Thursday, 22 December 2016

Why a Wet Winter Should Not Hold Back Your Garden’s Progress

Winter is the time your garden slumbers, riding out the worse that the British weather can throw at it, from heavy rain to sub-zero temperatures. It is the season in which we curl up in front of the fire, warm, cosy and protected against the elements.
And this is how you should treat your plants over winter. By ensuring your garden is protected against the winter weather, there is nothing that can stop its progress.
Rattan Direct share these hints and tips for protecting your garden’s progress this winter.

New plants

Bare-rooted plants like shrubs and roses can be planted when the soil is soft enough to dig, but the plants themselves are dormant. These soil conditions are ideal for encouraging new roots.
You can also dig up and replant overgrown woody plants that need moving.
It is also the ideal time to plant a new hedge. Dig a trench and plant deciduous hedging plants such as beech and hawthorn.
Planting a new tree is also a possibility but it will need staking to hold the base, preventing the roots being rocked in the wind. The more substantial the stake the better.

Protect vegetables

Not everything goes to sleep in winter. There are some delicious seasonal veg that you can grow in your garden.
Parsnips, for example, always taste better after a touch of frost but if you are not so keen on battling through an icy garden to lift them, then lift the, in November. Store in boxes of sand to keep them disease-free during the winter.
Cauliflower can be damaged by severe frost so spend a few therapeutic minutes wrapping their central leaves around the curds and tie off with string.
Pigeons will make a beeline for your brassicas too, as they face an ongoing battle to find food over the winter. Protect your brassicas with netting, secured at ground level so birds don’t get caught in it.

Plant fruit trees

Bare-rooted fruit trees and bushes can be planted in winter, when the soil is soft and providing that there is plenty of organic matter, compost or a healthy dollop of farm yard manure, in the hole before planting.
Summer fruiting raspberry canes can also be planted in a freshly-dug trench, working in compost as you plant. Every two metres, plant a stake and stretch three wires or twine between them, equidistant apart. These becomes the scaffold that supports the canes as they grow, becoming heavy as they bear fruit in the summer.
Blackcurrant bushes also thrive in winter gardens with a freshly dug hole and plenty of organic matter. Plant low in the hole, leaving a 10cm stem above the ground to encourage new growth from the base.
If you are storing any fruits over winter, check them regularly for rot.

Caring for your prized blooms

Dahlias that have finishes flowering should be lifted before the onset of winter and the leaves have turned black after the first frost. Cut the plant down to around 15cm and dig up the tubers, shaking off the soil and giving the tuber a good wash. Hang upside down to allow the sap to drain from the stem. Allow them to dry in a shed or garage and then stack them in trays with plenty of air holes.
If you are a lover of tulips, before the sogginess of winter sets in, plant tulip bulbs in November. If your soil is water-logged, plant them in containers with well-draining soil until the spring.
Michaelmas daisies can be dug up and divided, giving you more stock for the spring months. Tender plants can be protected from winter weather with a deep mulch of straw.

General winter protection

It would be a perfect solution if we could bring everything in from the garden, but this is not logistically possible, nor is it desirable!
Follow these general winter protection tips;
·         Insulate large pots and plants to protect vital root systems from the cold – use hessian sacks or bubble wrap
·         Remove pond pumps and clean, and leave them to dry before storing for the winter
·         Check fence posts and panels are secure; if not, repair before the winter storms hit
·         Insulate outdoor taps with bubble warp and a carrier bag
Although we tend to think of winter as a time that is barren and deficient of any garden activity, it is an important season where, as a gardener, you take time and effort to protect your plants. If you do, you will reap the rewards in spring.

Rattan Direct have a growing range of garden accessories and furniture, perfect for your garden, no matter what time of the year. 

Preparing for Christmas

Christmas Dalmatian

Everything is winding down for Christmas over here, and it's been a lovely week having Leo at home. I finally feel like I am on top of everything for the big day now, wrapping aside of course... I always seem to leave that to the last minute. Leo has some wonderful gifts and I cannot wait to see his face when he opens them up on the big day, I am going to be vlogging Christmas Day (which is a real first for me, so I am excited about having that to look back on, and it will be something that Leo can enjoy in the years to come when he thinks back to the magic when he is all big and grown.

I will be making a start on the wrapping today, I have been stressing myself out worrying that Leo didn't have all to much to open, but as I as hiding it in different places around the house it wasn't until I put it all together that I realised how I actually had nothing to worry about... Well aside from finding homes for all of the new toys and games that will be descending on December 25th! 

One of the things that Leo is getting for Christmas is a new bike. It is something that he has been wanting for a while, and I promised him that when he learned to ride without stabilisers we could definitely look into as new set of wheels for him.  Leo took to riding straight off the bat back in the Summer holidays, he completely surprised me. He told me he was going to do it, hopped on his friends bike (without stabilisers!) and just did it. He had never even attempted before. I was there willing him to be careful, and he just took off like he had been doing it his entire life. So that is why a new bike made it to the very top of Leo's Christmas list this year!

As we only have a shed and no real way of hiding the bike within the house (away from wondering eyes!), Daddy has had to keep the bike in his spare bedroom until we can get it wrapped and over to the house on Christmas Eve! I was mainly worried about leaving the bike in our shed because it's not overly secure, and obviously we want to make sure that the bike is here to be appreciated on Christmas Day... We have been careful with everything we have purchased because you really can never be too careful.

Yale UK have put together the below video providing some very helpful tips to keep your Christmas Gifts safe this Christmas. We happen to have a cheeky puppy at home who has been showing an interest in all the gifts and of course the food! 

Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Amazon Prime Photos has all new features! Plus an opportunity to win a $500 gift card provided by

Amazon has launched a rather exciting new photo experience, Prime Photos with Family Vault. Prime members can now share their photos with an unlimited photo storage, making it easy for members to share and store all of their favourite photos. This can be shared with the whole family (up to 5 members at no additional cost). If you have a Prime account then this service is included in your account and you can access it for free.

I always find that my phone is full to bursting with photos, and I never have the heart to delete them, so this would be a great way to free up space on your phone without having to get rid of any snaps, because who really wants to do that? Having an unlimited Family photo storage means that you can see what the whole family has been up to, it's always nice to share the snaps you have taken, and it's a lovely way to connect the family in one place.

There are some really great new features that include: Image Search, People view and Places view. Prime members can now order photo prints, cards, photo books and calender's directly from their Prime Photo's account, and you can even download the Prime Photos App here.

Prime Photos is available on your computer, iOS, Android and tablet devices, so even if your family all use different ways to connect to the service, Prime Photos is available across every device so you can still make use of the unlimited photo storage.

Amazon Prime Photos are giving readers from America the chance to win $1000 in prizes until the 31st December 2016! Wouldn't that be a lovely surprise over the festive season?

There is a 1st prize of a $500 Amazon Gift Card, or one of five $100 American gift card 2nd place prizes!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thanks to Amazon for sponsoring this post and providing prizes for the giveaway!

Amazon, Fire and the Amazon Fire TV logo are trademarks of, Inc. or its affiliates.

Health Starts At Home

Health Starts At Home

Health Starts At Home is an initiative that began in Boston in 2014. The Boston Foundation initiated a collaboration between housing organizations and healthcare providers to try and provide more stability in terms of housing in the city. Research had shown that instability in terms of housing can have a negative effect on children's mental and physical health, and on their behavior. By tackling this instability, which was largely caused by high rents, huge savings could be made in health care. Families would not rely on these services as much because children would be happier and healthier. Although centered in Boston, this initiative highlights problems that are faced by families all over the country.

When a family's housing situation is unstable any health care that they receive is usually very fragmented. Very often families will only seek medical attention when a problem has escalated into a crisis. This means that they have to access emergency treatment which is usually very expensive. This often makes a difficult financial situation even worse. The person ends up in a vicious circle of not being able to afford quality housing, which leads to health problems and the treatment for these problems costs money that may have otherwise been spent on housing.

Another problem that was identified by the study is that when homelessness occurs, families become very isolated. This means that they often do not have access to health care at all. They also lose the ability to cook meals and have to eat whatever they can get their hands on which could make existing health problems worse. Feelings of isolation and loneliness can affect a person's mental health. Homelessness is a situation that is difficult to get out of without the right support. Very often, the focus of the family solely becomes finding somewhere to live and this can mean that everything else gets overlooked and this includes accessing basic health care.

The Health Starts At Home initiative in Boston looked to tackle these problems in several ways. By encouraging a link between housing providers and health care services, the most vulnerable families are able to be identified and they can then receive the help and support that they need to be able to find a home that they can afford. This work is carried out in the community so that people do not have to incur travel costs when they are looking for help. A series of questions has been introduced which can help healthcare professionals assess whether the person they are treating may be suffering because of housing instability. These questions are not intrusive but will provide all the information that is needed as long as they are asked in the right way.

It is also possible to save money on medicines that are readily available to help prevent a small illness becoming something more serious. There are many over the counter medications that can help ward off the symptoms of a cold that could stop it developing into the flu. If people are able to use voucher codes towards the cost of this medicine then it becomes even more affordable. is just one example of a chemist that offers discount codes that can be used on their website.

A Christmas Gift Guide For Him

Christmas Gift Guide For Him

Every single year I wonder how on earth I am going to possibly narrow down gift ideas for my other half Luke, and each year by some grace of God I manage to think outside the box and find something that he doesn't already own. Buying gifts for people in this day and age is substantially trickier than back in the day, I say this because when someone want's something, we are all guilty of just going out and buying it? We may save up for months and months to buy it, or we may just think 'what the heck' and splurge, but then when Christmas and Birthday's roll around and we are asked what we would really like, we have more than likely already made that purchase.

Christmas Essentials
Crabbies Ginger Beer

Neither my partner or I are really beer consumers, but when it comes to Crabbies Ginger Beer it is a staple item in the fridge. If I ever find myself in the dog house, then I know I can redeem myself by popping a bottle to chill and it helps to soften the blow when I tell him that the puppy has eaten another one of his shoes... I like to buy them ahead of Christmas and wrap them up to go along with Luke's gifts, it's always a well received idea and helps to bulk out the gift front.

Yankee Candle
We are both big fans of Yankee Candle, and I have seen Luke eyeing up my candle collection over recent months, so I was thinking how nice it would be to bestow a selection of the Christmas line up on him this year...


Socks. Socks. Socks. I will tell you a funny fact about socks, and I am sure you will relate. Socks get devoured within the home. One second they are there, you pop them in the wash and as soon as the cycle ends, you know that there is only one sock left. It's a sad fact of life, socks don't like to stay together, and that is exactly why they have made it onto my Christmas Essentials list. Socks are always a great thing to buy for someone, because you just know that they are most likely wearing odd socks underneath their perfectly suited and booted foot. I love Pantherella, they offer a bespoke service where you can monogram the pair of socks that you purchase, making them a great gift for that special someone. 

Rhythm and Blues Woven Check Long Sleeve Pyjamas

If you are thinking of essential items this Christmas then you have to add pyjamas to the list, and if you are thinking of PJ's then I have to recommend Cyberjammies. Cyberjammies have kitted our entire family out this year, as I type this I am sat in my very own pair munching on a bag of Cadbury Dairy Milk Buttons... Luke has been admiring my very soft snugly PJ's this week, and he did look a little envious, little does he know that he has hhis very own PJ bottoms waiting for him.

Luke doesn't usually wear pyjamas, he's more of a go to bed in your boxers kind of guy, but with the temperatures dropping over the recent weeks, even he has been looking to wrap up warmer at night time. I decided to go for the Rhythm and Blues Woven Check Long Sleeve Pyjamas, they are absolutely gorgeous and I love the majestic colours that have been used. They are made entirely from cotton and have the same luxuries soft touch as mine do.

Snapfish Acrylic Photograph

If you really wanted to get a personal gift though, you needn't look any further than Snapfish. I have used them a number of times over the years and I couldn't resist getting the perfect acrylic photograph made up for the other half. Luke has just moved into his own flat, and he doesn't have anything up on the walls really at the moment, so I thought it would be nice to help him put his mark on the place with one of his favourite photographs.

Thinking Fitness?
Schiek Cross Training Fitness gloves
Schiek Cross Training Fitness gloves
Both Luke and I are massively into our fitness, we might be taking a break from it at this precise moment in time, but as soon as the festive period is over and January arrives, we will both be working hard to shed the Christmas weight. I like to include fitness ideas within my Christmas guides because it is a time where we are all indulging, and with the New Year just around the corner, we will all soon be setting our resolutions for 2017 (if we haven't already that is!). 

Bowflex® SelectTech® super heavy dumbbells
Bowflex® SelectTech® super heavy dumbbells
Whether you work out in the gym or at home, you cannot go wrong with a pair of Schiek Cross Training Fitness gloves (pictured above), especially if you have treated your better half to a set of the incredible Bowflex® SelectTech® super heavy dumbbells. I may have included these in my 'For Him' gift edition, but if he thinks I will be sharing these babies he will be sorely disappointed

The Bowflex free weights are a fantastic addition if you are working out from home like I do, they have an adjustable weight range of 4-41kg, all in one single pair of dumbbells. This has been a huge turning point for me as I have been at a cross roads of wanting to up my weight but not wanting to buy additional dumbbells as my home was slowly being over run by them. So having one set of dumbbells that I can add additional weight to is really amazing. 

All you have to do in order to adjust the weight, is turn the dial to the weight resistance that you want for that particular workout. There are 17 different settings with the top weight being 41kg per dumbbell, this makes them a great investment for couples who are looking to get fit from home, as it means that both male and females can get what they want and need out of one set of dumbbells.   

I will be talking about the Bowflex free weights even more in the New Year when I get this fitness train back on the tracks, I will be showing you my home gym set up and getting some vlogs together demonstrating how I incorporate them into my personal work out (I will even let Luke have a go so I can show you just how different our workout regimes are, and how we can both get on with the Bowflex!)

wireless headphones

Of course however you choose to work out, whether it be at home, or at the gym (or not at all), you always, always need a good pair of headphones, and in my experience it is always best to go for wireless headphones. Personally for me I like to avoid earbuds in preference of full size headphones, I find that these are best when I am out running.

If you are regular readers of this here blog, you will know that we have a Dalmatian Puppy, so a lot of our exercise regime is cardio based. This pup needs a rather extravagant walk in order to burn off his widely sourced energy! We like to go off the beaten track and see some scenery, it's nice to see some different places on our travels and we are very lucky to live on the outskirts of the Cotswold's, so there is always great scenery to be admired.

Scruffs Expedition Tech Jacket
Of course it's now Winter and we still need to get this pup of ours walked, so when I saw the Scruffs Expedition Tech Jacket I knew that my other half would be over the moon. I knew it was a 'him' coat right away, and I hid it under the stairs (he NEVER goes in there!) before I flew out to New York back in November. So you can imagine my surprise when I arrive back from the States and he looks a little sheepish. He accidentally found the coat while I was away and he was trying to determine whether or not it was for him...

Scruffs Expedition Tech Jacket

Of course the coat had been hidden away from Luke, so when he realised it was for him he was over the moon. Luke has a number of work items from Scruffs so he was already very familiar with the brand, but he was really pleased by his latest addition. 

The jacket has taped seams and a waterproof membrane which helps to provide the ultimate protection from the rain when you are outdoors (perfect for walking the dog when it is wet outside!). It is breathable up to 10,000g and lined with 3M Thinsulate. What we both really loved about this jacket is just how many little extras are included within the many pockets! Luke is especially pleased with the clear PU torch pocket that he just cannot stop playing with.

For The Groomed Gentleman 

Bluebeards Revenge Eau De Toilette and Shower Gel Gift Set
In 2016 it has to be said, the men have stepped it up a notch on the grooming front. I know men who take better care of their skin than I do, if you have one of these men at home (or in your family) then why not have a look at this really lovely Bluebeards Revenge Eau De Toilette and Shower Gel Gift Set?

Braun Body Groomer

Now I might get in trouble for what I am about to say in this next part... But I am willing to bet that if Luke does happen to start reading this post, he won't make it down this far, so I am going to go ahead and say it anyway. Over the years Luke has tasked me with one religious job, and that is to shave his back hair, because that rugged man of mine can get pretty hairy. He has always said how much he would like a body trimmer, and over the years I have looked into this for him but wasn't really sure what I was looking for... This year Luke is going to find a Braun Body Groomer under the Christmas Tree.

Braun Body Groomer

The groomed gentleman likes to look after himself and enjoy the finer things in life, so if you are looking for a great accessory that should be in every gentleman's wardrobe, then this Ted Baker Hoffman Reversible Leather Brown Belt might be just what you are looking for.

Ted Baker Hoffman Reversible Leather Brown Belt
Ted Baker Hoffman Reversible Leather Brown Belt
Gadgets and Tech 

Jam Double Down Bluetooth speaker

    Combine two JAM DOUBLEDOWN speakers for rich stereo sound.
    Rock out by the pool! A little water won’t hurt this tough speaker.
    Features a rubberized body for maximum durability.
    Connect wirelessly with any device in a 30-foot range.
    Provides up to 6 hours of play time on a single charge.
    Answer calls directly from your JAM DOUBLEDOWN speaker.
    Cord it up and listen on any device — Bluetooth or not.
Ricoh SP 150 SUw Printer

We have been trying to get my office space together over recent weeks, and as a busy family having a printer was an essential for all of us. We have the Ricoh SP 150 SUw Printer set up in the little office space now and it has been a god send. 

MiVue 618 Dashboard Cam
December has been a particularly unlucky month for my poor little car. At the beginning of the month while it was parked up at the in-laws, it was hit and left with a dent in the front and a cracked number plate, which they very kindly left hanging off my Mini. I was kicking myself when I got back to the car, all I could think was how I should have installed my new MiVue 618 Dashboard Cam.

This handy camera becomes your personal eye witness on the road, and it is something that would have proved invaluable when this collision occurred when my car was left to it's own devices. It means that even when you are not there, you will always have proof of what really happened. It starts to record as soon as you start your car, but it also has the option of a motion detection element, which would make the camera start recording if something happened while you were parked up. This can be made available by installing a constant power supply accessory Smartbox which is available separately. 

I have been really enjoying the MiVue 618 (now I have it installed), it not only acts as your eye witness on the road but also records your journey in stunning HD which is great if your hoping to venture into vlogging a little more in 2017! You can even use the integrated GPS, meaning this can replace your old SatNav!

Electric Jukebox

Christmas Day really is all about family time, so if there is something that you can gift that is going to get everyone having fun (up and dancing is better!) then you may want to divert your attention to the Electric Jukebox. 

The Electric Jukebox turns your television into the ultimate music player, it gives you instant access to over 29 million songs and hundreds of mix tapes just to keep you on your toes. It takes minutes to set up, and literally just plugs into your television. 

The stylish controller can be controlled just by using your voice, no more smartphones and having to type what you are looking for.

Hopefully this has given you a little bit of inspiration if you are still trying to find the man in your life the perfect gift. 

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from all of us here at Life Unexpected!

Disclaimer: I was issued samples of the above products in exchange for this feature (unless otherwise stated). All views and opinions expressed are completely honest and my own.

Sunday, 18 December 2016

A Christmas Gift Guide For Her - What do you buy the lady who has it all?

Christmas Gift Guide For Her

What do you buy the lady who already has it all? Christmas and Birthday's can prove incredibly trying these days and you are forced to think outside the box, if your other half's are anything like me then they will just go out and buy what they want and need when they need it, which of course makes your task at hand that little bit more difficult. 

That is exactly why I have put this selection of gift ideas together, to maybe help relieve some of the stress and leg work that may descend on the run up to Christmas when you are scratching your head and worrying about what you might treat your better half too (something that she hasn't already been out and bought for herself!).

Stocking Fillers

I am known for losing my socks, I can often be found wearing a pair of Leo's, which is especially true since he has told me that I can keep his pair of Thomas the Tank Engine socks as he no longer likes him... So a real treat for me would be a pair of luxurious new socks from Pantherella. Pantherella offers a bespoke service, you can have your socks monogrammed for that special someone. These feature my initials, and I absolutely love them.

B. Complete Brushes

On the theme of stocking sized gifts, how about some B. Complete Brushes from Superdrug? They are an essential in every lady's make up bag, and you will definitely earn brownie points for gifting a staple necessity in daily women's grooming.

Women's Cross Training Gloves

If your little lady is planning on getting fit or heading back to her regime at the gym after the festive season, then these Women's Cross Training Gloves might be the perfect treat. I may be eating all of the food right now, but I personally cannot wait to get my act back in gear and start working on my summer body!



If you really want to treat the other half then I cannot recommend Olverum enough. For those of you who are not familiar with Olverum, it is a luxurious aromatic blend of essential oils, they are formulated to help ease the stress and tension that can build up through everyday life. All of the oil is pretty much absorbed by your skin, which means that there is no greasy residue left in the bath at the end. There is nothing I love more than a relaxing bath with candlelight all around. If you really wanted to spoil your loved one this Christmas you really cannot go wrong with Olverum. 

Maui Jim Mavericks

Up until I had my first pair of Maui Jim Sunglasses I had only ever really had high street pairs from the likes of New Look, I was always very self conscious at the idea of wearing shades as I didn't feel like they suited my face shape. I would rather be blinded by the sun, than look ridiculous in a pair of sunglasses. It took me years and until I discovered Maui Jim for me to feel truly happy in a pair of sunglasses. I am wearing the Maui Jim Mavericks in the above photos, and I am absolutely head over heels in love with them. I opted for the Blue Hawaii lenses that boast the MauiPure material, this means that it combines optics that are almost as crisp as SuperThin Glass with ultra light and they are also scratch and shatter resistant.

Maui Jim Mavericks

Every pair of Maui Jim's you get the patented, colour infused lens technology - PolarizedPlus2®
this wipes out 99.9% of glare, 100% of harmful UV rays and boosts colour through specially designed lens treatments, which makes your overall view clearer, crisper and even more amazing. I took this pair with me on a recent trip to New York, and they were incredible with the low sun at every turn. I definitely would not be without them now.

Christmas Essentials
PJ's have to be at the top of the Christmas Essentials list, it's always been a tradition in my family, you would get new PJ's for Christmas and on Christmas Day night you would feel all giddy and bubbly as you got ready for bed with all of the amazing treats you had received that day. This is something we always do for Leo, because to me they are essential to complete the magic of the day.


We love CyberJammies because they are always impeccable quality, and so so soft. I have this gorgeous pair of Deck The Halls Woven Berry Print Pyjamas, and I have been saving them to wear on Christmas Eve. How nice are they!?

Janiro Ginvera Gift Set

This year I took an interest in looking after my skin, up until this point my other half moisturised more than I did! I have recently discovered Janiro and their Ginvera green Tea collection. I drink a lot of Green Tea but I have never considered the health benefits it could have with my skin. This Ginvera Gift Set is absolutely gorgeous and would make a fantastic Christmas gift this festive season! 

Why not put together a Christmas Eve box of all of the above and throw in a bottle of Strawberry Lambrini? You might just be her favourite person ever!

Pamper and Relaxation 

Pink Parcel

Now this might just be the ultimate thoughtful git ever, every woman has that time of the month and I am sure you have noticed that sometimes this might get to us some months more than others, but there is a way to show us that you understand and a way to get us through it with a smile on our faces. Pink Parcel is a monthly subscription service for that time of the month.

Pink Parcel

It's such a sweet idea and I love it, you simply choose the dates that it is needed, and every month you will get:

  • TEA: Because a cup of tea solves everything!
  • TAMPONS: Brands you know - plus something new
  • PADS: All of your favourite brands
  • SOMETHING SWEET: To help hit that PMS craving spot
  • BEAUTY PRODUCTS: For that all important pamper time
Pink Parcel

  • There is such a great selection, and I especially love the Cacao chocolate that was included in December's box!
  • Bill's Champagne and Truffles Hamper
  • Christmas is a time for giving right? If you go with my next idea you may have to marry this woman (if you haven't already of course!) Bill's Champagne and Truffles Hamper, this comes complete with Bill's own label Champagne Pink Marc de Champagne Truffles, and a Bill’s church candle.

    Resmed S+ Sleep Tracker
  • The Resmed S+ Sleep Tracker - This is something that I have to admit I was a little excited about! I have used sleep trackers in the past that attach to your wrist (in the form of a fitness watch), but this is the world's very first non-contact sleep tracking system! It helps you to analyze your sleep and ultimately improve it from the very first night you bring it home.
It records the conditions in your bedroom, from the noise, temperature and light and helps you to optimise your environment to get the very best sleep. It has features that will aid your sleep and syns with your smartphone so that you can have a look at the data you collect. 

  • Need more ideas?
Landon Tyler Reed Diffusers

Landon Tyler Reed Diffusers come in 12 different fragrances and they have been exclusively developed using only the best ingredients. We have a few scattered around the house at present and we are loving the fresh aroma that fills the room (essential if you have a dog!).

Choc on Choc Brussel Sprouts

Choc on Choc Brussel Sprouts - This is one way to get in the festive spirit! The 5 year old refused to even try these chocolate alternatives because he believed them to be real brussel sprouts! They are actually made from delicious White Belgian Chocolate!

CHOC Chick Starter Kit

The CHOC Chick Starter Kit is a fantastic introduction to making your own raw chocolate. It comes with enough ingredients to make up to 30-40 raw chocolates (along with the mini cases you will need to make them!). If you have not given raw chocolate a try yet, then I highly recommend giving it a whirl. It can be quite temperamental to do it from scratch yourself (this is experience speaking here!), but this kit makes it a lot easier to try.

Judge Mini Chopper
If you wanted to gift the foodie in your life the ultimate kitchen aid, then the Judge Mini Chopper might be the way to go (especially if you really want to take the stress out of the Christmas Dinner preparation!) It's simple to use (I have managed it so I stand by this statement!) and it is great for everyday tasks. Before the arrival of this gadget, I was chopping all my vegetables by hand, I am now completely spoilt and don't think twice about chopping all of the onion up with this handy assistant.

Thursday, 15 December 2016

Wondering What to Do if you Don’t Like your Child’s Friends?

Childhood friends
Source: Pexels

It may sound a little silly for grown adults to dislike their child’s friends, but the fact that we care for our children's welbeing makes it a legitimate concern. It’s also an unfortunate reality throughout the UK. According to a study conducted by Voucherbox, 41% of parents in the UK actively dislike at least one of their child’s mates, whilst one in three parents also dislike that friend’s parents as well. 

Usually, such dislike is caused by the child’s attitude, for instance, 15% of those surveyed said they weren’t fond of their child’s peer because they misbehaved, whilst 12% were put off by the fact that they considered the child spoilt.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the study found that dads are far more likely to dislike the child’s parents and are also more likely to make them aware of it. However, making it blatantly obvious that you don’t like your child’s friend or their parents is probably not the best way to deal with the complex situation. So how are parents supposed to manoeuvre through these playground politics?

1. Do Not Admit You Dislike the Child

Once you admit your strong dislike for a child, not only will other adults think you’re irrational – although chances are they also dislike their child’s friends – but that particular child is sure to become more appealing to your kid as well. It’s an age-old problem: children want what they can’t have. So, to stop a vague friendship turning into something from a Bronte novel, simply keep your feelings to yourself.

2. Do Pay Attention

Of course, you may need to be a little more hands on if the reason you don’t approve of the child is what you consider to be damaging behaviour. If the child is a bully, manipulative or tends to indulge in dangerous antics, you have every right in the world to protect your child. However, you will have to be careful and tactful so that you don’t push your child away from you and towards them. With younger children, empathy is usually your best bet, so simply talk to them and listen to how they feel to try and raise their self-esteem. Never attempt to deal with the situation directly, as this could lead to your child feeling victimised, and they won’t want to come to you with their problems in the future.

3. Think Long-Term

As children grow older, their likes, dislikes, hobbies, attitudes and even their personalities shift and alter. This means that there’s a chance your child will outgrow the annoying friend and eventually drop them from their friendship group. Alternatively, the nightmare child might transform into an absolute delight as they leave their more troublesome years. Make sure you keep an eye on how the relationship is going and you never know - the kid you wanted to avoid may become the best friend your child ever has ever had, and deservingly so.

4. Be Their Friend

One way you can make sure the odds are in your favour is by befriending the kid yourself. There’s no need to be inviting them on holiday or taking them out to football matches every other weekend, but even children can sense if they’re not welcome. Interact with your child’s friends by being interested in them and hopefully, they will come to respect you and your household. You could even try giving your child a few responsibilities around your home so they feel trusted and grown-up.

Finally, if your child is aware that their friend is a bit of a monster, make sure to remind them that their friendship circle will grow as they do. Encourage them to make new friends. Think about how many friends you had when you were young and how many have managed to stick around. Everything will be fine, you just have to support your child through these trying times.

Young People 50% More Likely to Fund Key Life Milestones with Credit Than Their Parents

credit card

Despite soaring house prices and sluggish wage growth, young people are confident they will hit key life milestones six months earlier than their parents’ generation1, according to research from free credit score checking service ClearScore.

The research shows a shift in financial attitudes between generations. For example, 50% of young people use some form of loan to fund their wedding, with one in five putting the big day on a credit card. By contrast, just 18% of baby boomers paid for their wedding with a loan.

People in their twenties confidently use credit to fund other important milestones too: 42% use credit to help cover the costs associated with their first child; 49% do so to move out of their parents’ home and 43% of first solo holidays are paid for with credit.

Their parents had a very different experience with just 13% using credit when they had their first child; 18% flew the nest using credit and 17% took their first holiday without their parents with borrowed money.

The research also shows that, while the timeline of young people’s aspirations maps closely to their parents’, financial pressures are still holding some people back. A quarter would like to have got married sooner if they could have afforded it, while 20% would have moved out of their parents’ home more quickly. Overall, just 5% said that their finances had not held them back from achieving key milestones when they would have liked to.

Justin Basini, CEO of free credit score checking service ClearScore said, "Today's young people share the same goals and aspirations as their parents, but they’re using more flexible ways to afford key milestones. This isn’t a bad thing as long as they manage this credit responsibly. Access to clear financial education is key to this. We think that by making credit scores free and easy to understand and demystifying the myths which plague personal finance, we can help young people get on top of their money and live their life the way they want."

The research also shows variation across the country, with 58% of twenty somethings in London using credit to help cover the cost of their first child, compared to just 37% in Scotland. Just 48% of young Scots required credit to move out of their parents’ home compared to 58% of young Londoners.

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