Tuesday, 30 December 2014

How To Stay Stylish And Warm This Winter

 This winter, you don’t need to make your style decisions into a massive problem. All you have to do is to relax and check your closet for instant style inspirations that can hit you like a speeding sleigh. 

Staying stylish and warm doesn’t have to be tough, all you need are a couple of winter essentials that can keep you heated while looking sizzling hot for the new year.


Layer up!

One way to stay warm during the winter is to layer up. ‘Tis the season to wear heaps of clothes on top of each other to stay warm. There’s no rule on how many layers of clothes you can wear, but try to avoid wearing more than 10 items of clothing unless you want to look like a bloated figure walking down the street. You can rock the bohemian-look by layering a warm fleece shirt, long skirt, and a winter coat. Wearing a long skirt allows you to hide your long johns or warm inner wear!


Hats Make It Hot

Keeping your head warm is important so that you can avoid any headaches that may stem from the cold weather. There are a number of stylish winter hats that can warm up not only your head, but your ears, as well! You can opt for a simple beanie of your choice color, or you can knit one of your own! We recommend getting crazy colors to stand out from the whites and greys of the seasonal wear.


Gotta Have Gloves

The temperature can drop in no time so it’s best if you always keep a pair of warming gloves in your bag. Choose the type of gloves depending on the weather condition of the day. If the temperature is tolerable, a nice soft pair of gloves can be easily a part of your winter get-up. If you’re walking through a snowstorm, it’s best if you buy a thicker pair of gloves. There are gloves that are made from weatherproof materials that can withstand all types of weather and can keep you warm while still being in style.


Heat it Up!

Fleece is the best and cheapest way to stay warm this winter season. The material tends to catch the body warm that you emit and uses it to heat your body again, maintaining a nice balance of warmth and comfort. Popular sweaters and jackets are usually made from fleece, some even includes an extra fleece lining that can be detached so that you can re-use the jacket once the winter season is over. You can also purchase coat heaters that run on internal batteries. These portable heats can keep you warm even when your sweater can’t.


Anti-Shiver Shoes

Avoid getting hypothermia by buying the right pair of winter boots. There are a number of designs available that can tickle your fancy. You can go with traditional designs or go for a modern approach. Some shoes are also lined with fleece, maintaining the perfect balance of warm and comfort for your tired feet.


One way to stay warm this winter is to just stay at home and shop for clothes online. You can have these items delivered directly to you and you won’t have to worry about the Christmas rush and traffic!

Monday, 22 December 2014

Can Cooking With Fresh Ingredients Save Money?

If you are in charge of cooking for your family, you can understand how a simple meal can cost a lot. Preparing delicious dishes doesn’t have to be expensive. If you know where to shop and what to purchase, you can save a few bucks in the process. It also helps to cook with fresh ingredients instead of canned and bottled goods, as you get more nutrients from the ingredients that you use.


But just how can cooking with fresh ingredients save you money?


Seasonal ingredients

You can save a lot of money when cooking if you prepare meals that consist of seasonal ingredients. The prices of fruits and vegetables go down when they are in season, so take advantage of that. It helps to know which ingredients you can save on, so that you immediately know where to look when you go to the grocery or the farmer’s market. You can also save more money by purchasing in bulk.


Go green

Organic ingredients are sometimes pricier than regular ingredients. However, if you know where to look, you can save money by going organic. Compare the prices from different grocery stores and brands and you just might find some products that will save you a ton of money. All you need to do is research and locate stores that sell cheaper, organic goods.


Get it from the source

Going straight to the source of the fresh ingredients that you purchase is one way to make big savings. Instead of going to your local grocery store, visit farmer’s markets or do a little bit of research to know where the ingredients come from.


By going straight to the suppliernot only can you can knock off a few dollars from your purchase, you get the freshest ingredients as well.


Grow your own

Why purchase ingredients when you can get them for free? If you have plenty of space in your garden, you can easily start growing your own fruits and vegetables. This will save you a ton of money when cooking and you will always be sure of the quality of the ingredients that you use for your meals.


If you don’t have a large space, you can also grow herbs, as they don’t need as much growing space as fruits and vegetables. Try growing basil, rosemary, thyme, carrots,lettuce, and berries.


Swap ingredients

Indeed, some fresh ingredients tend to be expensive, but this doesn’t have to stop you from using all fresh ingredients.


Instead of going without, try swapping ingredients - look forcheaper alternatives to certain ingredients on your recipe. When you go to the grocery store, compare prices and see where you can save.


Cooking using fresh ingredients doesn’t have to be expensiveas long as you know where to look and what to do, you can save thousands of dollars in groceries each year. With these tips, you can know create your favorites Kraft dishes using all fresh ingredients for you and your family to enjoy!

Friday, 12 December 2014

Review - MooGoo Skincare

I do love a good beauty review, especially something that's natural and a bit different at the same time. That's why I was thrilled to be sent some products to review from MooGoo Skincare.
A little bit about MooGoo:-

"MooGoo was first made when the founder adapted a cream used in dairy farms to help a family member with a skin problem. The dairy version of "udder cream" was designed to heal the cow's udders and keep them in good condition for milking. It was full of skin repair ingredients and no gimmicks. Cows don't care too much about the latest fad in skin care, or even "Organic blends of Horsetail and Bergamot..." They do need healthy skin on their most valuable assets. Although the original cream used in the dairy farms was legendary for its skin healing properties, it was thick and greasy. MooGoo modified the cream for human use by keeping all the skin healing properties but making it non-greasy."

Sound awesome? Well is it! I was sent two products, the Skin Milk Udder Cream, and the 3 Vitamins Eye Serum.

Three Vitamins Eye Serum

MooGoo’s 3 Vitamins Eye Serum is made by dissolving three powerful topical vitamins through a natural base of anti-oxidant oils that mimic the skin's own sebum. I've used similar serums in the past and in terms of value for money, at £20 I think this is a good buy. The serum is slightly greasy but then you would expect that since it is made from oils! I like the fact that it has a very delicate smell since I am allergic to a lot of skin products so anything perfumed I stay away from. I found that the serum sank into my skin thoroughly and by the morning there was no residue left on my skin or greasiness. I noticed by skin did seem smoother after a few weeks of use, which is the whole point right!?

MooGoo Udder Cream
 MooGoo’s Skin Milk Udder Cream (£8) is being recommended by a number of oncologists and hospitals in Australia due to its efficacy in helping the recovery from chemo and radiotherapy induced dermatitis. In terms of its use as an everyday moisturiser, I found it probably too thick for the face unless you have very dry skin. As a hand and body cream however I found it brilliant. Again, like the serum is initially feels quite greasy but easily sinks in without much rubbing. I actually had my very first break out of eczema a few weeks ago and so I tried this on the affected patch of skin near my elbow. By the morning the outbreak had completely gone and my skin felt smooth again. Again, this product has very little smell which in my opinion is a good thing as it means it has very few chemicals in it. I'd definitely recommend it not only for adults but for children too as an alternative to the double base cream etc.

I really like the fact that MooGoo have done proper and transparent research into their product and the background of the company makes it interesting too.

Sadly at present there are no stockists in the UK that I could find, but the products are available to buy online via their website. Aside from the products I was sent they have a huge range to choose from, so it's definitely worth taking a look!

These items were sent to me for the purpose of review though all opinions are my own.

How to choose the best Bingo site!

Being a mother is harder than it seems as most of my days start with utter chaos. But, being a
mum does of course have its pros and cons. Kids believe that their mums are super ladies who will be there to fix anything at anytime. For everything they call their mothers. Can’t solve their home work? Call mum!  Cant find books? Call mum! .

As the day proceeds, I juggle between work at home and my career. The day couldn't be more
stressful. A break is something I really look forward to. When I'm finally back from work, after running errands at home, I settle in my couch with my tablet and do what? I enjoy online shopping, read articles and have a chat with my friends. And one of my friends who was online the other day pinged me to try online bingo so I gave it a try.

Online bingo has become so incredibly popular over the past decade that almost everyday I hear
a launch of a new bingo site. With the existence of hundreds of such sites, choosing the best one can got me daunting. So here are a few guidelines for every mum out there who is trying online bingo for the first time.

For a newbie it gets all the more challenging to distinguish a good bingo site from bad. Joining
a good bingo site is essential not only because they’ll safeguard your information and are reliable, but also because you should be able to reap out the benefits. Watch out for sites that are scrupulous and are just there to make a quick buck, so make sure you read the reviews of a bingo site before deciding to join. In my experience, the more the reviews the site has, the more credible it is.

It's also essential to check the site is properly registered and as a final tip, just double check it's a secure site, as you would when making any online purchase. Finally,  before signing up, read the terms and conditions beforehand and remember that bingo is a game of luck so sometimes you'll win, and sometimes you won't! For more info and details do visit free bingo site called GameVillage bingo to see what all the fuss is about!

This is a guest post.

Friday, 21 November 2014

Maternity Bargain Buys...

To be honest, I never thought I would find myself here again - but here I am! And never one to shy away from a challenge, I am determined to spend as little as possible on maternity clothes this time, bearing in mind they will definitely NOT be worn again.

As this is my third child, I've found that I've had a bump pretty much from day 1, though it hasn't grown massively as yet (I'm about fifteen weeks now). I tried to last as long as I possibly could in "normal" clothes (unlike my first pregnancy where I was desperate to get into maternity clothes!) bearing in mind it will be a while until I wear them again, but alas the time has definitely come.

My first port of call was a local buying and selling group, where I picked up some Seraphine tops and leggings for £1 each, bargain. They are a bit worn but after a good wash and iron look fine. I wore them today in fact and am very happy with my purchases!

Next came ebay. I was a big fan of Isabella Oliver maternity last time I was pregnant, and bought about three key items. This time, I've headed straight to ebay, picking up a wrap dress for £5 and a portrait top for £1.20. The wrap dress was a bit of a fail though, as it has a smell that no amount of washing can get rid of. Still, you win some, you lose some.

Isabella Oliver Wrap dress, whiff optional.

 I've also bought some Isabella Oliver maternity trousers for £5 and some H&M Maternity trousers for £3. Both are great, and I also know I can sell the IO on afterwards for a very similar price.

Another ebay purchase was this Asos gold sequin dress, now it's arrived, I'm less than convinced...

It's a bit longer than I anticipated and not the most flattering, even for a pregnant woman. Still, I only paid £7 for it, maybe I'll take it to my local dressmaker and get the length shortened slightly.

Just to show I'm not a total cheapskate, I headed over to Mummy and Little Me (There's one in Leeds also) and picked up a Hotmilk Bra for £15...

and some Noppies Treggings for £18, these are lovely and look really expensive, which is of course, the main thing.
Noppies Treggings £18
Now over to Funmum, I picked up this gorgeous pleat top for £31.20  minus a 15% sign up discount.

Pleat Maternity top from Fun Mum £31.20.
I have to say I think it's the nicest maternity top I've ever seen - so far I've worn it with boots and leggings and I can see me wearing it lots over Christmas.

Do let me know if you spot any maternity bargains!

Saturday, 15 November 2014

A few surprises...

This week has been a VERY eventful week, for a variety of reasons. Just recently I haven't had time to do much blogging and have also been devoting my energies to my other blog, bingleymums.com. Now my children are three and six I feel like I actually have time for myself again - they are happy to play together at Lego or Star Wars games, and to be honest I'm happy to let them , since that's what makes them happy.

So anyway, since I don't like my life to be TOO easy (obviously) and clearly have a distaste for sleep - this is happening...

Yep that's right. I'm having another baby! Due May 2015. It's all been a bit of a shock to the system, but the boys are on
board with it and that's the main thing! Eeeek! After maintaining I would never be crazy enough to have a third child, it appears that actually I will be a mother of three quite soon! We've a lot to think about like moving house, getting bigger cars and the like but of course we're over the moon.

The other thing that happened (and I would like to add, totally unconnected) is that I had the chance to meet deputy prime minister Nick Clegg to discuss teacher workload - which quite franklyhas reached  breaking point. Of course when it came to it I shook his hand mutely and was unable to say much at all! Luckily there were many far more eloquent teachers who spoke very passionately about changes that need to be made. Thank goodness they were there.

My colleague and friend Bess got a selfie and I was seething with envy.

He seemed like a nice man and I've hopes for changes to the demands on teachers in the near future.

What a week! 

Friday, 24 October 2014

WIN WIN WIN! BMW Baby Racer!

It's been quite a while since I've run a giveaway on my blog, in fact I've been neglecting this blog massively recently, but that's about to change! This week, I've got a super quick giveaway and one lucky person will be winning a BMW Baby Racer like this one here...

Win this awesome prize!

Coincidentally we recently acquired a BMW through a company car scheme - and I have to say on the day it arrived I was pretty excited, though probably in hindsight the beige seats were a mistake. We did have a slight problem with one of the indicators, but luckily BMW Servicing is so good that it was immediately rectified, yay!

Anyway, back to the giveaway, the car is suitable for ages 18 months to 3 years and has all the cool features of a full sized BMW. To enter, all you need to do is leave a blog post comment saying what your favourite car is, then follow the instructions on the widget below.


Terms and Conditions

Ends 31st October at midnight
UK Residents only


Sunday, 19 October 2014

#FallFashionChallenge at Junction 32

There have been many moments in my life when I've felt very glad that I took up blogging. It's opened up many opportunities to me and also made me a ruckload of new friends. Online ones of course, but many of whom I've had the pleasure of meeting in real life. Last weekend another such opportunity opened itself up to me, in the form of the Junction 32 #FallFashionChallenge. Four bloggers were faced with the "challenge" (if you can call it that!) of spending £100 gift voucher at the Junction 32 Shopping Village near Castleford.

We were met by the lovely Rachael from the PR agency, and treated to a VIP brunch by Thorntons, which was very nice and made us feel pretty awesome. I met the lovely Esther from Inside Out and About, Laura from A Forte for Fashion, and another lovely blogger Hannah, whose blog name I will find out!

At first, it was loads of fun, trawling round shops without children looking for a perfect outfit for the school rub (every blogger had a different outfit challenge), but I soon realised that shopping under pressure with a particular "look" in mind, is not that easy, at all! The other bloggers and I kept running into one another desperately chanting, "have you found anything yet?!" to which the answer was usually a panicked, "no!". Still, it was nice to see what Junction 32 has to offer and I thought the variety of shops was pretty good for a shopping outlet. Basically, it tends to have last season's offerings at hugely discounted prices, and shops range from M&S, Next, Mango, and the like to quite a few homeware and outdoor type shops.

I thought the best clothes were in M&S, mainly because of the size of the store and the fact that it wasn't all Summer clothes. After much searching, I found a fitted black cotton/wool mix dress with leather shoulder pads, it sounds hideous but actually it's lovely and really versatile, I can wear it dressed down or dressed up with accessories. I also spotted a really warm and cosy leopard print wrap that I can wear over the dress and sort of perks it up a bit, they go really well together, here is the finished product!

M&S Woollen Mix Winter Dress £19.99

Leopard Print Wrap £25

Copper Bracelet £5
And another more professional one..

In the changing room...

All the ladies with their outfits on...
I'm really pleased with my outfit and I've already worn it loads. Warm, comfortable and versatile too! Thank you Junction 32 for my voucher and a lovely day out!

I was given a voucher to purchase an outfit at Junction 32 Shopping Outlet, but all thoughts are my own.

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Should Children Wear Contact Lenses?

I started wearing contact lenses when I was 13 - back then I was embarrassed about wearing glasses and could never find anything to suit me, so I would just walk around half blind, waving to total strangers, nearly being hit by cars, that sort of thing.  It was also a nightmare when it came to school sports - many a time when playing netball I was hit smack bang in the face with a large netball. It still pains me to this day. Missing the hoop because I couldn't actually see it was a common occurrence. The day I got my first pair of lenses I started living! I could see! I could take part in sports, see the board, understand what was going on in the cinema, normal stuff, but not if you can't see!   I foolishly accepted advice back in the bad old days, that gas permeable lenses would be the way to go, as they are apparently healthier for your eyes and also work out cheaper. I found them very difficult to cope with at times, and if some dust or fluff got inside them, it was akin to water torture. However when I was about 18 I saw sense (literally) and started wearing soft contact lenses. I've tried lots of different companies and brands over the years, with varying results, but I actually now don't feel fully awake unless I'm wearing my lenses, although I do try to give my eyes a rest one day a week and wear glasses. I've never had a problem with dryness particularly, and my eyes never  feel really tired. I honestly don't understand why anyone would choose glasses over lenses to be honest, when there are so many obvious restrictions wearing glasses.

With this in mind, I recently had a chat with the ACUVUE team at Britmums Live - it was really interesting talking to them and they were really keen to hear about people's experiences of wearing lenses, and how they worked for people. I do know that ACUVUE make really high quality lenses, and it's really important not to scrimp on things like contact lenses as your eyes are SO important. One thing that the guys told me, that I was very surprised about, is that children as young as 5 can wear contact lenses! I was really surprised, but apparently research has been done, they've been tried and tested etc and apparently it's the way of the future. I do remember as a child, when I did choose to wear my glasses feeling embarrassed and restricted, I'm quite sure if the option had been available to me back then I would have taken it. It would also have enabled me to take part in sports and activities that glasses can get in the way of, or in my case, hardly being able to see at all!
What do you think? Should children wear contact lenses, or does it just depend on the individual child? 
I wrote this review while participating in an influencer campaign on behalf of Johnson & Johnson Vision Care and received a promotional item to thank me for taking the time to participate.”

Thursday, 18 September 2014

As British as a cup of... coffee?

English Breakfast with a dash of milk, no sugar. That's the Britain we grew up in. But now that Costa inhabits every hotel, restaurant, service station and high street corner, could it be that we're becoming a nation of coffee drinkers? That the traditional builder's tea needs a campaign to save it?

 Waves and waves of coffee

Having proved relatively immune to the charms of coffee before, fetishising our traditional English brew instead, the introduction of American coffee culture – milky, sweet, espresso based drinks – appears to have finally seduced us. Coffee is everywhere. Britain hearts coffee. And apparently, we heart it more every year.

As Third Wave Coffee takes hold in Britain's cities, the Second Wave (espresso machines, basically) is still flooding the country. Costa opened 177 new branches last year, and reported pre-tax profits growth of 22% above 2012 (itself a strong growth year). Premium, takeaway coffee was one of the last bastions of growth during the worst of the recession; an affordable luxury in straitened times.

The question is: has it come at the expense of our traditional favourite?

 The fall of tea

 It certainly looks that way. Sales of tea are falling exponentially. 6% down in 2013, double the 3% fall in 2012. Most tellingly, it's not just the high street coffee chains gaining from tea's loss – in the same period, sales of NescafĂ© were up 6.3%.

That instant coffee (First Wave) is outperforming tea in the sales stakes is the surest sign that the tastes of the nation are changing. Hard to imagine there would ever be a time when freeze dried coffee would be preferable to a nice cuppa, particularly without Anthony Head's contribution, but it seems that time is now.

 Unless... it's more complicated than that?

 Going green

The proliferation of high street coffee shops might be the most obvious sign of tea's decline, but behind closed doors there's another story. While sales of 'builders tea' continue to decline, sales of more exotic, healthier teas like green tea and herbal teas grew 19% and 15% respectively in 2013.

 Indian black tea may have been exotic once, but after centuries of afternoon tea (a tradition instigated by a Portuguese princess) it seems to have lost its shine in favour of newer (to Britain), more cosmopolitan flavours. The original drink of globalisation is suffering from globalisation.

Broadening palettes should be applauded. But there does seem something sad about the decline of the Great British Cuppa. Doesn't there?

This is a guest post. 

Friday, 29 August 2014

What You Can Do To Improve You and Your Family's Life

With busy lifestyles and each family member having his or her “own thing”, we usually find it hard to connect and make quality time for our family. When everything seems to be the same day in and day out, perhaps you should consider different ways of improving you and your family’s life. You can bond with each other over pizza, or plan a three-day road trip with your teen. From simple to special, we have listed several tips on becoming a tighter, happier family.
Break out of the routine by doing something special.
Weekends are usually the time when teenagers sleep the day away or go out with friends, younger children watch cartoons the whole morning through, and parents try to accomplish as many chores as possible. Change your routine and do something new for a change. For example, wake up really early one weekend, prepare a thermos of hot cocoa, gather your family’s breakfast mugs, and wake them all up before first light. Tell them you’re all going for a drive, and that they should not take anything with them apart from what they’re wearing.
When it’s not too cold out, let them stay in their pyjamas; otherwise, coats and wellies are in order. Drive eastward to where you’ll have a great view of the rising sun. Take out the cocoa, hand each family member a mug, and simply take in the sun as it rises. It’s a great way to start the weekend together.
Eat together.
Busy families tend to spend less time together at the dinner table, but we all know that the best conversations usually happen over a meal. Open and strengthen communication lines by cooking and having meals together, or by having a weekend cook-off.
Team up and come up with challenging recipes, a quirky set of criteria for judging, and a blind taste test. You may be used to calling for takeaways or eating out, but if you really want to improve your family life, it’s best to do something meaningful, something your kids will remember even when they already have a family of their own. Who knows, it can become a tradition!
Go on a trip.
Best for families with older kids, a road trip can become the ultimate family vacation. This activity requires careful planning, and enables parents to give their children more responsibilities. There are plenty of bonding moments when you’re out in the open road or camping by a fire. Spending time with your kids away from distractions also gives you the opportunity to talk about your family, especially when you’re going through a rough patch.
Families, even the most tight-knit ones, aren’t without their share of squabbles. There may be fights, conflicts, misunderstandings, and a slew of other issues in between. Resolving the issue is not always easy, but one thing you have to remember is to keep communicating. Problems rarely resolve themselves when left alone; these can even create feelings of deep resentment. Talk things out, and make the family members involved know that what they have to say is important. It can be a silly or serious—what’s important is that at the end of the day, there is no love lost and you have an understanding and a solution.

 This is a guest post.

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Neat and Tidy: Quick and Simple Tips to Save You Time

It’s often said that the kitchen is the heart of the home, but if you’re not careful, this part of your property can end up feeling more like a prison. After all, so many vital household tasks are completed within this space and it can take what feels like an age just to keep it clean and tidy. However, by following these simple tips, you should be able to streamline your chores, ensuring you’re able to spend more time relaxing with your family. 


Invest in a dishwasher


If you don’t yet have one, instead of slaving away at the sink why not get a dishwasher? These handy appliances can dramatically reduce the amount of time you spend keeping your washing up pile under control. It takes a matter of moments to load and unload the machines and dishwashers tend to do a more thorough job of cleaning crockery, cutlery, glassware and other items. As an added bonus, they can even help you to reduce your utility bills, if you use them carefully.


Sort your storage out


Because so much happens in kitchens, they can quickly become chaotic. This is why effective storage is so important. Simply installing user-friendly cabinets that pull out can save you time, stress and hassle, making it easier to find items and put them away again. Using dividers in your drawers also comes in handy. They help to keep things in order and mean you should spend less time searching for objects.


To take full advantage of the square footage available in your kitchen, full height cabinets and corner units are useful to have. Creating a home for all the items in this room makes keeping things in order much easier, and it’s especially important in busy family homes.


Prioritise a practical layout


Ideally, the three main areas within your kitchen — namely the sink, the cooker and the fridge — should be located close together. This ‘work triangle’ should be compact but not too small. Experts suggest making the distance between the three areas no less than four feet and no more than nine feet. Being able to move quickly and easily between these stations will really speed things up. Of course, you can only work with the shape and size of kitchen that you have, but you should certainly bear this principle in mind.


By following advice like this, you stand to complete your daily kitchen tasks and cut out a whole lot of hassle. A complete kitchen revamp can prove pricey, but if your budget’s under strain, you can make the changes gradually.


Karen Jean is a mum of four and part-time receptionist and can’t stand a messy home. When not tidying up after the kids, she likes to relax with a glass of red wine and a good book.


Monday, 18 August 2014

In defence of boys....

In years gone by, like most people I had a vision of what my future life would be like.  I pictured shopping trips with my very co-operative daughter, followed by lattes and pizza express. I did not, not once, picture myself putting together Ninja Turtles, doing drop offs at Beavers and giving instructions about how to use a urinal. Yet, this is my fate.

When we had our first son, we broke the "middle class code" and found out what gender our baby was going to be. I am way too impatient to wait for something as interesting as that. I was happy to find out we were having a boy since we would almost certainly be having another one, and there was every chance I would get a girl right? Wrong.

Again, breaking the unspoken code of people who deal with delayed gratification - we found out the gender of our second child - a boy. I remember shedding a year afterwards and thinking, oh no, I have to go through all of this and it's ANOTHER boy! How silly I was.

Actually having two boys has loads of benefits. First, it is cheaper, as they are into the same things (hopefully). It's a friend for life, a buddy to go through things with, stick up for, fight and wrestle with, learn from and teach.  I actually quite like being the only girl in our family as it means I get special treatment and they adore me. They are totally straightforward and show their emotions (sometimes too much) in a very frank way. I never have problems working out what's going on with them, as it's so obvious. They've actually taught me quite a few things - aside from totally changing our lives, they've taught me not to care so much, since they clearly don't care what anyone thinks - at all!

So boys are pretty awesome. I wouldn't change them for the world and actually Son 2 slotted into our family quite beautifully. Son 1 has a playmate and they do everything together, I am pleased that, most of the time, they are best friends and miss each other massively. I am actually quite envious of their relationship as it's something I never had as a child, and I often felt very lonely.

Here's to boys!

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

How to manage the summer heat in your garden.

The recent spell of hot weather has been glorious. Unfortunately, extreme temperatures aren’t too good for gardens. Certain sections of the population, mainly the very young and the elderly should also take some sensible precautions in the sun.


Summer health risks for humans


If you intend to enjoy your garden during the summer, try not to sit in direct sunlight between the hours of 11am and3pm. The sun is at its hottest during this time and you really should take advantage of the shade to avoid its harmful rays and extreme heat.


Take measures to keep yourself well hydrated by drinking plenty of water too. Conditions including sunstroke,dehydration and heat exhaustion are all too common during the summer months, so make sure you take adequate steps to prevent against this.


Create a shady garden


The UK is known as a green and pleasant land thanks to William Blake and Britain’s temperate climate. A few weeks of prolonged summer sun and heat will soon transform your verdant lush lawns into a dry patch of scrub, so it’s important you stay on top of garden maintenance.


One way of coping with this is to water your lawn every evening, and when you do mow the grass, try not to cut it too short. Create a shady alcove by planting Cornus(dogwood) and jasmine, which are hardy plants that produce beautiful flowers.


If you’re worried that you’re too old to pick up a plough, then think again! Recent research reported by retirement home experts McCarthy & Stone have revealed that one fifth of Brits don’t class themselves as ‘old’ until the age of 90! McCarthy & Stone’s retirement homes often come with landscaped gardens that are cared for by the firm too – so you won’t be expected to tend large patches of lawn yourself.


Hanging baskets need a lot of love


Whether you grow fruit or flowering plants in your hanging baskets, they will need attention from the watering can in order to withstand the rigours of the hot sun. If possible, try and water your baskets in the early morning and repeat the exercise in the evening once the sun has started to go down.


You can even add a couple of ice cubes to the soil as the water from these will evaporate slowly and give your plants more moisture.


Compost can catch fire


If you have a compost heap in a plastic bin and keep on topping it up with plant debris and grass cuttings, you should be aware that in some extreme circumstances the grass cuttings could catch light if placed under direct sunlight. Make sure that you keep your bins in the shade and turn the pile over on a regular basis.


Don’t forget to nurture your pond


Anyone who has an ornamental pond in their garden should make sure that the pond water is regularly topped up. Tepid water is better than very cold, as this won’t shock the fish with a sudden change in temperature.


A garden in the summer can be a delight, and if you follow these guidelines you’ll still be able to sit outside and enjoy its beauty.

This is a guest post. 

Friday, 25 July 2014

Take a Romantic Mini Break this Summer

We all know that relationships need investing in to keep them alive and thriving, but sometimes work, kids and just life in general can get in the way. We all lead super busy lives, which means that romance can often be left languishing on the back burner.
Being spontaneous is a great way to stoke those fires of passion, and what could be better than a exciting last minute mini break to give you the opportunity to spend quality time together? Just wait for the weekend (or book a couple of days off work), decide where you want to go and pack a bag!
If you need a little bit of inspiration to get your juices flowing, here are three of the best city break destinations for romance – and some handy tips to make the most of your time together. For more spontaneous getaway suggestions, take a look at the new Travelodge Get Up and Go guide:

The Scottish capital is a wonderfully romantic city, with its cobbled town centre and the stunning surrounding countryside. Feel like King and Queen of the castle, wander the medieval Old Town or take in fine art at the Scottish National Gallery. If the sun is shining in your favour, why not pick up a picnic from a deli on the Royal Mile and head to the dramatic landscape of Holyrood Park. Or sit among the flowers at the Royal Botanic Garden and let love bloom and blossom.
Edinburgh’s Travelodges make a great base in the city – proving that getting away doesn’t have to cost a fortune. You’ll get a comfy bed for the night and have plenty of cash spare to spend on those little treats that make a weekend away extra special.

The historic city of York definitely lends itself to romance, with its winding streets, world famous chocolate shops and beautiful green spaces. The York Chocolate Story Tour is guaranteed to leave you feeling sweet, and, if you’ve got any hints you’d like to drop, a visit to the breathtaking York Minster is a must. A wander of the Shambles, hand in hand, is sure to see you picking up some trinkets to remember your trip by – or, if you and your beloved share a thrill-seeking side, clinging to each other in the York Dungeons will get that adrenalin pumping!

Bath is a beautiful place to escape for a lost weekend, especially if some rest and relaxation is on the cards. Book a couple’s massage at the Thermae Bath Spa before heading up to the rooftop thermal pool which boasts incredible views across the rooftops of the city – an evening dip is especially romantic, so enquire about the twilight package.
During your loved-up stay in Bath you can also step back in time at the Roman Baths Museum, explore Bath Abbey, picnic in Royal Victoria Park and experience Georgian luxury at No 1 Royal Crescent.
Make time for romance. Squeeze in a spontaneous mini-break to escape the stresses and strains of everyday life, and give your relationship a renewed lease of life.

This is a featured post.

Monday, 21 July 2014

Break time!

We are desperately in need of a break! Usually around this time of year as it's our anniversary we make sure we make time to take some time out - but not this year. At the moment we are in the throes of trying to sell our house and it's all go go go with viewings, obsessively looking on Rightmove, that sort of thing.

However I am determined we will go away SOMEWHERE just the two of us, and I'm starting to do some research!I really like the idea of staying in one of the many Henley Hotels as it's somewhere I've never been before and we can really make a weekend of it! While we are there it's nice to look at the history of the place:-

"The first Henley Regatta was held in 1839. Prior to then the same stretch of river had been used for the Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race along with other events. In its early days the Regatta was more about socialising and entertainment than sport and initially was just a single afternoon event.  As its popularity grew more events were added and its duration was gradually extended until 1986 when it became a five day event, which it has remained to this day."

I love stuff like this, it's really Pimms and cucumber which we don't really have up north all that much! The Regatta was before national or international rowing federations and consequently it is unique in the world of competitive rowing and has it own set of rules that are not governed by  either British Rowing of the International Rowing Federation, whoever it is recognised by both bodies.

 I'd really love to go to something like this and I think I've got in mind exactly where we will spend our anniversary this year! It's really nice to do something a bit different and see a different side to English life - even though it's only a few hours from Yorkshire. I love learning about the heritage of it all, having a few much needed glasses of Pimms and enjoying a good row! What more could you want?! In collaboration with Superbreak

Friday, 11 July 2014

Time Off - Online!

If you're reading this blog you probably know how rewarding it is having kids - but you'll also know that to appreciate it (and stay sane) you have got to make time to relax at some point!


It's amazing to think that, fifteen years ago or thereabouts, we were all just starting to get into this internet business. Now it's everywhere, and we're literally carrying stuff around in our pockets that would have been science fiction when I was growing up. Weird to think that children now will never know anything different!


One of the brilliant things about modern smartphones and iPads and the like, is that we can grab a bit of downtime when we get the chance - that's so important for mums of young kids (or any age kids, really), as it means we can take the opportunity when we get it. If your kids have a nap after lunch, you can use your phone for half an hour of Words With Friends, Angry Birds, or even to play bingo online. Imagine having to run out to a bingo hall a few years ago if you fancied a game! Now that wireless is everywhere, even the hassle of getting on the internet in the first place is gone.


The way the technology has changed is amazing. I remember the phone I had ten years or so ago - a tiny black-and-white screen and that was about it. It seems like phones got as small as they were going to get shortly after that, and suddenly, as everyone started getting online on their phones, and the graphics got better, everyone wanted bigger screens. Apple's next iPhone is supposed to be coming with a bigger screen and I'm quite tempted...


also remember the days when the internet was basically just sites that told you stuff. Now there's a forum for just about everything (various parenting ones spring to mind!) and everyone can contribute. It's the sharing of information that makes going online so different these days - nobody, including new parents who often feel like they don't know what they're doing, needs to feel alone.


At the moment though, for me it's the ability to "tune out" when the moment presents itself that I value most. With two small boys I never quite know when it's going to be, but as long as I've got my phone to hand I'm always going to be ready!


 (Image courtesy of mashable.com)



(This post is in collaboration with Ryan James)


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