Pokemon Bedding from Character World | Review

Living in a rented property, we have to keep the decor relatively neutral, which means we have to find other ways of putting some character and personality into the rooms. Harrison recently had a new cabin bed, so it was Alex’s turn to have something nice for his bedroom – Pokemon bedding from Character World.

We were sent a single duvet cover and pillow case, a beanbag and a cushion – perfect for transforming a boring bedroom into something much more fun for a little boy! He was over the moon with his new ‘bedroom bits’!

Character World Bedding

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Are Your Car Tyres Safe?

Although I do tend to leave the job to Graham, I am pretty good at making sure the cars I have owned (three in ten years of driving) are safe and roadworthy. It’s even more important now that it carries the most precious cargo of all – my kids.

One thing that was drummed into me by my driving instructor and by my dad was the importance of tyre safety.  It’s such a simple thing to check and keep an eye on, but can be so dangerous if ignored. They are the only link between the road and your car, and at any one point only a small part of that tyre actually touches the road, making it imperative that they are in tip-top condition at all times. Here are a few things to look out for:

 

Tyre Tread Depth

The legal tyre tread depth for car tyres is 1.6mm across 75% of the tyre. This is the minimum. The deeper tread depth you have, the more grip you will have when driving.  The best way of checking is with a tyre tread depth gauge, but if you don’t have one to hand, slot a 20p piece between of the main grooves of the tyre. If you can see the outer ring of the coin, you probably don’t have the minimum tread depth, and you need to get them checked. Buy car tyres from Point S for a safe and smooth journey on the road.

Tyre Pressure

This needs to be checked every couple of weeks and before any long journeys. It reduces premature wearing of your tyres, and reduces the risk of you losing control of your vehicle. It should be checked when tyres are cold (around two hours after using the car). You can find the correct pressure in your car’s user manual and on a label on or inside the door frame of the car.

Wheel Alignment

Sometimes, wheels become misaligned, which makes the car harder to handle and compromises safety. If your tyres have hit any solid objects such as bollards, kerbs or potholes, or they are wearing unevenly, it is probably best to get them checked.

Don’t leave them until they are illegal (each tyre carries a £2500 fine and 3 points on your license!) or even worse, until they are unsafe to get them checked out. Check them regularly, and if you’re not sure, ask a specialist. Better to be safe than sorry!

 

How often do you check your tyres?

 

Pink hair, Malory Towers and Doris #LittleLoves

This is a bit of a bumper one this week as I completely missed last weeks! It’s been half term here in Wales, and whilst it started off really nicely, spending the weekend in Birmingham seeing our family, the rest of it has been a bit ‘meh’. I hate it when school holidays are like this but a combination of crap weather and no car whilst Graham was at work put a bit of a stop to pretty much any plans I had. Still, today is a bit better and it’s sunny – I think we might go to the beach this evening!

Read

I’ve done a fair bit of reading the past few weeks. I found my old copy of Malory Towers by Enid Blyton in the cupboard and really enjoyed reading it. I need to go and dig out all the other ones – they’re so cheesy and old fashioned but lovely. I’m now reading ‘Gone Girl’, which I found at my mums house (we stay in my brother’s old bedroom when we are there). I was looking forward to reading it because I love the film, but a few chapters in and I’m not loving it to be honest. I’ll keep going with it though!

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The Changing of the Seasons

Despite the fact that the rain is beating on the window and the wind is howling, rattling the iron gate outside our bedroom window, spring is coming. Daffodils and snowdrops are poking through in the garden, the nights are slowly getting lighter, and the air is just that little bit warmer. Living in Birmingham, I never paid much attention to the changing of the seasons. Everything just seemed grey and miserable, whatever the season. Maybe that was just my mood, maybe it was the environment. Here, I’m so much more aware of the colours of the leaves, the time the sun rises and sets, how warm the air is.

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Why a Healthy Pregnancy is Important for Your Baby

During pregnancy, your body is the vessel that gives your growing baby all the nutrients that it needs. Being as healthy as possible before and during pregnancy gives your baby the best start in life.
Take a look at these tips from HARTMANN Direct for a healthy pregnancy:

See Your Doctor Midwife As Soon As Possible

 

As soon as the pregnancy test gives a positive indication, take a trip to see your doctor to confirm your pregnancy and get the ball rolling in terms of professional medical care.

Enjoy the first few months, relax and rest.

Eat Well

 

What you eat in pregnancy is incredibly important to the developing foetus;

  • Increase folic acid – this is the nutrient that is essential for the development of the brain and the nervous system and is important in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. Many women are also advised to increase folic acid in the pre-conception stage too.
  • Fruit and vegetables – eat a rainbow of fruit and vegetables every day, and makes sure that you get your five-a-day all the way through pregnancy.
  • Protein – get your protein from lean meats, fish, eggs, nuts and pulses and make sure you have a daily intake of protein.
  • Oily fish – omega 3 is packed with protein, vitamin D and other minerals and is found in oily fish such as salmon. Aim to include two portions of oil fish in your diet ever week.

There are some foods that pregnant women are advised not to eat – check the latest government advice if you are unsure.

Pregnancy Supplements

 

If you eat a varied and healthy diet pre-pregnancy and during pregnancy, you may feel that you don’t need to take any additional vitamins and supplements.

If you feel you need some extra help in terms of nutrition, always check with your doctor or midwife before taking any supplements that they are safe to do so during pregnancy.

Any vitamins and minerals need to be within safe amounts and guidelines. Taking large amounts of vitamins can be harmful. For example, vitamin A in some sources is beneficial but from other sources, can be harmful as the levels of the vitamin are too high and not needed.

Other supplements, such as fish oil, especially from fish liver, is considered too potent for a developing foetus and thus, pregnant women are advised to carefully check all products.

Food Hygiene

 

Staying as healthy as possible means that your baby has the best chances of developing at the rate that it needs to.

There are many things that in ordinary situations are fine but when pregnant, can be a serious issue. Food poisoning and poor food hygiene present significant issues to pregnant women which is why you should pay close attention to how you store, prepare and cook food at home.

Ensure that all meat is well-cooked and stay away from foods that are known to cause food poisoning, such as raw shellfish and some potent cheeses made from mould.

Only drink and cook with pasteurised dairy products too.

Stay Active and Fit

 

Labour and giving birth is hard work and this is why, to help towards a successful birth, you should stay active and fit.

This also helps to maintain good blood pressure but also helps with your emotional state of mind too.

Some exercises are suitable for pregnant women, such as pregnancy yoga, Pilates, swimming and walking for example, but if you play a sport that could lead to falls or knocks, as well as impacting on your joints, it may be best to take a break for a few months.

Start Pelvic Floor Exercises

 

The pelvic floor is the muscle that helps to control the bladder. During pregnancy, the surge in hormones can cause it to weaken, leading to a frequency in the urge and need to urinate.

You also need a strong pelvic floor to help you during labour and birth thus, pelvic floor muscles are essential. The good news is that they can be part of your exercise routine from before and during pregnancy, and immediately after birth too.

You don’t need any fancy equipment and they are practised in the comfort and privacy of your own home.

Rest and Relax

 

Just as important as staying fit and active for your developing baby, is the need for you to rest and relax. You may find sleeping becomes more uncomfortable, more so in late pregnancy. This means more power naps during the day. Try investing in a pregnancy pillow to help you be more comfortable at night or when you sit.

An active pregnancy, with a healthy diet and plenty of rest is the perfect combination!
Written by HARTMANN Direct, an online supplier of incontinence pads and pants. They have a range of incontinence products suitable for all stages of pregnancy.

Classic Interior Design Tips

With a lot of popular interior design blogs, there seems to be a huge emphasis on keeping everything modern, plain and minimalist. However, if you have an older home, minimalist and modern just isn’t going to work.  Here are my top tips for more classic interiors:

Paint Your Trim Work a Neutral, Contrasting Colour

By Home Trimwork (Own work) [CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
If the trim work you have in your home is in a good condition, and you really want to accentuate it, then a contrasting, neutral shade like blue-grey can be just the ticket. Spread this throughout every room in your home, and you’ll create a sense of fluidity which will bring it all together. When there’s a contrast between the trim work, walls and ceilings, you’ll naturally draw people’s gaze upwards, making your rooms seem larger, more stately, and give the whole home more of an architectural appeal.

Cover Awkward Windows with Drapery 

Many older homes have truly beautiful windows. However, a lot of them also have some windows with a distinct, quirky style installed in awkward places. You can clean up the look subtly with some full-wall drapery, without completely blocking them out and erasing all the natural light from your rooms. If you’ve got any high, thin windows that look like they were installed as a clumsy afterthought, then some light drapes can be perfect for making the wall look softer and more polished.

Mix the Past with the Present

I hate it when people own a home with a unique, rustic beauty on the exterior, and fill it with modern, minimalist design conventions which only serve to make everything appear somehow flat and cold. That’s not to say I’m opposed to modern interior design in general! However, if you’re living in an older home, I recommend mixing modern pieces with other items that feel like they fit the period of the home. If you have a Victorian or Edwardian home, for example, you could get a leather chesterfield sofa, and offset it with an ultra-modern end table lamp or go for one of these unusual Westland antique fireplaces. This will help to tie the vintage aspects of your home to day-to-day life, and draw attention to the focal points. I

Use Open, Airy Shelves

When you’re trying to work with the character of a vintage home, one of the biggest challenges is filling it with the practical furnishings and items that you need without suffocating the old-fashioned charm. Open, airy shelving units are often the perfect way to get around this issue. By keeping the solid structure of your shelving unit to a minimum, you’ll give yourself somewhere to display ornaments, books, and so on, all the while giving the rustic charm of the architecture some room to breathe. The gallery-like charm of many of these units will mesh well with a vintage tone, while still appearing somewhat modern.

*Collaborative post

Innovative Ways to Fill Empty Spaces in Your Home

We all have things in our life that need filling — whether it be a spare few hours in the day that we spend wasted whilst perched in front of the TV or a space in our life that has recently been left open by an ex, there’s always an empty space that needs something in it. And our homes are no different.

If you’ve already started on turning your home into a classy adult space, then why not go the whole hog and introduce a bar to a space that is currently calling out for something to fill it? Whether it be a ‘wet bar’ for alcohol or a bar that serves soft drinks, smoothies or even coffee, you can create one in the space in your kitchen, garage, basement or even your barn that has gone wanting for years. You could make the space sophisticated by adding a bar made of rough hewn slats of wood that has chic wood barstools sat next to it; you could give the area an open feel by adding a bar that is adjacent to a TV, or even a window; or if you want a more contemporary-style area you can add a black granite countertop bar that sits in front of a wall adorned by shelves and an adjustable LED backlighting that can be changed according to the mood required. And why stop with the bar? LED tape for decorating your home can also be sought. Whether it be your bathroom, kitchen or personal office space that needs brightening up, introducing a strip of LED lighting to any space instantly makes it futuristic and look like a place that wouldn’t go amiss in a space ship.

Image credit: https://c1.staticflickr.com/5/4034/5077427120_70df68c22f_b.jpg

If you have any empty and awkward corners in your home then don’t fear because you can fill those too. If you have a cat, or if there is a cat in the neighbourhood that has taken to spending most of its time in your home, then why not put an epic cat tower in one of your corners. A tower, like those found on Franklin Cat Furniture offer the perfect climbing frames for any cats in your life, whilst still looking sleek and funky in your corners. They can even act as interest vertical storage units too if your cat really doesn’t take to it. And if you don’t have a cat, then you can simply take to filling the corners with art — if you’ve ever got space to fill, art is always good to turn too. To turn a neglected space into a treat for anybody eyes, try adding some art, or a plant, you can never go too wrong with a plant.


So, if you have any spaces that are just calling out for something to fill them, it’s your duty as a homeowner to make use of all the spare feet in your empty square footage by filling them with the most practical yet innovative furnishings available.

World Book Day Costume – The Very Hungry Caterpillar

Thursday 2nd March sees the annual World Book Day celebrations, and parents all over the country will be letting out a collective groan when they realise they need to send their kids to school dressed up as a character from a book.

A few years ago, when it was Harrison’s first World Book Day at nursery, I knew I wasn’t going to buy one and would make one instead.

I am RUBBISH at sewing. I’m not even sure we own a needle and thread (that’s what my mum is for!), so I needed something that didn’t involve sewing.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar World Book Day Costume

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Meal Planning Monday

Gosh, this seems to have come around quickly this week!! We pretty much stuck to the plan again and I even cooked a few meals ahead for this week. It’s half term for us and Graham is back at work finally, so I knew I wanted to be as organised as possible. We literally have a drawer full of frozen meals in the freezer for weeks like this now, so this week will be mostly a case of defrosting them and bunging them in the microwave – best sort of cooking!

Meal Planning Monday

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Vegan Problems: How To Succeed

Being a vegan in this world is tough. Sure, there are more products on store shelves than ever before, but it is hard to get the right stuff to make favourite treats. It is far easier if you were brought up a vegan, but if you have converted then the struggle can be real. There are ways you can get around it and ways you can seek to make the whole thing easier for yourself. Here are some top tips that can push to success and help stop you falling off the vegan bandwagon. Your values can only take you so far, temptation, money and opinion can get the better of anyone who isn’t in the right mindset.

Make Some Food From Scratch

Granted, it can be time consuming. But you can really get some nice food if you decide to make it yourself and that way you can be one hundred percent sure everything in it is natural and totally vegan, a great example example can be seen if you watch this. You can get the tips from the pros and get to work. You may even find a new passion in cooking. You can live with ease from vegan products, but sometimes if you want that special something it can be best to make it yourself.

Use Specialist Stores, Not Supermarkets

Supermarkets stock more vegan stuff than before, but it is expensive and their ranges are often quite bad. Your best bet is to aim for specialist vegan stores where they can provide a whole manner of vegan goods. All kinds of vegan foods are more expensive, which isn’t really fair. But when you are buying them off people who actually care about the same things you do then you can feel good about it because you are helping a good cause instead of funding people who are selling vegan goods purely for profit. You may even find some of these places are cheaper. If you like a certain product, then consider buying wholesale too, you get more for your money this way.

Don’t Put Yourself In Bad Situations

These are situations where you feel tempted to go back on your commitment. If your friends want to go to a restaurant make sure they sell vegan food. Otherwise you could be left with an appetising menu of things that is completely full of things you can’t eat. Beat the temptation, they will understand if you ask to go somewhere else because of the menu.

Respect Other Views

Vegans get an unfair bad rep, which is usually because some extreme activists are vegans. But, if you expect people to respect your views and decisions then do the same for them. Don’t condemn people for eating meat or cheese. The fact you aren’t eating it yourself speaks volumes. Everyone has the right to their own decision and shouldn’t feel pressured. Respect it. How would you feel if someone tried to force you to eat meat? If someone asks you, then fine go along with it. Just don’t be passive aggressive about it. Be happy you have made the right choice for you.

The Planning Behind The Holiday

There’s nothing more enjoyable than a quiet and peaceful holiday together in family. Lying down by a private pool with a glass of fruit juice on your right, and an exciting novel on your left, while the kids are swimming, this sounds like a perfect vacation. However, there is a lot of preparation that needs to go into your holiday: You need to become a guru of the organisation before you can fully relax and recharge your batteries, away from everyday life. A lot of people don’t realise how much work needs to be done in advance to make sure that your holiday will go according to plan. Here’s what needs to happen:

#1. Book Your Travel In Advance

There is no denying that it is difficult for a family with children to plan a holiday with the same spontaneity than couples or single travellers. Indeed, travelling with a family means that you need to pay close attention to advance booking prices and to school holiday dates. It might be cheaper to go on a ski break in January, but the kids are at school, which makes it completely impossible! As a result, most families tend to book up to 8 months in advance, and short-notice vacations are still planned over 6 weeks in advance. Advanced bookings are not a bad thing: While there are less spontaneous decisions, some countries will need you to get an authorised visa, such as the USA, before you can come. Additionally, it’s good to know that the EU is planning such a visa system – you can read more about it on the Etias website – to be rolled out by 2020. As the Brexit vote has excluded the UK, this is something that British travellers might need to register for before any visit to the continent. A quick, romantic weekend in Paris might well lose a lot of its appeal if this is the case.  

#2. Packing The Luggage

If you are travelling with babies, toddlers or young children, you will need to be in charge of the packing. Similarly, while you can trust teenagers to pack their own clothes, you should prepare a list to make sure that nothing gets forgotten! Before you start packing, though, you should make a point to check the weather in your holiday destination, as this will ensure that you know what to take with you. Indeed, you might be planning a nice spring break in the French Riviera, but if it’s been pouring rain for days, it’s worth ditching the bikini for a pair of jumpers and wellies! Additionally, you should check that your kids’ holiday clothes, such as shorts, swimming suits, or even accessories like sunglasses, still fit. This is exactly why you should always start well in advance, so that you have enough time to buy new sets of clothes and accessories if needs be.  

Photo credit: https://c1.staticflickr.com/7/6002/6008275527_79d2e1a018_b.jpg

#3. For The Travel Day

It’s not uncommon to suffer from travel sickness on planes or in the car, so you should make sure that you know what to know if this is the case. Some children are happy to take medicine to reduce sickness, while others can’t swallow tablets or pills. So it’s important to know alternative remedies! Finally, make sure to bring something to eat and drink in your handbag. If you can, you should pack an additional bag for the kids to keep during the journey, which will have books, games and biscuits.

 

What Family Pet Should You Get?

“Stonnie Dennis” (CC BY-SA 2.0) by Stonnie Dennis Dog Photography

Having a pet in the family home can be a wonderful and rewarding addition. Children love animals and having a pet gives them something to focus on, helping them to learn responsibility by looking after an animal and bonding with the pet. 

So you’re considering giving a home to a pet? Weighing up the pros and cons of owning a pet is important, but what should you be thinking about? It is vital to consider all of the below points before getting a pet:

  • Time to Commit: How much spare time do you and your family have to commit to looking after a pet?
  • Cost Involved: Not only will you likely have to spend some money to purchase the pet, but you should also consider the ongoing costs of vet bills, food, kennels and other costs.
  • Type of Pet: Choosing the right pet that suits your household, character and lifestyle is important.

Once you have considered the above points and the type of pet you want, then you should be able to make the right decision.

“Scully” (CC BY-SA 2.0) by Lucy Sky Diamond-Jones

Voucher providers Voucherbox recently researched how much pet owners should expect to spend during the lifetime of their family pet. The figures are quite surprising, so it’s worth considering that a family typically spends £15,382 on their beloved pooch, and £10,395 for their feline friend! While these are probably the most common pets, their unconditional love comes at a cost! If you’re very cost-aware, then the cheapest pets to have is a hamster which lives on average 3 years and costs around £470, or goldfish which live for approximately 7 years and cost £877 in total.

 

Your Friendly Pooch

Man’s best friend is probably the most dependable pet that a family can own. It needs to walked daily, played with, let out into the garden, fed and groomed – it really is ‘part of the family’. Of course, some breeds are more kid and family-friendly than others. While dogs require a daily commitment, also consider that if you go on holiday, you will need to pay out for kennels if you don’t have anyone who will housesit. The average life expectancy of a dog is 10 – 15 years.

 Our Feline Friends

Cats are quite independent. They let themselves out through the cat flap and although they can cuddle up with you on the sofa, they also quite like their alone time. Still, a cat requires most of the daily attention a dog does (apart from walking!), and while you will also need someone to feed the cat if you go away – it can take care of itself on other levels. Average life expectancy for a family cat is around 15 years.

“John the hamster” (CC BY 2.0) by pink_pixie21

Guinea Pigs, Rabbits and Hamsters

These mostly caged animals are quite self-sufficient, so as long as their cages are kept clean, they are freed to have a run around once  in a while and are fed, then they are happy. Smaller pets like these can be quite suitable for young children and allow pet owners to limit handling time, compared to dogs and cats. Average life expectancy for a hamster is 3 years and a rabbit can be around 10 years.

Getting a pet can be a wonderful thing, but it’s a decision that should not be taken lightly. Make sure you consider the pros and cons and all the practicalities before you even introduce the idea to your children, as they will certainly be disappointed if they end up not getting one after you’ve hinted at the possibility! 

The Challenging Issue of Childcare and What To Do About It

Our children are the most important people in our lives, and many of us would love nothing more than to stay home and look after them ourselves. However, in reality things can be a little more complicated. Finances or work commitments might mean we have to return to the workplace, meaning the complicated issue of childcare arises. Lots of people find themselves in a position where after they deduct childcare costs, they’re no better off working than they would be at home. This is unfortunate, no-one wants to work all day and be away from their child if they don’t need to be. Plus, finding reliable childcare and people we can trust presents an issue within itself. Here are some things to bear in mind when deciding on care for your child.

See What Help You Can Get

Thankfully there are a number of schemes from the government these days which make working easier when you have a child. From child working tax credits to help with childcare costs to free early education for three and four year olds. This has recently been upped from fifteen to thirty hours a week. Your child gets to experience what a school environment is like before starting for real, and it means you have thirty hours each week where you don’t have to worry about paying care costs.

Share Parental Leave With Your Partner

In some cases, you may be able to split fifty weeks of your maternity leave with your partner. If you need or want to return to work earlier and they’re happy to stay at home, you will continue to be paid which can help massively with childcare costs. Since there are some restrictions you’d need to look into the eligibility criteria for shared parental leave to see if you’re entitled. If you are, it can be an excellent way of sharing the duties with your partner. It saves you having to pay for childcare and you know and trust the person your child will be being looked after by.

Look Into Different Childcare Options

Will you go for a casual babysitter such as a close friend or family member, daycare, a registered childminder, a nanny or an au-pair? There are pros and cons to each of these. Babysitters such as the child’s grandparents probably won’t cost you anything, and you have the benefit of leaving them with someone you trust and that knows and loves them. But not everyone has family willing or able to do this. A registered childminder will have had their home and background inspected so you know they’re in safe hands and are a little cheaper than daycare centres and nannies. Although you will need to factor in the travel time to and from their house. Nannies and au-pairs come to you and care for the child in your own home, which is convenient and can give you added peace of mind. Although will be more expensive so might not be an option if you’re on a lower wage.

Money Saving Tips for Your New Baby

Money saving tips ready for your baby

There seems to be millions of things you feel you need to buy ready for your baby, but are they really essential and could you possibly get them cheaper elsewhere?

With a few small steps you could make some big savings.

Average costs

The first step to saving money is to know what the average person spends on their baby, this way you can get an idea and plan ahead. Using a baby cost calculator will enable you to do this.  I have found the average person spends £44,000 over a three year period. Breaking this down this is what you’re spending:

  • Clothes- up to £4000
  • Pushchair- up to £400
  • Car seat- up to £300
  • Furniture- up to £1,500
  • Cot and bedding- up to £300
  • Food- up to £6,000
  • Nappies- up to £1,200
  • Childcare- up to £30,000

Have a budget and make a plan

A great way to stop over spending and buying things you don’t need is to create a plan. Monitor your spending habits and see if you are able to cut down on items which you don’t particularly need, that may be a meal or a cinema trip every week, cut it down to once a month and you’re sure to make some beneficial savings.

Know what you need to buy

Don’t go for a trip to Mothercare without a list, you will leave with a trolley full of items that you really didn’t need. Here are some essentials that you’re most definitely going to need to stock up on:

  • Clothes: all in one suits, vests, cardigans, coat or an all in one suit and a hat.
  • Nappies, Nappy sacks, wet wipes and cream.
  • Nursing bras, breast pads, bottles, teats, bottle brushes, steriliser and bibs.
  • A mosses basket or a cot, bedding sheets, a mattress and bedroom furniture.
  • A baby bath or a newborn bath support, towels, baby cleanser and wash.
  • A pushchair with a rain cover and a sunshade.
  • A rear facing car seat and sun blinds.
  • A changing bag with a changing mat.

Though a few of the essentials need to be brought new especially the rear-facing car seat, which must always be brought from a reputable retailer to ensure it is safe and in working condition, Halfords always have offers on, so have a look around different shops and find the best offer. Other items such as clothing can be brought second hand. Ask friends and family if they have anything which their children have grown out of and could be passed down onto you, also try having a look on local sites such as Gumtree for bundles of clothing and furniture being sold.

Childcare costs can also be reduced by making sure you’re claiming what you’re entitled to such as child benefit, but also have a look at childcare tax credits and the salary scheme sacrifice given by your employer. Ask friends and relatives if they are able to help out even if it’s just once a week with childcare, this will amount to a big saving over time.

 

Take Advantage of Freebie websites

One of my favourite sites is Gratisfaction free stuff. I’ve personally used this and have had samples of nappies, baby wipes and baby toiletries, as well as non-baby related things and household products. It’s the perfect way to save a few pennies and try them out before you spend any money.

*Sponsored Post

Time To Grow Up: Make Your Home Feel Like A Classy Adult Space With These Tips

If there’s one thing that everyone goes through at some point in their lives, it’s that odd feeling when you’re not exactly sure if you’ve really become an adult yet. You’ve definitely left many of the trappings of your youth behind, and yet you just don’t quite feel as much like a grown up as you thought you would. For a lot of people, this feeling is only compounded by their home. When you finally live in your own, truly grown up home, you want the way that it looks to reflect this new era in your life. The trouble is having spent years living with parents, then with roommates in a uni dorm, it can sometimes be hard to figure out what your personal style really is. Well don’t worry, breaking out of that rut and finding a more mature design for your home doesn’t need to be a big job, in fact, there are lots of little things that you can do. Here are a few simple ways that you can make your home feel more like a truly grown up space.

Invest in high-quality furniture

Image credit: https://c1.staticflickr.com/5/4149/5024680527_c821564fe5_b.jpg

 

When you’re younger, there’s something fun and a little romantic about your old, beat-up furniture. Whether it’s the ancient couch that you and your roommates spent every night hanging out on. Or the tired old bean bag that you used when it was time just to chill out and relax. But when you’re out in the adult world, it’s time to start thinking about furniture that is both going to look good and is actually going to be comfortable to sit in. Whether it’s living room, bedroom or dining room furniture, you should make sure that you’re getting something high-quality that’s going to look good and stay comfy for years to come.

Ditch the posters

Heck, if you’re really attached to those posters, why not just frame them? That way they’ll stick around but will take on a far more mature style.

Now, this is not saying that you need to get rid of everything that makes your home unique and personal. But as you get older those ratty old posters that you’ve had for years start to look more and more out of place. Instead, why not find some pieces of art that you really love?

Clear out the junk

Image credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/mikecogh/17217712300

The pyramid of drinks cans might have been cute when you were in a dorm, but there’s nothing fun about piles of trash and junk when you’re a grown up. It’s time to start thinking about keeping your home clean and organized. Your home should be a reflection of your personality, and if it’s constantly full of junk, mess, and clutter, that’s hardly going to reflect very well on you, is it? You don’t need to have a constantly perfect home, but it’s important to make the effort to keep it at least a little tidy every day.

Your First Steps to Creating Your Own Home Textiles

Making your own home textiles is a fun hobby to do in your spare time. You can turn your attention to a variety of projects, and learn to decorate your home however you want to. If you don’t currently have the right skills to start making textiles yourself, don’t worry. You can easily start to pick them up, beginning with smaller projects and working your way up to more advanced ones. If you don’t have a sewing machine, there are still some fun projects you can take on without going anywhere near a needle. If you want to start making custom items for your home, you’re already halfway to getting started. Now you just need to take action.

What Can You Make?

There are so many home decor projects you can make with fabric. If you’re interested in starting to create your own textiles, you can begin with a simple project and slowly build to harder ones. Depending on the craft skills you already have, you might be able to jump straight into something more difficult. To start with smaller and easier projects, you might make some cushion covers or maybe a wall hanging. You can have a go at making a quilt or a pair of curtains for something larger. When you’re feeling more confident, you could even try to do some furniture upholstery.

Learning Some Sewing Skills

If you don’t already sew, learning how to is going to serve you well if you want to make some home textiles. Both sewing by machine and by hand are useful skills to have, not just for making crafts but also for day to day life. You might learn to use a sewing machine so you can make a rug, but you will also be able to use it to hem a pair of jeans. Hand sewing helps you to do things more delicately or create neat finishes. If you need to refresh your sewing skills or start from scratch, there are lots of resources you can use. Look online for guides, take a class, and use the manual that comes with your sewing machine too.

Can’t or Won’t Sew?

What if sewing isn’t for you? Some people just don’t have the patience for it and would rather avoid it. If you don’t want to sew, it’s still possible to make your own home textiles. There are other ways to join two pieces of fabric together without sewing. You can use a hot glue gun to do many things, as well as adhesives, such as hemming tape. If you have the right tools, you can avoid sewing for many things. However, if you want to take on some more complicated projects, a bit of sewing can go a long way. Remember, though, that you could also experiment with knitting and crocheting.

Photo credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/inkyswot/6144832302/

So, you’ve decided you want to make some textiles for your home. But you’re not sure where you should start. Coming up with ideas isn’t always easy, even when you’re feeling in a creative mood. But there are lots of ways you can find inspiration and come up with some projects to take on. One thing you should do is look online for potential projects. There are always many step by step tutorials you can follow that make things so easy. Looking at fabrics can get you thinking too. If you take a look at the curtain fabrics at Montgomery, it can get you thinking about a new look for one of the rooms in your home. Try picking up a craft magazine too because they are always full of new projects to try. It can also be a good idea to speak to other crafty people and get some ideas from them.

Best Projects to Begin With

You might be unsure about where to start with your textile making. There are so many things you can make that picking just one project can be hard. If you’re just venturing into a world or textiles, you should start with something small. Don’t take on a huge project that you might get fed up with before you finish it. A cushion cover is a great thing to start with, as it’s small and mostly involves sewing a square together. You can either learn how to insert a zip or choose an easier fastening, such as an envelope closure with a button. After more practice, you might be ready to take on something harder, like upholstering a chair.

You don’t have to be a crafting expert to start making textiles for you home. Learn as you go along and create some things you can be proud of.

Just Us Box: Making Memories

I hate the term ‘date nights’, I really do. Like, really get irritated by it. But at the same time, I can absolutely see why people do them and make a thing about them. Since we had our eldest child almost six years ago, I can count on one hand the amount of evenings that Graham and I have had to ourselves, to spend time as a couple.

Sure, when the kids are all in bed we might stick a film on and watch it together, but it’s still quite a singular activity. We don’t talk whilst we are watching it, and to be honest, it’s something we could easily do on our own. Most nights are spent me working on my laptop and Graham watching NCIS or whatever.

When we were given the chance to review a ‘Just Us Box’, I thought it would be a nice idea.  The ‘Just Us Box’ is a monthly subscription box to create your own date nights, starting at £18 a month. Each month has a different theme and the January one was ‘Making Memories’ We’ve been together almost 14 years, and we always used to do silly things together. Obviously, now it’s all about the kids, so the thought of spending a couple of hours concentrating on the two of us and making some memories and thinking back to memories was lovely.

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Rugby and Pizza: A Lads Night In

As the only female in the house, I knew that at some point I would be a spectator to a lad’s night in. Turns out that first lad’s night was on the weekend when England played Wales in the Six Nations Cup.

The absolute necessities for a truly great lad’s night in are pizza and beer. As three out of the four lads in our house are under 18, the beer was substituted for blackcurrant squash, but they definitely had the pizza, thanks to Chicago Town.

A Lads Night In

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5 ways to completely revamp your interiors in 2017 (that won’t break the bank!)

The last traces of pine needles have been tracked down and New Year’s Eve seems like a distant memory; 2017 has well and truly arrived! Whilst some people can find these early months of the year a bit cold and miserable, it’s can actually be a great time to give some love and attention to your interiors. I’m not talking about guzzling detox teas either, instead get your pots and paints out and spruce up your living areas. Inspired by TV shows like The Great Interior Design Challenge, more of us than ever are picking up our paint brushes and getting to grips with pastels! These 5 interior design ideas are low-cost and completely addictive…

Upcycle

Despite what you might think, updating your interiors doesn’t have to break the bank. Upcycling is a great way to keep costs down whilst also upgrading unloved possessions. It’s really about letting your creativity and imagination run wild, so if you have kids definitely get them involved! From wine bottle chandeliers to teacup candles this is such a fun way of bringing some character into a room. The great thing about this interior technique is that it’s so much less wasteful than buying new home accessories, and it’s so simple.

Club Bottles Bar Night Life Lamps Light Party

Layer up some fabrics!

This may just be the cold weather talking, but sometimes interiors can feel a bit sparse and empty. A really good way to introduce a cosy feel, without cluttering, is to add some fabrics to a room. This could be as simple as a thick knit throw for the sofa. All the fabrics don’t have to be the same, in fact the more diverse the better. Have a look at Curtain Fabric Online to find some satin embroidered curtains you can mix with chunky knits to achieve this look. Alternatively mix and match a shaggy sheepskin rug for an eclectic and cosy feel.

Paint the town red! (well the walls actually)

It may seem like an incredibly simple interior design tip, but it’s overlooked a lot of the time! Staying in is the new going out, so make sure the four walls around you are giving your room some atmosphere. Whether you want a calming retreat, or entertaining space, be bold with colour. Bold doesn’t have to mean bright but it definitely doesn’t mean generic beige. Paint is so cheap and readily available it’s a good place to start when redesigning a space. Just make sure you step out of your comfort zone and experiment a bit. You can even try wallpapering a statement wall, or painting it a different colour!

Don’t ditch old furniture

Whilst upholstering may be beyond a novice’s interior design skills, upgrading kitchen tables and chairs isn’t. If your kitchen furniture is looking a bit scratched and worn, give it a coat of high-gloss white paint. It’s a foolproof way of making a room look immediately bright and airy, and the furniture new and expensive, without breaking the bank.

Rearrange

Another inexpensive way to breathe new life into a room is to rearrange your existing furniture. By being more thoughtful with your use of space you can really improve a room. How many of us push all our furniture (especially the sofas!) up against the wall? Supposedly seating placed closer together creates a more intimate and visually interesting area. Give it a go!

Wood Floor Sofa Interior Design Living Room

Recycling, Reusing & Repurposing Old Furniture: The Essentials

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When you are trying to live a thrifty lifestyle, it’s all part of the fun to try and avoid throwing anything away, and always be hunting for a bargain. As a family, we truly believe that nothing is worth casting aside, and anything and everything can be used again – either for the original purpose or something completely new!

And the great thing about going down the recycling and reusing route is that it is a lot of fun, saves you an enormous amount of money, and gets everyone involved in creativity – what else could you ask for?

The big question for today is: how do you get started? I’m going to go through a few ideas with you, and – hopefully – inspire you to begin recycling and reusing old furniture for many years to come.

Big ideas

There is plenty of inspiration for recycling and repurposing furniture – just have a look around online. Blogs like this one and many others are always a great source of ideas, and even some of the mainstream players such as Houzz and even the Guardian are getting involved. Starting with a blank canvas can be difficult for non-designers, but a few little projects copied from other people will start the creative juices flowing.

Photo credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/12596027@N06/8610526948/

Finding raw materials

Every town and city in the country have places where you can pick up old furniture, from the local rubbish tip to the charity furniture stores. There are bargains everywhere if you are prepared to look hard enough, and it doesn’t take much to start learning about how to fix and repair broken pieces that no one else wants anymore. Try flea markets, second-hand stores, and get acquainted with your local scrap yard, too. Once you start getting your face seen and become a regular customer, you will find that people might even start reserving pieces for you.

Tools, fixtures and fittings

The key to success in recycling, reusing, and repurposing is to invest in a decent set of tools. With proper equipment, your job will be so much easier than it is right now. Sanding tools, high-quality paint brushes, a good saw – all are essential for your recycler’s toolbox. Finding a good source of fixtures and fittings is also important. Get to know the people at your local hardware shop, and invest a little in things like handles, drawer slides, and interesting knick knacks.

A business opportunity?

I’m often amazed when I go into some of the local independent shops and see upcycled shabby chic style furniture, complete with eye-watering price tags. Clearly, there is a market for this kind of thing, so once you get good enough, why not see if you can make a business out of it? Given the price of your raw materials, it doesn’t take much imagination to see there is a huge markup involved.

So – what do you think? Could you spare the time to come up with some exciting new projects? You don’t have to go big right from the off, and the main thing is to get started. Let me know your thoughts about recycling, reusing and repurposing old furniture in the comments section below!

 

 

#VicksTricks: Dealing with Snot and Sniffles

Kids are little germ balls. FACT.

I like to think that before I started teaching and had my own kids, I had a pretty good immune system. Then, when surrounded by children with questionable hygiene habits, dripping noses and who loved to cough all over me, it took a nose dive, and I was picking up cold after cold after cold.

Dealing with Snot and Sniffles

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