Friday, 17 July 2015

When you know something is wrong...

Have you ever had a hunch? A gut feeling or just some sort of sudden light bulb moment when you suddenly start to suspect all is not right with your child? Maybe it was as soon as they were born - you didn't connect, they didn't reach their milestones when you expected? Or maybe it was more gradual - as they got older they started to stand out from their peers. Your child is different, but maybe they are just a bit eccentric and don't like to follow the herd. Or maybe, just maybe. It's more serious than that?

For us we had a light bulb moment following many months, maybe years of kidding ourselves. It all started the day we moved house about three months ago. Our two sons had been staying with relatives whilst we did all the shifting and carrying and we thought it best if they were out of the way to minimise disruption. My husband went to collect them and proudly brought them to our new beautiful home. And that's when I saw it. Just a flick of the neck. Nothing major, blink and you'll miss it. But there it was again. And again. As the day wore on it got worse and worse, he was violently flicking his head backwards and forwards seemingly constantly. I had never seen anything like it. We examined his neck and asked if there was any pain or if he had hurt himself in some way. Apparently not. 

A trip to the doctors confirmed there was no damage, it was behavioural and I was assured it would most likely go away and was probably due to the stress of the house move. Over the next few weeks I tried ignoring it and when that didn't work I tried reminding him not to do it - until I realised he was running to his room to do it in secret many many times before  coming downstairs again. It became clear that flicking his neck was a way of relieving stress. But what did this mean?

The more I googled this, the more worried I became. I started to realise that this might be an indication of something more serious underlying. Other behaviours came to mind as I read through the list of symptoms. His reluctance for change, his need for order, his dislike of anything messy, his detailed knowledge of several things including Thomas the Tank Engine, World War II, Star Wars, the hobbit, and much much more. The more I thought about it the more I realise the signs have been there all along. I remember when he was 14 months old when all the other children were pointing at things saying dog, cat etc my son was talking in much more adult language. "That's a splendid notion", I remember him saying at one toddler group to the amazement of the other parents. 

Worst though are the meltdowns. It seems for our son the terrible twos have lasted much much longer than we expected. I now know that it is not usual for a seven-year-old to have a complete meltdown about wearing suncream. It is not usual for a seven-year-old to have a meltdown because some Weetabix is on the table. It is not usual for a seven-year-old to have a meltdown about something that is totally out of our control like the toy he wants being sold out. But we didn't realise. We didn't realise that parenting is not meant to be this hard. We just carried on as normal coping as best we could.

But then the neck flicking started and we couldn't ignore it any longer. It is possible that our son is on the autistic spectrum. And facing up to that is the hardest thing we have ever had to do.  We started the assessment process and hope...well I don't know what we hope.  For understanding, for compassion, for people not to judge us as parents and think we've done a terrible job. For people not to pick on our son because he zones out, or he doesn't say please and thank you, or he doesn't behave exactly as they want him to. For people not to stare when he is having a meltdown in public and he's creating a scene.  Most of all I want him to be happy, to find his place in a world that creates so much anxiety for him. And for us to realise that even with the diagnosis, he is still our son, he is still the same person. He still makes us laugh with his unique way of seeing the world, his turn of phrase, his sweetness, and his kindness. Yes he is different, but that's part of who he is, and I wouldn't change that for the world.





Friday, 26 June 2015

MooGoo Review!




I've always been one for natural products and am obsessed with parabens - or lack thereof! I'm super keen to ensure that everything I use on my skin is as natural as possible, and of course that goes for my children's skin too! I was therefore, delighted when the lovely people at MooGoo asked if I would like to do another review (see my last review here) of some of their new skincare products - including their Udder Balm( for breastfeeding mums), Nappy Balm, Brown Cow Tanning Cream and the Dusty Girls tinted earth cream. Lucky me!

First of all the Udder Balm (£9.90)  this is made from edible materials so there's no hassles putting it on your skin to help soothe those "areas" mauled by babies! I liked the feel and thickness of this and found it very soothing indeed. There were tiny grains in it which were a bit different but I assume are all part of the process. I think I would have liked to see some sort of recommendation from a medical body or midwives association on the packaging though just to totally reassure me it's ok to use whilst breastfeeding?

The Nappy Balm (£9) is lovely and very soothing, unlike high street creams it contains natural materials which are good for the skin - the ingredients are also not harmful if ingested, as we all know that babies love to put everything and anything in their mouths! The true test though is does this balm prevent nappy rash? It definitely created an effective barrier and stopped redness on my baby's skin. So a double win! t doesn't have the potent smell that a lot of other nappy creams contain which can only be a good thing. I would say it doesn't work quite as quickly as something like Sudocrem but then it also doesn't contain the same chemicals so that's to be expected!

Onto the Brown Cow Tanning Cream (£15.50)- I look like a ghost at the best of times so I do like to tan every now and again. As a breastfeeding mum I have to be careful what goes on my skin as my baby is in very close contact with me and she is prone to rashes. I found this tanning cream very gentle and natural looking, and best of all it didn't have that weird smell that so many tanning creams seem to have. Very happy with this and again, close the fact is contains natural ingredients. 

The Dusty Girls Tinted Earth Cream is probably the one I've used the most! 

At first I thought it was going to be both too dark and too thick for me, even though it's actually a tinted moisturiser. But actually I was just using it wrong. You have to use a really tiny amount as this spreads really well on your skin, and creates great coverage too - AND contains sun protection. It's great on hot days too as it doesn't feel cloggy and left a light feeling on my skin. I had to blend quite a bit at my jaw line but that's mainly because I'm very very pale and so that's normal for me. It's available in two shades - light or medium. I would love to see an even lighter shade for ghosties like me if possible though.

So I'm a little obsessed with MooGoo! Natural products that look great and are good for your skin. What's not to like?!

I was sent these products from MooGoo for the purpose of review, but all thoughts are my own.

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Online bingo basics for newbies

When it comes to playing any game, be it online or in real, there are certain basics of the game that as a player you need to know. Only then will you be confident with what you are doing. Online bingo is a very easy game to pick up but since this game involves money there are certain precautions one must take.
 
Few of the most important features that you must look into while choosing a site to play on is whether or not they have a reliable customer support team that is both efficient and friendly. This makes a huge difference especially when you are new to a site. There will be hundreds of offers and you may not know how to make use of them or where to look, these questions and doubts can only be cleared with the help of the customer support team. However, in most sites there also are experienced players and chat hosts that are available to answer your queries as well.  
 
Try to gather as much information and reviews as you possibly can before registering. The internet has a billion review sites and portals providing you with all the bingo related information that you need, so make use of it to the fullest.

 

The best way for a player to familiarize themselves with online bingo is by beginning to play on sites that offer free bingo games. The only reason why these sites aren’t too popular is because there isn’t any big prizes that you can win. 


However, if you choose to play on a site that provides free sign up bonuses and cheap bingo tickets, it will be the most ideal. New Look Bingo offers all newbies a free sign up bonus of £15 plus bingo room to which the tickets are as cheap as 1p. So come, join the fun!


This is a guest post.

Thursday, 28 May 2015

Presents For a New Mum...

When you have a baby, it suddenly turns into "present time", not that I'm complaining of course. Third time around, it still seems to be present time, and I was pretty happy when my mum treated me to this lovely top from Laura Ashley. I love the silky material, and it's also great for feeding as I bought a size larger than usual.

Laura Ashley Pocket Detail T Shirt - £30 but currently has 30% off
Laura Ashley has 30% off fashion at the moment which brings this t shirt in at £21, pretty good value considering how lovely it is. Speaking of pink, and baby girls, I also couldn't resist this beautiful butterfly blanket also from Laura Ashley, but that will only be of interest to you if you've recently had a baby girl!

Laura Ashley Butterfly Fleece Blanket £20 but currently has 30% off!
It is the nicest most fluffiest blanket ever, I love it!

It hasn't gone unnoticed that the hubby is yet to pull a nice pressie out of the bag for me as my "push" present. Previous pressies include a Louis Vuitton hand bag and a Tag Heur watch. Though he did buy me (from our joint account) this lovely dress yesterday from Crew to cheer me up. Note the button down front, definitely a good feature for a feeding mother...

Crew Belinda Dress from Crew - £50 in current offer
I'm not sure it's the sort of thing I would normally buy, but it fit, looked nice, and I can feed in it. Bonza!

Anyway, back to pressies for new mothers. Of course the obvious thing to buy for every new mum is a lovely bunch of flowers. I've recently found Aussie florist FreshFlowers Australia who also deliver internationally! EVERY new mum likes flowers after all.
 

What was your favourite pressie when you became a mum?

Friday, 22 May 2015

I got me a girl! My birth story...

I can hardly believe I'm writing this, but last Sunday I gave birth to my third (and definitely final!) child, a baby girl! I think I'm still in shock, but I was 100% convinced I was going to have another boy, one of life's little surprises I guess?  After having two boys, having a girl has completed our family, and we are over the moon and can hardly believe our luck. Now I will have an ally against boy stuff, war films, cricket and lots of other boring stuff that I formerly believed I would have to take part in. Happy days!

Although I was expecting to have a C section due to a low lying placenta, the consultant sent me for an MRI scan which showed that in fact, the placenta was 3cm from the "exit route", with the magic number being 2.5cm. My waters broke last Friday night/early Saturday morning though unfortunately I didn't start having contractions naturally. The hospital told me to wait 24 hours to see if anything developed (it didn't) so I had to go in at midnight to be induced. The induction worked REALLY well for me (some might say too well!) and I went into active labour two hours after starting the Syntocin drip last Sunday morning. I was totally unprepared for how painful it was to be honest, bearing in mind that during my last labour I managed without any pain relief at all, even gas and air.

I managed to get to 2cm dilation with no contractions at all, then they started coming on thick and fast and I was totally unable to cope with the pain! After begging for an epidural I actually suddenly needed to push just as the anaesthetist was setting everything up.  With only two pushes I gave birth and could hear everyone shouting, "it's a girl!" I definitely think that induced labours are more painful as last time I was in labour for two days and managed really well.

So here is my darling girl! 8lb 7oz and thriving.


Saturday, 16 May 2015

New Baby Money Saving Tips!


When you find out you're expecting a baby it is the most exciting time of your life, but after the bubble of finding out pops, you then realise that you've got a new person to pay for and you need to budget wisely.


Nobody really wants to think about finance when there’s a bundle of joy to get excited about, but being money savvy can ensure that you save essential pennies for the things that really matter. Following just a few simple steps will give you a helping hand in budgeting for your bundle of joy, and ensuring you don’t have any money worries in the most important months of pregnancy.


Childcare

Childcare is the most expensive element in raising a child and its often the most essential too, but with the average parent spending an average of £30,000 over 3 years according to this Baby calculator , childcare is cost that not everyone can afford. You could try to ask family members if they are able to help out with childcare as this could reduce the cost of nursery fees or child minders. Luckily, as of autumn 2015 a new tax free childcare voucher scheme is coming into place saving you up to £1,200 a year. Do your research on these avenues and see what you’re able to save and the opportunities that are out there.


Reusable Items

It’s lovely to have brand new clothing items and you should definitely buy a few things brand new but buying some itemssecond hand will save you a lot of money, especially in the early stages as babies grow out of clothing so quickly. This is also the same for items such as pushchairs, toys, furniture. If you’re a dab hand at DIY you could also try making it yourself!


Alternatively if you’ve had a child before and plan on having another keep your items and reuse them for your next baby asthis will reduce the cost next time around. You can also ask friends and family if they have anything that they no longer use that could be passed onto you.


Items to Buy

There are a few things that you should buy straight from a reputable retailer such as your baby’s car seat; you should never buy a second hand car seat as you have no idea if it has been in a car accident before or if it has certificated protection for your baby. There are many online Child Car Seat Guides available that can help you to find one that fits your budget as well as the safety precautions.

Also items such as sheets, duvets and other bedding accessories should be brought new so you know they are fresh and clean ready for baby’s arrival.


General Money Saving Tips

Do your grocery shopping online as this will stop you from impulse buying and therefore reduce how much you’re spending, allowing you to either save the money or spend the money you’ve saved on something useful for your little one.

You may end up spending a lot of money on parent and baby classes or just general socialising events, so why not bring that into your own home and create your own group filled with neighbours and friends.


Have a look into making your own baby food also with the help of a good blender and experiment with different vegetables and fruit to find out what your baby likes, you can then make batches and save money buying pots every week!


Track what you’re spending and each month reflect on what you have brought and see whether in the oncoming months you’re able to take it down anymore.

Having a look online and comparing brands and retailers will save you a lot of money rather than just walking into a shop and picking up the first thing you see, which we all do!


Research is the aim as you’ll see the incredible savings that can be made.

 

 This is a guest post. 

Friday, 15 May 2015

Easy Peasy Joules Dress and Lovely Oasis Culottes!

So I only have two days until my due date. Woohoo! So obviously I can't wait to get rid of my hideous maternity clothes and get back into my normal wardrobe. My old clothes look so TINY, especially my skinny jeans. It's hard to believe that I once managed to get into them to be honest. We've recently moved house and bizarrely now have LESS storage space even though we've moved to a bigger house. So I keep telling myself I have no room for more clothes, though it is tempting to treat myself to something new post baby.

I spotted these little lovelies in Joules the other day, and managed to negotiate a 15% discount at the til, so what the hey. What do you think? (click on the caption under each photo to take you to the website!)

Joules Striped Dress £29.95
I bought this colour in the end but was also tempted by the pink and the blue.

Joules Blue Dress £29.95

Joules Pink Dress £29.95
I think these will be great throw on dresses for Summer,  for wearing around the house or dressing up with a silk scarf or accessories. I've got some Joules pumps that I think would go well with them also. But do I need all three?

Speaking of footwear, I bought these very sparkly sandals in George the other day, and I'm really pleased with them. Super cheap and super comfy also. Winner!

George Footbed Sandals, Gold, £10
I've also noticed there are various other flootbed sandals including some polka dot ones that might actually go better with these dresses. Nice!

If you're looking for something a bit more fitted and less sack like (my mum did mention that these dresses have a slightly "nightie" type appearance) then this might be for you. I keep seeing culottes everywhere and I think these are my favourites so far!

Oasis Culotte £28.50
There's actually a photo on the Oasis website of the model wearing them with this pink top, I think it's a great pairing.

Pink Plain Dip Back Cami £22
Here you can see both items together, I LOVE this outfit. I'm not acutally sure it's the same vest but I reckon any pink will do.



Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Is your garden BBQ ready?


Summer is finally coming  around which means BBQ season is almost here!


The warm weather will bring back those memories from wonderful past BBQ’s with family and friends, which are just going to leave you wanting more.

One problem though. You remember you haven’t paid any attention to your garden since that last BBQ, probably of September last year. Most likely you’ve left the chairs and table out all winter which have now gone rusty, and are also now looking a bit tatty. The grass is looking like its seen better days and there isn’t a section of that once beautiful garden that isn’t swamped with weeds.

Don’t fear. There are a few simple steps to get your garden looking in tip top condition for those BBQ’s, ensuring your family and friends will leave feeling in awe of your garden.


Tidy up

Before you do anything, have a tidy up of the garden. Cut the grass, pull the weeds out and go down to the local garden centre and pick up some beautiful flowers to plant around the garden, this will liven up the space by spreading some colour. Try buying some more soil or overturn what you already have to make those flower beds look really fresh and new, also putting lawn edging down around flower beds to make it look neat and tidy. Just doing these few simple things will give you the basics of a beautiful garden again, just a little more to go until its perfect.


Create storage

Having somewhere to store the lawnmower and other garden devices is really handy but having somewhere that’s big enough to also store children’s garden toys when they’re not being played with is a great idea. Especially if your BBQ is an adult’s only event, you don’t want your kids’ push bike, tennis rackets and balls scattered all over the lawn. Take a look at investing in either a shed or a garage, both are really good storage options and give you a lot of space; I’m sure there are plenty of good offers out there this summer too so have a shop around.

 

Furniture

Furniture is a really important part of making your garden BBQ ready, there is no way you can attempt to host a BBQ without having anywhere for your guests to sit. Try looking online at a new table and chairs; as I’m sure last yearsfurniture that has been left out for most of the winter is no longer in its best condition. To avoid buying new furniture every year which is far too expensive and very excessive; store it during the winter in a garage or shed and place a waterproof sheet over it for extra protection.


Finishing touches

It’s the little things that matter at BBQs to make it feel more special and personalIdeas such as hanging bunting around the garden, putting candles out around the tables, adding extra lighting for when the evening goes on a little later than planned. For more inspiration and ideas have a nose around on Pinterest and you’ll be sure to find some really creative ideas for your BBQ and for your garden.


This is a guest post. 

Sunday, 10 May 2015

Asda baby and toddler event!

I love a good bargain - clearly. And since I swore I would never ever have another child and chucked or sold all my baby things, I've had to eat humble pie and beg, borrow or buy cheaply (no stealing) everything I need for my third child - who is due a week today?! 

Although I plan on breastfeeding for at least six months, there's no harm in being prepared, so I was lucky enough to be sent these tommee tippee bottles fresh from the Asda Baby and Toddler Event. 


In love all the different colours and I can easily use these with my tommee tippee breast pump should the need arise. I know some people are anti bottle but I think it's always best to be prepared.

I also went and bought this play gym as at £12 it's a total steal. And cheaper than buying second hand I'm sure! 

There's lots more bargains to be had, just going for a quick browse now! 

I was sent a pack of tommee tippee bottles for the purpose of this blog post. 

Sunday, 29 March 2015

Rough Guide to Family Finance - The Kids Take Control!

Over the years, I think I've become quite savvy about ways to save money and how to get the best deal. I never buy anything without a voucher/offer code, and I use cashback websites like Quidco to get up to 10% cashback on everything I buy online, it soon adds up and I just think - why wouldn't you?

A few years ago when I was on maternity leave with our second child, we suddenly had a whopping big tax bill - my husband worked for a bank at the time and we'd been using his staff discount to get a good mortgage rate, but what we didn't know is that we were supposed to be taxed on that as a benefit in kind.  Thousands of people were hit with thousands of pounds to pay in one go, it was pretty horrendous. Ever the adapter, I suddenly went into famine mode and did everything I could to save money on our weekly bills, from changing energy supplier, cutting back on our sky subscription, limiting lunches and lattes out and changing car insurance companies.

Thankfully we're no longer in that position, though obviously with a third child on the way things will probably be a bit tight for a while. Last month, we made the decision to get rid of my car, so we are now a one car family. Hubby now gets the train to work and I drop him off and pick him up every day. We've been doing this for a month now and I can honestly say there have only been a few occasions where it's been a bit of a pain. We are saving on car insurance, the lease fee of the car and all the other costs that go along with car ownership. I feel strangely liberated from car ownership since our remaining car is a company one, so we have no responsibility for servicing and the like, it's just one less hassle in my life as far as I'm concerned.

One thing I don't think we have got right though, is making our children see the value of money. It seems that every other weekend they are bought a toy, and every outing seems to involve them getting bought a cupcake or comic to keep them quiet! We don't really do pocket money at the moment, maybe we should?

What I decided to do then, was to give them a budget for the day to see what they came up with, and how they spent it, to see whether they understood that money does not grow on trees.

There's a new book out for families - The Rough Guide to Family Finance which has loads of good ideas for families to save money, and there's a great quote that fits in nicely here, "Though it may be convenient for one person to be in control of the family budget and pay the bills, it’s a good idea if everyone is involved, including the youngest members. Encouraging a sense of financial responsibility in children helps them to be aware of the importance of budgeting as they grow up"

I gave them £25 for the day between them to spend, which had to involve paying for an activity and ensuring there was enough money left over for tea. Immediately they decided to head for Toys R Us which I immediately had to veto, this wasn't going to be easy! 

We sat down and talked about the cost of going to various places - bowling, cinema, museum - and how much they would be left with at the end of the day.

They both immediately decided on visiting Eureka in Halifax, we already had a yearly pass for this so it seemed to make sense, so off we went! Arriving at Eureka they were dismayed to discover that there is a £3.50 parking charge, which they had never been aware of before. Dutifully they dipped into their £25 budget and paid it, Son 1 commented that it seemed unfair that we had to pay it since it wasn't in the middle of a town or near anything else - haha! I also factored in £5 for petrol so they now had £16.50 left.

Eureka in Halifax - total crowd pleaser and you only have to pay once for the whole year!

Once in there they immediately wanted a drink, I gave them the option of drinking from their water bottles or buying a carton for £1.50 each. Again, they sensibly opted for their water bottle, maybe we were getting somewhere!



We had a good time at the museum and as it edged towards lunchtime, they started to talk about being hungry. I reminded them that they had £16.50 left to spend, and asked what they wanted to do. They agreed that a picnic would be cheaper but we didn't have one with us, so I pointed out a nearby Pizza Express or a Morrisons Cafe. We looked at the different prices and they soon realised that Pizza Express was unaffordable, so we headed to Morrisons. We all had lunch for under £10 which is pretty reasonable, though now they only had £6.50 left! 



They were pretty fed up of money saving by this point, so we had a quick look round for something for tea, and we decided to make our own pizzas. We already had bread flour and semolina at home so we bought some cheese, ham and tomato puree as a topping. When we got home, we actually had a great time rolling out the dough and making our own pizzas - we had a grand total of £1.50 which I said we could save for buying sweets as a well done for thinking so carefully about our budget. 

Afterwards I asked the boys what they had learned from their budgeting day and they responded, "I didn't realise things were so expensive", and "saving money is really boring, you can't do what you want". I explained that although it's boring in the short term, being careful with money is actually a good way of ensuring that you can do more exciting things in the long term. We don't waste money on things like smoking and going out loads, as to me that's not the behaviour of a responsible adult. If you want good things in your life, sometimes you need to deny yourself in the short term, to achieve your long term goals. I think this delayed gratification is a really important lesson to learn, and it's those people who can't seem to delay gratification that always seem to end up being unhappy. Lecture over!


My top tips for budgeting: 

1) Be organised - if you leave things until the last minute you will always pay over the odds. This is true for holidays, Christmas, travel and lots more!
2) Shop around. Ring around insurance companies and energy suppliers. Lazy people always pay more!
3) Before you buy something, e.g. clothing, online, sleep on it. When you wake up the next day reassess whether you actually need it.
4) Buy season tickets and yearly passes and use them! It gives you a reason for getting out and about at the weekend and means you don't have to keep paying out.
5) Buy a coffee machine and save on your latte costs! We paid £35 for ours in a sale and we use it every single day.

What are your top tips?

This post was written in association with Legal and General.

Sunday, 15 March 2015

Post Pregnancy Fashion Buys!

I've now totally given up on buying any maternity clothes (only 9 weeks to go!) and am planning my post pregnancy wardrobe, to give me something to aim towards! Last time I had a baby, it took about 6 months to get into my normal clothes, which I know isn't bad, but any clothes I bought in the first 6 months went to waste, so I'm keen not to make that mistake this time.

I've already spotted some lovely bits in All Saints - their clothes are pretty expensive considering the thin material, but the cut is great and they also do really good sales, so I've picked these two bits out in advance...

All Saints Relian Dress £78
I really like this All Saints Relian Dress for Spring/Summer - it's light and comfortable as well as having a nice twist down the seam to make it look stylish. Nice, not sure about accessibility for breast feeding though.

All Saints Rivieria Stripe Dress £98
 I LOVE this All Saints Rivieria Stripe Dress, I love the differing lengths and think it looks really "different! and wearable at the same time, though I'm yet to work out what shoes I would wear with it. I don't think I'd pay any way near £98 for it but I'm keeping my eye out for it in the sale in mid Summer. There are lots of other Riviera dresses in different materials and colours if stripes isn't your thing. Love this!

I'm a bit of a Baukjen fan (and Isabella Oliver maternity stuff too) but not too keen on their longer length tops, as someone who is all legs and no body it makes me look a bit bottom heavy. But for those of us with narrow shoulders, this Ashby off the shoulder top is great at balancing things out - it reminds me of a few slash neck tops I bought in Warehouse many many years ago that I lived in (and sadly had to bin because they were worn out). At £59 it's not the cheapest but there are plenty of offer codes for Baukjen if you look around, though I'm not sure this one will go into the Summer sale.

Baukjen off the shoulder top £59


Speaking of Baukjen, and getting back to my point about breastfeeding, I think this wrap dress is great, and good value in the outlet store as well at £49. Comes in grey, black and dark pink.

Baukjen wrap dress £49
I'm a little bit in love with this dress,  but would I wear it for hanging around the house which realistically I am going to be doing for at least the next 6 months? Probably not.

Have you spotted any clothes that would work well post baby and for breastfeeding?


Saturday, 7 March 2015

4 secret tips for longer lasting flowers


With Mother’s Day around the corner, you’re guaranteed to receive at least once bouquet of flowers so; wouldn’t it be nice to find a way to prolong the life of your gorgeous blooms? 

http://www.serenataflowers.com/en/uk/flowers/next-day-delivery/product/86306/secret-garden?refPageID=4977&refDivID=CenterColumn|3|Our-Bestselling-flowers|4x5|R2C5|Image


Choosing the right flowers for anyone can be tricky – whether they are from a local supermarket or reputable online florist; a great deal of thought goes into the choice. So, here are your ultimate tips on how to save the life of your flowers, allowing them to brighten up your home that little bit longer. 
Aspirin
That’s right, aspirin doesn’t only get rid of headaches, it can also make your flowers last longer. Just one tablet in the water of your flowers works to mimic typical flower food and provides the nutrients the cut flowers are after. Ensure you crush the tablet before placing it into the water.
Top tip: Trim a little off the stems each day to ensure they can absorb the maximum amount of water.

Vodka
Vodka doesn’t just make those amazing martinis; it can also be used to help extend the life of that gorgeous bouquet your child bought you. Vodka is thought to slow down bacteria growth in the water which causes the wilting of flowers. Simply add a shot of vodka to a glass along with a few drops of water and a teaspoon of sugar – add this to the flower water and watch your blooms flourish.

A copper penny
Search under your couch for those one and two pennies and use them to help your flowers prosper. Simply place one at the bottom of the vase along with a teaspoon of sugar and hey presto! Your cut flowers are guaranteed to last that little bit longer.

Bleach
We use bleach to get rid of germs in our toilet, so why not use it to lose the bacteria lurking in our flower vase? Bleach will prevent mould from growing in the vase which ultimately causes our flowers to wilt, so add a quarter of a teaspoon of bleach to the water and be sure your plants will stay healthier for longer.
With these tips in mind, you can be sure that your gorgeous flowers last that little bit longer in your home.

This is a guest post.

Friday, 6 March 2015

All-In Pop Up Restaurant!

There is NOTHING I love more than going out for a lovely meal. However, now I'm 30 weeks pregnant, there doesn't seem to be much point. I do find that without a glass of wine to go with my main course, it's just not as much fun anymore. Plus I am SURE my taste buds have altered as I don't seem to be able to enjoy food in quite the same way. Annoying but true.

The other thing is that the food I usually enjoy when I have a meal out seems to be sort of off limits now - no point in having a steak as I can't have it rare. No point in having anything spicy as it gives me heartburn! Argh! Of course it will all be worth it in the end etc etc.

I've also sort of given up on going out in the evening now as I'm just SO tired, and I seem to have lost my sense of taste, weird?!

We did go out to see a band a few weeks ago which was fun, though I did find it quite hard to fit in the seats, so I think I might pass on going out in the future!

There is one way to kill two birds with one stone though, with the recent trend of funky pop up restaurants! One such pop up recently took place in London at Jones and Sons. The idea is that you can offset your winnings in the casino against an awesome meal, which means you can have a £50 meal for as little as £10! Good eh?

You can choose from queen scallops (yum), lamb chops and pear tatin, which to me sounds like pretty awesome food that I can actually eat!


There are now plans to roll the All-In Kitchen out across the UK. Of course, if you prefer you can skip the casino part and simply pay for your meal as normal. Sounds posh eh?

This post was written in collaboration with Pokerstars.

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Can You Really Feed Your Family Well On A Budget?

Having a family means being able to support and provide them with whatever they need. No matter how big or small our family is, some of us still encounter budget constraints that might stop us from feeding our families well. Feeding the family on a budget requires a lot of work and a load of planning. If you find the right resources and keep a tight budget, you can achieve that incredible feat of feeding your family on a budget. Here are some tips that can help you feed your family well even if you're operating on a small budget.
Keep on couponing
Couponing has swept the nation as evidenced by the slew of reality shows that feature couponing addicts spending almost nothing on their purchases. Couponing requires a lot of logistics and planning. Start by looking at the coupon sections on your newspaper and on store websites. You can easily download and print coupons that you can add to get great savings. Take note of the fine print and read the coupons properly so you can tell whether the offer is still valid or not. By collecting coupons, you can easily cut the costs by more than a half.
Go bulk
Another way to save is by purchasing by bulk. Items purchased by bulk are given a discount by some specialty outlets in your local area. It's ideal to purchase items that are not prone to spoiling. You can buy canned goods, powdered ingredients, and condiments in bulk that you can stock and use in the future.
Buy what you need
One alternative to buying bulk is by purchasing less. Buying only what you need can help you save a lot. Make it a habit to control your expenses by sticking to your grocery list. At the start of the week, list down the recipes that you're going to follow and find out the ingredients that are needed. Buying only what you need can help you control your expenses, preventing you from going over budget with goodies.
Plant and sow
Planting herbs and vegetables right in your garden is one way to save up. Instead of buying produce, you can grow your very own. Growing a garden ensures you that you have clean produce because you grew them yourself! Often, we have no idea what products were used in the items on the supermarket. Cultivating your own land can definitely help you cut costs.
Support local
Instead of going to the supermarket, you can also try cutting the middleman by going directly to the source. Scour nearby local farms that can provide you with vegetables and dairy products at lower prices. You can buy fresh meat and poultry products as well and some local farms even allow you to order burgers online!

Friday, 23 January 2015

Having a baby on ebay...

Everyone is always telling us that babies are expensive right? And there is SO much to buy, and you MUST have this and that. Let me tell you, it's all a load of rubbish. In fact, babies hardly cost anything (especially if you're breastfeeding) since they are very small and cannot demand new Skylander/Thomas the tank engine/star wars toys until they are at least two and a half. Make the most of it I say! Here are a few things I won't be buying with my third baby...

1) I will NOT be buying baby cuddle towels. Babies don't know what towels you dry them in, and also they don't really care. Normal nice towels are fine. Tiny bear shaped towels they will soon grow out of are a total waste of money and will clog up your airing cupboard.

2) Babies will sleep anywhere. Actually some won't - mine especially. But they don't care where their cot comes from, they just want it to be warm, comfortable and safe. Go straight to Ikea or Asda, those cots are fine and cost about £50, a snip of a price of the £600 cot we bought from Mamas and Papas all those years ago...

Asda Cot - perfectly fine

3) Bedding bales - again, these will probably never be used. Babies only need a sleep bag and a fitted sheet underneath them don't they? So why bother with all that stuff? It's just more stuff to wash, and who needs the hassle?

4) Muslin clothes are much much cheaper on ebay - buy in bulk, you know you want to. Also plain muslins are a lot cheaper and as everyone knows, babies are not bothered about cute patterns.

5) Baby clothes - babies don't care what they look like, in fact they aren't even that bothered about nice clothes as otherwise why would they be constantly sick on them? Drop unsubtle hints to friends about outgrown baby clothes and they will soon start flooding in. Or buy on ebay or gumtree. I recently paid £16 for a zip up jumper for my three year old that now looks like a limp rag.

6) Baby chairs etc can be helpful but again, you will no doubt have a kind neighbour who is desperate to get rid of theirs. Baby beans bags, bumbos and the rest, leave it, they are space eater uppers and you will be constantly tripping over them.

7) Pushchairs. You will be tempted to buy a super pricey Bugaboo or Quinny then spend three years breaking your back lifting them in and out of the car in the pouring rain. Micralites are by far the best pushchairs and are small and easy to fold. Buy one on ebay!

8) Baby baths - total waste of money. Just put a few centimetres of water in the bath and keep hold of your baby and sponge them down while they have a splash around. Baby baths also get quite mouldy and black before long. Honestly, you'll thank me.

9) Baby changing bags. Some companies get away with charging a ridiculous amount for canvas "changing bags" (naming no names PINK LINING). Totally over priced! Just get a normal large bag with longish handles. It'll get trashed anyway being dumped on wet floors while you're folding up your Bugaboo (!).

10) High chairs will soon be the bane of your life and will need constant wiping. My preference is Ikea again as their white chair is small and easy to wipe. Do NOT get one with lots of nooks and crannies as food will ALWAYS find its way down there and you will be forced to get a very sharp knife to attempt to get it out before it turns green..

Ikea highchair  - total crowd pleaser
What are your top tips for having a baby on a budget?

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Are You Eating The Right Food?


Ever found yourself asking people whether you’re eating the right food? Your diet is usually determined by a number of important factors that vary from one person to another. There’s no perfect way to calculate the amount of food that you should eat unless you visit a nutritionist to help create a rigid food plan.
You can put your best foot forward and try to control the way you eat with these helpful tips that you should consider:
Know your preferences
Sometimes you just can’t force yourself to eat the things that you don’t want to eat. What’s right for others doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s right for you. Determine your health goals in the beginning before starting the diet program that you want. It’s important to take note of your preferences as this can help you determine the right type of food that you put inside you. Always remember that your daily food intake should include the items in the food pyramid. Don’t go under the required number of caloric intake as this could change the way you get the energy that you need. 
Put emphasis on real food
When we say real food, we mean those items that doesn’t come in manufactured boxes. Processed foods are known to be harmful for your health, so it’s best to avoid them. Canned goods, junk food, and ready-to-eat meals are littered with preservatives and additives that can cause further harm in your body. Choose to eat real food or those that you prepare yourself. Preparing your own meals not only saves you money, it also saves you from various health risks that may come from processed food.
Check for health signs
If you start eating healthy, your body will point out various signs. Pooping regularly is a clear sign that you’re eating the right food. Eating healthy food can also lower your depression and stress levels. There are a number of health signs that can be considered as a testament to your eating habits.  The best health sign that you’re eating right comes when you have to buy new jeans that are one size smaller than the usual.
Keeping it in moderation
Even though you’re eating healthier, you should always eat in moderation. Eating smaller portions ensures that you fill up the dietary requirements that your body needs. Overeating can lead to weight gain, so it’s best to moderate the food that you eat. Instead of gorging down on your favorite food, try to eat smaller portions. Take time enjoying the textures and flavors of the dish to help you get a better understanding of the dishes that you consume.
Get proper food information
Getting the right information about the food that you consume is an important part of staying fit. Make it a habit to check out the labels of the food that you buy. Knowing the nutritional value of the food that you consume can give you an idea whether you should enjoy or avoid the food item. Labeling is an important part of food items and you should ensure that the food you consume underwent recipe analysis to guarantee a fit for your diet.



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