Monday, 27 March 2017

The Panasonic Pet Monitoring Kit Review

Dalmatian Puppy

As regular readers will know, Several months ago we brought home our spotty dog Lux, and what an adventure that has been! People told me so many times how much harder puppies were than babies, and I shrugged it off thinking that these people were crazy. I quickly realised in the weeks and months that followed though... That they were absolutely, 100%, completely and utterly right, and boy how it pained me to agree with them. 

Lux is a whirlwind, he strikes like lightning (but not in the sense that lighting doesn't strike twice.. Because it does...In fact he strikes at every given opportunity.), and he always, always, always keeps us on our toes. The kitchen work surfaces are bare, and there is nothing left within paws reach, and as he has grown the parameters for this have also grown. If it can be pawed then it's fair game. We have lost letters, tea bags, dinner and even money to that puppy of ours.

Dalmatian Puppy

If it can be reached, it can be shredded and destroyed beyond recognition. Not long after we moved into the house I waked into the kitchen and found Lux curled up with Luke's phone and around £300 of cach casually draped around him. I didn't know whether to laugh or cry, and very quickly picked it all up before the cash became the latest shred victim. Then there was that time he ran off with an entire box of eggs into the garden and smashed them all up just for fun... I was impressed that he managed to get the box down with all of the eggs all in one piece though...

Dalmatian Puppy

I very quickly felt like I needed an extra pair of hands, not to mention another set of eyes. You can't be around your dog 24/7, and although I am at home with Lux the majority of the time, I do have to work and there are times I need to leave the house without a cheeky dog in tow, and even when I am working in the next room, I can hear mischief unfolding in the kitchen as I try to knuckle down with my to do list... It means stopping, wandering through to the kitchen to see exactly what he is up to. 

Then I heard about pet cams, devices that you can use to remotely check in on your pets. This got me really excited because it meant that I could keep an eye on Lux even if I had to pop out for a little while. Our general rule of thumb is that we walk Lux first thing in the morning, especially if we are having to go anywhere that day. 

A happy dog is a tired dog after all. 

We have been testing the Panasonic Pet Monitoring Kit over the last couple of months, and I have to say what a blessing it is.



The home monitoring kit comes with everything that you need to be able to oversee your entire home, and that means keeping a check on your pets.

It comes with:

- Smart Hub
- Indoor Camera
- Door Sensor
- Smart Plug
- Micro SD Card

Panasonic Pet Monitoring Kit Review

Set Up

It was just a case of downloading the Panasonic Home Network app to my iPhone, plugging in the hub and going through the app screen instructions to connect the device.

I found it very easy to get everything set up and it didn't take very long at all, and when I did this I was actually feeling a little bit stressed due to discovering we had received a complaint from our local council about Lux. The complaint was a noise issue and speculated that Lux was barking too much. I found this very hard to believe as I work from home, he get's the walks he needs and he is pretty quiet. So while I was busy setting up our Panasonic Pet Monitoring System, I was hoping this might help me relaxed more about it all.

How we have got on with the Panasonic Pet Monitoring Kit

For the first few weeks we didn't leave Lux at all, because although I was sure that he slept while we were out, I was just too worried to leave him in case another complaint was lodged against him. I was terrified that the complaints would keep being made and the situation would escalate. In true Laura style, I over compensated. I stopped working from home and started working from the parents house instead, that way if any complaints were made... We would have removed ourselves from the scenario and it wouldn't be Lux taking the blame.

It took me a while to feel like I could leave Lux home alone again, especially since I didn't know the nature of the complaint. Was the issue inside the house? Outside? Day? Night? I just didn't know because the details that had been provided to me by the council were very thin on details, and this just made me worry more. I felt very disappointed that whoever had made the complaint had gone straight over my head. I like to think I am an approachable person, and more importantly an approachable neighbor, but instead of talking to me directly about whatever their issue was, so that I could address it head on and know exactly what I was dealing with, they went straight over my head.

We started using the pet cam right away, it was brilliant to be able to keep an eye on Lux while we were in other areas of the house. If I was putting Leo to be and I heard a noise, I could quickly see what Lux was up to and if he did start making a noise, I could intervene and get him to stop as quickly as he started. This is what I mean by over compensating, any noise Lux made, put me on edge. I felt like I was walking on eggshells in my own home all of the time.

Panasonic Pet Monitoring Kit Review

When I finally plucked up the courage to leave Lux at home for an hour, I pretty much kept the video feed open the entire time. As I expected, Lux slept while we were out and was so well behaved. I was really thankful to have the video and sound to put my mind at rest while I wasn't at home. I was even keeping a dog diary so that if there was an issue, I could know where we were during that specified time. I took some screen shot of Lux sleeping to back this up on my phone, the amazing thing is that you can use the included SD Card within the home hub to take pictures and videos. At this point I hadn't got it all set up the way I needed it to be to do so.

I have since spoken the council in regards to Lux, and they confirmed that issue was apparently outside, and this to me still seems odd, as Lux is never left outside alone.. But still that was a much more attractive answer than the issue being Lux within the home.

Using the Panasonic Pet Monitor

Having the monitoring system has been such a help to me over the last couple of months, it has helped me find the confidence to be able to leave Lux home alone again. Last week Luke and I went to the Harry Potter Studio Tour, which is almost 2 hours from us here in Worcestershire. I walked Lux in the morning to make him suitably sleepy, and then we hopped in the car and away we went.

We were gone from 1:30 that afternoon until 9pm that evening, and I really don't like leaving Lux home alone, so being able to check in on him even though we were a long way from home was really reassuring. Every time I checked Lux was still asleep, and he stayed that way until we arrived home.

Panasonic Pet Monitoring Kit Review

Not only can you see your pet on the monitor (even if it is dark!) you can also use the microphone to talk to your pet! I am constantly using this feature to tell Lux to 'Get down' 'Stop' and 'No'. The first time he looked baffled and was searching the room for my voice, now he's just like ' Great... They are watching me again! Busted!'.

Dalmatian Puppy

What we think of the Panasonic Pet Monitor

I absolutely love this piece of tech, being able to check in even when you are away from home is just the most amazing thing, I cannot put a price on the re-assurance that has been provided through the use of the cam and app, and it has definitely made me feel more confident about leaving him in the circumstances that he cannot come with us.

So many friends and family have seen me checking in and seeing what Lux is up to, they have been amazed that I can see what he is up to even when we are not home, and it is something that is really special.

The video footage provided is brilliant, it stays up to date and doesn't lag which really helps make the experience.

Would I recommend the Panasonic Pet Monitor? YES, yes I would definitely recommend this fabulous piece of equipment and I would not be without it now.

The Panasonic Pet Monitor retails at £199.99.

Disclaimer: I was provided with the Panasonic Pet Monitor in exchange for my honest thoughts and opinions.  















Thursday, 23 March 2017

Resourceful Gaming

Resourceful Gaming

My little man is becoming a gamer. He loves playing all types of games, from traditional single-player adventures to those new mobile multiplayer ones. We gave him my old iPad last year, and he plays it any time we let him (Note to fellow parents: ensuring your young ones enjoy the outdoors and getting exercise is important!). So, what’s the latest and greatest game at our house? MooMoo.io—a funny name for an entertaining game!


Despite having “Moo” in its title, there are surprisingly no cows involved. MooMoo.io is an online multiplayer game that combines many different parts. First and foremost, players must gather resources from the map. These resources include wood, food, and stone. Throughout the course of the game, resources are the primary form of currency. 

Players can spend their wood and stone to build walls around their village, construct windmills, and create mines to gather more goods.
If MooMoo.io game were only about gathering and building, it would be a peaceful game. In this day and age, those are much harder to find. The truth is that MooMoo.io is filled with action—the fighting kind. But, fear not! 

There is no blood or graphic violence here. Instead, in-game battles are rather silly and lighthearted. That’s due to the graphics and overall nature of MooMoo.io. As you’ll see, there is a top-down view with simple, 2D visuals. Each character is a big circle with two small circles representing arms. Weapons, such as swords and axes, are just gray rectangles. Despite the action implying swordfights and axe-heavy battles, the game is still completely kid-friendly.

Why do players fight while building villages? It’s a matter of power. MooMoo.io is part of a larger group of competitive titles known as .io games. These titles are all about reaching the top of the leaderboard. To do so, you must have the highest score. Some .io games are only about defeating other players. MooMoo.io is about collecting the most stuff. All of the wood, food, and stone in your inventory counts towards your total score. The player with the most resources resides in first place.
MooMoo.io is a multilayered game, meaning many different strategies can be effective. 

Some players might stay away from others, and just try to gather resources without getting into fights. By building a village far away from the action (if possible), one can keep scoring without having to protect what’s theirs. Certain players will take a more aggressive approach, breaking down what others have built. If everyone else’s score is lower, it’s easier to rise on the scoreboard. The most effective strategy might lie somewhere in the middle. Mine resources, build a solid defense, and maintain a steady path towards victory.


MooMoo.io is a game from which our children can learn. It’s not easy, especially when playing against particularly aggressive competitors. The tried-and-true concept of gathering resources to build is fun and challenging. If your children want to try MooMoo.io, I’m pleased to report this game is a step above the rest.

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Give Up More Than Chocolate For Lent

Lent

When the less religious among us think of Lent, we typically think of ‘giving something up’. But by reminding ourselves of the Christian tradition, it possibly allows us to think more widely than the go to choice of giving up chocolate!

Lent is a period of about six weeks right before Easter when Christians are expected to make thoughtful preparations for Easter. This includes praying, giving money to charity, and abstaining from one or more things that provide pleasure. The forty days and forty nights of Lent are supposed to align to the time that Jesus spent in the wilderness preparing for his death and resurrection.

Regardless of whether you are coming at this from a religious perspective or not, Lent offers a perfect opportunity to cleanse the mind, body and soul of one or more of those vices that you may have. However we are here to suggest you shake things up a bit this year and think beyond chocolate or alcohol! Have a think about these 4 alternative ideas.

Meat

Many consider meat to be an essential part of their diets, but for many vegetarianism, or even veganism are offering healthy alternatives. Most of us are aware that eating too much red meat is reportedly bad for us – raising cholesterol, increasing your risk of bowel cancer and even an increased risk of mortality.

Furthermore, from an environmental perspective many argue that the carbon footprint will be reduced if we cut down on consumption of beef. For some of you hardened meat eaters, going vegetarian for 40 days might be difficult. So the alternative suggestion is to give up all red meat but still have white meat such as chicken.

When meat eaters think about vegetarians they often imagine tofu and Quorn heavy diets. The key is to pack a punch from a flavour perspective, so think about herbs, spices, and more filling veg such as aubergine. A common complaint I hear is that vegetarian food is not filling. Just a couple of ideas that are nutritious, vegetarian, and filling: falafels with hummus and salad in pitta, cheesy/tomato pasta bake loaded with veggies, veggie fajitas with heaps of chilli and a selection of Mexican dips. Sound tasty? Give it a go.

Stress

You are probably wondering how you can give up stress. Perhaps you are not stressed anyway – in which case move onto the next idea. Stress is prevalent in the UK, with 45% of all working days lost to ill health being attributed to stress. That is a concerning statistic. Stress is not something that you give up in the same way you give up chocolate or meat. However, there are proactive things you can do to minimise or eradicate stress.

First up is mindfulness. This has been a popular buzz word for a few years now, and there are some great free apps out there and literature that you can use to put it into practice. In essence it is exercising your mind and letting troubling and anxious thoughts that enter your mind pass through. The analogy is that you watch the passing traffic of your mind from the side of the road, but do not get into any of the cars.

The second suggestion is to take some ‘me time’. The common ones are walking, having a massage, reading, knitting, or whatever suits you!

Smoking

It will come as no secret that smoking is not only bad for the person doing it, but also for those inhaling second hand smoke. It is also very expensive and can be somewhat inconvenient having to leave the warmth of bars and restaurants to go outside when it is cold to smoke.

Smoking is addictive – so giving up is almost certainly going to be difficult to do. However it is far more impossible with the aid of nicotine patches or converting first onto a e-cigarettes. You have probably seen a lot of people using e-cigarettes, and they are a brilliant stepping stone to stopping smoking completely. They contain nicotine but not the rest of the nasty chemicals found in cigarettes. You can also buy different strengths of nicotine which allows the user to reduce their intake over time, to slowly wean themselves off it altogether.


Reduce Screen Time

When looking to reducing screen time this typically refers to tablets and phones, but also TV and laptops/PCs. There has been some recent research saying that many of us look at our phones last thing at night and the light can have a negative effect on our sleep.

Screens are used for a variety of reasons – working, communicating, relaxing. and so on. Therefore this is not about abstaining completely. Think of a time recently when you were having a conversation with someone in person, your phone beeped, and you checked the device whilst attempting to continue the conversation. Or getting into bed with your partner in the evening and instead of giving them attention, reading a blog or messages on your phone. Now take a moment and consider a time when someone did either of these two things to you – when you felt secondary to the device in that persons hand. It does not feel great does it?

Make a conscious effort to reduce screen time, and at a minimum do not read messages when having a conversation with someone – either face to face or on the phone. Not only can it be seen as rude, but it also prevents you from engaging in the moment and really communicating properly with that person!


So, now that you have some ideas, it’s entirely up to you which one you choose to opt for. One thing’s for sure – you will have a great challenge to get your teeth into this Lent, and you are certain to have a great sense of achievement by the end of it.

New Home: The Living Room

Scandinavian Wall Art from Desenio

I have been in my home for several months now, it really has flown, but at the same time it's been non stop. There is always something that has needed to be done, but at least now most of it is sorted. Everything has been moved in, and everything has it's place, which means now I can focus more on getting the house looking the way that I want it. 

The living room is a room where we spend a lot of our time. It is where I have set my office space and also were we relax at the end of the school/working day. At this moment in time, I haven't really done much with this space in terms of decorating, as it's a new build home, I wanted to give the building chance to settle down before I get to creative with wallpapers and paints. 

I have finally started getting the room the way I want it, I have my Scandinavian Wall Art from Desenio - I adore these prints because they are quotes and images that really resonate with me. They fill that big space perfectly and I love that they have such a big impact on the room. 

Scandinavian Wall Art from Desenio

I have tried to give the room a modern vintage feel, and I picked this shabby chic corner unit up on a local Facebook Selling site, I fell in love with it as soon as I saw it. 




What I really want to do now is pick up a large mirror to rest on the wall behind the television, I have been looking at the Adagio Large Wall Mirror from Fishpools.

It is such a large space, and it definitely needs something large to fill a large portion of that available wall space. I like the idea of having a mirror there because it will make the room feel that much more open by reflecting the opposite wall.

I have recently upgraded our television (not the one pictured above), as the one that we previously had sitting there looked too small in the grand scheme of things, and was almost 10 years old. It was something that I had to wait to do as there was so much that I needed to do before I could even think about spending money on a luxury item such as this.



I am currently looking at sofas over on Fishpools, we have a lovely second hand sofa at the moment, but one day I would absolutely love to treat myself to a new sofas suite. This Fishpools Fabric Corner Sofas would be absolutely perfect. 



As I said above, I have my desk unit sits in the corner. This desk was originally my Granddad's, but as he moved into a care home last year, it was looking or a new home. I love this desk, it's so oldy worldy and it was nice to be able to keep it within the family. I know that this is something my Granddad would be pleased about.

There is still so much I want to do with this room, but it is going to be a while until I can get it decorated, for the time being though, I do like my living room space. 

Monday, 20 March 2017

Helpful Guide To Select Right Baby Girl Swimwear

baby beachwear


Your baby girl, dressed in pretty swimwear, playing carefree on the beach makes for a picture perfect view. Kids love spending time on the beach and as a parent, it is up to you to choose the most suitable swimwear, which will not only make them look adorable, but keep them comfortable as well. Here are a few tips you can find helpful while searching for a good baby girl swimwear.

Begin by deciding the style of swimwear you would want to choose for your little girl. The variety of girl’s swimwear is extensive to choose different preferences. Therefore having an idea beforehand about what kind of style you would like to pick can make your life easier. You can opt for swimwear with cute shorts or having skirt detailing. The sleeves can be long or short, as per your choice. Whichever style you choose it should complement your baby girl.

After selecting the style, it is time to choose the right size of the swimwear. This is a highly crucial factor, as it can have a direct impact on how comfortable your kid feels on the beach. Avoid buying a size smaller or bigger than the exact size, as it can lead to various problems. A smaller swimwear can make the child feel uncomfortable and in some severe cases also restrict the flow of blood in the body, leading to health risks. On the other hand, a swimwear in bigger size can keep on slipping; thus making it difficult for the child to fully enjoy her time on the beach.

Colour or the print of the swimwear is the next factor which should be selected with care. Swimwear in bright and lively colours are the most popular as they suit every skin tone. You can also go for the printed ones, which have flowers and cute graphics on them. Swimsuits with cartoon characters and fairies are also quite popular among girls; so you can consider buying them as well.
One prime feature of baby girl swimwear is the kind of frills and embellishments used on them, which make these look even more attractive. Frills are used most commonly, around the waist and sleeves, giving a nice looking appeal to the swimwear. Besides this, bows, buttons and patches are also preferred by many. It is nice to opt for a swimsuit with such adornments; however, one crucial thing worth remembering is that it should not cause any kind of inconvenience to the little one. Buttons can be hard on the delicate skin of a baby girl and in some cases these can be swallowed as well. Therefore, opt for swimsuits which are beautiful but safe at the same time.


Last but not the least, along with the swimsuit you can also pick up cute accessories for your little girl. The most preferred are the hats, which are adorned with ribbons and bows in bright colours. They look really attractive when worn with a matching swimwear. Other than these you can opt for beautiful headbands and shoes. Make sure that the accessories you select go well with the baby girl swimwear and add to its appeal.

Friday, 17 March 2017

5 Reasons To Buy A Garden Shed


If you have a nice garden then it surely takes a lot of effort in making it look beautiful, and that really helps you with increasing the value of your home should you choose to sell it in the future. Making your garden look stunning is not possible with your bare hands but you will need a lot of garden tools to accomplish that. It is obvious you will have a lawn mower, leaf blower and certain other tools and equipment that can be used to beautify your garden.

If your house has a big garden space with all those necessary tools to maintain it, you can as well think about buying those wonderful garden sheds. These sheds not just help you organize all your tools in one place but they are wonderful, beautiful-looking masterpieces themselves. So having such a shed will add an aesthetic look to your entire garden.

Here are 5 reasons to buy a garden shed:

1. Since all your tools can be organized right within the garden area, you will have easy access to everything you need to make your gardening task an easy deal. You can have this shed near or cover the water tap and have the watering hose inside. You can eliminate the hassles of carrying everything from your garage and take the strain of putting them back.

2. With your garden tools in this separate shed, you get to free a good amount of space in your garage. You can use that additional garage space to accommodate something for your new hobby or home improvement. Another advantage is that you can avoid your garage getting dirty with traces of soil and mud. Imagine carrying those heavy tools and pulling your lawnmower all the way to the garden; you can simply avoid all these and save your energy for gardening.

3. A well-designed shed enhances the aesthetics of your garden and you can hide all the mess created after gardening. These sheds come in all sizes, different shapes, and colors to suit the atmosphere and ambiance of your house. You can even use it to install some lights on your shed's outer walls or CCTV if you want to enhance your home security.

4. Your garden with such a nice shed can serve as a place to relax in between the gardening activities. No more worries of removing your gardening shoes and gloves to go inside the house to grab some cold drinks. You can as well have a small storage fridge in the shed to serve you when you need a break.

5. If you need additional garage space to store your bicycles or garden toys for your kids, then a shed will serve as a second garage to accommodate anything extra.

A garden area shed is mostly made using fine quality wood and therefore, they are easy to assemble and move to a different area. There are also sheds available which are ready to be placed where you want too. So you can choose a shed depending on your specific needs and amount of tools you want to store.

Monday, 6 March 2017

Confessions of a Former BBG Girl

BBG Girl

Check out my vlog: Confessions of a Former BBG Girl.

I have been documenting my fitness journey just short of 3 years now, when it all kicked off my goal was literally to loose weight and get skinny, as the weight was falling away my goal changed course, I wanted to tone up alongside this. 

So I carried on doing what I was doing, I didn't adjust the calories I was eating in order to compensate for the level of exercise I was doing...which resulted in me continuing to lose weight, and yes grow SOME muscle, but because I was still eating a low calorie diet (with a huge calorie deficit) I got smaller and smaller....

Kayla Itsines Bikini Body Guide Results
In this photo I was consuming 1,200 calories a day and weight a mere 7 Stone 12lbs.
For a long time this picture above was my ultimate goal. When I looked at this picture I saw hard work, I saw determination, dedication and I saw will power. I was proud of how I looked in this photo and I defiantly did not think that I was 'too skinny'. When I look at it now, I wonder how I ever actually got that 'small', how I managed to stick to such a strict eating regime and how I had the energy to get through the workouts. 

I have come a long way since this photo, I have been so many different weights on my fitness journey, but I am now actively gaining weight and at this precise moment in time I am 8 stone 12lbs. For a long time I held the perception that if I gained weight and ended up weight the same as I did before I started this journey, that I would look overweight and frumpy....again, and this filled me with dread. I did not want to look or feel like the old me ever again. I loved the confidence and the way exercise made me feel inside and out.

Kayla Itsines Bikini Body Guide Results

It's taken me a long time to get my head around the whole eating side of a 'healthy lifestyle', it's taken me equally as long to work out that the scale is meaningless, because it doesn't matter what digits it displays, it cannot measure how I feel, and even if I end up weighing exactly the same weight as before.... I could look entirely different. 

Weight is NOTHING.

Weight Training Results

I have upped my calories from 1,200 a day to a whopping 2,300+ (usually eating over 2,500+). For me I have learned the hard way that I need to feed my body in order to grow and achieve my goals. Food is fuel, Food is energy. Food helps our bodies recover and it's what we eat that opens the doors to reaching the next milestone.

I have recently turned my workout regime on it's head, many of you know that I used to follow Kayla Itsines Bikini Body Guide (BBG), but I am now focusing on weight lifting. I am still doing everything from home, over the years I have invested in a lot of the weights that I need in order to be able to do this from the comfort of my own living room. 

The food I am eating (no calorie deficit!) and the training I am pursuing is helping me grow muscle and with that, the scale is starting to go back up again. I no longer look like I could snap at the slightest touch and I am loving how I am starting to fill out. Once upon a time seeing this sort of weight gain on the scale would have shook my very core, but thankfully I have finally come to terms with the fact that what I weigh really does not mean anything. 

Weight Training Results
This before photo was once upon a time my AFTER photo.

I am head over heels with the way that I am now training. I never go hungry, I have 3 meals a day and snack whenever I want. If I am hungry I eat. It really is that simple. If you are going through my old mindset right now, please, please, please take a moment and think about your goals. You don't need to restrict food (we all know that I have learned this lesson first hand), you don't need to diet, you don't need to go to bed hungry. 

What you do need to do is eat nourishing food. Whatever your goals are, weight loss, strength, muscle...You need to eat good food.