Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Autumn Appreciation


This last week you can most certainly feel that Autumn chill in the air, and I have found myself wrapping up warmer on the school run, and even for those dog walks that up until recently have been too warm for a jacket of any sort. 

It really is pretty incredible what only a few weeks can do to the weather, It was only a couple of weekends ago that the entire family dispelled to Kenilworth Castle to make the most of the beautiful sunshine in nothing but shorts and t-shirts, yet now summer has all of a sudden just vanished into the distance, almost as though it had never been at all. 

I do love the cooler weather, but equally I hate being cold so I have to make sure that I am dressed for the occasion, and that for me involves a thick snuggly coat that is comparable to a duvet or a warm hug. It can't be argued with that Autumn is a truly beautiful time of the year, yesterday I decided to take the puppy out for a long walk to take in all of the gorgeous colours that were now starting to show on the trees.

Autumn Tree

There is one tree in our village that I always admire, the leaves have already started to turn and very soon the entire tree will be dressed in a sea of orange, almost as though it is alight in flames, before finally they will all drop to the floor and Winter will be truly here.

With it getting so much chillier I am having to start thinking about a new coat, and as it will have to be something that accompanies on walks with Lux (aka the asbo puppy), I always tend to opt for darker colours as he has a tendency of  getting me pretty mucky while we are out and about in muddy fields. 

I found this gorgeous puffer coat which would be ideal for those colder dog walks, being a dark colour means that I don't need to be as precious with it as I would if I was going to wear White, Cream or Beige. 

Image Credit: Lyst
It might only be September but it really does feel like we could be in for a rather cold few winter period, and I for one would absolutely love that. Leo has only ever seen snow when he was very young, and he has been wishing for the last couple of years that it would come back for him to build his first proper snowman, as for the dog he has never seen it before at all. 

How nice would it be to have a white christmas? Yes I did just say the C word, because realistically now is the time to be preparing for the big day. I have already started making lists of gifts that I am planning for those nearest and dearest to me, because I am determined not to be running around last minute come December. 

I am definitely going to be adding a new dog walking coat to my own Christmas list this year!

Poki - Flip Master Review

Poki - Flip Master Review

Flip Master 
Trampoline games aren’t exactly a trending genre. Or, at least they weren’t until Flip Master. From the creators of Flip Diving, Flip Master is one of the most fully-featured, well-rounded, and addictive trampoline games. 

Controlled Flight 
Flip Master is a single-player, one-button sports title. The sport is trampolining, and it’s much easier in the game than in real life. Click the mouse button or tap the screen, and hold to spin in the air. One swipe can send an athlete flipping 50 feet above the ground. There are Olympic-level tricks and combo routines to uncover. The Dudette, Big Dave, and an acrobatic ninja are at your mercy. Dress them up, get in shape, and learn how to become one of the most skilled trampolinists in the world. 

Each athlete has the potential to become a legend. Much like in the real world, you pay for certain tiers of success. There are 10 levels per attribute in Flip Master. Going from lvl-1 to lvl-2 costs 50 coins. The next upgrade costs twice as much. After that, you guessed it—the price keeps doubling. The exponentially rising costs prevent players from acquiring too many skills too fast. It also gives us a reason to keep playing (we need those coins!). 

Every skill can be upgraded, from jump and tuck power to confidence, balance, and centering. The power skills are rather straightforward; more jump power means higher jumps, and more tuck power means faster spins. Increased confidence results in sharper trick execution. More balance and centering abilities prevent a plethora of landing accidents. 

Training isn’t the only way to get better. Flip Master has 11 power-ups, which range from temporary ability boosts to point bonuses. Superjump, Superspin, and Superpush let athletes bounce higher, flip faster, and glide more easily. Those three power-ups last for a minute and a half, which you can use in one round or spread across shorter ventures. Other 90-second power-ups include Immortal (head hits don’t hurt), Coin Rain (falling gold), and Bouncing Coins (self-explanatory). 

The other half of this game power-ups last for a full two minutes. These include the invaluable Coin Magnet, Medicine Balls, and Foam Cubes, all of which make scoring much easier. The 120- second Safety Net protects athletes from falling off the sides of trampolines. Bullet Time is possibly the best power-up, because it slows down time, giving players complete control over each microsecond in the air. 

Way to Play 
There’s only one way to begin in Flip Master: The Dude in the Backyard level. After that, the journey varies wildly from player to player. There are prizes from the in-game lottery, random bonuses, and unlockables from the shop. The Flip Master map isn’t linear; instead, you can take any route you wish. You might go to one of the most advanced and exciting levels directly after the Backyard. Or, you could progress through several incremental trampolines along the way. Hop off the  round and reach for the clouds in Flip Master.

Thursday, 14 September 2017

Pomelody Launches to Give Children the Gift of Learning & Development Through Music


Pomelody launches to give children the gift of learning and development through music

- Home-based e-learning music platform for pre-schoolers aims to unlock a
child’s innate musical talent and potentially increase IQ by 18% -

- For parents, Pomelody offers the ability to have fun and connect with their infants.
No music background required. 

“… It’s the sheer joy and bonding between a child and its parents that makes music so magical.” 

When Leo was a baby I remember thinking how lacking the music available was for young toddlers and children, and it turns out that I was not alone in this mindset. Adam and Anna developed Pomelody which is a comprehensive online music education system for children 0-6 and their families. 

It's the world’s first music education e-learning platform for infants, toddlers and pre-schoolers. 

Pomelody is designed from the ground up to stimulate a child’s music potential while giving parents (even those with no music ability) an opportunity to bond and have fun. Every quarter, Pomelody delivers an online (via PC, laptop, tablet) series of music.

I can't help wishing that this was around when Leo was younger, the music sounds incredible and I believe that this would have been something that Leo would have adored. If I go on to have any future children, I would be very interested in introducing Pomelody from a young age. I can't help but wonder if Leo had fallen in love with music, whether this would have helped him and his academic struggles now.

London, UK and New York, US 14 th September: 
Pomelody today announced that they are ready to bring fun, family-bonding music education to children and parents everywhere. 

The idea came from professional musicians Adam and Anna who, whilst raising a young family and knowing how powerfully music impacts on a child’s development, tried to find musical content that they could use in order to interact with their children. There was very little musical content available and what was available was unstructured. They set about designing, testing and recording a series of specially recorded songs, music theory tutorials for parents and animated stories for kids. 


The result is the first simple to access (online via PC, laptop or tablet), fun and engaging platform for parents to embrace music along with their young children. Indeed, the first music-making classes for families ever put on video. 

The production of content (season one is finalized) and building the platform is nearly finished. 

Pomelody is now turning to Kickstarter to secure funding of $30,000 to help develop further seasons (delivered quarterly) and to finish the platform build. 


What do you get as a series backer of Pomelody? (earlybird discount $69) 

- Collection of 25 songs - composed, recorded and produced with 12 different bands/artists 
- 10 Pomelody classes recorded 
-One songbook 
- 3 animated lectures with music theory for parents 
- Animated stories

Importantly, Pomelody also has a stretch goal of $55,000 on Kickstarter which will enable the development of an institutional version of the platform, giving free access to orphanages around the world. 

Adam, Weber founder of Pomelody, said: “Music is such a powerful medium to stimulate a child’s imagination. Its benefits stretch way beyond childhood with many reports suggesting that it can boost an individual’s adult IQ by up to 18%, compared to children with no early years music exposure. Whilst this is motivation in itself, it's the sheer joy and bonding between a child and its parents that makes interacting with music so magical. With Pomelody we have a created a unique opportunity for
families to bond, to learn, to have fun and to stimulate the next generation. We are very excited to bring this project to market and, fingers crossed, we can achieve our stretch goal and give free access to underprivileged children around the world.”

Getting the Most Out of Your Garden

I have really adored the warmer weather (the times that the sun decided to come out and actually stick around for a day or two). It was extra special this year because it was our first proper summer in our new home. When we moved in last year, we had so much going on with unpacking and trying to get some sort of order In place (that combined with a 8 week old puppy....) we didn't really get chance to enjoy the summer months.

Now although It might feel like you have blinked and all of a sudden the summer has transitioned into Autumn, apparently our calendars are correct and it really is mid September already. 

The cooler weather may have us reaching to shut the windows but that doesn't mean that we need to bid our Gardens fare well just yet though.

September can be an amazing time to be outside, everything is turning golden and some days you could even fool yourself into thinking that summer might be sticking around a little longer (even if those magical thoughts do some crashing down with the arrival of Aileen!) 

But how do you make sure you get the most out of your garden at this time of year? Here are some of my go to tips for when it comes to enjoying the garden in the fall:

Create a cosy corner
This could be absolutely anything that helps you to relax and unwind. Maybe you have a favourite piece of garden furniture? A water fountain? Or how about a pop up gazebo with a rattan table and chairs?

Look after your lawn
I find that we are having to constantly care for our lawn (the joys of having a dog!) If the Autumn weather is making your lawn glum, then show it some love with a liquid feed, it will be back to full health in no time.

Tidy borders and the garden
Now is the time to start prepping your garden for next Spring, and of course the forthcoming Winter months ahead. Tidy up he borders and remove the dead foliage, put down some compost ready for the new bulbs and seeds that you will soon be planting.

I spend a lot of time outside regardless as to the time of year, having a dog means that we are always out on walks or letting him in and out of the patio doors (because he likes to demand entry back into the house as soon as you sit down to relax!). 

We have a plum tree that hangs over the fence into our back garden, and I am constantly having to pick up the windfall plums that keep landing on my patio. The dog keeps bringing in plum on the padding of his paws (my sofas are not thankful for this!).

 I keep meaning to pick some of the plums and make the most of having this lush fruit growing so close to home. I cant help thinking how nice it would be to make Leo some homemade plum jam, so I really must add this to my to do list before I miss he opportunity for the second year in a row. 

I'm still holding out hope for an Indian summer, we will forget that storm Aileen has taken the life of one of my prized sunflowers. We are often blessed with some beautiful days in September, and it would be nice to start the Autumn months in style as I for one am not ready to leave my garden days behind just yet. 

Horse riding - Learning to Ride

Horse riding - Learning to Ride

We all have some pretty wild and crazy aspirations as children, it's their over active imaginations and something that we really need to encourage as they grow. I wasn't any different, there was a time when I was going to run away to Neverland with Peter Pan, and also that time I was convinced that Aladdin was on his way to pick me up on his magic carpet (Disney obviously had a very big impact on my childhood!).

As a child one of my biggest dreams was learning to horse ride, and there was a time where I was adamant that instead of learning to drive, I would instead own a horse and just ride around EVERYWHERE. When I say everywhere I was thinking literally everywhere you would drive. Across country, to work, to the shops, heck even on holiday! 

I did eventually get riding lessons during my early school years, and to this day I can remember that white ponies name - Minty. Unfortunately the lessons were never consistent and I never really harnessed any skills, but still that dream of one day riding my horse to the shops played over and over in my mind.

When we eventually moved from our home in Yorkshire to the Midlands, I was really excited to hear that I could start having some lessons again, but as with most things I attempted as a child (tap dance, karate and learning the flute being among the clubs I attempted and subsequently quit), it didn't quite pan out that way. 

This new stables did allow me to get a lot more hands on, I was allowed to care for the horses and it definitely provided a great source of responsibility, I never did get used to all of the different horse products though.

I can't really recall what made me step away from my dream of learning to ride, it was definitely before I put myself forward for the driving test that I always swore I wouldn't need (you know because I was going to have a horse!).

I have actually ridden in more recent years, and boy what an experience that was. I never really did have any grace, and I never did acquire any skills in the equestrian department, and this really did shine through on that day I went out into the Cotswolds on the back of a rather large horse...

The whole day was arranged through a friend, and the horses were owned by a family friend, she helped me kit the horse up, and off we went. The horse went slowly at first and then out of nowhere decided to pick up speed. Faster and faster he went, until finally I was dangling from the horses neck (I wasn't even on the horses back any longer!).

I decided then and there that any hope of one day being able to ride a horse was now officially never going to happen, and I was suddenly really glad I had opted to learn to drive a car! 

I think that with anything learning to ride a horse is all about time and consistency, and I believe that the younger that you start, the more naturally these lessons will be absorbed.

Maybe one day I will get back in the saddle, but I for one don't want to be hanging on for dear life again.

Good and Bad Points About Vinyl Flooring

Vinyl Flooring
Image by Murisons via Flickr

If you are looking to decorate your home and also going to change the flooring at the same time, you may wish to consider vinyl flooring for specific rooms in your house. Vinyl floors are easy to maintain and are perfect for areas of your home which receive a high amount of foot traffic. You can get some excellent tips on keeping vinyl floors and also see how easy they are to clean on various websites online, and below are some of the pros and cons of installing vinyl flooring in your home. 

The Advantages Of Vinyl Flooring
There are many advantages to vinyl flooring that you will want to consider before making your choice of which material to use in your home. 

-Super Low Maintenance – Vinyl floors are very easy to keep clean and tidy, and a quick sweep of the floor when they are dry followed by cleaning with a mop will have your floors sparkling in no time at all. 

-Hard Wearing – When you install this type of flooring material you have the benefit of one of the most durable floor coverings available other than stone. As with many other things the quality can vary, so it is worth investing a little extra and making sure you get a material that is of the best quality and Market Timbers offer high-quality vinyl flooring in Melbourne and surrounding areas.

-Water & Stain Resistant – One of the most favourite features of this type of floor covering is that it is resistant to both water, and also stains. With the correct maintenance, your floor will remain looking as good as it did the day it was laid. If you do get some wear and tear and have installed vinyl tiles, you can easily replace these without having to replace the entire floor. 

-Cheap And Readily Available – You can find vinyl flooring available from many retailers, and the quality can vary. However, good quality vinyl flooring is still relatively cheap when compared to other options such as engineered wooden floors.

The Disadvantages Of Vinyl Flooring
There are also some disadvantages to installing vinyl floors in your home such as; 
-Uneven Floor Surfaces – You cannot install this type of flooring on an uneven surface as pockets of air will show and over time you will get uneven wear. It would be best if you can hire a professional to have it installed rather than doing it on your own. 

-Yellows With Age – You can find that vinyl flooring over time will discolour with age and can often turn a yellowish colour, which is due to the chemicals used in their production. This would usually happen when the vinyl flooring lacked proper maintenance. 

These are just a few of the pros and cons of vinyl flooring, and you can find others when you look on the internet. If you are looking for a good quality but an affordable option for your home, then vinyl flooring may just be what you have been looking for!

Monday, 11 September 2017

Life with a Dalmatian

Life with a Dalmatian

When I decided to get a puppy I thought that I had covered every base. I had done extensive breed research, I had conducted even more breed research after setting my heart on a Dalmatian, and I was armed with the knowledge of their health conditions and how to help him grow and thrive. 

It turns out that no matter how much research you put in, nothing can really prepare you for having a puppy, or a dog in general for that matter. 

Lux has kept me on my toes everyday, I have learned that I cannot leave ANYTHING at all on the kitchen side because he will get hold of it, and he will chew or shred it into submission. I have learned that even if I don't leave anything on the side for him to destroy, he will create some new kind of carnage of his own, the most recent venture has been the chewing of my laminate floor (I guess you could say he is helping me with the home improvement costs, as now when I get the kitchen tiled, the guys won't have quite as much floor to tear up!)

Life with a Dalmatian

He certainly looks very proud of himself don't you think? I guess I should just be thankful that he grew out of eating the dry wall...

I have found myself doing things that I didn't ever think I would need to do. Ever heard of anyone who actually hoovers their washing machine? Yup, I use the vacuum cleaner to get all of Lux's hair out. I was aware that Dalmatian's shed 365 days a year, don't get me wrong, but was I prepared for the level of dog hair? There is not enough reading material in the world to prepare me for the Tsunami of wire like hair that comes from having a Dalmatian, it sticks to your clothes and you will find it in places you would never expect to find it. 

Just this morning I insisted that Leo wear his dressing gown to breakfast, as I didn't want him wearing his school uniform around the pup. Not after I had washed it (and found that it somehow had remnants of Lux still on it), then I used a sticky roller to make sure that it was completely free of Lux and finally ironed the set. I was pretty impressed with myself when I managed to get Leo out of the door with no dog hair on him at all! 

Life with a Dalmatian

We have recently installed a stair gate, not for Leo, but for the dog. Lux seizes opportunities to go galloping off up the stairs, it''s in the space of a few seconds that he manages to cause absolute carnage. He will steal soft toys, clothing and anything else he can get his paws on, so the stair gate means that upstairs is a completely dog free space. No dogs allowed. 

This means that I don't need to worry about anything dog related upstairs, no dog hair, no dog destruction, no nothing. That means that I can keep on top of downstairs and makes life that little bit easier. 

Lux might be one of the most mischievous pups I have ever met, but he is loving and enjoys a good fuss. Thankfully although he does create some additional housework and mayhem at times, he does have a few perks going for him, he doesn't have a doggy smell and he doesn't dribble (unless of course you have food that he wants to eat!)