for a presentation. A lovely member of the team called Annie went through all of the health and safety procedures and then went on the give a fun but educational presentation about slime facts including the fact that some fancy face creams have snail slime in the ingredients, which of course the children found hilariously gross!
Annie then offered the children the opportunity to smell a variety of different slimes including vomit scent and fart scent which went down a treat. After that the children were invited to go and stand at a work bench by a bowl in preparation to make their very own slime.

Each table had all of the ingredients needed to make the slime and a member of staff to help and guide the children through the pretty straightforward process.
The children were offered a variety of different things to add to their slime including glitter, polystyrene balls and orbeez.
Once all of the ingredients had been combined and the slime perfected, each child was given a plastic lidded pot to put their slime into.

Now for the bit that the kids went wild for. Annie mixed large quantities of the slime ingredients in a bucket to make a huge ball of slime. All of the children had the opportunity to grab an edge a pull on the slime making a huge blue parachute out of slime in the middle of the room(a few adults were rather excited by this too)
After repeating this a few times everyone was offered the opportunity to take some of the giant slime home which of course they did. 

There was a small area within the venue where a variety of slime making kits, tools and other items were available for purchase too.

Slime Planet also offer their services for mobile parties and also in house parties at their workshop

All in all we had a great time, we visited with a 3 year old, 8 year old and 10 year old and I would say that maybe 10/11 is generally the upper age limit although each to their own. My only complaint was that I wish it was a little longer as the kids had such fun. It was definitely worth the money and we will definitely be back!

Are your kids big fans of slime? Where is the worst place you've found it so far?

Emma xoxo

*I was not paid for this review and all opinions are my own